Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita restaurant owners, chefs say where they eat, what they order

Chefs and restaurant owners spend all day feeding people.

But when they finally close for the day, they want to eat something delicious, too.

Recently, I asked several well-known Wichita restaurateurs to tell me where they like to dine when they’re off-the-clock. They gave me a long list, and even better, they shared what they order at their favorite places.

Here’s an instructive guide provided by Wichitans who know food best.

Schane Gross

Job: Owner, The Anchor, Douglas Avenue Chop Shop, Fork & Fennel

Favorite Wichita restaurants: Public at the Brickyard (129 N. Rock Island); Little Saigon (1015 N. Broadway); College Hill Deli (3407 E. Douglas); Wichita Brewing Company (8815 W. 13th St., 535 N. Woodlawn)

What she orders: At Little Saigon: charbroiled pork with lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and broken rice. “The broken rice is key. Doused with Sriracha and the carrot sauce, I’m in heaven.”

At College Hill Deli: “I love (owner) Ali’s (Yassine) fattoush salad with pickles. His salads are always fresh. I will get anything with that salad: gyro, shawarma, bierock. And it’s with walking distance of my home, affordable and quiet.”

At Wichita Brewing Company: V6 IPA and the lemongrass shrimp pizza. “It’s refreshing, and I don’t normally eat shrimp, but their crisped wood oven pizza dough in combination with the shrimp and IPA seem to set me right on Tuesday nights.”

At Public at the Brickyard: Farmer’s Cobb salad with Yoder salami and bacon, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, white cheddar and greens with honey mustard dressing. Gross asks for a serving of grilled green beans on top.

Mario Quiroz

Job: Owner of Molino’s Mexican Cuisine, 1064 N. Waco, 7817 E. 37th St. N.

Favorite Wichita restaurant: Cevicheria y Botanas La Isla, 1925 N. Broadway

Qurioz and his wife, Mara Garza, started eating at this little Mexican restaurant, which specializes in a fresh seafood salad known as ceviche, because it served food they’d grown up eating in Mexico but couldn’t really find in Wichita. After several visits, Quiroz said with a laugh, he realized the restaurant was owned by his cousin. “It reminds me of the flavors of the Pacific coast, eating in Mazatlan, the closest port from my hometown.”

What he orders: The tercia, a trio of ceviches served with a side of crispy corn tostadas; the shrimp ceviche; and tiritas de pescado, tostadas topped with strips of fish that have been cooked in lime juice and mixed with red onion, serrano pepper and spices. He also likes the rusa, a drink filled with fresh topical fruit, topped with a fizzy soda and garnished with chamoy candy.

Alex Harb

Job: Owner of Meddy’s, 7906 E. Harry

Favorite Wichita restaurants: Redrock Canyon Grill, 1844 N. Rock Road, and Greystone Steak & Seafood, 9719 E. 21st St.

What he orders: At Redrock, he always gets the rotisserie chicken and avocado club without bacon, only because he doesn’t eat bacon.

At Greystone, he loves the trout dip. “It’s really good and it brings back good memories,” he said. “The mayonnaise and the cream cheese give it a creaminess that works really well with the trout’s briny flavor.”

Andrew Gough

Job: Owner, Reverie Coffee Roasters, 2611 E. Douglas

Favorite Wichita restaurant: Dempsey’s Burger Pub, 3700 E. Douglas

What he orders: “I order only what’s on their burger special menu. It’s the best thing they offer at any time, and I’ve never been disappointed. I get it with regular fries and truffle sauce.”

Natasha Gandhi-Rue

Job: Owner of The Kitchen, set to open this fall at 725 E. Douglas

Favorite Wichita restaurants: The Anchor (1109 E. Douglas); Ziggy’s Pizza (3700 E. Douglas); and Wine Dive (4714 E. Douglas)

What she orders: At The Anchor: “The brat burger with both the apple relish and sauerkraut. I love the flavors, from the burger itself to the accompaniments, especially paired with a great beer, of which The Anchor has so many on tap.”

At Ziggy’s Pizza: “The taco pizza minus the cheese sauce. It’s delicious but doesn’t have so much going on that you can’t enjoy the great crust.”

At Wine Dive: “The seafood mac and cheese is delicious, rich, creamy and decadent. After a bowl, you feel spoiled.”

Jeremiah Harvey

Job: Head chef, Candle Club, 6135 E. 13th St.

Favorite restaurant: My Tho, 500 E. Central

“I’ve had everything on the menu at least once and loved every one. The bread is amazing, so therefore their sandwiches are out of this world. I like this place because I know all the hard work that goes into making the broth for these soups, and their end product is exquisite and amazingly consistent. You can taste the quality. And I watched as the restaurant grew over the years from only having a few tables and a lot of billiards tables and now just full of tables for dining. A true Wichita success story.”

What he orders: “I tend to usually order the pork soup with both kinds of noodles. And I cannot forget the limeades – so good. So when I get large limeade, a No. 19 and a sandwich, I am literally the happiest man on the planet.”

Charolett Knapic

Job: Owner, Beautiful Day Cafe, 2516 E. Central

Favorite restaurant: Lotus Leaf Cafe, 251 N. Washington

What she orders: “I like the almond crusted cod. Tastes great and I trust it is clean food.”

Timirie Shibley

Job: Owner, Doo-Dah Diner, 206 E. Kellogg

Favorite restaurant: Angelo’s, 5321 E. Central

What she orders: “I order their lasagna, and I have ever since I was a little girl. Along with their Italian salad with extra eggplant. And that garlic bread. That is my comfort meal of all time.”

Scott Redler

Job: Co-owner, Freddy’s Frozen Custard

Favorite restaurant: Chester’s Chophouse, 1550 N. Webb Road

What he orders: Garlic salad. “I order it chopped. The salad dressing has just the right amount of garlic, and I love garlic.”

Cynthia Wilson

Job: Co-owner Parsnipity Cafe, set to open soon inside the Epic Center, 301 N. Main

Favorite restaurant: Little Saigon, 1015 N. Broadway

What she orders: “I always order the grilled shrimp bún, cold rice vermicelli noodles over lettuce, bean sprouts and mint and sprinkled with peanuts. It comes with a crispy little egg roll. It’s light and refreshing. We like the decor and cleanliness and the fast, friendly service.”

Ben George

Job: Head chef, Intrust Bank Arena

Favorite restaurant: El Rancho, 2801 N. Broadway

What he orders: “Barbacoa torta, rice and beans and the verde pork and potato gordita. The quality of the food is lights out. I don’t know if they make their own bread, but I would put it against anyone’s bolillo bread in the city. Every time I go, the consistency is perfect and it’s very affordable. My wife and I can get all that with a Modelo and a strawberry soda for like 20 bucks. I always get great service. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy eating there.”

Michelle Suddeth

Job: Owner, Delano BBQ Company, 710 W. Douglas

Favorite restaurant: Wichita Brewing Company, 8815 W. 13th St., 535 N. Woodlawn

What she orders: “I custom order a chicken pizza with extra sauce. The red sauce is amazing. Always order extra sauce. And their BMW drink is awesome as well. (Bailey’s Irish Cream, Absolut Vanilla, pineapple juice, orange juice, a splash of grenadine.) Their pepperoni rolls are also amazing. WBC is always one of our family favorites. And you can top the meal off with a peanut butter S’mores pizza for dessert.”

Brooke Russell

Job: Co-owner, Public at the Brickyard

Favorite restaurants: College Hill Deli (3407 E. Douglas); Chiquita’s Corner (828 W. 11th St.); Fork & Fennel (3425 E. Douglas)

At College Hill Deli: “I eat here at least once a week. I love to visit with (owner) Ali and pick up a chicken shwarma or falafel wrap with tabouli as a side. Sometimes I order the falafel with plain pita instead of the herb wrap that’s on the menu. I think College Hill Deli has some of the best Mediterranean food in town.”

At Chiquita’s Corner: Vegetarian enchiladas. “I avoid eating meat for every meal and I think they have some of the best vegetarian enchiladas I’ve ever had – filled with cheese, potatoes and peas instead of the cheese-only option that you find at most Mexican food restaurants.”

At Fork & Fennel “When I eat at Fork & Fennel with friends, we tend to order a lot of appetizers, like the Ahi Tuna Nachos and fennel salad, and pass them around the table.”

Michael Farha

Job: Owner, District Taqueria, 917 E. Douglas

Favorite Wichita restaurant: Marchello’s, 3107 S. Seneca

“I’ve been going there since I was a teenager back in the late ’90s, and Mickey, the owner, is one of the nicest guys in the biz. The food is always delicious.”

What he orders: “It’s hard not to order the lasagna, which I feel is one of the best in town. Or one of his sub sandwiches that never fail. Just a solid place that has kept me coming back for years on end.”

Rebecca Amos

Job: Co-owner, Garden of Eatin’, 612 E. Douglas

Favorite restaurants: Let’m Eat Brats (food truck); Town & Country (4702 W. Kellogg); El Rancho, 2801 N. Broadway

What she orders: At Let’m Eat Brats: “I always crave either the cheddar brat plain from Let’m Eat Brats or the curry-wurst.”

At Town & Country: “There is nothing like a good juicy cut of meat. And let’s don’t forget the bowl of butter crackers you get with the wonderfully cliched dinner salad drenched in house Ranch dressing.”

At El Rancho: “The barbacoa is outstanding, and I am particularly fond of the chicharon. When it is simmered in chile verde, it gets squishy and fatty and melts in your mouth. I love it.”

George Matta

Job: Owner, Adrian’s Cafe, 2121 N. Rock Road

Favorite restaurant: Bagatelle Bakery, 6801 E. Harry

What he orders: “I order the Zaatar, cheese or beef manoushi. It’s like a Lebanese homemade pizza to order. Best desserts, too. The Toubia family has great food at great value.”

Paul Guerrero

Job: General manger, YaYa’s EuroBistro, 8115 E. 21st St.

Favorite restaurant: Sweet Basil, 2424 N. Woodlawn

What he orders: “Veal Parmesan. It’s just tender as can be and melts in your mouth. Plus I’m a sucker for Italian food.”