Restaurant Reviews

Down-home cooking feeds the soul at Fat Ernie’s

The breading for the chicken tenderloins was light and crispy at Fat Ernie’s.
The breading for the chicken tenderloins was light and crispy at Fat Ernie’s. Courtesy photo

Ernie Fincher has been serving meals to south Wichita and surrounding communities since opening Fat Ernie’s Family Dining in 2000. Located next to Pop a Top, also owned by Fincher, Fat Ernie’s offers seating for 130 diners in one of two large rooms lined with booths and tables.

On a recent visit, my friend and I ordered “All Time Favorites” entrees, which come with salad or soup, vegetable, potato and a homemade dinner roll. I chose the hand-breaded chicken tenderloins, cheese soup, country-style potatoes and corn. Four tenderloins, each about the size of the palm of my hand, were prepared in a breading that was light, crispy and appetizing. The homemade ranch dressing and barbecue sauce were perfect for dipping. The soup was thicker than I preferred and would have been better served with tortilla chips than crackers. My friend chose the fried catfish fillet, served with homemade tartar sauce, tossed salad, baked potato and creamy macaroni and cheese. Her generous fillet was prepared with the same crispy breading as the tenderloin, and it took up half her plate.

Another friend ordered the chicken fettuccine Alfredo, served with garlic toast and soup or salad. Our server, Clair, suggested he add bacon. He liked the flavor it added but thought the Alfredo sauce was a bit runny and didn’t have much chicken. The vegetable beef soup was delicious and heaping with vegetables. My husband ordered the generously-filled Spanish omelet with hash browns. Breakfast is served all day.

Fat Ernie’s offers daily specials, which include all-you-can-eat fried catfish on Fridays and all-you-can-eat fried chicken on Saturdays. Prime rib is available on Saturdays.

Homemade desserts include fruit and cream sugar-free pies, layer cakes, brownies and ice cream. We ordered slices of banana cream, Hawaiian cream (which included pineapple, banana and coconut topped with a cherry) and apple pies. The sweet and creamy topping on the cream pies was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Fat Ernie’s not only left me feeling full, it left me feeling as if I had just enjoyed dining with longtime friends. The taste of down-home cooking and the friendly staff are only two reasons why I’ll be returning to Fat Ernie’s.

Fat Ernie’s Family Dining

Where: 2806 S. Hydraulic, 316-554-7371

Type of Food: American

Hours: 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday

Price range: Breakfast costs $3.25-$10.95; sandwiches, salads and burgers are $5.95-$8.95; and dinner entrees are $7.99-$16.95. Pie slices are $2.95, and whole pies are less than $10.95.

Alcohol: No