- Helen Armitage
The RowHouse Restaurant is a venture from Topeka native and chef Greg Fox who honed his culinary skills working in kitchens in Nashville and New York City before returning to his hometown. Established in 2007, the restaurant is located in downtown Topeka in a charming historic row house dating back to 1876, and features two floors of dining space and a picturesque outdoor courtyard. Serving eclectic contemporary American cuisine with local Kansas flavours, the RowHouse’s menu changes on a weekly basis, though guests can expect dishes like beef tenderloin with balsamic soaked plums and cauliflower puree and the seared mahi mahi with lemon and basil beurre blanc, succotash of sweetcorn, lima beans and potato.
RowHouse Restaurant, 515 Southwest Van Buren Street, Topeka, KS, USA, +1 785 235 1700
Lonnie Q’s BBQ
Lonnie Q’s BBQ is, as its name would suggest, a restaurant specialising in all things barbecue-related and is run by chef and owner Lonnie Weaver, a local Topekan. Lonnie, who had previously spent 10 years as a chef at a different BBQ joint, had always dreamed of owning his restaurant, and achieved his goal when he established Lonnie’s BBQ in 2011. All of the restaurant’s meat is smoked and tenderised for 18 hours in a smoker to ensure maximum taste is achieved, and dishes such as brisket and pulled pork are available. The interior of the restaurants also shows the fruits of Lonnie’s labour with the walls adorned with music-themed artworks by the man himself.
The Burger Stand at College Hill
Located not far from Washburn University, The Burger Stand at College Hill is a popular eatery with Topeka’s young and fun-loving crowd, and boasts a vibrant, friendly ambience that matches its clientele. Offering all-American style unique and gourmet burgers and hot dogs made with the finest ingredients, guests can chow down on varieties such as the smoke burger topped with Applewood bacon, smoked gouda cheese and chipotle-cocoa ketchup, and the Ichabod dog, a hot dog smothered with baked beans and cheddar cheese – perfect when paired with sides that include sweet potato fries, beer-battered onion rings and fried pickles. The restaurant also features an outdoor patio and extra fun in the form of ping-pong and tables and a pinball machine.
Black Dog BBQ
Located above Topeka Historic Harley Davidson, a dealership and museum showcasing the legendary iconic American motorcycles, Black Dog BBQ is an ideal venue for any fans of motorbikes and hearty BBQ food. The restaurant’s interior evokes a classic diner feel with comfy booth, a retro kitchen and green and white tiled floors, providing nostalgic surroundings in which to enjoy classic barbecue fare like pulled pork, brisket and turkey with sides such as cheese ‘n’ tators, slaw and bacon and beer beans. Go on Fridays or Saturdays to sample Henry’s famous ‘fall off the bone delicious’ baby back ribs, or try a Saturday morning breakfast with options like home-cooked biscuits and gravy, waffles and bacon and cheese omelettes.
Henry’s Grill, 2047 Southwest Topeka Boulevard, Topeka, KS, USA, +1 785 845 9559
Walking past Chez Yasu, you’d be forgiven for not noticing that beyond the doors of its wooden storefront-style exterior is a quaint, beautiful restaurant with all the charm of a French country cottage. The elegant, yet welcoming French restaurant is owned by head chef Yasushi Hatasawa, who uses only the finest of ingredients to create his menu brimming with authentic cuisine. Guests can dine on appetisers such as the escargot with mushrooms in a parsley and garlic butter sauce or the soup du jour, followed by a hearty entrée like the roasted duck breast served with a peppercorn sauce.
Chez Yasu, 2701 Southwest 17th Street, Topeka, KS, USA, +1 785 357 1003
The Blind Tiger is a brewery and restaurant that, when it first opened its doors in 1995, became Topeka’s first ever microbrewery and the biggest brewery in Kansas. The venue gets its name from an old Prohibition Era term for a speakeasy and produces its own handcrafted beers with various brewery equipment located throughout the restaurant; the actual brew house is enclosed in glass so that diners can watch the brew masters at work. Blind Tiger’s menu features appetisers like beer-battered onion rings with spicy BBQ sauce and mains like chicken fried steak with country-style gravy – perfect washed down with one of its flagship beers like the Holy Grail Pale Ale.
Blind Tiger, 417 Southwest 37th Street, Topeka, KS, USA, +1 785 267 2739
Monsoon Indian Grill
For visitors dining out in Topeka who are craving some exotic and fiery fare, the Monsoon Indian Grill is a must-visit. Located in southwest Topeka, the restaurant opened in early 2014 and boasts a warm and vibrant interior complete with sleek hardwood floors offset by striking red walls and colourful contemporary art. Monsoon Indian Grill offers a buffet lunch each day until 2:30 pm giving those not familiar with Indian fare a chance to sample many different dishes, while its dinner menu features starters like the northern Indian delicacy amritsari fish, marinated in herbs and spices and deep fried, and entrees like tandoori shrimp.
The perfect destination for anyone with a sweet tooth, Mad Eliza’s is a bakery and confectioners that serves a range of gourmet cupcakes, cookies and cakes amongst many other sugary treats in a quaintly retro space complete with bright pink walls, a large deli counter and black and white checkered floors. Established in late 2009 by Peggy Murnahan and her husband Mark, who are both Mad Eliza’s chefs, the bakery is named after the couple’s daughter Madeline Elizabeth and is a popular destination for anyone in Topeka in need of a sugar fix. Past Mad Eliza’s creations include its pumpkin pie cheesecake and cream cheese filled chocolate chip cookies.
Mad Eliza’s, 5999 Southwest Wanamaker Road, Topeka, KS, USA, +1 785 478 0880
Located in Topeka’s historic Holliday Park neighbourhood, Café Holliday first opened its doors back in 1996 and for the past 18 years has been serving locals delicious daily lunches, dinners on Friday evenings and hearty breakfasts on Saturdays. Situated in a picturesque redbrick building, Café Holliday has a homely and inviting interior and over its many years in business its friendly, neighbourhood vibe has made it a must-visit when dining out in Topeka. A range of sandwiches are available at lunch, while the café’s breakfast menu features fare such as French toast, pancakes and omelettes, or guests can enjoy a Friday night dinner with entrees like chicken quesadilla.
Café Holliday, 800 Southwest Taylor Street, Topeka, KS, USA, +1 785 232 2188
The Blue Moose Bar and Grill
The Blue Moose Bar and Grill is a successful group of Kansas-based restaurants with four locations across the state including its branch in southwest Topeka – a spacious, airy restaurant typified by sleek wooden floors and exposed brick with a pretty outdoor patio dining area perfect for warmer evenings. The restaurant serves a range of hearty American dishes, with appetisers like fried pickles in a signature beer batter with roasted garlic dipping sauce, and entrees including the 12 ounce grilled strip steak with mashed potatoes, sautéed green beans and a rich mushroom Madeira sauce. Alternatively, go for brunch and enjoy dishes like biscuits and gravy and made-to-order omelettes.
By Helen Armitage