River City Brewing Co.
Representing a revival of Kansas’ brewing tradition, River City Brewing Co. opened its doors in 1993. Specializing in traditional brew-pub fare, this restaurant is famous for its mac and cheese dishes. The Spicy Picnic Mac features beer and cheese tossed with a Kansas hotlink and topped with a barbecue drizzle. Its beer menu constantly rotates, adding seasonal and local beers as well as its own brews. If you’re feeling indecisive, the staff will bring you samples. The upstairs, now known as the Loft, has a balcony featuring great views of Old Town. On the weekends, live music is often played upstairs. During the week, try to stop in during happy hour.
Taste and See
Instead of choosing to only serve standard American fare, Taste and See offers eclectic fusion cuisine, often incorporating Indian and South American flavors. A tasting menu lets you tour the world via its cuisines without leaving Wichita. If you are willing to share, order several tapas plates instead. For a full entree, go for the Cubano or Korean ribs. The latter is served atop coconut milk French toast with compound butter and ginger syrup. Its owner and chef hails from Venezuela and will often come out to talk to his guests. Try and grab a seat close to the open kitchen to watch the staff at work.
Bite Me BBQ
Known as one of the best places in Wichita for classic Kansas-style barbecue, Bite Me BBQ may not have a huge menu, but what it does offer is done extremely well. The sliced brisket is served without sauce but is tender, having been slow-smoked for 18 hours. As for the ribs, they’re cooked for 16 hours and are falling off of the bone, served with sauces along the sweet side. On Tuesdays, there is an all-you-can-eat option. Though it is a barbecue joint, the decor includes art all over the walls and a full bar.
Old Mill Tasty Shop
The Old Mill Tasty Shop has been a fixture in Old Town since 1932. Since it’s a local favorite, you may have to wait for a seat. The wait-staff is knowledgeable and friendly. It has a marble soda fountain which is still used, but don’t be fooled by the nostalgic decor: the menu has kept up with the times. It incorporates Mexican dishes like burritos smothered in green chili to go alongside French dip sandwiches served with rosemary potatoes. The food is served in hearty portions and tastes like home cooking. Since it’s often only open for lunch, try to stop in earlier than normal.
The Anchor offers an adventurous take on classic bar food to go with its extensive list of mostly local brews. During its beer-fest events, the selection gets even larger. The “Hell Hath No Fury” Philly cheesesteak is spicy and tasty, and opting for the steak burgers is another good choice. As for sides, try either the sweet potato or truffle fries. For some lighter fare, there are plates of smoked meats and cheese from local stores as well as plenty of vegetarian options. The atmosphere is cool and casual, with a seafaring theme, and the live music is excellent.
Sabor Latin Bar & Grille
Though Wichita may not seem like a great place for South American cuisine, Sabor Latin Bar & Grille begs to differ with its fusion flavors. Open with the plantain chips as an appetizer, which are served with chimichurri sauce and avocado cream. The churrasco steak can be served with plenty of different sauces; the waitstaff can explain more thoroughly the flavor profiles. For a fish option, the pumpkin and plaintain mahi mahi is the best choice, incorporating American flavors. Get in early for dinner, as the restaurant is often packed later in the evening.
Housed in a converted gas station that opened in 1931, the Pumphouse still styles itself as “Wichita’s favorite place to fill up.” With plenty of TVs, it’s often best to visit on a game day. The fries are made in-house, though The Pumphouse is proudest of its pizza. The aptly named “Beer, Pig & Cheese” pizza, which features garlic and chive cream cheese, beer-sautéed onions, smoked bacon, and mozzarella, is an indulgent delight. Its burgers are made with Kansas beef, and the chicken tenders are hand-cut and breaded. Sit outside on a nice day.
Larkspur Bistro & Bar
Larkspur Bistro & Bar offers a mix of French, Italian, Mediterranean and American dishes in a warm, somewhat upscale atmosphere. Music is typically provided by a baby grand piano, though live jazz bands have also been known to make an appearance. Sit outside on the patio to enjoy the breeze and the greenery. Larkspur prides itself on offering first-day seafood, not typically offered in Wichita. Dishes like grilled trout with mango salsa are light and delicious. Their other signature dishes include chicken pistachio, served in a creamy, rich cream cheese sauce, and veal piccata, sautéed with capers.
Public at the Brickyard
Specializing in farm-to-table cuisine, Public at the Brickyard is next to Old Town’s premiere music venue and is housed on the bottom floor of a restored warehouse. Coming from the house favorites menu, the Prairie Sliders (pictured) exemplify the general theme of the menu: local foods prepared with imagination and good flavors. The sliders themselves are bison and beef patties seasoned with porcini mushrooms and espresso, then served with mustard aioli and sweet onion marmalade. The local theme extends to its beer menu, which is stocked with plenty of craft beers from greater Kansas.
Todd Brian’s Brick Street Café & Tavern
Geared more towards Cajun and Creole cuisine, Todd Brian’s Brick Street Café & Tavern offers more than 100 separate brews and plenty of flavored martinis for those not inclined to try such an extensive beer list. The Cajun meatloaf has just the right amount of heat, while the blackened catfish is surprisingly good for being so far from Louisiana. For some lighter fare, the “Italian Stallion” sandwich is an excellent choice. The restaurant features a casual, friendly atmosphere and is located right on Old Town Square.