Wichita’s Best Cultural Restaurants, From Local To Fine Dining

East Douglas Avenue in historic downtown Wichita, Kansas, USA
East Douglas Avenue in historic downtown Wichita, Kansas, USA | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Melissa RJ Mills

Kansas is home to a number of fine dining restaurants, tiny burger joints and trendy restaurants located in the downtown and Old Town areas. Affordable and laid-back, the dining scene here befits the character of the city. This is our handpicked selection of 10 must-try cultural restaurants in Wichita, Kansas

1. Doo-Dah Diner

Diner, Restaurant, American

Doo-Dah Diner scores points with its laid-back charm, local feel and generous, colorful portions. The best time to come by is at breakfast: from The Brutus, a self-professed ‘tower of hash browns’ with eggs, chicken steak and caramelized onions thrown into the mix, to the ever-popular banana bread French toast, a fusion of the two guilty pleasures, Doo-Dah Diner’s bountiful options are bound to cheer up any morning. The restaurant’s name references a nickname that’s been given to the city of Wichita, Kansas, making the experience extra local.

2. Savute’s

Bar, Restaurant, Italian

Widely believed to be Wichita’s oldest Italian restaurant, Savute’s first opened its doors in 1944 when it was still little more than a bungalow. Enjoying great popularity even after 60 years, the restaurant is still run by the same, dedicated family but in much bigger premises along North Broadway. The Italian-American menu offers a good selection of mouth-watering classics, such as spaghetti bolognaise, cheesy pizzas and succulent steaks, all home-made with much love and experience. After dinner, drop by Savute’s Stick’n’Rudder Club, a bar within the restaurant filled with aircraft memorabilia, where guests can sip on great cocktails while sitting in airplane seats.

3. Riverside Cafe

Cafe, Restaurant, American

A casual, homey joint with all-day breakfast on offer, Riverside Cafe is a popular neighborhood restaurant located right next to Wichita’s Minisa Park and Little Arkansas River. Old photographs of the area hang on the walls, while the shelves here are stacked with memorabilia and figurines; a huge chalkboard that takes up a whole wall presents the cafe’s menu, a very American-style affair. Some of the most loved items on the menu include the Philly cheese steak and the cafe’s delicious, big burgers. Thanks to its popularity among Wichita’s locals, Riverside Cafe has expanded and is now present at three different locations across the city.

4. Public

Diner, Restaurant, American, Beer, Pub Grub, Vegetarian, Vegan, Wine

Public is neighbors with the Brickyard, Wichita’s premier live music venue, and is an equally fun- and music-filled spot in the heart of Wichita’s Old Town. In terms of culinary treats, the pie must be Public’s specialty: from The Matterhorn, blessed with prosciutto and mozzarella, to The Uncle Jessy, a heavy affair with beef brisket and blue cheese, the pies here are rich and tasty. The restaurant takes great care only to use high-quality, local ingredients sourced from Kansas farms, and prides itself on serving craft beers brewed locally. Home to numerous events happening throughout the year, dining at Public is always an interesting experience.

5. Hangar One Steakhouse

Bar, Restaurant, Steakhouse, American, Gluten-free

Hangar One, located in the vicinity of Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport, is a tribute to all things aviation; after all, Wichita is known as the aircraft capital of the Midwest. Founder and pilot Greg Hiser has an unparalleled passion for aircraft and flying, and has filled his steakhouse with aircraft memorabilia of all sorts, even turning aircraft wheels into stylish tables. The menu is arranged accordingly into pre-flight (appetisers), taxi (salads and sides), departure (sandwiches) and in-flight (mains), and even offers a first class upgrade (extra sides). The firm favorite at Hangar One Steakhouse is the steak, with each cut aged for 21 days and hailing from the Midwest. The restaurant also has a separate lounge area, where tasty drinks can be enjoyed until midnight.

6. The Monarch

Bar, Pub, Gastropub, Pub Grub

With artworks adorning its walls and an incredible chandelier made from reused bicycle parts in the center of the dining hall, the Monarch is a gastropub with a trendy, laid-back atmosphere. The dining options are casual, with dishes ranging from classic salads to meat-filled sandwiches; and meat is actually one of the best things about the Monarch – it’s all smoked in-house, every day, so guests are guaranteed high quality and depth of flavor. Beer is another one to try: the venue’s owners source some great artisan beers from the region and bring them to the Monarch for customers to try out.

7. Watermark Books

Bookstore

More like a cafe than a restaurant, this venue is part of Watermark Books, a popular bookstore in the Lincoln Heights Center. The appeal of the cafe is universal: tasty snacks enjoyed in the company of a newly purchased book. Sandwiches with literature-inspired names take center stage here, providing amusing interpretations of literary classics: the Anna Karenina is a sinfully delicious egg salad sandwich with sweet pickle relish and a splash of mustard, while the Iliad brings together classic flavors with chicken breast, tarragon, walnuts and onions. Their specialty drinks continue in the same vein.

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