Archive for Thursday, April 23, 2009

Free State Brewery, WheatFields are ‘8 Wonders’ finalists in Kansas cuisine competition

WheatFields, Free State Brewing Co. among finalists

April 23, 2009


Lawrence restaurants up for statewide award

Two iconic Lawrence eateries are picking up some statewide recognition. Enlarge video

Orders are up for some familiar Lawrence dishes — black bean quesadillas, biscuits and gravy and those warm, Friday morning pretzel rolls — to join a menu for statewide culinary recognition.

Two eateries in downtown Lawrence — Free State Brewing Co., 636 Mass., and WheatFields Bakery, 904 Vt. — are among two dozen finalists to comprise the “8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine,” a contest organized by the Kansas Sampler Foundation.

The downtown icons made the first cut from among 124 nominees to be recognized for being homegrown, unique and downright yummy. To qualify, finalists had to originate in Kansas, be in operation for at least 10 years, not be part of a national franchise, and be iconic beyond their home regions.

“It’s an incredibly diverse list, from fine dining to a place that serves mountain oysters,” said Marci Penner, foundation director. “It’s a wonderful reflection of what Kansas is.”

Now, of course, the real contest begins. Online voting for the top eight places continues through midnight June 15, at this site.

Online voting is limited to three ballots from each e-mail address, and paper ballots also are available from each finalist or to be downloaded from the Web site.

Voters must vote for eight finalists — no more, and no less — each time, Penner said. That’s for two reasons: to keep people from skewing results by overwhelmingly backing one site, and also to encourage diners to learn more about the diverse offerings available statewide.

“The whole idea of the contest is to educate the world about Kansas and to encourage travel,” said Penner, who runs the nonprofit foundation out of a barn in rural Inman, just north of Hutchinson. “We really hope people go to all 24 this summer and fall. What we do know is there will be a lot of discussion: Why wasn’t so-and-so on this list? The good thing is people will be talking about all the places on this list.”

The finalists, in alphabetical order:

• Anchor Inn, Hutchinson

• Bobo’s Drive In, Topeka

• Brookville Hotel, Abilene

• Carolyn’s Essenhaus, Arlington

• Charlie’s Mexican Restaurant, Leoti

• Cozy Inn, Salina

• Crawford County Fried Chicken (six locations, including Chicken Annie’s Original, Pittsburg)

• Crazy R’s, Goodland

• C.W. Porubsky’s, Topeka

• Free State Brewing Co., Lawrence

• Fritz’s Union Station, Kansas City, Kan.

• Grand Central Hotel, Cottonwood Falls

• Guy & Mae’s Tavern, Williamsburg

• Hays House 1857 Restaurant & Tavern, Council Grove

• Hibachi Hut, Manhattan

• Homer’s Drive Inn, Leavenworth

• Josie’s Ristorante, Scammon

• NuWay, Wichita

• Olive Tree Bistro, Wichita

• Paolucci’s Restaurant, Atchison

• Pho Hoa, Garden City

• Prairie Nut Hut, Altoona

• Trapper’s Bar & Grill, Simpson

• WheatFields Bakery, Lawrence


Boeing 9 years, 2 months ago

I love me some Free State but, Wheatfields is hot or miss to me...the food is good, yes, but I feel the price vs. portions is a bit...well, I think it stinks. Breakfast is awesome, but their sandwiches are a tad bit small to me.

classclown 9 years, 2 months ago

Is Kansas Sampler going to have an "8 Wonders" contest one right after another until absolutely everything in Kansas is considered to be 1 of only 8 "wonders".

This was a neat thing when they did the original one, but they took a good thing and ruined it. When everyone is special, then no one is special.

Ironically, in their drive to make everyone seem to be special, Kansas Sampler is ending up showing the world that there really isn't anything special about Kansas.

Such a shame.

D_Puddy 9 years, 2 months ago

I think it's an interesting idea. I have only eaten at two of the places on the list (both in Lawrence), but it would be cool to try some of the others.

esj2003 9 years, 2 months ago

Though I practice portion control and don't go on statewide-diner/restaurant benders, I will give it up to Bobo's. Wheatfields is "neat," but middle-of-the-road. Free State: Yeah, probably a top eighter. The atmosphere pushes it over the hump.

I would throw the Mass Street Chipotle in there. The clouds parted and the mighty Zeus thunder-bolted this gem unto us. For some ungodly reason, it's 100-times better than every Chipotle on Earth. They actually make the burrito the correct size, measuring two fists across. It's two meals! They don't make them in that tweener size where you can't decide how much to eat, because you don't want to leave a couple ounces of rice and a piece of chicken for tomorrow's lunch, so you say, "screw it" and just eat the whole thing, which is a huge mistake. Also, the crew doubles as a formidable rec basketball team. If the staff of the downtown Chipotle played any of the other restaurant's staffs on the above list in basketball, this competion would be game over.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 2 months ago

NuWay totally belongs on the list!

Wheatfields also belongs: how many places make you want to eat a whole loaf of bread all by yourself?

I'm surprised they avoided so many good upscale resturants. Pachamama's is pricy, but it's very, very good. How did Olive Tree make it (also very decent), but Pachamama's didn't?

bretherite 9 years, 2 months ago

Tortilla Jacks in Topeka didn't make the cut. Too bad. It should be

davidsmom 9 years, 2 months ago

I've only eaten at four or five places in Lawrence (if you don't count Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium) and Free State Brewery and Wheatfields are two of my favorites so far. And I LOVE the fact that Lawrence is smoke-free. It is, literally, a breath of fresh air.

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