LJWorld.com weblogs Culture Crumbs

"Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives": An update



OK, so if you'll recall, I heard from a producer at the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" a few weeks ago. She wanted to know if there were any restaurants in Lawrence that fit the bill for the show: Cheap, tasty and original.

I asked you all for suggestions and shipped them along, hopeful that we'd see host Guy Fieri's spiky blond head in Lawrence sometime soon. Well, the producer loved our responses, but the two restaurants she pushed to her bosses didn't make the cut because of two criteria of which I was unaware:

• The restaurant has to have been open at least a year.

• The restaurant has to make 90 percent of its food from scratch.

Therefore, her top two: The Basil Leaf Cafe (only open since October) and The Burger Stand at Dempsey's (which buys their fries pre-made and then spices them up) don't count.

So, she called me for some more suggestions. And though I was bummed that The Basil Leaf and Dempsey's didn't qualify, I told her I'd meditate on it some more. I also asked her for some more of the show's hidden criteria for its restaurants of choice. Here's what she had to say:

• The restaurant can't have had major national media exposure already (Therefore some KC BBQ staples — Gates, Arthur Bryant's and Oklahoma Joe's — are being skipped on the show's trip.)

• A meal at the restaurant can't cost more than $15.

• It can't be too fancy, obviously, because the show is all about diners, drive-ins and dives.

• It can't be a chain.

So, what are your favorites in Lawrence, K.C. and Topeka that fit the bill? Somewhere that's been open awhile but isn't TOO well known, makes almost everything from scratch, isn't too ritzy or expensive and is one-of-a-kind?

I'm getting hungry just racking my brain over this one...


Maxandwillie 8 years, 3 months ago

zen zero?

free state brewery (too fancy?) definitely under $15

Johnnys? good burgers and pizza.


TriSigmaKS 8 years, 3 months ago

Milton's would be good, how about La Familia too, or Mad Greek (not sure about ingredients for any of those). Wheatfields might make the cut, but not very diner-like.

TriSigmaKS 8 years, 3 months ago

Milton's would be good, how about La Familia too, or Mad Greek (not sure about ingredients for any of those). Wheatfields might make the cut, but not very diner-like.

Boston_Corbett 8 years, 3 months ago

I love that show.....but I totally agree with ChiHawkinKS

somedude20 8 years, 3 months ago

Since Milton's, Zen Zero, La Parilla, Wheatfields and Free State, are neither a "diner" or a "drive-in" they must be "dives" then. Bet the owners will love to read that

Michele 8 years, 3 months ago

La Familia! mmm mmm mmm I think about it daily. Small hole in the wall and delicious. Perfect!

mom_of_three 8 years, 3 months ago

is yello sub part of planet sub - same food?

mom_of_three 8 years, 3 months ago

is yello sub part of planet sub - same food?

mom_of_three 8 years, 3 months ago

is yello sub part of planet sub - same food?

mom_of_three 8 years, 3 months ago

is yello sub part of planet sub - same food?

stuckinthemiddle 8 years, 3 months ago

yellow sub is the only place mentioned that makes any sense to me...

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 3 months ago

oh yeh, i forgot that yello sub is somehow affiliated w/ planet sub. drat.

supercowbellninja 8 years, 3 months ago

Jesus, ChiHawk, who crapped in your Cheerios this morning. Show some optimism and pride in Larryville or shut up.

Wheatfields seems like it would be a great choice! Or maybe even Mirth? Localburger?

d_prowess 8 years, 3 months ago

I like most of the suggestions here, but I have ZERO idea on which places qualify by making 90% of their food from scratch.
Wouldn't it be better if you provided us a list of those restaurants that would then qualify so we could then vote?

stuckinthemiddle 8 years, 3 months ago

I don't think that there really is any place in town that is much like the kind's of places Guy goes to on the show...

there's some really good places to eat in Lawrence... but none of them fit that bill... in my mind...

except... maybe The Flamingo Friday Lunch Buffett...

funkdog1 8 years, 3 months ago

The show's website says its about "classic greasy spoon joints." We don't have too many of those here. Also, I've watched the show a few times and Guy seems to like places that have large portions. Large portions of not so healthy food. (That's NOT Wheatfields, which has excellent food.)

I think the BEST candidate in Lawrence would be Burrito King. (And no, I'm not joking.)

I agree with supercowbellninja. ChiHawk needs to try the food in Topeka before b*tching about our food here. We have great food in Larryville.

Michele 8 years, 3 months ago

the Mirth, Zen Zero, Local Burger are also all good choices.

funkdog1 8 years, 3 months ago

I'll say again: I think that Mirth, Zen Zero and Local Burger are all too healthy and fancy. The show is about large portions of not healthy food that tastes great.

How about Papa Kenos? "Slices as big as your face!"

Aisling 8 years, 3 months ago

I vote for Free State. Yes, I know it doesn't technically fit the 'D, D & D theme but it used to be a bus station and eating and/or drinking in a bus station could be considered sort of divey. Not to mention drinking beer out of a to go bottle could also be considered a dive....... Yep I just love FSB and would like to see it get recognition.

relocatedtarheel 8 years, 3 months ago

funkdog-true that Mirth has healthy eats, but they also do an awesome biscuits and gravy...I could totally see Guy gettin' his grub on to that. And their huevos rancheros are awesome. That would be my vote, anyway, out of what is here. I think the show has gotten away from "dives" and more "funky local" spots. Guy says "If it's funky, we'll find it". I watch that show way too much, clearly.

I didn't know that Dempsey's fries were frozen. Bummer.

SpunKey 8 years, 3 months ago

A shame the old Red Lion isn't still around..... that would have made the cut for sure and been wonderful for viewers too. What a hoot that place was - and always good home cooking!

For those of you too new to remember... it was a tiny place, just across from the court house and only open for lunch. The owner served cafeteria style and you NEVER dared order anything but the daily special (becuase he would chide you loudly for everyone to hear). I loved that sign about "Don't tell anyone about us because the seat they take may be your own." You ate quickly and moved on - or had the owner chide and endure vulture eyes of people wanting your seat.

Danielle Brunin 8 years, 3 months ago

How about the Downtowner in Topeka? It has been open for like a hundred years. Definitely a diner. There is also a place in St. Marys, KS west of Topeka called the B&B and they have the BEST cheeseburgers and fries anywhere. It is both a dive and a diner.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 3 months ago

local burger doesn't rock enough. sorry-- have y'all seen the show? nothing local burger sells is great enough to be on that show. and that place is too expensive w/ little portions for the money.

like i have said before, i truly do appreciate the intentions of local burgers mission statement but we're talking about triple D here... that place just ain't got what it takes for that show.

Justin LoBurgio 8 years, 3 months ago

Paridise Cafe would have been perfect.....I miss that place.

Thinking_Out_Loud 8 years, 3 months ago

K.C.: Town Topic Topeka: Cook's American Grill, Bradley's Corner Cafe, Horizons Hamburger Palace, Porubsky's, Sow & Cow to Wow, the Downtowner, Giovani's Pizzeria Scranton: Branding Iron Oskaloosa: Downtown Cafe Tongie: West End Cafe, Bichelmyers

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 3 months ago

is minsky's a chain? are they located anywhere outside of the KC area?

Brandon Weber 8 years, 3 months ago

Lawrence just doesn't have much to offer for triple D. But some honorable mentions might make the bar.

The Mirth - pretty solid choice. diverse food choices. Miltons - weird hours. Wheat Fields. Rudys Quinton's - might be a stretch.

Free State - National Recognition. Local Burger - Already spotlighted in Food and Wine, Gourmet, or one of those mags. Yellow Sub - National Chain. Owned by Planet Sub. Johnny's - Chain. 10 locations or something like that. Mad Greek - Microwaved Garbage.

eudora_girl 8 years, 3 months ago

Bobo's drive in - Topeka (and if you ever get to St. Louis check out Crown Candy Kitchen)

texburgh 8 years, 3 months ago

Guy and Mae's in Williamsburg for sure.

Seabrook Tavern in Topeka.

La Tropicana in Lawrence.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 3 months ago

eudora girl, they already featured bobo's on triple D.

trinity 8 years, 3 months ago

the greeley cafe, greeley ks. seriously.

poppygirl 8 years, 3 months ago

nice little diner downtown Wellsville, best hot beef around !

Adam P Atterson 8 years, 3 months ago

Nothing in Lawrence fits. I love to eat at a lot of the places you guys have been throwing out there but honestly most of these places bring nothing new to the table. And If you are surprised Dempsey's doesn't cut their own fries you know nothing, absolutely zero about food service.

quimby 8 years, 3 months ago

These are in KC: Succotash, B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ, Fric and Frac, Town Topic, Peanut on Main, and Stroud's. The Downtowner in Topeka.

The show has already featured Bobo's and Grinders, as has been stated.

And, r.e. some of the other suggestions - No on Zen Zero and definitely NO on Mad Greek (all frozen...).

Tex 8 years, 3 months ago

The last place in our town that fit the bill was the original Southern Cuisine, when Chef Albert Terry was running the show; I grew up on homestyle cooking, and Chef Terry knows what's what. After he left, the gravy looked like an unfortunate find in a diaper...but I digress.

Lawrence has not had a great diner since the old Drake's downtown, again with Chef Terry at the helm, closed (the period when it was morphing into the Orient does not count). It's one of the mysteries of Lawrence: why, with all its cooking and business know-how, can't our fair town produce and sustain a decent diner, not some kitschy, retro, neon nightmare, just a good restaurant with homestyle cooking? I am a big fan of the Free State and a few other places, but they do not fill Lawrence's diner gap.

AimsMc 8 years, 3 months ago

What about Sylas & Maddies? Home made ice cream, cones & fudge! Triple D has been to other ice cream / dessert places in the past. Why not them?

Although I am not sure if they would be considered a chain since they do have a location in olathe.

poppygirl 8 years, 3 months ago

face it, you really need to venture outside of Lawrence, to smaller rural areas for a real Diner or Dive ! and good down home cookin

Graczyk 8 years, 3 months ago

@ChiHawkInKS. The show has moved way past the strict Triple D formulation. They visited a restaurant in a strip mall that serves Hungarian food, for example. Nothing DD&D about that. Several of the above suggestions would be fine for the show.

relocatedtarheel 8 years, 3 months ago

pfunk-I will happily admit you are right, I don't know much about food service, having never worked at a restaurant or the like. I just thought a place owned by the Krauses would make their own. No need to be ugly about it.

ontheroadfitness 8 years, 3 months ago

Jasmin Restaurant in Eudora... I'm telling you, it meets all the criteria perfectly!

bu_grad08 8 years, 3 months ago

No doubt it has to be the best ribs in Lawrence and probably in Kansas; Gran-Daddys BBQ

irvan moore 8 years, 3 months ago

Plain old real deal, not for yups, Kellys Diner at 19th and Haskell. Yep, not pretend to be a diner or dive, check the food, check the crowd. Don't get a lot better around here.

maik_me 8 years, 3 months ago

AB crepes. Awesome gourmet crepes made fresh to order. Everything appears to be and tastes like from scratch. Large portions for a cheap price. Great service in whats definately a diner/ dive setting.

Lukas Warden 8 years, 3 months ago

I think Prize Package in Topeka, now that place is a dive.

9070811 8 years, 3 months ago

There really aren't any original diners drive in or dives. Wheatfields may bake from scratch but it is none of those. FreeState wouldn't cut either. Drake's or Southern's would have been good choices or at least the closest to a diner or dive. Have any of you ever even watched the show? So far most of you are just naming favorite restaurants in Lawrence that obviously don't fit the bill for a diner, drive in or dive.

A good choice is Bobo's in Topeka. AB crepes is, perhaps, a good choice at this point.

musicstudent 8 years, 3 months ago

OOOH I second Jasmin's in Eurdora - Chinese and Mexican food in one place yummy!

8 years, 3 months ago

Don't thing anything here in Lawrence would fit the bill. If they did get on the show it would just be embarrassing compared to the places Guy usually visits.


Anybody ever been to Cozy Inn Burger in Salina?

Little bit of heaven in the middle of the state for 90+ years with one menu item and six bar stools!

ce84 8 years, 3 months ago

I cannot believe that no one has suggested Jefferson's!!!!! Unless they use frozen packaged foods...which could be possible but their place is unique from all the dollar bills decorated and the food is good. Just a thought.

whats_going_on 8 years, 3 months ago

I was going to say Localburger too, but not sure if that counts.

And ce84...Jeffersons is not local. There are others.

svnelson87 8 years, 3 months ago

Milton's! Wouldn't that qualify as a diner? Nothing is expensive there. And their famous French toast was in the The New Yorker Times a couple years ago. You should call them, they'd let you know about the "90% homemade" qualification.

Jay_Bird 8 years, 3 months ago

BadAssterson (anonymous) says... "Anybody ever been to Cozy Inn Burger in Salina?

Little bit of heaven in the middle of the state for 90+ years with one menu item and six bar stools!"

I just heard that they are opening a second location in Manhattan, KS.

Jay_Bird 8 years, 3 months ago

Not in the defined area, but a true dive is Bob's Grill in Pittsburg, KS.

MIke Mallory 8 years, 3 months ago

what was the place on the corner of about 12th and conneticut. that food was awesome. Also, guy and maes tavern in Williamsburg.

MIke Mallory 8 years, 3 months ago

Maria's mexican in Ottawa, I have been eating there for 35 years. its the best

Tex 8 years, 3 months ago

Oh, yeah, El Matador---there you have it! And for dessert, Little Joe can do some crooning.

gphawk89 8 years, 3 months ago

Lucille's in Westport. A classic diner if I've ever seen one. Except it burned down about 18 years ago.

How about D'Bronx on 39th street in KC? Wonderful subs and pizza. I had the honor of "discovering" that place on the day it opened (can't remember the exact date - early 90's). Or does having two locations make it a "chain"?

Antonio's Pizza (also on 39th in KC). They make a gourmet pizza so thick that each slice weighs about a pound. Oh, wait, that's closed now, too.

Anyone remember a place called Harry's Bear (I think) downtown in the late 80's? They had a meal consisting of a 2-pound hamburger and a pound of fries - if you could eat the whole thing at one sitting it was free. The burger was so big that they sliced it up like a pizza.

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 3 months ago

Seriously, I seen some pretty cool places on that show and I don't know any place in Lawrence that is unique and special.

riverdrifter 8 years, 3 months ago

Guy & Maes in Williamsburg. Their longtime ribmeister Steve left a few years ago but Ty now does just as good a job on the ribs. Their beans are OK but they need to find a little ol' local lady to make their slaw. Just sayin', Judy.


Hoots 8 years, 3 months ago

Eudora Girl. Bobo's has already been on Triple D. I would agree though that Bobo's is amazing. Make a special trip to Topeka a few times a year just to eat those great burgers and the best onion rings ever. They say the pie is the best too but I'm always too full to try it.

WhiteDog 8 years, 3 months ago

I agree that there's no place in Lawrence to recommend anymore.

I miss Tin Pan Alley, Lawrence Pizza Co., and Paradise.

Bridgett Walthall 8 years, 3 months ago

Get Krause to fix the fries issue and resubmit The Burger Stand at Dempseys.

riverdrifter 8 years, 3 months ago

trinity (anonymous) says… Scipio Supper Club, Scipio KS.

Wow, just freakin' wow! I was shuttin' up about it.

FTW Trinity.

kidicarus 8 years, 3 months ago

Bob's Grill in P-burg is pretty amazing.

GetItRight 8 years, 3 months ago

Terrebonne, La Familia & Mirth in Larry - although Paradise would have been perfect. Shuttle, Pyrmid & Kenos are great Lawrence staples too. Johnny's north of the river isn't bad but is no longer anything special since they don't have the chicken gravy for the fries anymore - but Cajun Night is a great feature. However, there is no better representation of what triple D embodies than Porubsky's in North Topeka. Ahh, the pickles.

Kt1721 8 years, 3 months ago

The Wheel? Their food isn't probably from scratch though but it would definitely fit on the show.

If you're looking for great food you need to go to Hutchinson, KS Anchor Inn Roy's Pit BBQ Bogeys Skaets ....so many options in South Central and Western Kansas!!

thadrosen 8 years, 3 months ago

Don't know if this show ever features bakeries, but Munchers makes everything from scratch. They are not a chain and everything is cheap.

In fact, people order their cream cheese donuts from across the country after experiencing them while living in Lawrence.

goalsnmind 8 years, 3 months ago

Sutera's Pizza in western shawnee is a hole in the wall ran by family &friends. it's not a chain. i don't know if 90% of their food is homemade, but they have their own homemade sauce (alfredo & marinara), homemade house italian salad dressing (HUGE chicken salads), great pizzas & toppings. i'm sure their meatballs are homemade. the place was packed tonight with all ages of folks, kids to older folks. great service, great food, strong drinks. It's right at K7 & shawnee mission parkway on the SW corner of the monticello intersection. Try it!

Gail Grant 7 years, 8 months ago

Zen Zero no doubt Wheatfield Mad greek is not that great...I really wouldn't want them to be shown as somthing we're proud in.

Blog entries

Freddy's Pizza Palace in Seneca by crabby1988 8 years, 3 months ago

Commenting has been disabled for this item.