A Sunday in Topeka
Heading to Topeka from Boston with the family for a wedding next Saturday. We'll have Sunday free to explore and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Where do we find the Topeka area's chow delights?
I will always be a fan of Free State mentioned above, it's consistent good food, clean, well run and the beer is some of the best you'll ever have. They don't have their version of shandy on the menu anymore as of my last visit a month ago, but if you like shandy (beer/lemonade) ask for a cyclist, made with their wheat state golden. Great summer drink.
I also recently had an excellent lunch at Terrebonne, 805 Vermont, a pure and delicious fried oyster poboy, and my friend loved his jambalaya. The owners moved here after Katrina. *edit: very limited seating - you may want to take out this option and make a picnic in a park a couple blocks west.
I've never eaten at 715 but my sister is a regular, with her four kids. They make their own charcuterie I believe.
Pachamamas is spotty, but it's fineish dining. Had a pretty nice grilled romaine and fried egg salad there not too long ago at lunch. Warning, you must ask for salt. And that salad needed some.
In Topeka, I have eaten regularly at a diner KS Ave near downtown, Hanover House - not fine dining by any stretch but they make a pretty good diner breakfast, well, I can vouch for the veggie and cheese omelette having eaten it probably a hundred times. Also there is a good mexican place at @2000 California for the last 15 years, think it's called Mexicana now. Was just there recently, still very good, very casual mexican taqueria. They have an excellent vegetable burrito full of cabbage and other goodies, unchanged through many ownerships, and very yummy menudo. It's a taco/burrito place.
Fine dining, no idea if things are better than they were, but doubt it. Go to Lawrence. Free State Brewery is a good choice for a family party, great beer, very well executed casual American food. Lots of other options in larryville.
In Topeka...good, not great Italian at Paisanos (probably doesn't measure up to North End standards); good bar & grill type food at Henry T's, Blue Moose and Burger Stand (outstanding burgers); greasy dive Bobo's; upscale Chez Yazu and New City; great steaks/unimpressive atmosphere Blind Tiger North Star. If you're into chains, the Wanamaker corridor has plenty of them.
The only thing that I would consider fine dining in Topeka is the RowHouse restaurant. It has a farm to table feel to it, and is driven by what is fresh. Take a look at the menu and see what you like.
I second the recommendation for Free State. I have been going there since the late eighties and it really is a fun place. The beer is good, the food also.
If you enjoy brews, there is also the Blind Tiger in Topeka. Food is ok there, I have had some decent bbq. Mostly just enjoy going there with family when I am in town.
Breakfast is tough. Hanover Pancake house feels like a locally owned IHOP. Bradleys cafe is good, I have had decent biscuits and gravy there. It is also an ok place for lunch. House made pies are great.
Let us know where you went!
As it turned out, we only had two opportunities to dine out in Topeka (the wedding we attended was in Lawrence, so we didn't have the time or enthusiasm to take an extra trip there for a meal). We had to do some emergency shopping (to replace the mysteriously stained dress my wife had brought to wear at the wedding) and ended up by popular vote (read: children) at Noodles & Co. in the Wanamaker chain corridor. No Noodles in Massachusetts yet, so it had novelty appeal. Food was decent.
The next day we ventured to North Topeka to Bradley's Corner Cafe for lunch, though what we really wanted to try was the homemade pies. Checked online to make sure they were open on Sunday, but the joint was closed. By this time we were ravenous. Drove passed Lupita's, also closed and then came upon El Centenario, an oasis of activity (and chow) on a quiet Sunday afternoon. We wolfed down chips and salsa until the arrival of a variety of excellent tacos. Very satisfying lunch.
Also had takeout bbq dinner from Dickey's, a big family meal that everyone enjoyed: Pulled pork, brisket and, best of all, the ribs.
As a sidelight, we also went to Stroud's in KC for chicken, my first visit there in more than a decade (and first time for me at their new location). Good as remembered. Not the world's best, but darn good. No one left hungry, that's for sure.