We travled 1500 miles to visit the Blind Tiger on Valentine's Eve after reading the 5 star rating from a variety of locals. I will give this place 2 of 5 stars for the following reasons: 1. At 6:00p.m. we arrived to find two different "choices" of organic steak...AND THEY WERE OUT OF BOTH! I mean, come on! The manager didn't plan ahead for the increased patrons? They sent us the dumbest waitress who just kept taking our order only to return and say, "I'm sorry, we're out of that". We were so stinkin' hungry and there were no other restaurants accepting reservations, so we attempted to feast on side dishes. 2. Salad from a bag? The iceburg letter was brown edged and stale...even the dressing couldn't cover it up. 3. The jalepeno poppers were very good which is why I gave it 2 stars. 4. The baked potato was undercooked and they were cheap on the sour cream and butter...5. The brew was good, but not worth the travel and certainly not something we don't get right in our own backyard in our beautiful state of California. Blind Tiger Manager...you could have come out when we asked to speak to you...you could have saved the bad publicity, but I guess we just weren't worth it. A formal apology, a discounted bill...anything to reach out and account for poor planning on your behalf! The place was empty for a 5 star, which made perfect sense later when they said, "you don't need reservations". It was overated, overpriced and so far under our expectations. The employees are probably leaving the 5 star ratings...quite tacky. Beware.
Favorite Dish: Jalepeno Poppers were fried in a special beer batter...
The food at Blind Tiger Brewery is pretty good, but it's really the excellent handcrafted beer that draws people here. Situated in a big spacious stand-alone building in southeast Topeka, Blind Tiger isn't the most convenient place to get to, but it's worth the trip no matter what part of town you're in.
An offshoot of the once super-popular but now closed Meat & Cheese Shop in the also once-popular Gage Center shopping area, Annie's Place has been a Topeka tradition since the mid 1980s. It was originally known primarily for its outstanding hamburgers grilled over an open flame and served on fresh-backed buns and delicious sweet deli pickles, but it has since expanded its menu dramatically. Don't worry though, they still have a long list of hamburgers too.
Daddy Cakes has just moved into a new place, and my first visit was before all the finishing touches had been made. Still - I think it has a cool, family-friendly atmosphere, perfect for birthday parties or similar occasions. In addition to baked goods, Daddy Cakes does offer a full line of espresso drinks.
Favorite Dish: One brief visit - I had a chocolate cupcake with a creamy peanut butter chocolate topping. Quite good, but small for the price. There were lots of colorful and tempting offerings (all cupcakes or full-size cakes) from which to choose.
A Topeka landmark since 1953 - one of the few remaining family-owned, old-fashioned hamburger joints. You can eat in your car (flash your lights to summon a carhop), at the horseshoe-shaped counter, or one of the few booths. In any case the service is great, and the ambiance will take you back to another time in American life.
Bobo's fame extends well beyond Topeka. This place was feature on Guy Fieri's television hit "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," (2007) and was elected one of the "8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine" in 2009.
Favorite Dish: The hamburgers are phenomenal, but Bobo's is best known for their fresh, hand-dipped onion rings - the best I have ever eaten. Another thing that got my juices flowing was RC - Royal Crown Cola; I can't remember when I last had an RC. Folks also rave about their cinnamon apple pie. I didn't eat any, so that means have extra reason to return.
Almost hidden away on a side street in Topeka's "Little Russia" is one of the city's best-known eateries, one that has survived floods, fires, economic down-turns and other disasters for more than sixty years. Porubsky's is first a neighborhood mom and pop grocery, and second a deli and tavern. This iconic little place has been featured in numerous newspaper and television features, even written up in Gourmet magazine. Go figure.
Transcendent deli? I'm not certain why it's so known. I do know that is included in the title of a documentary film, a cult hit, which follows third generation owner Matt Porubsky in his "journey to discover the history and appeal of the business his grandparents began over sixty years ago." This project was fundeded by theWashburn University Center for Kansas Studies. Youtube trailers can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctCI3Ss2lUg and www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWtpM4AdKEc
Favorite Dish: Porubsky's signature food item is their chili, reputed to be incredibly good but on the spicy side. I don't know. I went on a Friday, chili is available Monday through Thursday during autumn and winter months. Based on my first and only visit to this point I would highly recommend the cold cut plate, a terrific value. You get a plate with high-quality, freshly-sliced cold cuts and cheese, two kinds of bread plus pickles. Make a sandwich if you wish - if you do, try the spicy mustard.
I went to Tony's Place because it advertises itself as having Swiss food with a German influence. However, there are only three things on the menu even remotely Swiss. Everything else is run of the mill chicken fried steak-stype stuff. I had the brat (which was decent and reasonably authentic), while my wife had the salmon (which was dry and not very good). There's a kind of nasty looking salad bar in the middle of the place with nothing special on it. Overall this place is catered toward people with an unadventurous palate. Making matters worse, the prices are actually quite high considering the relative low quality of the food. I was rather diappointed with Tony's Place and I'm not likely to go back unless I go for the cheese fondue (something you have to call ahead 24 hours in advance to get). Basically what I'm saying is that I would not recommend this place.
Hunam has a regular seating area, but they also offer carry-out and even free delivery (with a $15 minimum order). This is some of the better Chinese food I've had in town. Nothing spectacular, but certainly well worth a try if you're in the mood for Chinese.
Spangles is a Wichita-based fast-food joint that somehow manages to compete head to head with places like McDonald's and Burger King and holds its own very well. Not only have these enormous franchises failed to put Spangles out of business, but it continues to grow by adding new restaurants not just around Wichita, but also now in Topeka.
The best thing is that the menu isn't limited to traditional greasy fast food items (though they do offer plenty of that). They also offer an array of healthier sandwiches, and you can substitute pasta salad for fries if you don't want all the fat, grease, and calories. For a meal on the go you can't do any better than Spangles.
Topeka is an unlikely location for a French restaurant, but Chez Yasu is a small place that caters to a crowd that would normally go to Lawrence or Kansas City to find a somewhat exotic meal. The food is pretty good, though I didn't think it was anything special. I've never been a huge fan of French quisine anyway though, so keep that in mind. But if you're in the mood for a French meal this is definitely the only game in town.
Golden Dynasty is a tiny little Chinese restaurant offering take-out and a drive-up window, but no dine-in seating area. Their menu is huge and the portions are generous, but the food itself was average at best. It's not a bad place for a meal, but it's certainly nothing special either. They did have excellent rice though.
Sun's is a recent arrival to the Topeka restaurant scene but offers a great option to people living in the southwest part of the city. They serve great Chinese food that is made even better by the fact that most of it is not deep fried like you'll find at so many other places. In fact, Sun's is close to displacing Jade Garden as my favorite spot for Chinese food in Topeka.
Located in what used to be a long since defunct Andy's Hamburgers building, Jade Garden has been serving great Chinese food since the 1980s. One of the best things about this place is that you don't even have to go inside to eat because they have a drive-thru lane as well. This has long been one of my favorite places for Chinese food in the area, especially since it has the best crab rangoon I've ever had.
Located in a not-so-scenic corner of North Topeka in a little are of town called Little Russia, Porubsky's is nevertheless a Topeka icon because of its outstanding deli sandwiches, chili, and of course its famous hot pickles. Porubsky's has just a small dining area and a bar on one side, with a minimarket and deli on the other, but that's the charm of the place.
Favorite Dish: The cold plate with chili is the most popular item on their menu. It consists of a plate of various deli meats and cheeses, assorted bread, and some slices of hot pickles. And of course there's a side of their excellent chili.
Their motto is "Horrifying vegetarians since 1995". It is a simple, family-friendly place with lots of wood and checkered table cloths. The decor is mostly a huge variety of BBQ sauce bottles from all over and displays of awards they have won, of which there are lots. The wait staff is generally pleasant and the menu includes several meats, chicken and sometimes fish. Kansas City is famous for BBQ, but Boss Hawg's is up there with the best of them. They are even known in Sydney, Australia.
Favorite Dish: The ribs and chicken are great, but so are the sandwiches, which come in three different sizes. Sweet, spicy and "revenge" sauces are provided. All the side dishes are good, especially the potato salad. It will be tough, but save room for a piece of cheesecake, carrot cake, or one of their monster cookies .