Grovers Smokehouse: Grovers Smokehouse
We stopped at Grovers because we were craving BBQ, and our GPS led us here after the three "closest" BBQ places failed to pan out. We pulled it and it looked like what we were looking for - good, fast, cheap. Two out of three ain't bad... The staff could use some training in customer service - I think the cashier was messing with us, because she spoke so softly, we had to have her repeat everything at least once.
The food came quickly, and there was a lot of it. I got the pork dinner plate with corn on the cob and french fries, and my husband had the turkey dinner with baked beans. Neither of us cared for the "legendary" BBQ sauce - it was too sweet for our tastes. My pork was smoked perfectly - very tender and flavorful, if a little fatty. My husband said his turkey was very dry.
At the end of the day, we were no longer hungry, and it was a lot of food for ~$15/per person, but we wouldn't rush back.
- Food and Dining
Blind Tiger: Open your eyes, Blind Tiger
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...
- Beer Tasting
- Business Travel
- Road Trip
Blind Tiger Brewery: Blind Tiger Brewery
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.
Annie's Place: Annie's Place
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: Cupcakes and more...
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.
- Food and Dining
- Family Travel
Bobo's Drive-In: Classic Americana!
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.
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
CW Porubsky's Deli & Tavern: The Transcendent Deli
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.
- Food and Dining
Tony's Place: Tony's Place
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 Chinese Restaurant: Hunam Chinese Restaurant
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.
Chez Yasu: Chez Yasu
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: Golden Dynasty
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 Chinese Restaurant: Sun's Chinese Restaurant
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.
Jade Garden: Jade Garden
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.