I have a good friend who lives in the heart of downtown Wichita whom I’ve visited a few times. My visits are usually brief (no longer than a day or two), but being stuck this last visit without a car encouraged me to get out and explore what the area had to offer. Because of my brief stay, I can’t say the following places fit my “best of the best” for Wichita as a whole, but I can at least point you in the right direction for some great places to visit!
The Doughnut Whole
Open 24/7, this Wichita staple makes some very creative doughnuts. All the doughnuts are cake-doughnuts (no glazed, fluffy or airy doughnuts), but the variety of toppings is extensive and often unique. During my visit, I enjoyed a “lazy boy” doughnut, which featured a caramel-glaze covered in pretzels and toped with a chocolate drizzle. One doughnut is sufficient to fill you up since they are pretty dense, but don’t let that stop you from trying a few (dozen). The interior is pretty funky, featuring local art and an eclectic mix of vintage and junky decor.
86 Cold Press
Recently opened, this juice bar nestled in the old Reston building serves fresh juice and yogurt. They offer a juice flight roughly the same price as a 12oz glass, which is great if your new to fresh-juice, want to sample a bunch of different flavors, or are just afraid of making a decision/committing to a 12oz glass. A particular standout is the “activated lemonade”, which tastes similar to an unsweetened lemonade but has active charcoal in it. Now, charcoal for health/beauty is nothing new, but this is honestly the first time I’ve ever consumed it- and it was pretty good. You can enjoy the juice and give yourself a pat on the back for being so healthy.
It was a pretty brutal summer day to walk around downtown, and I ended up wandering into this cafe for the air conditioning and a water. I’m happy to say they have much more than relief from the heat to offer- the service was excellent, provided great recommendations, and was all around a enjoyable experience. They specialize in deathly, dietary-restriction conscious options, allowing substations for vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, nut free etc while still offering meals that any good red-blooded American can enjoy. I had a fantastic sub stuffed with vegetables, and thanks to the meaty and flavorful eggplant and portobello mushrooms I was completely happy with my unintentional vegetarian meal.
Expresso to Go-Go
That name is just fun to say, and they have a disco ball spinning in the small corner coffee shop. Stark white with a modern feel (sans disco ball), this coffee stop features many interesting drinks- make sure to ask the baristas for recommendations as many of the crazy/unique drinks are not listed on the menu. One of their recommendations on a sweltering day became a personal indulgence of eventually a coffee milkshake. Creamery than most blended drinks, it had the texture and taste of vanilla and chocolate ice-cream. Topped with whip cream, it was more of a dessert than anything, but I certainly was not complaining.
Meads Corner seems to be a local favorite, as every time I walk by the place was hopping. I stopped in briefly with a friend to grab some gelato which, while refreshing, was just ok. The clientele was very diverse, everyone from families with small children, college students studying, and homeless people passed out on the couches. They stay open pretty late.
The Hungry Heart
This restaurant and bar is all sorts of indulgent- great small-plate rich food, fancy cocktails and a cool, downtown/industrial atmosphere. I thoroughly enjoyed sampling salmon toast, Korean bbq ribs and a sweet boozy cocktail. Friendly service and a menu that changes with the seasons makes visiting always a treat. Conveniently located right next to the event center and just outside the “Oldtown” area.
Downtown Wichita was fun to walk around. Some of the buildings feature grand old architecture, there is plenty of public art and places to sit and enjoy the day. If you find yourself in the heart of Kansas, take a visit and enjoy some good food and sunshine.
Whats your favorite place to visit/eat in Downtown Wichita? Is there any place you recommend? Leave your comments below!