Monday, January 26, 2015

Dempsey's Burger Pub: Best Burger in Wichita?

Have you ever had those nights when you are with your friends and all you want to do is just grub on a bunch of good food? I’m not talking about those nights where it’s depressing and you sit on the couch with a bucket of ice cream and watch a bunch of sappy Reese Witherspoon movies, but a night you go out for a couple drinks and order as much greasy food as you can.

That was my Friday night folks. There’s a burger place a few of us have been to before but a fourth friend had yet to try their food; that place is Dempsey’s Burger Pub.

Dempsey’s Burger Pub is located in Clifton Square on 3700 E Douglas. (Website: This is the third location for Dempsey’s Burger Pub which I’m told operates one in Lawrence and Omaha. Don’t let the KU and Creighton locations turn you away from stopping by Dempsey’s in Wichita.

Dempsey’s is a restaurant and bar that is open until 2 am and servers food until 10 pm…..sometimes later. There is a full bar downstairs in a dimly lit pretty small area that does get crowded on the weekends. The feeling downstairs is very “Cedar-esque” for those old enough to have gone to The Cedar Saloon before it closed down. Upstairs is pretty small as well; there are only around ten tables so it does get pretty busy in the evenings. Dempsey’s does not take reservations but they do take call ahead seating.

But Friday’s affair was all about the food. My friends and I spoke to the GM of the restaurant and told him we just wanted whatever and to surprise us with the best food on the menu. Not long after we were served 6 burger/sandwich items off of the menu, a set of wings, four different types of fries and dessert.

Our goal was to make sure all the food was gone by the end of the evening. With each burger, we cut it into fourths and tried them all at the same time just to get a gauge on what we all thought. You guys ready for our thoughts? Let’s go:
  • Fish and Chips (Black Cod served on a bed of house cut fries with our homemade tartar sauce.) – Best described as ok. Three of the four of us all had it and while the tartar sauce was good, the fish and chips still left something to be desired.
  • Bacon Mushroom Swiss (Sautéed domestic & port0bello mushroom,  Swiss cheese, applewood bacon, pretzel bun) – Not everybody got some of the bacon because one of my friends stole a piece of bacon off of the sandwich. Still a very good burger that everybody liked. But this burger would later be overshadowed by other choices.
  •  Sliders (2oz. patty, homemade mustard, house pickles, shallot marmalade, sharp cheddar cheese.) – Very juicy and delicious. Many bars you go to the sliders are pretty dry and the bun is hard. I will go ahead and say these are some of the best sliders I’ve ever had.
  •  Bleu Burger (Maytag bleu cheese, crispy bacon and onion confiture) – Way too cheesy for me, I had one bite and gave the rest away as did another friend. If you like bleu cheese, you will love this burger. If you don’t…..avoid.
  • Hot Hawaiian Kobe (Pineapple jalapeno chutney, applewood bacon, bibb letuce, spicy sriracha aioli, pretzel bun.) – The biggest hit of the night. Perfect blend of flavors, great juicy burger, excellent meat quality. This was the favorite of everybody. If you were to try a burger once at Dempsey’s, this should be the option.)
  • Chipotle Burger – I don’t have all the toppings listed as this was a featured special that evening that was not on the menu. Very good burger that everybody liked but it couldn’t meet the expectations of the Hawaiian Burger).

Fish and Chips
Bacon Mushroom Swiss
Chipotle Burger
Hot Hawaiian Kobe
Bleu Burger
We also tried four different fries that are offered on the menu:
  • Regular Fries  (house cut, lightly salted)
  • Truffle Fries (house cut and tossed in fresh grated parmesan cheese and parsley)
  • Sweet Potato Fries (choose sweet or salty)
  • Fire Fries (house cut fries tossed in a chili-garlic oil, side of sriracha aioli)
Truffle Fries
Of the four fries, two of my friends loved the Fire Fries which offer a lot of bite if you’re into spicy foods. Another friend was a fan of the Sweet Potato Fries while my favorite, the Truffle Fries were delicious but you can only have so much of them. I also liked the Fire Fries. You can’t go wrong with either one of them. Dempsey’s also offers six different sauces to go along with the fries from Catsup, Spicy Mustard, Aioli, Sweet Chili Aioli, Truffle Cream, and Roaster Garlic Aioli. Most of the sauces they make from scratch. Do note that you are only offered two sauces with a side of fries or four sauces with a basket of fries. Each additional sauce is 50 cents. All of the sauces are worth trying at least once to find your favorite. I could try a different sauce each time I go.

In between the burgers, we all tried some of the Grilled Pineapple Chicken Wings. The wings were sauced perfectly, not overdone, not too little. Two of my friends wanted to go on record saying that Dempsey’s has the best wings in Wichita hands down. I’m still on the fence. While I really enjoyed their wings, I would have to go back and order wings from multiple places I like and try them all at the same time to determine that. A different friend would text me Sunday telling me he just happened to order the same wings and loved them as well.

Last was the Chocolate Salted Caramel Pie. Only two of us had any room left in our stomachs to give it our best attempt. I ate half of one and while tasty, it is very rich.

How about the service? There were zero complaints from everybody? The wait staff was extremely friendly and all the food came out in prompt fashion.

Overall thoughts on the place, this is a must try in Wichita. Between Ziggy’s Pizza and Dempsey’s Burger, you cannot go wrong if you’re eating at Clifton Square. After some debate between three of my friends, we essentially agreed that Dempsey’s perhaps is the best burger in Wichita right now and the wings are definitely up there. Give it a try yourself and see if you agree.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Pie Five Pizza Reviewed

One of the big question I’ve had among friends in talking about restaurants is “Have you been to Pie Five yet?”

Pie Five is a quick pizza concept that’s best described as going to Chipotle and ordering a pizza. You walk down the ordering aisle and select your type of crust whether it be the artisan thin, classic pan, whole grain thin or gluten-free for an extra $2 charge. Then after that, you choose your sauce from a list of seven choices. Then it’s on to the toppings where you can select all the cheeses, meats, and veggies you would like on there. Once you select all your toppings, they bake the pizza and it’s ready to go in about five minutes.

 The combinations are quite endless and there’s even a list of specialty pizzas you can order from if you’re not too interested in making your own.

On top of the pizza you can then order a dessert to go along with it or a salad that is put inside a pizza crust bowl you can eat.

Got that all down? OK. Well three locations have opened up in Wichita in the past six months. One over in New Mark Square on Maize Road, one on South Ridge Road near Ridge and Maple and a third that opened last month on North Rock Road by  the southwest corner of Rock and 21st street.

I am not going to lie. Since the east side location opened, my lunch friends and I have stopped by here about four times.

Each time I have designed my own pizza using the artisan thin and classic pan crusts. The artisan thin with the spicy marinara sauce has been my favorite combination to use thus far. I look to try the gluten-free crust soon. The pizza crust bowl with the Caesar side salad might be one of my favorite options too. Check out some of the creations by my friends and I.

The pricing isn’t too bad. A pizza cost $6.99 or you can bundle it with a salad and drink for $9.99. They have a “Circle of Crust” rewards club you can join and earn a free pizza after so many visits and get e-mail notifications on specials like $5 pizza or double points. I must also note, Pie Five also has some of the highest quality plastic cutlery I’ve ever seen.

When the east side location first opened, the lines were pretty crazy and it was about a 30-40 minute wait from getting in line to getting your food. Since then, it’s calmed down and takes me around 10 minutes go get my food max.

So to answer the question my friends have been asking me. “Yes I’ve been and yes I think it’s good.”  My friends have enjoyed the place too and we’ve since added it to our regular rotation of restaurants to go to for lunch.

Give it a try yourself; I’d love to see what you think 

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Happy Dining All

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Eastern Cuisine Reviewed

Sometimes when you’re driving around for lunch you run into these unexpected places. I was in the Delano area and decided to stop by Picasso’s Pizza for a quick slice of pizza. I had to park a little further east of the building and ended up right in front of a restaurant I’ve never heard of. The word buffet was on the sign and for whatever reason bright lights and music starts playing in my mind when I see that word. It just intrigues me to see what the options are.  That restaurant was Eastern Cuisine.

Eastern Cuisine is located at 613 W Douglas. They’ve been open since around August and serve African food like fried plantains, curry dishes, beef and chicken pilaf, leaven bread, chicken, among other items. All the food is served buffet style so if you’re unfamiliar with a lot of African food, this gives you a chance to try different items to see what you’d like and what you don’t.

I decided to give it a go. The owner of the restaurant was extremely nice when I came in. She was very helpful in explaining what everything was. The place had a real Mom and Pop shop type of feel; I loved it.

I tried some of the bread, the pilaf, different curry items, the chicken and I honestly loved it all. I went back for a couple plates and by the end of the lunch I was ready for a nap.  A very popular item I would later read about is the Tanzanian salad which I didn’t get a chance to try so will have to venture back to Delano for that.

The breakfast buffet is $5.99 and runs until 11 am. The lunch buffet is $8.99 and runs until 5:30 pm. Lastly is the dinner buffet is $9.99 and runs until 8 pm on Sunday through Thursday and until 7:30 pm on Friday. Let me tell you, it’s worth every penny to try something new.

I will definitely be going back and recommend you all try it at least once. It's a very nice locally owned restaurant which I will always support.
You can also check out their Facebook Page.
Happy Dining All and Happy New Year.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Eat at Il Vicino and Give Back to a Great Cause

If you read "Dining by the Alphabet: Letter V", you'll remember the glowing reviews that Il Vicino received from Wichita By E.B..

Well this Thursday, June 19th, my friends will be putting on a little benefit at the Il Vicino located at Bradley Fair. From 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. if you bring in the attached flyer below, 20% of your purchase will go back to fund the Nathan TenClay Memorial Scholarship.

This is a new scholarship, my friends have started recently in memory of a friend of theirs that passed away after his battle with cancer. I encourage you all to not just eat some really good food but also give back to a great cause.

I also want to send a major thanks to Il Vicino who was totally gracious and willing to participate in this cause. In talking with them to get this set up, they were nothing but generous.

Happy Dining Folks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dining by the Alphabet: Letter V: Il Vicino

One question I always get asked is, how did the Dining by the Alphabet go? Then I realize I’m still five letters away from finishing. The last time we left off, it was Letter U with Usuloteca which is still up and running. So by basic English, that means letter V is next. Now there are not many V restaurants in Wichita so the pickings were slim. I decided to settle for a place I could grub at and even grab a drink.

Il Vicino
2132 N Rock Rd
Wichita, KS 67206
(316) 636-2121

Il Vicino is a wood oven pizza restaurant located in Bradley Fair at 21st and Rock. They also have a location in the College Hill area at Douglas and Oliver (at the Southeast corner). They are most known for their pizzas but also serve pastas, salads, sandwiches, among other items.

I get the word “Il” doesn’t start with the letter “V” but for the long time Wichita By E.B. readers, you’ll know that words like, The, Il, El do not count. For those not fluent in Italian, let me translate the restaurant name for you. Il Vicino translates to The Neighbors.

For the return of “Dining by the Alphabet”, my official guest dinner for Letter V was Taylor. She’s a first time Dining by the Alphabet-or (is that a word?). She’s a fan of all sorts of foods and this was her first time ever visiting Il Vicino so she was rating this restaurant with a clean slate.

We went during the week in the evening and the place was half full of other hungry folks. It does get busier on weekend evenings. Inside, the restaurant has a very polished and upscale look but don’t let that deter you. It’s not super upscale and you could easily show up in jeans if you wanted. I’ve been in before with shorts on. Regarding seating, the place fits just under 90 people and has a very nice patio outside that seats 50.

Upon our arrival, we had a nice gentleman kindly open the door for us where we were warmly greeted by a couple other employees standing at the register. Their menu is posted right as you walk in. (For reference you can also check out their menu here: Note for those who care, any sandwich or pizza on their menu can be ordered gluten free. After scanning through the menu, you can go up to the register and order your food and beverages and sit where ever there is an open table.

Insalata Cesare
All their food items are numbered on the menu. I went with the #4 which is the Pollo E Pumante (Garlic oil, mozzarella, roasted chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, asiago, fresh basil) and ordered it with light cheese. Taylor had the #8 which is the Angeli (Sweet balsamic marinara sauce, mozzarella, roasted chicken, Portobello mushrooms, artichoke hearts, gorgonzola, fresh rosemary). We also ordered a couple salads. I went with #29 which is the Insalata Il Vicino (Roasted chicken, egg, tomatoes, gorgonzola, artichoke hearts, walnuts, on romaine, house vinaigrette). I felt like I was Italian when I ordered the salad as it sounds so cool rolling off the tongue. Repeat after me……..”Insalata Il Vicino” Taylor had #30 which is the Insalata Cesare (Traditional cesare dressing (blended anchovies, egg, fresh garlic, olive oil, lemon, Dijon) tossed with romaine, croutons, and asiago.) On top of that we had a water, I ordered a big beer and Taylor had a glass of wine. Please note wine and beer are the only adult beverages they serve. They do not serve liquor.

Insalata Il Vicino

We grabbed a table after ordering and our server quickly brought us our drinks. One thing we both noticed is the service is very friendly. The speed throughout the night was well above average. Taylor noted the service was great and the waiter did a good job. Our waters were never empty.

Our salads were quick to come out. Taylor said her salad was awesome. The croutons and dressing made the salad. The Caesar dressing had a little zing to it which she liked. I, too, thoroughly enjoyed my salad. It was a nice break away from the monotony of the regular ranch house salad you get at many restaurants. The artichoke hearts and house vinaigrette really hit the spot.

Hot oil sauce....and beer
Not too long after the pizzas came out. The pizzas come in a 10 inch size and a 6 inch size. We stuck with the 10 inch size and after the salads we just devoured; the larger pizzas were probably a little too big for dinner. My pizza was fantastic. It was not greasy and has the very clean and fresh feeling when you eat it. Taylor and I were both big fans of the thinner crust. I am not much of a crust eater when it comes to pizza. If I don’t have anything to dip it in, then I leave it to the side unless we are having family dinner at my parents’ house and my mom loves to eat the crust of a pizza so she’ll eat mine. That or she hates food to go to waste and takes one for the team and eats it for me. Fortunately Il Vicino has this hot
oil that’s placed at every table that you can put on your pizza or use it to dip your crust in. It’s great and one of my favorite condiments in any Wichita restaurant. After doing some research, it’s made within Il Vicino at their New Mexico location and is shipped to other Il Vicino’s. Many stores have tried to make it but can’t match it. Moving on, Taylor felt her pizza was ok. The two bright spots for her pizza were the crust and the balsamic marinara sauce. At the price of $10 for the pizza, she thought the pizza would have been best if she had shared it with someone else.

#4 Pollo E Pumante
#8 Angeli

Overall we were very pleased with dinner. The most outstanding part of Il Vicino besides the food was the service which is always very important in my book. Plus it should be noted the cleanliness of the place. They really take good care of the establishment from the inside of the building even to the restrooms.

That brings us to rating time. Taylor decided to give Il Vicino a 3.9 out of 5. I decided to give Il Vicino a 4.25. That gives Il Vicino a final score of 4.08. As always, anything over a 4 is a great score for Wichita By E.B. and that means a definite recommendation from us.

Compared to other pizza places in Wichita, this is totally different than my other favorites. The top 3 pizza places I’m a fan of in no particular order are Ziggy’s, Picasso’s and Il Vicino.

I would like to thank Taylor for joining me on the return of Dining by the Alphabet as I look to finish up the final letters.

That ends Letter V putting us with only four letters left to end this three year adventure. Next up is Letter W. Any suggestions anyone? There are a ton to choose from!

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