Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Where to Eat In Lawrence

As you all know, this is a relatively slow time for sports nationally, and even more so at the University of Kansas. Which, if you have yet to notice, is where we here at It's Business Time focus most of our efforts. But despite this downturn in the wide world of sports, I continue to rather blog than do my actual job. So, for reasons known only to me (or those who might have read Burnt Orange Nation a few days ago), I have decided to put together a restaurant list for the city of Lawrence. Feel free to disagree. But you better substantiate any arguments.

The Top 5 (In no particular order)

Free State Brewery

Pros: First off, when it opened in 1989 it became the first legal brewery in Kansas in over 100 years. And to run with that fact, they brew several damn good beers – enough so that they have at least one for everyone's taste. Taking a big step further, nearly everything on the menu can sound good at some time and they always come up with delicious and original specials.

Cons: Typically occupied by a few too many hippies, especially in summer.

Papa Keno's

Pros: It's the best pizza in town. And a "best places to eat" list that doesn't include a pizza joint has no credibility whatsoever. In addition to the fresh ingredients and original menu, they also offer gigantic, fresh-baked slices. If that weren't enough, despite not really being a bar, they have TV and beer.

Cons: Too many screaming kids sometimes.

Border Bandido

Pros: It has an all you can eat Mexican buffet! That's probably all that needs to be said, but for those unfamiliar, here are some of the highlights. For $5.75, you have unlimited reign on any type of taco you want to make, be it hard, soft or burger. On top of that the buffet includes some delicious queso and tater tots. That ought to about do it.

Cons: No alcohol. But given how much dirty Mexican food you're consuming, that's not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to the 'Dido.


Pros: Quite simply, the best restaurant in the city. Much like Free State, it has an all-encompassing menu that always has something to offer for everyone and typically has a special or two that won't let you down. This is one of those places that you're bound to spend quite a bit of money because you'll want to enjoy wine, appetizers, an entrée, and possibly desert. And yet, you'll never leave disappointed.

Cons: None come to mind. Except that it can't be frequented too often due to cost.

La Familia

Pros: Yes, we've already represented Mexican food with Border Bandido. But if you've been to both you'll know they're nothing alike, and more importantly, that neither could be left off. Whereas 'Dido offers you quantity, Familia goes for quality – both highly important factors. Among other things, La Familia presents you with a sweet salsa that simply can't be matched. Oh, and they have some excellent margaritas, a must for any Mexican restaurant.

Cons: Size? Personally I like this, but it can be an issue if you're out with a big group.

As you may have noticed, I didn't include a single bar in this group. Partly because none were deserving, but also because they really need to be their own group in a place like Lawrence. And since I'm busy not working, here's that list (again in no particular order).

The Wheel

Pros: In all likelihood, this is where to go for the best burger in the city. SVP and Neil Everett have made it a cliche, but I don't enjoy any burger more than the Wang. Throw in the country fried steak special on Friday and some fantastic late night pizza from creepy Pizza Pete and there's no way you miss this list.

Cons: It's in no way a sports bar. The Wheel is great and I'll forever love it, but you can't actually watch a game there and more often than not on a weekend night you can't even move in there. It also gets docked a few points because you can't eat dinner there – the Wang burger is a lunch time item only.

Ten & the Jayhawker

Pros: Easily the nicest bar in the city and of course gets major points for: being partly owned by KU great Bobby Douglas, residing in The Eldridge Hotel, co-existing with the Big Six room, and serving some damn good food. If you don't like their French Dip we probably can't be friends.

Cons: Unless you're at the actual bar, it's not great for watching games. Along that same line, it's also not really a sports bar, but rather a hotel bar that has some decent TV coverage and ample KU paraphanalia. Also, it attracts an "I'm too old to be out looking to hook up" crowd.

Yacht Club

Pros: Now this is a place to watch a game. In addition to the several big screens throughout the place, there is also a TV in every booth and several on every corner. No matter where you're standing/sitting or how crowded it is you'll always be able to see a tube. To take that a step further, I've still yet to find a place anywhere with nearly as comfortable of chairs as those at the Yacht. On the consumption side of things, the food is hit or miss depending on how high the cooks are, but they've got a solid overall menu. As for alcohol, they rarely have great specials, but they do have beer towers, which for those of you that don't know are either 2 or 3 liter towers that have a stand and a spigot.

Cons: I alluded to them in the pros listing, but the food is pretty inconsistent and they never really offer any good drink specials. Also, they have a great patio with a bar that is extremely under-utilized.

Louise's West

Pros: Schooners, Bloody Mary's, darts and the best jukebox in the city. Also, you likely won't have to deal with anyone underage (you can decide if that's a pro or not).

Cons: If you're looking for food other than a bag of chips you've come to the wrong place. Also, it's only a good place to watch a game if that game holds no significance to the city of Lawrence. It Kansas is involved, stay far away. But if it's Tuesday and you want to get drunk while you watch CP3 tear up the flopping Spurs, by all means.


Pros: First and foremost, the food is fantastic. Soups, sandwiches and Spinach Dip. That may not sound like your typical bar food, but no matter what time of day you eat it, it's incredible. And because of their phenomenal food and downtown location, Quinton's has effectively turned into a place you can drink for free. Their daily specials can be ok, but more importantly, if you frequent the place, you're likely to know the bartender(s) and since the place doesn't police how alcohol is charged, you're likely to get hammered for the extremely discounted price of whatever you choose to tip your friend.

Cons: Another terrible place to watch a game. Aside from that, I rarely have any complaints other than the amount of yeyo typically making its way through the patrons/employees. Not that there's anything wrong with that…

The Hawk

Cons: There truly is no worse place to watch a game. The only food is when they decide to fire up the grill during the afternoon of a nice day. And unless you're hammered, you probably won't enjoy yourself.

Pros: This is in no way a sports bar and obviously you've already read the cons. But I simply could not, in good conscience do a write-up about Lawrence establishments and not mention The Hawk. It's already damn near killing me to leave off The Cadillac Ranch, but ever since a man we'll call W took over, it just hasn't been the same.

Your thoughts?


Robo Boogie said...

I know you have 2 mexican joints already but la tropicana should be included if the others are. Also I must bitch about the lack of asian flavor on your list. Yes they are not good sports viewing venues but I suggest you hit them with that special lady friend we all know ginger does not have. First you need a sushi joint. My current favorite is Wa. I really like their specialty rolls. Cons are seafood in kansas still scares me a bit. Also one of my favorite asian blend places that a lot of people look over is the scarlet orchid. Best phad thai in the city I think. The cons are it is a bit dark and who knows if it will be around next month. One other place also should have made the list. That is the dirty bird. Their friday lunch buffet is awesome. It really is some good home cooking and of course any meal with a girl dancing near by naked on a pole is never a bad thing. The cons are it is a ways from anything and depending on the staff the girl dancing naked on the pole.

Hiphopopotamus said...

Wa was a terrible oversight and is definitely deserving of inclusion.

Scarlet Orchid is solid, but overpriced for what you get. Plus, it gets docked major points for having a location more suited for a nail salon.

La Trop is wonderful, but queso is very important to me. And theirs consists of pouring cheese sauce from a giant can into a bowl.

Friday lunch at the Dirty Bird is obviously incredible. But one meal a week isn't quite enough to get you on the list.

Joe Davis said...

Papa Kenos is CLOSED

What about the Salty Iguana, HH Bar and Grill, Johnny's Tavern, Bigg's BBQ, 75th Street Brewery, and JB Stout's?

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