Food And Flicks

Food and Flicks | RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK

With hundreds of restaurants to choose from, Topekans have an incredibly diverse choice of culinary options. From burgers and barbecue to chili and chicken, there is a little something for everyone. Each week we will profile a different local eating place.

Cook's American Grill

April 29, 2013

If you are driving the speed limit on S.W. Gage, you just might drive right past Cook's American Grill.

But don't.

Cook's, 1938 S.W. Gage, features excellent American food – and especially tasty burgers – served at the counter. The standard meal is a cheeseburger with onion rings or fries. The onion rings are a customer favorite, featuring light breading while maintaining true onion flavor.

DECOR: Simple, with a walk-up counter and giant menu board that greets you when you walk in the door.

ATMOSPHERE: Lunch time can get hectic and the parking lot is often packed (there is overflow parking nearby). The smell of Cook's amazing burgers fills the air.

AT A GLANCE: Cook's American Grill is as unpretentious as it gets. Hidden behind the modest appearance are some of Topeka's tastiest burgers and sandwiches. An absolute must-try for anyone passing through Topeka.

MORE INFO: http://food.topeka.net/food/cooks-american-grill

Tortilla Jack's

February 1, 2013

Located just across from Washburn University, Tortilla Jack's, 1618 S.W. Washburn, Mexican cuisine is popular with the college crowd. The casual, sit-down eatery opened in 1982 and features a wide variety of popular selections.

DECOR: As you enter the front door of Tortilla Jack's you are immediately greeted by a counter where you place your order. A large open dinning room features booth lined walls with tables and chairs in the middle. A separate dining area at the rear of the restaurant is perfect for larger groups and families.

ATMOSPHERE: Tortilla Jack's is a bustling place that operates as efficiently as any in town. The employees, many of have worked at the place for years, are always helpful and always have a menu suggestion if you need help. The crowd ranges from high school and college students as well as laborers and business people.

AT A GLANCE: Tortilla Jack's hasn't changed much in 25 years, which is probably why it has a very loyal following. Come early for lunch or you might be greeted by a line of customers extending out the door. Jack's is a "good food at a good price" place that can get you in and out in 30-40 minutes which makes it a great lunch spot.

MORE INFO: http://food.topeka.net/food/tortilla-jacks

Nib's House of Coffee

January 3, 2013

For a decade people looking for a great cup of coffee north of the Kansas River have been able to find it at Nib's House of Coffee, 2525 N. Topeka Blvd. Opened in 2003 by Nichole and Brady Yingling, Nib's is one of those comfortable places that has a huge and loyal following.

Inside the warm, bright coffee shop you're likely to find clusters of regulars sharing stories and enjoying a tasty breakfast or lunch as well as busy commuters grabbing a coffee or latte while heading into and out of Topeka.

DECOR: When you first pull off N. Topeka Blvd. into the massive parking lot that surrounds Nib's, you probably would never guess what is in store. Huge windows frame the coffee shop allowing sun to stream in illuminating a comfortable dining area and a counter framed in corrugated tin. An elevated seating area on the northside is a perfect place to enjoy a mocha while meeting friends or enjoying a book. In warm weather, patio furniture provides a great sidewalk cafe feel.

ATMOSPHERE: While Nib's creates a variety of delicious dishes — from biscuits and gravy and breakfast burritos to Ruben sandwiches and gyros — they also excel in brilliant customer service. The baristas at Nib's can go toe-to-toe with the best in town and they do it all with a smile.

AT A GLANCE: The Yinglings stepped away from Nib's in 2009 so they could start a family. Two daughters later and the couple is back at it, having bought the shop back in September with Nichole reviving the charm that was a fixture since 2003. The next time you are in North Topeka, put Nib's on your list of stops.

MORE INFO: Here and here

College Hill Pizza Pub

October 29, 2012

With a concept that should drive massive amounts of college traffic from nearby Washburn University, College Hill Pizza Pub, 1601 S.W. Lane, new "creat-yoyr-own" pizza place not only allows you to get the toppings you want, but the price is outstanding.

The eatery — selling pizza and drinks — opened Oct. 29, and offers customers a 10-inch one-topping pizza for $5. From there, vegetable toppings can be added for 50 cents apiece, while met and cheese toppings are 75 cents for each.

DECOR: What started as a well-worn College Hill bar spot has been transformed with cool polished concrete floors, large black and white photographs of Washburn and flat screen TVs. A huge patio on the front of the building will be a great outdoor eating addition to the Topeka restaurant landscape.

ATMOSPHERE: This place delivers your food quick. No more waiting around wondering when (or if) your pizza will arrive. The Pizza Pub seats around 50 inside and another 20 to 30 on an outside patio. The vibe is sleek and cool with personal TVs along one wall and a large concrete bar on the other. Beer, wine and free wifi should be a huge draw to the studying crowd.

AT A GLANCE: Ryan Duncan spent all summer renovating the space that now houses his new place and the results are striking. Topeka, and specifically College Hill, has need a quick and delicious pizza place that allows a group of friends to each get a different pizza at an amazing price.

MORE INFO: http://food.topeka.net/content/pizza-pub-open-oct-29 and http://food.topeka.net/food/college-hill-pizza-pub

College Hill Pizza Pub

October 29, 2012

With a concept that should drive massive amounts of college traffic from nearby Washburn University, College Hill Pizza Pub, 1601 S.W. Lane, new "creat-yoyr-own" pizza place not only allows you to get the toppings you want, but the price is outstanding.

The eatery — selling pizza and drinks — opened Oct. 29, and offers customers a 10-inch one-topping pizza for $5. From there, vegetable toppings can be added for 50 cents apiece, while met and cheese toppings are 75 cents for each.

DECOR: What started as a well-worn College Hill bar spot has been transformed with cool polished concrete floors, large black and white photographs of Washburn and flat screen TVs. A huge patio on the front of the building will be a great outdoor eating addition to the Topeka restaurant landscape.

ATMOSPHERE: This place delivers your food quick. No more waiting around wondering when (or if) your pizza will arrive. The Pizza Pub seats around 50 inside and another 20 to 30 on an outside patio. The vibe is sleek and cool with personal TVs along one wall and a large concrete bar on the other. Beer, wine and free wifi should be a huge draw to the studying crowd.

AT A GLANCE: Ryan Duncan spent all summer renovating the space that now houses his new place and the results are striking. Topeka, and specifically College Hill, has need a quick and delicious pizza place that allows a group of friends to each get a different pizza at an amazing price.

MORE INFO: http://food.topeka.net/content/pizza-pub-open-oct-29 and http://food.topeka.net/food/college-hill-pizza-pub

The Burger Stand

September 15, 2012

Some might not have given The Burger Stand, 1601 S.W. Lane, a chance when it opened in September 2011 in the College Hill development. But, a year has passed and the trendy burger joint is better than ever.

Robert Krause, who started one of Topeka's coolest eateries — New City Cafe — as well as several of Lawrence's top restaurants, brought his gourmet burger concept to Topeka and has been serving to long lines ever since.

With sophisticated burgers and fries — including the always popular truffle fries — The Burger Stand also features two bars, as well as ping pong tables and a patio with umbrella-topped tables.

From the The Classic (with Vermont cheddar and locally grown micro-greens) and the Black & Blue (with Maytag blue cheese & granny smith apple chutney) to the Kobe (with American Kobe beef, pickled red onion and truffle butter) and the
Fire Burger (topped with fresh avocado and habanero-cactus jam), The Burger Stand's menu sounds as appetizing as it tastes.

DECOR: Industrial and chic with polished concrete floors and many repurposed architectural fixtures add to the detail that make The Burger Stand a hip place. Comfortable booths and hightop tables dot the dining room and two large bars seat thirsty patrons looking for craft beer on tap. The bar side features a couple of competition-level table tennis tables.

ATMOSPHERE: Being just a block from Washburn University means you'll usually find an abundance of college students and professors, as well as a broad mix of blue and white collar workers. During the day, particularly around lunchtime, the place can get very busy. At night it becomes more of a bar/restaurant.

AT A GLANCE: Gourmet burgers were a long overdue addition to the Topeka culinary scene and The Burger Stand has hit a grand slam in its first year of operation. With a menu that constantly evolves, bringing new and different burgers to town, this has to be on the shortlist of local favorites.

MORE INFO: http://food.topeka.net/food/burger-stand

Taco Casa

August 30, 2012

Family-owned and operated Taco Casa, 1423 S.W. 6th, has been in Topeka since 1963. The restaurant was one of the first fast-food restaurants in Topeka to offer Americanized Mexican meals. It caters to the business crowd during the day and families in the evening. The proprietors, Al Ward and family, are as good as it gets when it comes to customer service, knowing many of the patrons by name.

DECOR: Taco Casa has a homey feel with family pictures of the Ward family decorating an area close to the kitchen. The layout is simple in the sense that you place your order at the counter, take a number and wait for your food to be prepared. Rows of booths and large windows offering views of 6th Street complete the interior.

ATMOSPHERE: On most days, you'll find the owner, Al Ward, overseeing the operation. Don't miss a chance to stop him and say hello, and don't be surprised if he remembers you the next time you come in.

AT A GLANCE: A true Topeka treasure, Taco Casa is one of those places you miss when you are out of town. The food tastes as good today as it did decades ago. The hot sauces are a must as are some of our favorites like the combo burrito, tostada and soft taco. Try the queso once, and you'll find yourself driving across town to get another fix. Taco Casa is a great place to take out-of-town friends and relatives.

MORE INFO: http://food.topeka.net/food/taco-casa

Paisano's Ristorante

August 1, 2012

Paisano's Ristorante, 4043 S.W. 10th Street, offers southern Italian cuisine, which means its selections are built around homemade sauces, some featuring seafood, and are served in large portion sizes. If you've been to Paisano's for lunch, make sure you visit for dinner, as the dinner menu has several additional masterpieces.

The entrees are so good, be careful not to fill up on the bottomless fresh salad, bread and made-from-scratch soups.

Paisano's also has an early bird special Monday through Friday. Entrees are half-price with the purchase of a drink for everyone who is seated by 11:30 a.m.

DECOR: Paisano's is tucked into the eclectic Fleming Place shopping center at 10th and Gage. Inside you'll find a variety of booths and tables in four different dining rooms. The walls are decorated in rich tones with black and white photographs and Italian artwork tastefully displayed.

ATMOSPHERE: You can almost certainly count on hearing Frank Sinatra singing classics while you dine. The smell of great Italian cuisine greets you before you even open the door. A passionate and talented wait staff perfectly compliments the work being done in the kitchen. A small bar in the center of the place is a perfect spot to grab a cocktail or glass of wine while waiting for other guests to arrive.

AT A GLANCE: Paisano's is without question one of Topeka's all-time great restaurants. The food, from signature dishes like the Marco Polo to Italian classics like lasagna are all impressive. Besides the marvelous food and accommodating staff, one of the great things about Paisano's is that it is as perfect for an intimate meal for two as it is a family meal for eight or a business lunch for four. The early bird lunch special is perhaps the best lunch deal in town.

MORE INFO: http://food.topeka.net/food/paisanos-ristorante

Tacos El Sol

June 25, 2012

Since 1998, Tacos El Sol, 2124 S.E. 6th St., has been providing great, authentic Mexican meals in its cozy, clean restaurant in East Topeka. Service is fast and friendly, and everything — right down to the salsa — is prepared at the restaurant. Its customers are loyal. Some have been coming back regularly since it opened.

DECOR: Tacos El Sol runs like a well-oiled machine. The staff knows how to make the most of an often crowded counter where orders are placed. A small window into the kitchen gives visitors a glimpse into the magic that is being created over hot stoves and grills.

ATMOSPHERE: Like other popular Topeka spots, lunchtime can be particularly busy with a diverse group of loyal customers. You'll see suits sitting next to laborers, kids next to grandparents.

AT A GLANCE: Tacos El Sol is a true Topeka treasure. From the incredibly friendly staff to the amazingly authentic Mexican dishes, you won't find a better place to eat. The parking lot is often jammed with vehicles, so plan your dining accordingly.

MORE INFO: http://food.topeka.net/food/tacos-el-sol-mexican-restaurant

Tad's Tropical Sno

May 28, 2012

Few things are as simply delicious as Tad's Tropical Sno. In fact, on a hot sweltering day in Topeka, it just might be your idea of heaven.

Located in the northeast corner of the parking lot of Gage Bowl at 4200 S.W. Huntoon St., Tad's has been making magic with shaved ice in Topeka for more than 10 years.

DECOR: Tad's is a no-frills operation, which is one of the cool things about the place. Get it, shaved ice, cool? Housed in a small white shack with a giant menu board and walkup window, the magic at Tad's goes on inside, where sno makers frantically shave spinning ice into fluffy mounds of goodness all while trying to keep from getting frostbite.

ATMOSPHERE: Depending on the time of day, the temperature and a complicated mathematical that we have yet to figure out during the past decade, Tad's can swell from one or two customers to two dozen in minutes. The longer the line, the more time you'll have to peruse the menu board, which lists a whopping 130 flavors. Some are pretty straightforward, like Black Cherry, Lemon Lime, Mango or Banana Berry, but others can inspire puzzled head-scratching, bemused smiles – maybe even a giggle or guffaw. Just try to keep a straight face while ordering a Lover’s Delight or Big Bazilly.

AT A GLANCE: Tad's does one thing — shaved ice — and it is awesome. Want an order of tater tots, a corndog, ice cream cone or anything else, then you've come to the wrong place. Over the years, Tad's has established an amazingly loyal following of sno fanatics who get antsy each spring waiting for the lights to come on and the place to open. As the temperatures start to build, customers come in swarms during the evening hours, willing to trade their comfortable air-conditioned houses for a frozen treat that’s satisfying and flavorful, but not overly rich.

MORE INFO: http://food.topeka.net/food/tads-tropical-sno