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Judging at the Wichita Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cook-Off

- Sunday, September 25, 2016 No Comments
The Wichita Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cook-Off had their 33rd running of the event yesterday.

They drew a record crowd and I believe even ran out of tasting kits. Amid the rain, people still came and stood in line waiting to try some of the best chili Wichita has to offer.

In the end it was Meritrust Credit Union who was the Grand Champion.

The full results were posted on their Facebook page:



Chili Cook-Off's are one of my favorite food events. I've been hosting a chili cook-off with my friends for a decade and even have one at work. Besides Pho, there's no better Fall food than Chili. I simply love it.


This year I was able to once again be a judge at the Wichita Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cook-Off.

The Wichita Wagonmasters do a tremendous job of putting on this event. From everything you see out in the crowds to all the behind the scenes work, there's so much to do in pulling this off. Organization has to be key and they do it well. For the general public it's only $5 to enter to try all the chili's you can before it's gone. Trust me, you will get your fill!

There are so many categories to judge whether it's ICS Red, Anything Goes, Salsa, ICS Green, Charity Chili, etc. I opted to help judge the Anything Goes competition. What I love about that category is literally anything goes. You have chili's from all across the spectrum; some soupy, some that are like goulash, thick chili, corn chili, green chili, red chili; it's literally anything. To quote Forrest Gump, it's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.


We were put up in a big open room at the Eaton Place where they had tables, palate cleansers like pita bread and chips along with plenty of beverages to go around.


In the Anything Goes competition, there were over 35 different chili's to try. It was a daunting and challenging task but my stomach was up to it. It's had years of training to lead me up to this point.

We were given one hour to try all 35+ submitted chili's. The rules were simple. There were boxes of spoons and you were to try a spoonful of chili, take notes and move on to the next one. At any time you could try any chili multiple times. No double dipping of course. At the end, you listed your three favorites. Sound simple? It was especially if you love chili.

Through every single one we tried, there were some really good ones and as expected some really bad ones. Some were burnt so bad while others had such great flavor it was hard to narrow the choices down. If you have a rough time with spicy foods, it can be a bit tough. One of my friends was sweating hurricanes from his forehead after we were done.

Each chili was given a random number so nobody knew who had which entry.

Once we finished, we gave our chili ballots to the guy in charge. At the end of the day, you could find out what chili was what number but my friends and I never did make it back. I remember voting #17 as my favorite chili. It was hands down the best in my opinion and unfortunately I should have went back to see who made it.

My friends and I had so much fun doing it that after much discussion we decided that next year, we will be entering the Wichita Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cook-Off ourselves and will journal the entire experience. We've done it as judges but to do it as competitors would be something totally different and unique. We walked around and spoke to many of the booths to see what all it took to enter and it sounds very doable. We were excited just talking about it and now have a year to plan what we will do to hopefully become the 2017 Grand Champion!

Stay tuned for August of next year!

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Third Place Brewing Review

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Through the years, Douglas Avenue has slowly been turning into that major street in Wichita that people can walk down and enjoy some art, a good meal and find a place to stop in for a couple drinks.

Recently, there's been a new addition and it's called Third Place Brewing.


They are located at 630 E Douglas which is right in between St. Francis and Mead just west of the train tracks that fly over Douglas. It's in great proximity to the heart of Old Town as well as Intrust Bank Arena. 

Third Place Brewing is open on Thursday and Friday from 4pm-10pm and Saturday from Noon-10pm. 



My friends and I stopped in over the weekend just to see what Third Place Brewing was all about. The first thing we noticed about Third Place Brewing was the warmth of the place. It was very comforting as you walked in; felt like a bar you could hang out in and chat with friends over a nice cold beer. There wasn't loud obnoxious music playing, TV's blaring to distract you and the bar was lit just right where it wasn't too bright or too dark.



They have growlers available so you can take you favorite beers home. If you're looking to stay and hang out, pints are $5 while short pints are $3. 

I'm certainly not the biggest beer connoisseurs in my circle of friends but fortunately there were a couple of them with me that day. We chatted with many of the bar staff to get an idea of what they had, what they suggested and what was the most popular. Their insight was very helpful. We were told their Ali's Pale Ale was the most popular while the Spring Board was the lightest of them all. Between the five of us we went with a variety of different beers they had on hand from the Springboard to the Farmhouse Ale to the Ali's Pale Ale to the Red Truck IPA. 



Not a single person was dissatisfied with what they ordered. According to a couple friends, Third Place Brewing had a very basic menu of beers and did them all well. They didn't have anything over the top and it was vast enough of a selection that anybody should be able to find a beer they would like.

The hour we spent there as an impromptu stop was well worth our time. The staff was so friendly and excellent that we look forward to going again. It's a great addition to the craft brewing community in Wichita.

They do take cash and card. Another thing to note is they don't have a kitchen. While they have snacks available for a dollar a piece, you're allowed to bring in your own food and they will occasionally have food trucks. You will want to follow them on Facebook to see what they have going on for the particular day you go. 

You will definitely want to check this one out.

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Sweet Allie B's Review

- Friday, September 23, 2016 2 Comments
I have quite a few foodie friends on social media. While everybody's busy looking at their friend's pictures of their child's first day of school, I'm busy looking at pictures of lunches and dinners people have.

One day someone posted a picture of a sandwich that caught my eye. After doing some more research, it was a restaurant I had never heard of. Come to find out this restaurant was a catering company that recently expanded to a restaurant.

Introducing.... Sweet Allie B's!


They are located at 707 N Waco Suite 105. Their hours are Monday - Saturday 10:30am - 7:30pm and Sunday from 10:30am - 5:30pm.

Sweet Allie B's specializes in sandwiches, wraps and salads.  On Saturday and Sunday they have a brunch menu from 10:30am - 2pm that includes breakfast casseroles, breakfast burritos, biscuits and gravy and much more. Their website has their full menu: http://www.sweetalliebs.com/restaurant-menu

A few coworkers and I stopped in for lunch one weekday. We were all first timers excited at the opportunity to see just how Sweet, Sweet Allie B's was.


When you walk in, you're greeted by a sweet mannequin that looks similar to Taylor Swift..... my niece would have loved that. Inside the restaurant, it is a nicely renovated office space turned eatery. It's very open and includes a full service bar.

Two of us ordered starters for our meal. I went with a basic house salad with a lime dressing with bits of guacamole inside. The dressing was absolutely wonderful. Meanwhile my colleague went with the Sweet Corn Bisque. She wasn't sure what to make of it. It was a pretty basic soup to her and didn't have much in the way of flavor to it.


For lunch, we ordered the Wild Thyme Sandwich, the Green Chili Enchilada Special, Roast Beef Po'boy Sandwich, and the Sweet Allie B's Reuben.



My colleague who ordered the Sweet Corn Bisque had the Wild Thyme Sandwich. It's fair to say she's the pickiest eater in our group and one who rarely branches out from the norm. She was hesitant to order the sandwich because of the cranberry jalapeno jam but was surprised by it all upon eating it. She said it was more sweet than spicy but overall a great combination. I'm hoping to convert her to trying more different types of food so experiment number one was a success. She said the sandwich more than made up for the soup and she would definitely go back.

Another colleague went with the Green Chili Enchilada. It was on special that day and included chips & salsa along with a pasta salad. It was probably the best value of all of our meals. He felt the enchilada and chips/salsa combo were both good but not great. It was a bit dry but not to the where it wasn't bearable. He felt it was a good meal. The pasta salad was excellent.

The Roast Beef Po'boy sandwich was excellent according to my other colleague. The roast beef was super tender and juicy..... "Big Beef flavor!" This was probably due to the gravy that the meat was smothered in; either way it was very delicious. The bread was nice and crisp as well. She also had the pasta salad but found it to be ok. It had good flavor and lots of fresh vegetables but she likes her pasta salad to include a lot of dressing in it. The pasta salad at Sweet Allie B's was a bit dry so it comes down to total preference on that.

I went with the Reuben and pasta salad. When it comes to pasta salad I love both types whether it is dry or comes with more dressing. My only nitpick is black olives. I hate a lot of black olives in my pasta salad so I was a huge fan of the offering at Sweet Allie B's. As for the Reuben, the crust had a nice burnt crisp to it to keep the entire Reuben intact. It was the right amount of thousand island dressing with the sauerkraut and corned beef. Sometimes restaurants will over do one item but Sweet Allie B's had it all right so everything complimented each other.


We ended our lunch each with a mini fudge brownie and coconut lime cupcake. Each item was 75 cents a piece so we all went ahead and ordered both. The brownie was hit or miss with our group; more on the miss side though. The brownie was a rather dry but had a nice flavor of dark cocoa. We all wish it was a little more moist. The cupcake though was the favorite of the two. It was nice, light and had a good fresh zest of lime to it.

Overall the prices were great for what we got. The customer service and cleanliness of Sweet Allie B's was top notch.

One co-worker was happy they had Wi-Fi and VERY clean bathrooms.

The lunch items were the stars of the lunch; great sandwiches all around. This is a place all of us would go to again and try some other sandwich or wrap options they have.

Happy Dining!
Eddy

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Oreo Churros: Lot of Hype But That's It

- Monday, September 19, 2016 No Comments
Welcome to something new to Wichita By E.B. - It's product reviews. Every now and then a new product will hit the stores of Wichita. If it's good enough to catch the eyes of either myself or a family member we will likely waste our money and give it a try.

Our first Product Review is......(drumroll please)..... Oreo Churros.

Oreo Churros debuted in 2014 and were originally only found at sports stadiums, amusement parks, and select convenience stores. Since then, the popularity grew enough that J&J Snack Foods decided to start making them available to as much of the general public as they could.

..........and they have finally arrived in Wichita.


The item is described as "American's favorite cookie is now available as a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate stuffed churro. With a crispy exterior, real creme filling, and Oreo cookie pieces in every bite, these churros have a just-baked Oreo cookie taste."

Usually when people think Churro they think one long Churro that is about six inches or so long. These Oreo Churros are basically just Churro "bites", not full sized. They also aren't purchased ready to eat, you have to cook them before.

For starters, I have only seen the Oreo Churros available at Wal-Marts around town in the freezer section for roughly $3 which includes a box of 20 bites.

I purchased a box and took them over to my brother's house. We had a bunch of people ready to try all the way from ages one on up.


We set the over for 450 degrees and placed all twenty bites on a pan. It took around 8 minutes for them to bake.

Once they are completed, there's a separate sugar coating you can put on them. We gave it a go and the sugar coating would almost immediately fall off once we picked each Churro bite up.


We passed them around to the kids and all the adults....... and seriously, not a single person liked them. The creme filling inside was very minimal. The box makes it look like there's so much creme filling just oozing out but the finished product looked nothing like that. With the sugar coating falling off, all you could taste was the oreo cookie which had a very rubbery texture and cardboard like flavor. We know because we were all raised on cardboard growing up.

The Oreo Churros were cooked according to the instructions and were a complete three dollar letdown. There wasn't enough sugar coating provided to add enough flavor to take away from the blandness.

It was a complete letdown and everybody was disappointed. Who doesn't love Oreos? Who doesn't love Churros? This sounded like the perfect combination and unfortunately J&J Snack Foods did not deliver for us.

We cannot recommend this product to anybody.


We have a bunch left if anybody would like them......

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Thai House Review: Always Worth the Drive

- Sunday, September 18, 2016 No Comments
Every now and then you come across a restaurant that is worth the drive all the time, every time.

In this instance, it's Thai House.


Thai House is located at 969 N. West Street. They serve what I believe to be some of the best authentic Thai food in town. For those people that love eating at local places, you'd be happy that this is a family owned restaurant.

The family who owns the place really prides themselves on the quality of their cooking and it definitely shows in the final product.

Their hours are Tuesday - Friday 11am-8pm and Saturday from 11am-4pm. Closed on Sunday and Money. They do take cash and credit for those inquiring.

If you'd like to check out their menu, it's up on their website: http://thaihousewichita.com/ - It does not include prices but I have some pictures that I'll post at the end of this review to show their most recent prices.


Thai House has the feel of a true mom and pop shop. There are a handful of four tops and a couple of bench seats at the front counter where you order. The whole kitchen is wide open so you can watch them make your food.

There have been multiple visits I have made with myself or friends to introduce them to Thai food in town and each of the experiences have always been wonderful.


One of my favorite appetizers there is their Paw-Pai Sod. It is basically spring rolls doused in Plum sauce. The spring rolls are cut up into easy bite size pieces. The Plum sauce gives it a little nice sweet and sour flavor. It's definitely worth your time and money.

While there are many Thai dishes to choose from, the most popular is the Pad Thai which you can never go wrong with and at Thai House, they're one of the best in town.



Their Pad Thai includes chicken, pork, shrimp or a combination for an additional price. Everybody I've gone with always goes with the combination so you get a little bit of everything. For the price, the serving size is great. Their Pad Thai can get made to order for your preference of spiciness level.

As stated earlier, the food is top notch. It's really one of my favorite little restaurants in town. Even though it's on West street and little out of the way for me, I'll still occasionally make the drive out there to stop by and get some delicious authentic Thai food.

The family who owns is it friendly, hard working and fantastic people. It's just a couple people who do all the cooking so admittedly it could take a while to get your food. They even mention it on their webpage. If you're in a rush, call ahead and place your order. Otherwise, just sit and take in the experience of a dive restaurant.

You will definitely want to add this place to your list of restaurants to try in town if you haven't already.

Happy Dining!
Eddy

Click each picture to expand




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Thai House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Free Hour of Play at Dart Warz for Birthdays

- Thursday, September 15, 2016 No Comments
Back in February, we wrote about Dart Warz (read here). It was what we called paintball but with Nerf guns.


Since this past February, we have gone at least a few more times to enjoy Nerf gun fun. It's really something every child should try at least once. We can't get enough of it. If there was a Dart Warz out East, we would probably go more.

According to Dart Warz Facebook page, if you come in on your birthday you get a FREE hour of play and a FREE blaster upgrade. Depending on the day you go, that's an $8-10 value just for the hour of play.

This is something to definitely think about if you or anybody you know has that big special day coming up.

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Los Mexican Burritos Review

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There are those weekends where I'm completely free and will drive around over the lunch hour to areas of town I don't normally venture to in search of a restaurant I've never heard of.

This drive took me to 3005 E Pawnee (near Pawnee and Hillside) to a place called Los Mexican Burritos "Mexican Fast Food". They are open 24 hours a day and take both cash and card.


Browsing through the menu, Los Mexican Burritos was very similar to many other quick service Mexican restaurants in town. They have inexpensive burritos, combination plates, tostadas, tacos, enchiladas, tortas, etc.

Click each picture to expand



I decided to keep it simple. First of all if you go to a place called Los Mexican Burritos, you HAVE to order a burrito. I went with the Colorado  Burrito (potatoes, steak, cheese, Mexican salsa) and a Carne Asada taco because let's face it..... who doesn't love tacos? For same measure, I ordered a churro as well.

Like many other quick service Mexican restaurants there is a little station with salsa. I found the hot red salsa to be my favorite; that had the most kick and flavor.


And of course, what everybody cares about..... the food:



I started off with the carne asada taco since it was the least intimidating of the options. This was your basic street taco with a double layer shell to keep it from getting soggy. When drizzled with some red hot salsa, that baby was delicious. At $1.98, it was well worth the price of admission; plenty of meat that it all couldn't even fit in the taco.

Then it was off to the burrito. Los Mexican Burritos' burritos were large and in charge; easily one of the bigger burritos I've seen in town. When I cut it in half, it was like poking a hole in a volcano and having everything just start gushing out. I'm not sure how they managed to stuff all the meat and potatoes into the burrito but they did. I was only able to eat half of it but it was rather delicious. I could only imagine how much better it would have been late late late at night when I'm sure they draw a good crowd.

After the burrito, I ended my lunch binge with a churro.


This was your basic churro just doused in cinnamon. They served it to me warm and fresh so I had it at it's best condition. You really can't mess up a churro (or at least I hope not). It was a nice refreshing dessert to end my lunch on.

Los Mexican Burritos is very similar to many 24 hour Mexican restaurants in town. From the menu to the prices, they don't vary much. It just comes down to convenience of location. If you're on the south side of town looking for a good ol' fashion huge burrito, this is your spot. If you need one at 2 am, this is your spot.

Happy Dining!
Eddy

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Mexican Burrito Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

When Pigs Fly Bar-B-Que Review

- Monday, September 12, 2016 1 Comment
Who's ready for more BBQ in Wichita?

On the west side of town, there sits a big huge restaurant. From the outside, it doesn't look that big but once you walk in there are a ton of tables, bunch of space and the smell of BBQ tugging at your senses.

It's When Pigs Fly Bar-B-Que!


They are located at 7011 W Central Suite 116 which is near the southeast corner of Central and Ridge Road.

Pigs Fly Bar-B-Que is open Tuesday-Thursday 11am-7pm and Friday-Saturday 11am-8pm; then closed on Sunday and Monday. Keep an eye out on the weekday closing time. My friends and I had no idea they closed at 7 pm and got there about 15 minutes before close. We saw a few people come in after 7 pm as well only to walk away with sad and unhappy appetites.

On my visit out to west Wichita, I was joined by two close friends of mine and their one year old son. With plenty of comfortable seating it was a good chance for us to catch up on life while eating a good hearty meal.

For a complete copy of the menu, please visit their website: http://whenpigsflywichita.com/

When it came for us to order, one of my friends wanted to order a Colossal Spud. They are huge potatoes loaded with all sorts of toppings from bacon, meat, cheese.... almost anything on the menu you could put in there. For every five customers inside that evening, three of them probably had ordered a Colossal Spud.

Unfortunately the customer ahead of us ordered the very last Colossal Spud so she was left to ordering a small brisket sandwich and a side of macaroni and cheese. My other friend and I stuck with ordering their two meat dinners which came with two sides. We split it up Hot Link, Brisket, Pulled Pork and Ribs. For the sides we went with baked beans and potato salad.



With so much dinner chatter, I completely forgot to take a picture of my own meal so the above three is all you get to see for now. Sorry folks!

While my friend was really bummed about not being able to try the potato, she was very happy with her macaroni and cheese. She said it was different but in a good way, she loved how they added the extra cheese on top. The brisket sandwich was fairly basic and adding the BBQ sauce gave it the additional flavor it needed.

Regarding the two dinner combos, I really liked the ribs on my plate. I'm very partial to that really smoky aftertaste as if it was made to order; no sauce needed. The ribs I'll be ordering again on future visits.

As for the other meats, they were all pretty good. Nothing else really stuck out to my friend or I on the brisket, hot link and pulled pork. To us, it was just good ol' fashioned BBQ. Everybody was pleased with their meal and felt it was reasonably priced.

Their one year old son approved of the bread. In between tossing his toys on the ground probably on purpose so he could laugh at me picking them up, the only item he would eat was the slices of bread on everybody's plate.

For my two friends who lived out west, it was their first time visiting When Pigs Fly and probably won't be their last.

When it comes to BBQ on the West side of town, the options are limited so it gives them another restaurant to add to their list of places for dinner.

Have you been to When Pigs Fly? We'd love to read your comments.

Happy Dining!
Eddy

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