Within its naturally lit brick confines, Bluestem Bistro handcrafts its menu of soups, breads, and pastries from scratch without the malevolent influence of preservatives. Local products are meshed and melded to produce sandwiches and wraps ($6.59–$6.89) such as the turkey on focaccia smeared with red-pepper aioli ($6.89), which longs to be raised to the mouth in a salute of gastronomic gratitude. Salads ($6.49–$6.99) and specialty dishes such as spinach lasagna ($6.59) pair freely with a lineup of coffees, teas, and fresh fruit smoothies (nonalcoholic drinks $1.35–$4.80).
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
People's Grocery Cooperative encourages a sustainable community by focusing on public participation, organic edibles, and competitive prices. Punch yourself in the stomach with produce by stocking up on fruitstuffs such as organic bananas ($0.85/pound) or Uncle Matt's orange juice ($7.35), or pick up Giovanni Roma gnocchi for a boil-ready banquet of miniature pasta pillows ($3.99). Carnivore imposters can feed their hungry freezers with Bossie's Best Organic Beef ($5.50/pound) and Local Burger Veggie Burgers ($3.50/two-pack). The local co-op also lets shoppers grind their own peanut butter ($3.85/pound) and almond butter ($6.09/pound), or pick up fresh and ready-to-eat meals from the grocer's Green Leaf Deli. The deli menu includes the Flying Monkey, a smoothie made of soy milk, bananas, honey, cocoa, and coffee beans ($5.25), and the creamy carrot-ginger soup, which highlights the carotene-rich root vegetable with a splash of ginger ($2.50/cup, $3.75/bowl). The grocery also sells snacks, including bulk granola ($3.99/pound), dairy products, such as Kings Choice Smoked Gouda ($3.89), Wheatfield Bakery Bread products in assorted varieties ($3.85–$6.50), herbs and spices, and more.
Family owned and operated for almost half a century, Vista Drive In serves up a menu filled with classic American fare that pairs perfectly with its vintage drive-in atmosphere. Groupon holders can chomp into a prepared-to-order Vistaburger, a quarter-pound beef patty laden with garden-fresh veggies, and since the deal includes two sandwiches, customers can devour both in a single sitting or don the second burger as a succulent beanie. Locals flock to the restaurant to observe hamburgers in their natural habitat, which showcases a retro neon sign and houses a storied history, as well as philanthropic owners who help support KSU and other local schools.