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.
A fresh take on cooked-to-order burgers, Smashburger boasts well-stacked meaty marvels—such as Kansas City Smashburgers housed in an egg bun and slathered with A.1. steak sauce—as well as expedient service and ample sit-down space. The menu boasts more smashes than two monster trucks playing tennis, with Smashburgers—100% Angus beef plus quality veggies and cheeses on an artisan bun—taking center stage ($4.99–$6.99). Grilled, crispy Smashchickens ($5.99–$6.99) arrive bedecked in buffalo sauce, chipotle mayo, or your sauce of choice, proudly vying for dental attention with the fresh garden green tossed Smashsalads ($4.99–6.99). Smashsides such as the Smashfries fire up the hearts and bellies of all gracious guests ($1.99–$2.99), and nonsecret specialties, such as the Häagen-Dazs shake ($3.99), keep mouths grounded, cool, and smiley.
Ingredient restaurant offers a smorgasbord of gourmet and customizable culinary bites in a quick-serve atmosphere, catering to dietary restrictions whenever possible. Local ingredients claim squatter's rights on the menu, sprucing up dishes such as the custom salads ($8.95), with more than 75 options to arrange into fully functioning veggie ecosystems.
Rusty's Mexican Grill treats visitors to helpings of fiery Mexican cuisine paired with cold drinks and relaxing nights at the bar. The restaurant takes its name from Rusty himself, the first bartender at Kite's to ever serve a cocktail instead of the typical cold beer or folksy advice. Today, the restaurant-within-a-bar continues its namesake's proud tradition while offering something a little different from its parent business, dishing out quesadillas, steaks, and beefy Texas-style nachos alongside beer and cocktails.
Named for the professional baseball player who opened shop in October 1954, Kite's Grille and Bar is a sports-oriented oasis where the food gets just as much attention as the game. Spectators of all stripes are welcomed here, but none more so than Wildcats—Kite himself was a KSU alum, and his legacy lives on in the purple-clad students, fans, and panthers who pile in each day. All diners have a favorite brew, sandwich, or appetizer—even Will Ferrell, whose downing of a 3-pound Kite's burger engendered the standing Will Ferrell Challenge.
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).