The seasoned chefs at Rogue Wave court patrons with a lunch and dinner menu filled with hearty sandwiches, grilled burgers, and ice cream dished out alongside a full-service coffee bar. Celebrate flavor-filled starters such as the crab cakes frosted in a roasted-red-pepper-cream sauce ($7.10). Mouths can nuzzle up to the Black & Blue burger, a cajun-seasoned patty cloaked in blue cheese ($8.20), or chew through the foliage of a veggie sandwich, assembled from a baguette layered with sautéed zucchini and drizzled in red-wine vinegar and olive oil ($6.60). Cement antivampire sentiment with the garlic-butter KC strip, a 6.5-ounce char-grilled USDA Choice slab of strip steak served with white-truffle mashed potatoes and balsamic-glazed asparagus.
On street corners from Texas to North Carolina, Johnny Brusco's Pizza serves up piping-hot slices of New York, and that's not whistling Dixie. It's not even kazooing Yankee. The franchise boasts a lineage that stretches back to 1965, when pie-smith Johnny Pace opened up his pizzeria just outside of Syracuse. Though the menu stays true to Johnny's classic style, today's crust-tossers aren't afraid to switch things up in modern style. Gluten-watchers can dig into a flour-free variant of the crust, and their specialties include such daring choices as a cream cheese pizza, a Philly-esque steak and cheese, and a zesty gourmet pie with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and artichokes. Outside of the round stuff, diners might select a summery strawberry-pecan salad, a classic plate of bruschetta with pesto, mozzarella, and marinara sauce, and a finger-licking dessert of cinna-knots.
Perhaps counterintuitively, The Burger Stand is not a zone for beef-patty purists. The cooks play with tradition by substituting farm-raised salmon and several vegetarian options, such as falafel and black beans, for the classic meat. Of course the menu features plenty of beef burgers alongside its innovations, though it dresses them in unexpected finery. The Fire burger, for example, sports avocado and a sizzling habanero-cactus jam. Not even the fries are spared the gourmet treatment—The Burger Stand prepares seven types of potato sides, from truffle to duck-fat variants. And all of this comes with a good selection of draft beer from Free State, Boulevard, and other microbreweries.
Lawrence.com recognized the restaurant's specialty with a Best Burger award in 2011 and 2012. Its reach has since extended to a second location in Topeka, where ping-pong, pool, and foosball tables offer safe alternatives to traditional dinnertime games of capture-the-tablecloth. Themed nights welcome guests to sing karaoke and play retro video games such as Star Fox and Super Mario Kart.
Cafe Beautiful owner and sole chef Melinda Roeder fashions artfully arranged Asian fusion cuisine for diners who like to eat with their eyes just as much as they like to eat with their mouths. “The presentation,” she says in a profile piece by LJWorld.com, “is just as important as how it tastes.” At Cafe Beautiful, each multi-course meal feels more like an extravagant event than an ordinary restaurant visit, stretching over hours as guests take in a parade of plates that may include savory Korean custards or spicy sushi with a Thai pepper sauce.
Cafe Beautiful’s expansive windows unveil picturesque views of the outside hustle and bustle on Massachusetts Street while its intimate dining room warmly embraces guests with its candlelit setting, bursting decorative foliage, and local artwork. In the aforementioned LJWorld.com article, Chef Roeder decries the culture of rushing customers before they can savor their food or fold their napkins into swans, stating, “We eat at such a rapid rate…and sometimes you feel pushed out by restaurants waiting to get another table. That’s not the experience you have here.”
Since new owners took over, Papa Kenos Pizzeria has a newly renovated look to pair with its beguiling fragrance of freshly baked pizza. Chefs hew specialty thin-crust pies into individual slices, each teeming with gourmet toppings such as roma tomatoes, artichoke hearts, or almonds, and they stack freshly baked bread with premium meats and cheeses. Saucy morsels pair with pitchers of beer or bottles of wine within the casual, sunlit dining room or outside on the patio. Diners can also opt for delivery services, which are available throughout Papa Kenos’ entire business day, so they can dive into their pizzas from home, the office, or a pup-tent in the parking lot.
In an effort to find a healthy alternative to fast food without sacrificing speediness, the creators of Pita Pit began assembling their signature sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night snacks. At each location, thin, Lebanese-style pitas encircle lean, grilled meats and fresh veggies, all grilled to order. Sandwich selections span the spectrum from gyro meat and falafel to turkey and prime rib. The staff empowers customers to make healthy choices by displaying nutrition information for each bread, meat, and post-meal toothpick and corralling a selection of healthy sandwiches.