Fortune favors the ready. Lawrence, Kan., has it in spades. A trip to this college town with a fiery past and electric present is always timely. Here’s a small town that acts like it’s all grown up. Walk downtown on just about any night of the week in Lawrence and it’s wall-to-wall people. Part of the pull is the lively, global restaurant scene. Experience a tasty sampler in this small town with a big attitude.
Peer through the big, glass storefront windows at 715 and you’ll find a bistro that looks as if it would fit neighborly-like into Tribeca or SoHo.
Lucky for us—it’s in neither.
Chef Michael Beard’s hip slip of a spot is thoroughly enticing.
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the rustically charming interior lures with not just a comfortable place to see and be seen but where food is practiced as an art form.
But don’t let the open kitchen deceive. This is no joint.
Smoked trout crostini, tuna and egg pizza, roasted root vegetables. Everything here is locally sourced, if at all possible.
Go for dinner but it’s breakfast that’ll warm your cockles. Relax, grab a cup and let the sun shine in through those glorious windows.
Put your money down at Teller’s where they used to bank it.
Now, the 30-foot-high ceilings and stately confines at 8th and Mass deposits delightful fare.
Actually, the place is situated on three levels with giant palladium windows in an 1889 repository-turned-restaurant, thoroughly enjoyable. The ceiling alone is worth a stop-and-stare but the food will make your day.
The plates, especially the Cast Iron Tenderloin, Della Casa Salad or Duck Confit Spring Roll, are all you need.
Sit, sink in and bring your pals.
WheatFields Bakery Café
Delis can be the fix for something succulent, with towering food or exceptional volume.
WheatFields is none of the above.
What makes this place so engaging is not just the mouthwatering baked goods, tempting enough on their own, but the Lawrence staple’s way with hefty, two-fisted sandwiches that dare you to finish.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served and usually involve WheatFields’ extraordinary organic floured loaves pulled fresh from the wood-fired oven. Try the sandwiches that satiate appetites: sweet potato and feta, pastrami and Swiss or Cuban roasted pork.
The place has been around forever (that says something right there), conveniently tucked just a tad off Mass.
Revel—it’s worth the trip.
Genovese Italian Restaurant
Armando Paniagua, executive chef and co-owner of Genovese, attributes his love of cooking to his mom.
True to form, Paniagua is following suit by crafting menus with authentic cheeses, olives, oils, vinegars and truffles in this attractive bistro situated in the 900 block of Mass.
Contentment prevails as you soak in the casual ambiance. Weather permitting, grab a seat on the patio and watch the fluid foot traffic meander by.
Favorites include hot or cold antipasti (grilled pear crostini, seafood fritto misto); pies, both meat, cheese and seafood; house-made pasta (gnocchi, pappardelle with Italian sausage, penne with veal Bolognese).
House specials run daily with happy hour and small plates featured.
Service is sweet and prompt.
Mexican restaurants are a dime a dozen.
But good, really good Nuevo Latino is not.
Consider Esquina, parked in the once-upon-a-time Round Corner Pharmacy (survived the infamous Quantrill’s raid in l868) thoughtfully tended to by the Krause and Bates families.
The two couples along with their talented team are putting heart and soul into this stylish and modernized taqueria.
When was the last time you had Peruvian-style purple potatoes with roasted garlic puree, Calabaza pumpkin and butternut squash puree, grilled zucchini, goat cheese cream, fire roasted salsa and churros and chocolate? You haven’t … until now.
The food will keep you occupied and the décor is equally engaging.
Grab a seat at the community table inside or sit outside.
WheatFields Bakery and Café
Genovese Italian Restaurant
Gloria Gale is an Overland Park-based food writer. "On the Menu" is not a restaurant review, it is a summary of dining out in Johnson County and the area.