Unlike some other Midwest states, Kansas has impressive dining options, especially if you enjoy barbecue or fried chicken. The state is most famous for its Kansas City-style barbecue, a slow pit method that uses a unique tomato molasses sauce. The restaurant scene revolves largely around elevated comfort food. Drinking in Kansas is not as much fun as elsewhere in the country due to restrictive alcohol laws and a number of dry counties, but this rarely stops locals from having fun.
Bars and Pubbing in Kansas
The complicated liquor laws of Kansas make drinking a bit tricky. The state has 19 dry counties where it is only possible to buy 3.2 percent beer on premises. This means you have to go to a special ‘club’ to have a cocktail or a full-strength beer. Sale of alcohol on Sundays are also extremely limited. These prohibition laws dating back to 1881 are finally starting to loosen up, but in general, Kansas is not a state to go for a party.
College towns like Lawrence have a good range of bars, microbreweries, and other nightlife venues. Free State Brewing Company (636 Massachusetts Ave, Lawrence) claims to be Kansas’ first legal brewery, while Fatso’s (1016 Massachusetts Ave, Lawrence) is good for live music and student interaction. In Wichita, the state’s largest city, head to the Old Town district for a nice selection of bars in a pleasant environment. Most watering holes in Kansas close at 2:00 a.m.
Kansas also has a small, but growing wine scene with more than two dozen vineyards scattered around the state. Bluejacket Crossing (1969 North 1250 Road, Lawrence) and Stone Pillar (11000 S. Woodland Ave, Olathe) are just two of the interesting local wineries that welcome the public for tours and tastings.
Dining and Cuisine in Kansas
When you are in Kansas, there are two food groups not to miss: barbecued and fried chicken. The folks in this bountiful state cook mostly American comfort food to perfection, but in the southeastern Crawford County the fried chicken is legendary. For barbecue, simply head east toward Kansas City, which has created its own unique style of slow pit roasting over the decades.
Many argue the best barbecue is found at Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ (3002 W. 47th Ave, Kansas City), and the inevitable line would seem to support this view. It’s also easy to head over to the Missouri side of Kansas City for even more dining options. Topeka, however, makes a serious claim with Boss Hawg’s Barbecue (2833 SW 29th Street, Topeka), winner of the Jack Daniels Brisket World Championship.
The larger cities in Kansas, such as Topeka, Wichita, Lawrence, and Kansas City, have the most diversity of restaurants. There are plenty of ethnic places in these urban hubs to balance out the Midwest cuisine that dominates the state. Kansas actually has great Mexican food, evident in the local raves of Rosa’s (2025 SE California Ave, Topeka) or El Camino Real (903 N. 7th Street, Kansas City).