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July 2022

Best in Wichita Burger Challenge 2022: How does AJ's Sports Grill at The Alley rate?

AJ's Sports Grill at The Alley
In search of the best burger in Wichita. Will I find it here?

By Mike Thayer

I'm traveling around the Wichita Metro, sampling the burger offerings from any joint that has burgers on the menu, local, regional, national chain, it doesn't matter.  In order to determine a true champion of burgers in the metro, I'll have to sample them all in the name of "burger science" (cough).

As a former Certified Competition BBQ Judge, I've taken that scoring system and tweaked it to judging burgers. Being evaluated on a point system scorecard will be a plethora of categories that includes but is not limited to the appearance, meat, bun, meat to bun ratio, the cheese, how the burger is dressed (that means the assortment of veggies, sauce and/or condiments for those of you who live in Haysville), price and more. Weighing most heavily in the score of course, is TASTE and depending on the size of the patty, I could be sampling a single or a double, there's a quarter pound minimum. After scoring the burger, I'll post a review for the respective burger joint, compiling all that data as I go from restaurant to restaurant and I'll post all the numbers for each burger sampled in a final report.

AJ's "Super Cheesy" Burger
Decent visual appeal, but that bacon should be ON the burger...

Today for lunch, I went to AJ's Sports Grill at The Alley to see how their version of a bacon cheeseburger measures up.  Of note, AJ's recently went through a change in ownership, resulting in menu changes as well as recipes.

I walked into AJ's on Sunday morning, just after 11am.  The lone patron, I selected a seat at the bar.  I was greeted by Jessica, the bartender/waitress who asked me what I wished to drink and if I needed a menu.  Hoping they had a red ale of some kind to go with the burger lunch, there was no such luck.  But Jessica did offer up the regular beer with tomato juice alternative so I went with that.  Unfortunately, AJ's was out of tomato juice.  A Miller Lite it was...

Having looked at the menu online before traveling to AJ's, I already knew what I was going to order.  I went with their "Super Cheesy Burger" a double decker with white American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and red onion. For my side, I subbed the regular fries with Garlic Parm fries.

It took awhile for my burger to make it out to the bar, more than 15 minutes, but I'm not blaming the kitchen.  I think the burger basket sat for a bit before Jessica brought it to me.  The fries weren't just out of the fryer hot and the burger was warm, not fresh off the flat top hot.  Sigh, part of the evaluation...

I took the first bite.  Under seasoned, I had to apply some ketchup and mustard to put a little more umph in the flavor department.  The beef lacked a good caramelized crust.  The patties were juicy, but lacked a depth of flavor.  The two slices of white American cheese were melted nicely and delivered the classic creamy notes that American cheese does, but calling this burger a "Super Cheesy Burger?"  Nope, not appropriately named.  There was nice coverage with the veggies, which helped balance out the two patties of beef.  The meat to bun ratio was good, but it was an ordinary bun with no toast on it.  C'mon AJ's, everybody knows a burger bun is WAY better when it's lightly toasted!

Aj's Sports Grill at the Alley
A lazy cook's way to put bacon on a burger, you don't get bacon in every bite

The bacon

While the bacon was cooked to perfection and crisp, I have a pet peeve with two slices of bacon being placed on a burger in an 'X' on top of the patties.  Simple construction yes, but it's not a proper way to assemble the bacon because it means you don't get bacon in every bite.  It's frankly a lazy application, it's not aesthetically superior in presentation either with a length of bacon hanging out like a cow's tongue and to repeat, it's poor coverage.  There are many bacon-less bites on the edges with the 'X' way and if you bite down wrong on that cow's tongue piece hanging out, you run the risk of pulling the whole piece out from the burger.  The proper ways to top a burger with two slices of bacon are:

  1. half slices side by side
  2. shape the slices in a triangle, then cook it
AJ's Sports Grill
Not much of a crust on the beef, it lacked robust flavor

Either way provides bacon in every bite with very little prep time added to the assembly of a bacon cheeseburger.  Result:  A better burger experience and a happy customer.

Side Note:  The fries were decent, but as I stated earlier they weren't fresh out of the fryer hot.  The garlic flavor was a bit on the light side, it could have been bolder and the shredded Parm was nice, but it wasn't added right after the fries came out of the fryer.  There was very little melt, resulting in the shreds of cheese falling to the bottom of the basket rather than staying on the fry. 

The burger basket cost me $14.69 for the "Super Cheesy Burger" and Garlic Parm fries with a $2 bacon add-on for a total of $16.69.  AJ's version of a bacon cheeseburger scored 50 out of 63 possible points, earning 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's a good burger but far from great and the higher than average cost prevents this from being a repeat buy.  It's a burger that looked better than it tasted.  A&W's burger scored higher than this.  Of the burgers sampled so far in this challenge, AJ's score is the lowest.

4 stars

AJ's "Super Cheesy" Burger
The burger wasn't "Super Cheesy" as advertised.  One slice of cheese on each patty makes it, "Super Cheesy?"

AJ's Sports Grill at The Alley is located at 11413 E 13th St N, Wichita, KS 67206.  The burger and fries were good but far from great and on a slow Sunday, the service was less than attentive.  Jessica was friendly, but was slow to bring out my burger, I had to ask for a drink refill and it took forever to get my ticket so I could settle up.  You would think a basket with a dirty napkin in it set far to the side along with an empty mug would be a hint for her to come over and ask if I needed anything else....  Texting on her phone was more important...

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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AJ's Burger Basket
No toast on the bun

If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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Bachelor on the Cheap Burger Challenge 2022: How does Big Larry's Burgers rate?

Big Larry's Burgers
328 S Meridian Ave, Valley Center, KS 67147

By Mike Thayer

If you're going to do a burger challenge for the best burger in Wichita, you have to sample them all...

The things I do in the name of food science...

I'm traveling around the Wichita Metro, sampling the burger offerings from any joint that has burgers on the menu, local, regional, national chain, it doesn't matter. 

Big Larry's Burgers
Good visual appeal

As a former Certified Competition BBQ Judge, I've taken that scoring system and tweaked it to judging burgers. Being evaluated on a point system scorecard will be a plethora of categories that includes but is not limited to the appearance, meat, bun, meat to bun ratio, the cheese, how the burger is dressed (that means the assortment of veggies, sauce and/or condiments for those of you who live in Haysville), price and more. Weighing most heavily in the score of course, is TASTE and depending on the size of the patty, I could be sampling a single or a double, there's a quarter pound minimum. After scoring the burger, I'll post a review for the respective burger joint, compiling all that data as I go from restaurant to restaurant and I'll post all the numbers for each burger sampled in a final report.

Big Larry's Burgers, the Bacon Cheddar Burger
Awesome meat to bun ratio

Today for lunch I enjoyed a burger from Big Larry's Burgers in Valley Center.

I entered at opening time, 11am, and received a friendly welcome from the lady behind the counter.  She took my order, a bacon cheddar burger, a double with fries and a drink.   She let me know my meal would be brought out to me and handed me a drink cup.  I headed over to the self serve area, selected my drink of choice and found a seat at a nearby table.

My made to order burger was brought to my table in what seemed like no time at all.  It was hot and smelling delicious!  Steam rose up as I lifted the top bun to hit the burger with ketchup.  My first bite was stellar!  There was a nice char on the meat, the patties nice and juicy.  There was a good toast on the bun, the bacon was nice and crisp, the cheese was melted nicely and the ample amount of shredded lettuce provided a fresh, light crunch.  But the burger was shy on onion, there was only one tomato resulting in not getting tomato in every bite.  The same was true for the bacon, it was quite tasty, but I didn't get tasty bacon in every bite.

Bacon Cheddar Burger
Didn't get bacon in every bite

Side Note:  The fries were fantastic!  Fried and seasoned perfectly, I got the nice light crisp bit of crunch on the exterior, with light, fluffy potato on the interior.  And the portion was HUGE!  I had to get a to-go box, the burger alone pretty much filled me up.

Costing me $12.46 for the double burger, fries and a drink, the Big Larry's Burgers Bacon Cheddar Double Burger scored 56 out of a possible 63 points, earning it 5 stars.  This is the best burger I've had so far in this challenge, it's Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly and it would have scored even higher with the simple addition of another slice of tomato, another ring or two of onion and bacon in every bite.

The under the lid reveal
Didn't get tomato in every bite

Big Larry's Burgers is located at 328 S Meridian Ave, Valley Center, KS 67147.  The service was courteous, fast and friendly.  Overall, an excellent burger experience, thank you Big Larry's!

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related: A first taste of Fatburger Wichita

Related: The Bachelor on the Cheap Burger Challenge 2022: Who makes the best burger in Wichita? Is it The Anchor?

Related: Bachelor on the Cheap Burger Challenge 2022: How does A&W rate?

 

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Big Larry's Burgers
Stellar fresh cut fries

If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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Date Night Dinner at Wasabi East

Wasabi East, Wichita
3242 N Rock Rd #112, Wichita, KS 67226

By Mike Thayer

Kudos to Vicki S for getting me back into sushi.  She's a fellow foodie, but I'm not sure she knows it...

I met up with her on a Thursday night, a dinner date at Wasabi East. 

Arriving a bit early at about 6:15pm, I stepped in and was welcomed with enthusiasm by a member of the wait staff and seated immediately.  I had time to peruse both the food and drink menus and place an order for a drink.  Angela, the waitress - great smile - took my order for a shot of Soju, flavored with Blueberry and some mixology involving Malibu and lime juice.  It was dangerously smooth.

Vicki arrived at 6:30pm and Angela didn't miss a beat, introducing herself to Vicki and giving us a couple minutes to decide on what to eat from all the great options.  When we were ready, Angela took our orders, starting with an appetizer of Edamame.  For dinner Vicki went with the Mango Habanero Roll - Shrimp tempura, mango, habanero masago topped with salmon, avocado and finished with mango habanero sauce.  I went with the Crazy Stonehenge - A deep fried roll with shrimp tempura, avocado and cream cheese covered with crab sticks and finished with spicy mayo, eel sauce and crunch.  Desiring a glass of wine with dinner, I went with the plum wine, Vicki ordered the Reisling.

Wasabi East, the Crazy Stonehenge
We dove into the food before taking pics, there are a few bites missing, oops! My bad...

Our wine soon arrived and our dinners shortly thereafter.  Sampling from each other's plates, they were both fantastic!  I wasn't sure about the Mango Habanero Roll going in.  Expecting some heat, it wasn't overpowering at all, it was delightfully balanced with the mango.  All those flavors, the shrimp, salmon, avocado all wrapped up in that mouthful - the beauty of sushi, all that flavor in one bite - it was as I like to say, "Another dose of YUM!"

My Crazy Stonehenge was equally good, the fried tempura texture, the pleasant spice, but what put this over the top was the combination of cream cheese and crunch!  If there's any such thing as sushi comfort food, this is it!

Angela was very attentive throughout our meal, stopping by to see how our dinners were and to check on drink refills, then stopping by a bit later to ask if we cared for dessert.  As Angela went off to prep the bill, that's when Vicki realized we never received our Edamame appetizer.  A minute or so later, Angela was back at our table, apologizing for dropping the ball with the appetizer.  No harm, no foul, we didn't get charged for it and the sushi rolls we thoroughly enjoyed were more than satisfying and quite filling! 

Wasabi East, the Habanero Mango Roll
Too anxious to eat before taking the pic, again, my bad #2...

Wasabi East is located at 3242 N Rock Rd #112, Wichita, KS 67226.  The service was terrific despite the forgotten Edamame appetizer.  Costing a bit over $58 + tip, this was a fun wine and dine.  I'm giving Wasabi East 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars and the restaurant is definitely worthy of a repeat visit, especially on date night.  I look forward to sampling another delicious selection from the menu! 

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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Bachelor on the Cheap Burger Challenge 2022: How does A&W rate?

A&W Bacon Double Cheeseburger
It's a tall burger

By Mike Thayer

If you're going to do a burger challenge for the best burger in Wichita, you have to sample them all...

The things I do in the name of food science...

I'm traveling around the Wichita Metro, sampling the burger offerings from any joint that has burgers on the menu, local, regional, national chain, it doesn't matter.

As a former Certified Competition BBQ Judge, I've taken that scoring system and tweaked it to judging burgers. Being evaluated on a point system scorecard will be a plethora of categories that includes but is not limited to the appearance, meat, bun, meat to bun ratio, the cheese, how the burger is dressed (that means the assortment of veggies, sauce and/or condiments for those of you who live in Haysville), price and more. Weighing most heavily in the score of course, is TASTE and depending on the size of the patty, I could be sampling a single or a double, there's a quarter pound minimum. After scoring the burger, I'll post a review for the respective burger joint, compiling all that data as I go from restaurant to restaurant and I'll post all the numbers for each burger sampled in a final report.

This evening, I had A&W for dinner.

A&W Bacon Double Cheeseburger
Stacked with fresh veggies

This iconic national chain of fast food restaurants is the oldest in the country, distinguished by its burgers, root beer and back in the day, drive-in restaurants and car hops.  Fun fact, in the 1970's, A&W had more restaurants than McDonald's, peaking at 2,400 in 1974.

It's been awhile since I've had an A&W burger, had plenty of them as a kid.  And while A&W may have gotten away from the car hop approach to doing business, they still make a pretty darn good burger.

I ordered the Bacon Double Cheeseburger, here's the description from the A&W website:  This is a full 1/3 pound of 100% U.S. Beef, each juicy patty with its own slice of American cheese. Topped off with crispy hickory-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles on a lightly toasted bun.

A&W Burger
The cut-away

In the wrapper unveil the burger had a nice initial visual appeal.  Great looking bun, two all beef patties, two slices of cheese, onion, but a lot of lettuce to give it that height...

It did have a nice bite though.  Generously portioned with the veggies, the beef was seasoned well, the bacon was crisp, tomatoes ripe, red & juicy, I got the tartness from the pickle, there was onion in every bite and bringing it all together , the melty cheese and lightly toasted mayo dressed bun.

A&W Burger
Juicy red tomato, good bacon coverage

Side Note:  The fries were seasoned well and quite tasty.  And one MUST have a root beer when at A&W, it was a super nice change of pace and a thirst quencher.

Costing me $10.74 for the combo meal, the A&W Bacon Double Cheeseburger scored 53 out of a possible 63 points, earning 4 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly it's a good but not great burger, but yes, worthy of a repeat buy.  The veggies are fresh, but there's a bit of lettuce overkill and even though you get two beef patties, they're thin.  The bun is huge, resulting in a meat to bun ratio that's a bit heavy on the bread.

4 stars

With fewer and farther between A&W restaurants these days, they may have fallen off your burger radar.  For the price, you might want to consider a visit.

The A&W visited on this occasion is located at 547 S Rock Rd, Wichita, KS 67207.  The service was obligatory and took about 5 minutes to receive my meal, there were no vehicles ahead of me.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related: A first taste of Fatburger Wichita

Related: The Bachelor on the Cheap Burger Challenge 2022: Who makes the best burger in Wichita? Is it The Anchor?

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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The Bachelor on the Cheap Burger Challenge 2022: Who makes the best burger in Wichita? Is it The Anchor?

The Anchor
1109 E Douglas Ave, Wichita, KS 67211

By Mike Thayer

After eating at Fatburger on their opening day Wednesday and receiving some reader feedback, I decided to embark on another Bachelor on the Cheap Challenge: Who makes the best burger in Wichita? 

I've never completed a best burger challenge (started one for local joints in 2020 but then COVID hit) let alone a contest this comprehensive, evaluating ALL contenders for Best Burger, be they a local, regional or national establishment.

During the course of this challenge I'll be sampling classic cheeseburgers, OK, it MAY have some bacon on it, but otherwise straight forward beef and cheese goodness with the typical toppings. The way I see it, if you can't put together a classic bacon cheeseburger and do it well, then there's no reason to sample a burger joint's other burger options. So there will be no BBQ & onion strings, no on habenero & mango, no on avocado & cucumber, etc., versions of burgers.

The House Burger & Fries
Great visual appeal

As a former Certified Competition BBQ Judge, I've taken that scoring system and tweaked it to judging burgers. Being evaluated on a point system scorecard will be a plethora of categories that includes but is not limited to the appearance, meat, bun, meat to bun ratio, the cheese, how the burger is dressed (that means the assortment of veggies, sauce and/or condiments for those of you who live in Haysville), price and more. Weighing most heavily in the score of course, is TASTE and depending on the size of the patty, I could be sampling a single or a double, there's a quarter pound minimum. After scoring the burger, I'll post a review for the respective burger joint, compiling all that data as I go from restaurant to restaurant and I'll post all the numbers for each burger sampled in a final report.

Today, I sampled a burger from The Anchor in downtown Wichita.

House Burger
Cooked to medium burger, crisp bacon, nicely melted cheddar

An award winning bar & grill known for its craft beers, The Anchor is a hotspot for both lunch and dinner where you can enjoy cold beer, craft cocktails and a fine meal in a great atmosphere.  They have 59 beers to choose from and a stellar food menu, 'jus say'n...

I went with the House burger for lunch, an in-house ground Black Angus beef patty that's lightly seasoned, served on a butter toasted bun along with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle.  I added a slice of cheddar and bacon to top the burger.

After ordering I passed the time sipping on a Warbeard Irish Red Ale while posting my 'event' on Facebook.  My burger arrived in about 10 minutes and it had a mouthwatering visual!

The Anchor's House Burger
The hint of pink runs along the bottom, not the middle, not a balanced char

After dressing it with a bit of mustard, ketchup and mayo, I took that first bite.  Cooked to medium, the patty had a touch of pink and was juicy, as in, the bartender gave me an extra napkin for a reason, juicy.  I got the buttery notes from the toasted bun, the light smokiness from the bacon and the cheese was melted nicely.  The red onion was assertive yet sweet with a light crunch, I got the tart from the pickle and the loose leaf lettuce provided a freshness, balancing things out.  The tomato was a bit of a downer though, red on the edges, but a bit green and hard towards the middle.

Side Note:  The fries were stellar, perfectly fried and seasoned well.

Overall, The Anchor cranks out a very good burger, but I did find it to be a bit under seasoned and the tomatoes not the best.  On the spreadsheet, The Anchor House Burger scored a 55 out of a possible 63 points, earning it 4 stars.  A little more seasoning and char on the flipside of the burger and better tomatoes would have made this a 5 star burger.  Costing me a little over $14 (includes tax) for the burger and fries, it's reasonably priced and worthy of a repeat buy.

4 stars

The Anchor is located at 1109 E Douglas Ave, Wichita, KS 67211.  The burger and fries made for a nicely satisfying meal, the price was reasonable and the service was top notch!  Thank you Anchor!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related: A first taste of Fatburger Wichita

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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A 2022 Bachelor on the Cheap Challenge: Who makes the best burger in the Wichita Metro?

Best Burger in Wichita
Who makes the best burger in Wichita?

By Mike Thayer

So after sampling Fatburger July 27th on its opening day and receiving some feedback from readers, in the name of "Food Science" I've decided to embark on another Bachelor on the Cheap Challenge:  Who makes the best burger in the Wichita Metro?

I've done similar challenges,

But I've never completed a best burger challenge (started one for local joints in 2020 but then COVID hit) let alone a contest this comprehensive, evaluating ALL contenders for Best Burger, be they a local, regional or national establishment.

During the course of this challenge I'll be sampling classic cheeseburgers, OK, it MAY have some bacon on it, but otherwise straight forward beef and cheese goodness with the typical toppings. The way I see it, if you can't put together a classic bacon cheeseburger and do it well, then there's no reason to sample a burger joint's other burger options. So there will be no BBQ & onion strings, no on habenero & mango, no on avocado & cucumber, etc., versions of burgers.

Bachelor on the Cheap Burger Challenge 2022
Burgers evaluated on a point system scorecard

As a former Certified Competition BBQ Judge, I've taken that scoring system and tweaked it to judging burgers. Being evaluated on a point system scorecard will be a plethora of categories that includes but is not limited to the appearance, meat, bun, meat to bun ratio, the cheese, how the burger is dressed (that means the assortment of veggies, sauce and/or condiments for those of you who live in Haysville), price and more.  Weighing most heavily in the score of course, is TASTE and depending on the size of the patty, I could be sampling a single or a double, there's a quarter pound minimum.   After scoring the burger, I'll post a review for the respective burger joint, compiling all that data as I go from restaurant to restaurant and I'll post all the numbers for each burger sampled in a final report.

The things I do in the name of 'food science'... (cough), stay tuned for the next burger review!  Twenty-one burger joints down as of 08/08, 51 burger places to go...

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related: A first taste of Fatburger Wichita

Enjoy this post?

Buy Me a Coffee

If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

follow me on twitter @Bacheloronthe1

follow me on Pinterest

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A first taste of Fatburger Wichita

Fatburger & Buffalo's Express
2556 N Greenwich Rd Suite 107, Wichita, KS 67226

Editor's Note:  A visit to this joint, opening day 07/27, and getting some reader feedback motivated me to embark on the latest Bachelor on the Cheap Challenge for 2022: Who makes the best burger in Wichita?

By Mike Thayer

Starting out as a three stool hamburger stand in Los Angeles, California back in 1947, Wichita can now enjoy the iconic burgers, fries and shakes made by this now national chain.  With locations sprinkled all over the United States, Fatburger has also gone global, with restaurants in 19 other countries.

I've never eaten at a Fatburger before, but I've got a few military buddies from back in the day who grew up in California claiming Fatburger was awesome, so I was super excited to try this place, today was opening day in Wichita.

Here's the description of the joint from the company website: 

Fatburger Wichita
Waiting to order on opening day

Fatburger & Buffalo's Express located at 2556 N.Greenwich Rd., Wichita, KS is a casual eatery offering fresh, authentic, tasty hamburgers, fries, and shakes. Every meal is cooked-to-order, using the freshest ingredients and traditional cooking methods. We’re best known for our fresh-never-frozen, lean-beef, chicken, turkey and veggie burgers & sandwiches, our hand-scooped, real ice cream milkshakes, homemade-from-scratch onion rings and build-your-own-burger experience.

Arriving a bit after 11am, the door was opened for me by a member of the staff, who greeted me with excitement and a big, enthusiastic smile, "Welcome to Fatburger!"  As I entered, there were already about a dozen folks seated, happily chowing down on burgers and another dozen or so in a line waiting to order. 

Kingburger
Burger goodness waiting to be unwrapped

"This place is slamming busy!" I said to myself.

They had two registers working the line and it moved along quickly.  When my turn came I went with the classic Fatburger for the purpose of this burger joint review, ordering a large, what they call the Kingburger which is a 1/2 pound of burger goodness.  Built to order the 100% pure beef is fresh, grilled to perfection and served on a toasted sponge-dough bun.  For toppings I went with "The Works," the classic toppings of lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, mustard, pickles and relish.  I also added cheese, some Fat fries and a medium drink.

Fatburger with "The Works"
Mouthwatering visual appeal

I paid for my order, was given a drink cup and issued placard #36.  I filled my cup and found a seat in view of the growing line of hungry customers waiting to order their first Wichita Fatburger.  At this point the line of folks had grown to more than a dozen, with a few folks waiting outside.  The kitchen was hopping!  With the two attendants taking customer orders at the front and calling out lines like, "One Fatburger, one Fat Fry," this crew was working hard and in concert, even though this was day one.  The chemistry was fun to witness.

It didn't take long to receive my order tableside.  I received it in a carryout brown bag rather than the cookie sheet like tray for dining in, but to be honest, in all the opening day excitement, I couldn't remember having the question/answer dine-in or to-go conversation with the attendant.  No matter, my meal was on my table, ready to be sampled!  A HUGE burger, it lives up to the Kingburger visual hype.  And although I didn't get the cheese I ordered (but I didn't pay for the add on either), it was still menu board picture worthy.

Fatburger
The 1/2 pound is a mouthful

I took the first bite.  My mouth did a Happy Dance.  This is fresh ground beef that's pressed on the flat top, giving you that nice bit of crust on the outside, creating a caramelized depth of flavor.  Seasoned well and juicy, this burger is one of the best I've had in town, better than Fizz, superior to Five Guys, tastier than Walt's, Bubba's 33 and others.  The 1/2 pound of seasoned beef deliciousness was complimented by crisp lettuce, juicy tomato, umami onion, creamy mayo and the tartness and tang of the mustard, pickle and relish.  The burger is put together well and served on that flat top toasted bun that sings with notes of the seasoned burger juices, it was warm and 'pillowy' soft, yet held together from first to last bite.  This burger was so good, I didn't miss the cheese.

Fatburger reveal
No under the lid look is pretty, but the topping/condiment portions were generous

The Fat fries however didn't measure up to the goodness of the burger.  The Fat fries, a.k.a., steak fries, had a bit of a crisp exterior (could have been a tad crispier) and I got the light fluffy potato on the inside, but they were under seasoned, making for a bland fry.  Ketchup was a must.  The next time I may try the Skinny fries in hopes of getting that crispier exterior I'm looking for, or perhaps I'll try the sweet potato fries. 

Costing me $16.07 for the half pound burger, fries and a drink, overall this was a great burger experience and I'm giving Fatburger & Buffalo's Express 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  The burger alone makes Fatburger a habitual repeat buy.  The price isn't exactly Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly, but we are talking a half pound of beef and this is no ordinary run-of-the-mill burger!  It's loaded with flavor!

5 stars

Located at 2556 N Greenwich Rd Suite 107, Wichita, KS 67226 on the north end of the Academy Sports building, Fatburger is definitely worthy of a visit.  The staff is friendly, the service is fast and the burger is SO worth it!

Fatburger sear
Great flat top sear, the caramelization adding another layer of flavor
Fat Fries
The Fat fries were kind of "eh"

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Food Review: Papa John's Pepperoni Stuffed Crust Pizza

Papa John's Stuffed Crust Pizza
In the box, a pepperoni, sausage & mushroom pepperoni stuffed crust pizza

By Mike Thayer

I'm not normally a Papa John's fan.  They make average pizza.  Their sauce runs on the sweet side and their original crust is a bit too 'bready' (thick) and bland.  When in the mood for pizza, I usually order local and my local go-to joints just flat out craft a better pizza than the national chains do.

But the local joints don't make a stuffed crust pizza, let alone a pepperoni stuffed crust pizza!

So Papa John's kicked their regular stuffed crust (just cheese) up a notch back in April, here's the description from their website:  Just when you thought our stuffed crust couldn’t get more epic. Our original fresh dough is hand-stuffed with our signature pepperoni and melty cheese then baked into a seasoned crust. Finished with your choice of topping.

Papa John's Pepperoni Stuffed Crust Pizza
The aromas after lifting the lid were intense...

Promoted as a limited time offer and the company scheduled to take it off the menu at any time now (most likely the end of the month), I decided to sample this pizza before it's no longer an option.  The indulgence of melted cheese and pepperoni wrapped in garlic butter dressed bread without the eventual drag of sweetness in Papa John's red sauce was appealing.

I went with a large pepperoni, sausage and mushroom pepperoni stuffed crust pizza.  Let me tell you, this is better than their regular, original crust pizza.  This offering is a bit of a hybrid with the Papa John's NY style crust, thin and foldable, but with a stuffed outer edge.  That stuffed crust is quite nice, you get pepperoni and melted mozzarella in every bite and dressed with that Papa John's garlic butter, it's a better bite than the main sauced portion of the pizza.

Papa John's Pepperoni Stuffed Crust Pizza
Pepperoni in every stuffed crust bite

Costing me $31.65 with delivery and tip figured in, I'm giving Papa John's Pepperoni Stuffed Crust Pizza 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.    The stuffed crust portion of the pizza was delightful, complimented by the garlic butter.  I ate the stuffed crust first, yes, in Pizza Hut fashion, so the sweet Papa John's red sauce didn't seem so bad...  This wasn't exactly a wallet friendly pizza purchase, but it was tasty and satisfied a craving.  And although tasty, given the price it is not worthy of a repeat buy.

4 stars

Related: Food Review: New York Style Pizza from Papa Johns

Related: Food Review: Papa John's Pizza "The Works"

Related: Food Review: Papa John's BBQ Meats Pizza

Related: Food Review: Papa John's Papadias

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Enjoy a great breakfast at the Magnolia Cafe

Magnolia Cafe
2424 N Woodlawn Blvd #111, Wichita, KS 67220

By Mike Thayer

What a great spot for a satisfying breakfast!

Specializing in Southern inspired breakfast and lunch dishes, the Magnolia Cafe opened up back in May.  I stopped by early on a Tuesday morning, looking forward to my first meal of the day, my first meal at this cafe.  

Walking in at a bit before 7am, I was greeted warmly by Kathryn and since I was flying solo on this occasion, found a seat at the bar.

Kathryn quickly set me up with a menu, silverware and a glass of water.  As she disappeared into the kitchen, I perused the menu.

Magnolia Cafe Menu
Fantastic Southern Cuisine, made from scratch

I was tempted by just about everything, the shrimp and grits, scratch biscuits & gravy, chicken & waffles, an assortment of egg combos (one of them includes fried green tomatoes - YUM!) but I went with the Pork Belly Hash.  A good breakfast hash is comfort food and pork belly hash sounded mighty comforting to me.  Here's the description from the menu:  Pork belly, crispy sweet potatoes, peppers, onions and
creamed greens topped with a fried free-range egg and chow chow.

If you don't know what "chow chow" is, it's a pickled vegetable relish that can eaten alone or used to top a dish to provide some extra tanginess and crunch.

Magnolia Cafe Pork Belly Hash
Excellent cast iron skillet presentation

Everything at Magnolia Cafe is made from scratch daily using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible and the Pork Belly hash puts that dedication on display.  Wow what a great dish!  The pork belly was cooked perfectly, seasoned well, melt in your mouth tender.  The sweet potatoes, peppers and onions was a perfect marriage of hash bliss, complimented by the creamed greens.  The egg, also perfectly cooked, had the runny yolk you're looking for and was a delicious delight to dip in.  Putting this dish over the top was that chow chow, delivering that little bit of tart crunch, balancing out the pork fat.  As I like to say, "It's Another Dose of YUM!"

Adding to my enjoyment, was one of the best Bloody Mary's I've had in a long time.  It was smooth, yet delivered a little punch and the candied bacon garnish was a nice touch.

Magnolia Cafe Bloody Mary
An excellent Bloody Mary

Costing me $18.08 + tip, I'm giving the Magnolia Cafe 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Kathryn provided friendly, top notch service, the food was fantastic, the drink stellar and I left the Magnolia Cafe well fed and feeling very satisfied.  With a fresh, comfortable, welcoming atmosphere, this restaurant is worthy of a repeat visit and I'm going for the shrimp and grits!

5 stars

The Magnolia Cafe is located at 2424 N Woodlawn Blvd #111, Wichita, KS 67220.

Website:  www.magnoliacafe.com

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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Food Review: Panera Bread Signature Take Chef's Chicken Sandwich

Panera Bread
1605 N Rock Rd, Wichita, KS 67206

By Mike Thayer

Panera Bread has entered the chicken sandwich war that's been going on in fast food and now fast casual since 2019 and they've brought a couple of pretty formidable sandwiches to the battle.

Here's the description from the Panera website: The New Panera Chicken Sandwiches have arrived! Choose from our Spicy Take Chef’s Chicken Sandwich with zesty buffalo sauce or the Signature Take Chef’s Chicken Sandwich smothered with a secret garlic aioli. These Savory or Spicy Chicken Sandwiches feature a tasty brioche bun and are sure to satisfy every craving.

Panera Bread Signature Take Chef's Chicken Sandwich and You Pick 2
Great Platter Visual

I'm a sucker for a good chicken sandwich and did a sampling of fast food chicken sandwiches in a Bachelor on the Cheap Challenge last year.

Related:  Who makes the best chicken sandwich in fast food? They are listed here from worst to first

Apparently feeling left out, fast casual restaurants and the likes of Panera Bread want in on the war for who has the best.

So today I checked out a nearby Panera Bread to see just how good this new sandwich of theirs is.

Walking in about 11am, there were a couple customers ahead of me placing their order at the counter.  Perusing the menu, I decided to take advantage of the "You pick 2" option to go with the Signature Take Chef’s Chicken Sandwich with the garlic aioli and Parmesan crisps.  Along with a side choice of kettle chips, an apple or a French baguette, you get to choose from mac & cheese, soup or a half salad.  I went with a bag of chips (for later) and the mac & cheese.  For a drink, I tried their new charged lemonade with strawberry, mint, guarana and caffeine.

Panera Bread Chicken Sandwich
Not enough garlic aioli, under-dressed

Panera makes a pretty darn good chicken sandwich!  The chicken was perfectly prepared, seasoned well, tender and juicy.  The garlic aioli was delicious but it wasn't exactly smothered on, it was a bit light handed in the squeeze bottle application.  The greens provided a nice freshness to the sandwich, the brioche roll was pillowy soft but what puts this sandwich over the top are the Parmesan crisps.  Not only do you get the flavor punch from the Parmesan, but the crunch they deliver almost makes you think you're eating breaded and fried chicken rather than seared.  Sadly, I didn't get crisps in every bite.

Panera Bread Chicken Sandwich
It's a good sandwich, but too few Parmesan crisps on that bottom bun

The mac & cheese side was quite satisfying, it's the best mac & cheese I've ever had in fast food or fast casual.  The pasta was cooked perfectly and that creamy cheese sauce was spot on!  The charged lemonade was very enjoyable as well.  Thirst quenching, I picked up all the flavors, the lemonade hits you first, complimented by the strawberry and the swallow finishes with a hint of that mint.

Costing me $20.93, this was a pricey fast casual lunch but quite tasty.  Not exactly Bachelor on the Cheap friendly, I'm giving Panera Bread and their Signature Take Chef's Chicken Sandwich 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They make a good chicken sandwich, but what prevents it from earning 5 stars is the lack of toast on the Brioche roll, to few Parmesan crisps and the sandwich wasn't smothered as advertised with the the aioli, it was under-dressed.  And while it's a tasty sandwich, the price ($12.19 for just the sandwich) prevents it from being a repeat buy.  I would like to try the spicy version, but not at that price.

4 stars

The Panera Bread visited on this occasion is located at 1605 N Rock Rd, Wichita, KS 67206.  The service was polite, professional and fast, the restaurant was clean and orderly.

Website:  www.panerabread.com

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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