Food & Drink, Reviews Feed

Wichita Restaurant Hits & Misses - 06/06/2024

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Welcome to a new weekly feature, a snapshot review of restaurants I hit recently, be it for a relaxing sit-down dinner, re-visiting an old favorite, or grabbing something on the go.  I'll be posting about who provided a good dining experience, who cranked out some tasty eats, and well, the others, who maybe didn't perform as well as they could.

Doggie Breath Pizza
Deano's cranks out some good pizza!

Deano's Grill & Tapworks:  This is my favorite sports bar in the Metro.  They've got TVs in view no matter where you sit, the drinks are smooth, the food is fantastic and the atmosphere is super friendly.  It's a great place to just hang out and catch a game, take a date, or simply meet up with family and friends.  This was a date night occasion, and we enjoyed the Doggie Breath Pizza, which features pepperoni, red onion, and garlic chips...  That way we both had "Doggie" Breath, and no, it wasn't our first date.  Here's the description from the bar's website:  Deano's Doggy Breath Dog sauce (house-made pizza sauce and garlic paste), mozzarella, pepperoni, and red onion. Garnished with garlic chips.  We added mushrooms to the mix.  This pizza is a flavor bomb and I highly recommend it any time other than a first date!   Deano's Grill & Tapworks, 9747 East 21st Street North, Suite 101, Wichita, Kansas 67206.

Sonic's Cheese Groovy Fries
A tasty little snack

Sonic Drive-In:  Deal Alert!  $1 fries during the month of June, no matter the size.  Sonic's crinkle cut fries, they call them "Groovy Fries" make for a great on-the-go snack, especially at that price!  I opted for their Cheese Groovy Fries, fried thin and golden brown and topped with melted cheese.  That kicked the price up a bit, but my order of fries and a Cherry Limeade cost me a total of $6 and really hit the spot!  And yes, even though it's fast food, you should tip your server, ESPECIALLY during rainy, snowy, or uncomfortably hot weather.  Sonic Drive-In, 7702 E Harry St, Wichita, KS 67207 

Mcdonald's Egg McMuffin
It's a classic, tasty, convenient

McDonald's:  While getting my truck serviced before a road trip, I hit a McDonald's for a convenient breakfast next door while I waited.  Regular readers know I'm not a huge fan of Mickey D's, but you really can't go wrong with the classic Egg McMuffin.  When was the last time you had one?  It's a tasty flavor combination of Canadian Bacon, egg, and melty cheese served on a toasted English muffin.  Served with a hash brown side, which can be hit or miss (fresh and hot vs. cold & greasy), it's a convenient, inexpensive breakfast, especially when you're killing time getting the oil changed in your vehicle.   McDonald's, 1219 S Rock Rd, Wichita, KS 67207.

Taco Bell Sausage Crunchwrap
A tasty, mobile-friendly breakfast eat

Taco Bell: Out and about running errands first thing in the morning on the east side of town recently, I hit Taco Bell for breakfast.  Their sausage Crunchwrap has become my breakfast favorite when on the go.  In my book, the Crunchwrap is perhaps THE most mobile breakfast eat out there, you can munch and drive, without wearing it on the shirt worries!  Taco Bell description:  A crispy hash brown, fluffy eggs, sausage patty, cheddar cheese, and creamy jalapeño sauce wrapped inside a warm flour tortilla and grilled to go.  It's a great bite and at just $3.99, a cheap eat too!  Taco Bell, 1695 S Webb Rd, Wichita, KS 67207.

Those were the hits...

And now for a miss...

Spicy Shrimp Tacos on a Cheese Shell
They looked better than they tasted

Tacos TJ 664 East:  I like Tacos TJ, it's been a go-to taco place for me and I've recommended it to friends.  When I was doing KETO, I became a fan of their cheese shell tacos.  But during my last visit and ordering two spicy shrimp tacos on the cheese shell, well, they flat out weren't as good as I've had in the past.  They were missing something on the spice front, they just weren't as flavorful as before, and the tacos were sitting in a pool of oil.  I'll chalk it up to faulty prep on this occasion, but what I got has me leaning toward not ordering the cheese shells again given the unwanted swim in oil.  Tacos TJ 664 East, 1014 N West St, Wichita, KS 67203

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Related:  Best Pizza in the Wichita Metro

Related: Eating KETO-Friendly at Tacos tj 664 in East Wichita


Pasta Dinner on the Cheap

Priano Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli
Available at Aldi

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I've really been into pasta lately, Carbonara, Baked Ziti, Shrimp & Pasta, Chicken & Pasta, simple Spaghetti dinners, and lately, easy-peasy Ravioli meals.

The convenience, low cost, and easy prep of pasta dishes is tough to beat, especially the tasty products Priano puts out.

Priano is a private label brand exclusive to Aldi, and they make a full line of Italian goods such as pasta, sauces, pestos, and even a dry-cured prosciutto, among other great products.  I recently reviewed the Priano Mushroom Ravioli (link below) and enjoyed it so much, that I picked up their Ricotta & Spinach version during my last shopping trip.

Priano Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli
Creamy Ricotta & flavorful spinach in every bite

Super convenient, the meal only took about 8 minutes to prepare, heating the ravioli per the package instructions, and topping it with some leftover chicken strips, Priano Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  The pillows of pasta were nicely portioned with Ricotta and spinach stuffing and combined with the pesto, chicken, and Parmesan... Well, as I like to say, "It was Another Dose of YUM!" 

Priano makes a good ravioli! Costing me just $1.79 for an 8.8-ounce package, I'm giving Priano Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  Convenient, fast, hearty, SUPER tasty, and Bachelor on the Cheap Wallet-friendly, like the mushroom ravioli, this Priano product is also very much a repeat buy.  Their pasta packs are faster than fast food.  They're tastier and cheaper too!  

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Mike

The Aldi visited on this occasion is located at 8011 E Kellogg Dr, Wichita, KS 67207.   If you haven't had the opportunity to check out their pasta section, it's worth a look-see.

Related: Food Review: Priano Mushroom Ravioli

Related: Food Review: Priano Pesto Sauces from Aldi


Food Review: Priano Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Priano Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Available at Aldi

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I'm having another "Wish I would have tried it sooner" moment.

I really like Priano products from Aldi, it's top-shelf quality stuff, without the top-shelf price.

If you're not already in the know, Priano is a private label brand exclusive to Aldi, and they make a full line of Italian goods such as pasta, sauces, pestos, and even a dry-cured prosciutto, among other great products.  I only recently started getting familiar with the Priano brand (review links below), and picked up a bottle of their extra virgin olive oil to try during my most recent grocery shopping trip.  Hindsight is always 20/20, I should have done so long ago.

Up to now, I really didn't have a preference for extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), as I didn't use it that much.  I always have a bottle on hand, but my cooking habits lend themselves to regular olive oil, which has a higher flash point.  I do a lot of sauteeing, roasting, and grilling.  My cooking and eating habits are changing, however, I'm eating A LOT more salads and vegetables these days, which calls for an upgrade in oil.  My pantry needs an EVOO go-to, and upgrade if you will, something I can finish a dish with, create tastier dressings and vinaigrettes with, or drizzle on some crusty bread along with freshly cracked black pepper.

Priano delivers a very pleasant, yet mild olive flavor, with a nice, subtle pepper note finish.  It's perfect for salad dressings, marinades, and bread dipping as the bottle states.  It truly compliments whatever you add it to, with no fear of overwhelming a dish.  This product also carries the NAOOA (North American Olive Oil Association) Seal, so it's frequently tested for product quality.  

Costing me $5.65 for a 16.9-ounce bottle at Aldi, I'm giving Priano Extra Virgin Olive Oil 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  Delivering a quality olive flavor without a high price tag, this is definitely a repeat buy.  I'm still going to use my go-to regular olive oil, Carlini, for sauteeing, roasting, and grilling, but I will add a generous drizzle of Priano EVOO to finish those dishes moving forward.  Then there's the many benefits of using a good EVOO with salads, dressings, marinades, and dipping, which is all 'bonus' eating.  Compare that price to name brands Bertolli, also a 16.9-ounce bottle for $8.77, or a 16-ounce bottle of Pompeian for $8.23 at the mainstream grocery store.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Related: Food Review: Priano Mushroom Ravioli

Related: Food Review: Priano Pesto Sauces from Aldi

Related: Food Review: Carlini Olive Oil


Food Review: Parkview Buffalo Style & Monterey Jack Cheese Smoked Sausage

Parkview Buffalo Style & Monterey Jack Cheese Smoke Sausage
Available at Aldi

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No fridge or freezer is complete without a variety of bratwurst, hot dogs, or sausages of some sort in it.

I recently sampled Parkview Buffalo Style & Monterey Jack Cheese Smoked Sausages.  Parkview is an Aldi brand and I'm a fan of Parkview Cheddar Brats so this was a no-brainer "try it" for me.   A package went in the cart as soon as I spotted it.  Buffalo flavor and Monterey Jack Cheese?  What's not to like?

Fully cooked, these sausages lend themselves to easy preparation and quick meals.  All one has to do is heat them through, be it pan-fried, microwave, oven-baked, and of course, the best method - grilled.  They're excellent slapped on a bun, and quite nice when sliced and prepared with some O'Brien Potatoes.  They're also excellent served on a bed of pasta.  I like these better than most hot links I've sampled over the years. 

An all-pork sausage, the Buffalo and cheese flavors are well balanced.  The heat lets you know it's there, but it's not in your face, which means you pick up the Monterey Jack and premium sausage notes.  Seasoned well, the mark of any good brat, hot dog, or sausage is a good snap in the casing with each bite and Parkview delivers. 

I sampled them every way as noted above, and yes, the best way was in a grilled preparation, using indirect heat and allowing the sausages to pick up the smoke, further highlighting the Buffalo essence - EXCELLENT!  

Costing $3.39 for a six-count package at Aldi, I'm giving Parkview Buffalo Style & Monterey Jack Cheese Smoked Sausages 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Priced right, they taste good, are easy to prepare, and are excellent no matter the preparation, making them repeat buy worthy.    Compare that price to Johnsonville Hot Links, priced at $4.49 for a six-count package at the mainstream grocery store.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike


Don't buy Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, buy Bake House Creations Crescent Rolls instead

Bake House Creations Crescent Rolls
Just as good as Pillsbury

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If you regularly buy Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, you're paying too much for a good thing.

You can get canister crescent rolls that are every bit as good as Pillsbury for far less.

Check out Bake House Creations Crescent Rolls instead.

Available at Aldi, Bake House Creations makes all the canister favorites such as biscuits, cinnamon rolls, pie crusts, pizza crusts, and more.

They bake up just as big, just as flaky, and just as tasty as the name brand.  I challenge you to taste the difference in a blind taste test.

I picked some up the other day to make some a hybrid of Pigs in a Blanket and English-style Sausage Rolls, which were fantastic!  Recipe below.

Costing me $1.95 for an 8-count canister, I'm giving Bake House Creations Crescent Rolls 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  Compare that price to name brand Pillsbury, costing about $3.49 for an 8-count canister at the mainstream grocery store.  Why pay so much more, for the same thing?

American Pigs in a Blanket meets English-style Sausage Rolls

Ingredients:

  • One canister of crescent rolls
  • 8 links of your favorite sausage (I used breakfast links)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried, ground sage
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 egg, beaten for an egg wash

Directions:

Pigs in a blanket kicked up a notch
Pigs in a Blanket with an English-style Sausage Roll twist

On a cookie sheet, lay out the crescent rolls, then place a sausage on each crescent sheet.  Dust with onion powder and ground sage (the oils from the sausage will meld with the seasonings influencing the meat and the bread).  Hit each sausage with some grated Parmesan, then roll them up.  Hit each roll with the egg wash, then hit them again with the ground sage, sesame seeds, and more Parmesan.  Bake at 350 degrees on the center rack for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden, brown, and delicious.   Excellent served with an impromptu honey mustard aioli, which is one part mustard, one part mayo, a healthy Tablespoon of honey, and freshly cracked black pepper.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

 

 


Food Review: Tuscan Garden Cheese & Garlic Croutons

Tuscan Garden Cheese & Garlic Croutons
Available at Aldi, costs less than a name brand, tastes just as good.

BachelorontheCheap.com

A salad is always better with croutons.  It's a texture element that kicks rabbit food up a notch.  Croutons are also good additions to a variety of casseroles, soups, and stews, and make a great base for stuffings. 

I recently picked up a bag of Tuscan Garden Cheese & Garlic Croutons at Aldi.  Regular readers know that I'm a fan of the discount grocer, doing my regular grocery shopping there and always posting cost comparisons and savings on BachelorontheCheap.com.  I'm not big on name brands when it comes to grocery items.  In my experience, store or discount brands are every bit as good as the name brand, 8 out of 10 times, and cost less.

So where do croutons fall?  I mean, we're basically talking about stale bread with flavoring.  Can there really be much of a difference in flavor and product quality?

No.  The Tuscan Garden Cheese & Garlic are good croutons, you get the cheese and garlic notes, the flavor isn't weak, it's not overpowering, it's not too salty, and there's the crunch factor you expect from a crouton.  This is a perfectly good crouton product.  So why spend more for similar flavor and texture?

Tuscan Garden Croutons
Croutons on a simple side salad

Costing $1.25 at Aldi for a 5-ounce bag, I'm giving Tuscan Garden Cheese & Garlic Croutons 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  What can I say, we're talking about croutons here and while they do help elevate a salad, it's not like we're talking about a product with a true "Wow" factor, it's stale bread with a little flavor.  No brand of crouton has ever "Wowed" me.  Tuscan Garden croutons do the job of "helping" a salad and are a nice addition as a topping to soups and casseroles.  Compare that price to Dillons store brand Kroger Homestyle Cheese & Garlic Croutons priced at $1.39 for a 5-ounce bag and name brand New York Bakery Texas Toast Cheese and Garlic Croutons priced at $1.99 for a 5-ounce bag.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike


Food Review: Tuscan Garden Guacamole Ranch Dressing

Tuscan Garden Guacamole Ranch Dressing
This deserves a spot in your pantry and fridge.

BachelorontheCheap.com

I don't eat a lot of rabbit food, but I do appreciate a good salad with a steak or pasta dinner.  My salad dressing of choice is Ranch, and my go-to buy is the Tuscan Garden brand, which is much cheaper than Hidden Valley Ranch and just as tasty.

Available at Aldi, the lineup of Tuscan Garden dressings includes Italian, buttermilk ranch, Thousand Island, honey mustard, classic Caesar salad dressing, Balsamic Vinaigrette, and more.

But on a recent weekly grocery shop, in addition to picking up a bottle of regular Ranch, a bottle of Guacamole Ranch caught my eye.  In the cart, it went.

Simple Side Salad
A simple side salad dressed with Guacamole Ranch

This is good stuff!  I sampled it on a simple side salad and it delivers on the guacamole flavor to include a nice little hum of jalapeno in the finish.  Enjoying that, for breakfast the next morning I used it to dress a Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich.  A perfect compliment for the toasted sourdough (think avocado toast), it really kicked that sandwich up a notch.

Costing me $1.95 at Aldi for a 16-ounce bottle, I'm giving Tuscan Garden Guacamole Ranch Dressing 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  You get the creamy Ranch notes, the avocado flavor, and a nice little jalapeno hum with every rabbit food bite.  It's now a regular buy for me, deserving of a spot in my pantry and fridge.  Compare that price to Wishbone Avocado Ranch Dressing, a 15-ounce bottle for $2.67 at the mainstream grocery store.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike 

BLT
Elevate a BLT with Guacamole Ranch

 


Food Review: Sourdough bread from Aldi

 BachelorontheCheap.com

Specially Selected Everything Sourdough Bread
An excellent bread in a number of preparationsBachelorontheCheap.com

A friend of mine recommended I pick up a bag of sourdough bread from Aldi to try.  

Specially Selected Everything Sourdough Bread ROCKS and shout out to Jennifer A., for the recommendation!

This is an Aldi private label brand, maker of a wide variety of premium products.  The tagline is, “Gourmet foods at everyday low prices,” and in addition to all kinds of baked goods, their lineup includes items such as Premium Smoked Gouda Macaroni & Cheese, Mussels in Garlic Butter Sauce, Honey Lemon Indulgent Greek Yogurt, and much more.

The sourdough bread is made with toasted flax seed, poppy seed, onion, and garlic.  It's excellent straight out of the bag to make a sandwich, it makes FANTASTIC toast and garlic bread, and it's delightful even in the most simple form, simply dressed with butter as a dinner side.

Specially Selected Everything Sourdough Bread
Bread toasted in a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil, garlic, and black pepper.

Costing me $3.69 for an old-school, traditional size 24-ounce loaf (if you haven't noticed, national brands have been reducing their sliced bread loaves down to 20-ounces) at Aldi, I'm giving Specially Selected Everything Sourdough Bread 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  This artisan-style bread ROCKS and is most definitely worthy of a repeat buy.  Can you say, "Avocado Toast?"  Yes, yes, you can, but don't thank me, thank Jennifer.  Compare that price to The Rustik Oven brand Sourdough Bread, a 16-ounce loaf, costing $3.99 at Dillons and $4.37 at Walmart.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike


Food Review: Taco Bell's Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco Meal

Taco Bell Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco Meal
Nice aroma, a tease when driving...

BachelorontheCheap.com

On a recent day trip outside the expansive borders of Wichita, I headed west for a little fishing fun and some property scouting.

I didn't pack a lunch, so when I started hearing some growling, I found a Taco Bell drive-thru.  I've been wanting to try the new Cantina Chicken since it was introduced on the menu late last month.

Here's the description from the Taco Bell website: Taco Bell’s new Cantina Chicken Menu features five new ingredients in your favorite Taco Bell forms, including our new slow-roasted chicken, signature pico de gallo, fresh purple cabbage, crispy white corn shell and flavorful avocado verde salsa. Satisfy your daytime cravings and try the Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco, the Cantina Chicken Soft Taco, the Cantina Chicken Burrito, the Cantina Chicken Quesadilla, or the Cantina Chicken Bowl. The Cantina Chicken Menu is the cheesy, saucy, spicy, crunchy Taco Bell you love combined with new, elevated ingredients. 

Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco
Slow-roasted chicken, wrapped in a crispy cheesy soft shell

All the options sound mouthwatering good, especially so when paired with their new avocado verde salsa.  

I went with the Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco Meal option.  All those flavors presented in a crispy white corn shell?  What's not to like?

The meal consists of two tacos, two of the new avocado verde salsa packets, chips and Nacho cheese sauce, and a medium drink.  Taco Bell touts "elevated ingredients" in the menu spiel, but my takeaway was pretty much just an elevated price.  Yes, the tacos are seasoned well, they're flavorful, the creamy jalapeno sauce dressing the tacos is nice as is the avocado verde salsa, but the portion of chicken is less than generous.  I didn't get chicken in every bite, it's like Taco Bell hopes you'll be satisfied with sauces, cheese, and a crispy shell.  These aren't robustly filled tacos, they're thin.

Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco
These may be "elevated ingredients," but the portions are smaller compared to other, traditional offerings.  Very thin tacos.

Costing me $9.75 after tax, I'm giving Taco Bell's Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco Meal 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  The flavors are good, but the meal is overpriced and not worthy of a repeat buy.  I'm not even interested in trying the other Cantina Chicken options.  Oh, and if you ask for extra avocado verde salsa packets, it costs extra and it's more of a tomatillo and green chili sauce, it's quite light on avocado flavor.   Elevated ingredients?  The flavors, perhaps, but is this an overall elevated Taco Bell meal?  No, there's not enough in the taco.  My hunger would have been better satisfied with a Crunchwrap Supreme Combo for less money.  

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike


Food Review: Priano Mushroom Ravioli

Priano Mushroom Ravioli
Super convenient, easy to prepare, and TASTY!

BachelorontheCheap.com

After a busy day, sometimes the last thing you want to do is take the time to cook something from scratch and never mind the dirty dish clean up afterwards.

Convenience was the ticket today, I wanted something fast, something prepared at home, NOT fried, and hearty enough that I wouldn't want to snack later.

Enter, Priano Mushroom Ravioli.

Priano is a private label brand exclusive to Aldi, and they make a full line of Italian goods such as pasta, sauces, pestos, and even a dry-cured prosciutto, among other great products.

The mushroom pasta was a perfect choice for dinner and my mood.  Super convenient, the meal only took about 5 minutes to prepare, heating the ravioli per the package instructions, and topping it with a basil pesto and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  The pillows of pasta were perfectly cooked and the mushroom stuffing was satisfyingly portioned and packed some great flavor.  In saucing and topping the ravioli, the basil pesto with Parmesan was a good combo, the warm pasta embraced them both quite nicely.  

Priano Mushroom Ravioli
Nice amount of creamy, mushroom filling.

Costing me $1.99 for an 8.8-ounce package at Aldi, I'm giving Priano Mushroom Ravioli 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  It's super easy to prepare, it's hearty, has great flavor, and the best part, it's SO Bachelor on the Cheap Wallet Friendly!  In a price comparison, a 10-ounce package of Rana Mushroom Ravioli is about $4.99 at the mainstream grocery store.

Moving forward, this item will be a staple in my pantry, and I look forward to the variety of sauces and things I can top it with... Sun-dried tomato pesto & Asiago cheese, garlic butter & capers, marinara & crispy pancetta, the possibilities are almost endless. 

So good, and faster than fast food!

Related: Food Review: Priano Pesto Sauces from Aldi

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

The Aldi visited on this occasion is located at 8011 E Kellogg Dr, Wichita, KS 67207.   If you haven't had the opportunity to check out their pasta section, it's worth a look-see.