Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Coffeehouses of Lawrence

December 27th, 2010 1 comment

I drink a lot of coffee. Luckily, Lawrence has a lot of places to get coffee.
Here’s a brief overview of what Larryville has to offer coffee-wise. By the way, all the coffee places in Lawrence as far as I know have free WiFi.
This list is very subjective, and only includes places that are primarily coffeeshops where there is sit-down seating (so, no tea places and no Scooters). Also not grocery stores with coffee nooks, I want to keep this list manageable.

23rd Street Corridor

Z’s East
Vibe: Townies and commuters, pretty laid back back definitely businesslike
My thoughts: Great coffee (the house blend is superb, and they have really good mochas), good place to hit coming to or going from Johnson County. I don’t visit this location too often though.
Bonus features: drive-through, roast their own beans

Dunn Bros.
Vibe: Mix of townies and students, study and discussion groups, pretty open
My thoughts: Decent coffee (and a bonus for two shots standard in 12 oz espresso drinks), lots of good chairs and a fireplace, a good overall chain coffeehouse especially for its location. I go here maybe once a week.
Bonus features: peanut butter for spreading on bagels!


Z’s Downtown
Vibe: Grad students, professors, and townies, pretty businesslike, working and studying.
My thoughts: Good coffee (like the East location, the house blend is superb, and they have really good mochas), both brewed and mixed drinks, and great location, but seating is limited to tables. Still come here probably once a week.
Bonus features: roast their own beans

Vibe: Thorough mix of Lawrence civilization. It’s a Starbucks.
My thoughts: It’s a Starbucks. You know what you’re getting. Not very much seating, so the place will fill up quickly.
Bonus features: It’s a Starbucks

Vibe: Very laid back, students reading and studying.
My thoughts: Haven’t been here in a while, but good location on the south side of Downtown, and features lots of comfortable seating and food to go along with the coffee
Bonus features: Couches and antiques

Vibe: Mostly townies, some students, intellectual
My thoughts: Only table seating, but really good coffee and nice decor. The baristas are probably the most artistic in Lawrence with drawing cute designs on the mochas. Bonus for the awesome little bar upstairs. Downside is in the summer they have a persistant problem with flies. Probably come here a couple times a month.
Bonus features: upstairs bar, late hours

Bourgeoisie Pig
Vibe: More townies then students, casual and laid back, strong group of regulars
My thoughts: I’ve only been here a couple times, so I can’t really testify to the quality. However, the Pig is very popular and has a loyal group of regulars. They also have a liquor license and for smokers, have the most comfortable smoking porch among Lawrence coffeeshops.
Bonus features: booze, covered smoking area, late hours

Java Break
Vibe: Townies AM, students PM, very laid back, place to read, study and hang out
My thoughts: One of my favorite places in Lawrence, really good speciality and espresso drinks, several rooms with different feels, great location, and offer cereal and food in addition to coffee. I come here several times a week. Probably the best mochas in Lawrence, but annoyingly, they don’t offer a 12 oz size for any drink.
Bonus features: sandwiches and cereal, couches, open 24 hours

Signs of Life
Vibe: Artsy, mostly students, Christian
My thoughts: Good coffee and a nice relaxed intellectual vibe. Good place to work for a while. They are closed Sunday for religious reasons. They have good mixed drinks, especially like the “donkey”
Bonus features: Bookstore and art gallery

Prima Tazza
Vibe: Mixed crowd, intellectual
My thoughts: I don’t go here enough. I like their coffee a lot (especially the espresso-based drinks), but it is a very small location and there often isn’t any room to sit. Good people-watching.
Bonus features: Next door to Free State

Seattle’s Best (at Borders)
Vibe: It’s a Borders, so lots of “library” patrons and people studying
My thoughts: It’s a Borders. So, always something to read. I don’t usually go there (for coffee) because I feel awkward taking my own reading material into a bookstore.
Bonus features: Bookstore

West Lawrence

Scone Lady’s
Vibe: Very quiet, townies and grad students
My thoughts: A nice quiet place to escape to in the middle of the day to read or get out of the office. Good selection of baked goods. Never seen them crowded. Their Caramel Twist, coffee mixed with caramel (but no milk) is quite good.
Bonus features: roast their own beans

Vibe: Townies, business people, a place to get work done
My thoughts: Really good brewed coffee, and a great location, the only coffee shop on the far west area of town. I will usually go here at least once a week, a great “coffee break” from the office. The Mayan Mocha is great, a mocha with chili and cinnamon, the drip coffee is also really fresh and really good.
Bonus features: roast their own beans, kids play area

Categories: Food, Lawrence, reviews Tags:

About the internet, and advice to survivalists

September 1st, 2010 4 comments

A couple random thoughts, on topics as varied as Net Neutrality and how to survive the apocalypse in style.

First, and I’m not sure how to turn it into a slogan that would fit on a T-shirt, but I thought of a great tactic for the pro-Net Neutrality folks. Basically explain that without net neutrality, your internet experience will become what your cable TV experience is today – numerous confusing tiers of service, lots of pay-per-view, crappy mandated equipment, and lots of added fees for everything.

The internet won’t matter once the apocalypse occurs. Assuming you want to survive in style (I myself will probably end up on a spit with an apple in my mouth!) you might decide to stockpile gold, guns, and so forth. I have a better idea – stockpile something that is portable, would soon be worth more then its weight in gold for trade, and can survive almost indefinitely if stored correctly. I’m talking about spices of course. The contents of your local Whole Foods spice aisle will enable you to live like a king, especially after a few years when everyone is getting sick of plain roast squirrel and the nearest cinnamon tree may as well be on the moon.

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How you can tell when a restaurant is failing

August 4th, 2010 1 comment

I noticed today over lunch that the old Zig and Macs restaurant at 15th and Wakarusa has gone out of business and has been replaced by some Italian place, which I will need to try in due course.

Zig and Mac’s used to be really good. When they first opened, myself and a bunch of people from work would go there several times a month. They were fast, the food was really good, and we enjoyed eating there. However, in the past six month, it was clear the place was on the way out. This got me to thinking, what are obvious signs that a restaurant isn’t long for the world?

This is what I came up with…if you have any additional ideas, please leave them in the comments

  • The quality of the ingredients noticeably changes for the worse. An obvious sign of cost-cutting. This was actually very noticeable at Zig and Macs as a few months ago they changed from Romaine to iceberg lettuce in their salads and replaced the home made croutons with the crappy little cube-shaped ones from a bag.
  • A buffet is offered where none was before. Buffets aren’t automatically a sign of problems, but if a restaurant switches from, say a normal menu lunch to buffet only or otherwise adds a buffet where they didn’t used to have one, it’s a sign that they are circling the drain.
  • A radical menu change. Restaurants add new items all the time, and have specials, and move items from special status to menu status and back, but if there is a wholesale menu overhaul, then be worried.
  • Portion shrinkage. If you notice the size of portions is being reduced, it’s probably not because the management is concerned about the epidemic of obesity in America.
  • Out-of-date seasonal beer. This isn’t a sure thing and may only be noticed by beer connoisseurs, but if a restaurant has an “old” seasonal still on tap long after it is gone from most places (think a Christmas beer in late January or an Octoberfest in December) then it’s probably because they just aren’t selling much beer, and they don’t have many customers, and they don’t want to lose money by getting rid of a half-full keg.
  • Staff reduction. A consistent under-staffing, with long waits and poor service, especially if it’s not an obvious cause (like they are ridiculously busy) is a sign that perhaps the management is cutting back on staff to save money, to the detriment of customer service.
  • Categories: Food Tags:

    The ten best places to eat in Lawrence

    May 5th, 2010 4 comments

    Lists are easy, lists are fun, I am hungry, so here’s one!

    My ten most favorite restaurants in Lawrence. The rules…no chains, and the place has to primarily be a restaurant (i.e. no coffee houses for this list)

    By the way, if you are a restaurant, there are two things you can do to make me come and throw money at you. First, either get rid of the Flash on your website, or make it so when I visit your site on a mobile device (such as the iPhone — have you heard of it?) I get served a page that actually has useful information on it, as opposed to a broken plug-in icon.

    Secondly, join Twitter, or Facebook (or both) and post/tweet your daily specials. Hell, even a blog with RSS is better then forcing me to actually pick up the phone and call you. I can’t count the number of times I have spontaneously gone out to eat at a restaurant because I saw a special on Twitter which sounded good. This takes 5 minutes to set up, and 1 minute each day to use. Its free. It will get you business. Do it.

    Free State Brewery
    Can’t get enough of that wonderful…not Duff. Seriously, I could eat here 7 days a week (and weigh 100 pounds more if I did, but hey). The beer is as good as any in the world, and the food is gourmet bar comfort food.

    Pachamamas/Star Bar
    I really like the Star Bar, Pachamama’s elegant bar area, and the dining room is probably the “nicest” place to eat in Lawrence. Great local food.

    There are a lot of good Italian places in Lawrence, including the great new 715, but Tellers is still my favorite Italian place by a hair. Superb atmosphere and really great fresh pastas and salads.

    Henry T’s
    Awesome comfort food, and the best wing sauce in Larryville. They also have gourmet burgers.

    Yellow Sub
    I love the fresh sandwiches. My favorites are the homemade meatball sub and the “spicy cheese” (get it with buffalo sauce for a real treat!)

    La Parilla
    What a short order Latin American joint should be. All kinds of fresh grilled dishes, including the titular “Parillas” which are kind of unique fajitas, as well as salads, awesome enchiladas, and the best guac in the city. FWIW, La Familia (which is more pure Mexican as opposed to Latin American) gives La Parilla a run for their money with the best fresh salsa in town.

    A little hole int he wall in a dinky strip mall, but seriously the best pad thai this side of Bangkok.

    Papa Kenos
    Rudy’s is awesome, but Papa Kenos wins by a hair for my favorite pizza in Lawrence. Love the Shredder with the blue cheese and the Santa Fe with real bacon.

    The Burger Stand at Dempseys
    Real gourmet hamburgers. A heart attack on every plate. They have a lot of unique, flavorful burgers, along with the saltiest, crispiest fries around.
    I often just get the classic burger, which is “good enough” but they have a dozen other pretty unique burgers as well.

    Best bread on the planet, best cookies in Lawrence, and probably the best overall sandwiches around. Great breakfasts too, although I rarely eat out for breakfast.

    OK, there you have it. Hungry?

    Categories: Food, reviews Tags: