My family recently took an incredible weekend trip to Wichita, Kan. It was a lot of fun, and in between all our stops, we visited fantastic, kid-friendly Wichita restaurants. If you’re looking for a list of some of the best restaurants in Wichita, this is the list (it’s just a bonus that they’re good restaurants for families, too)!
Update: This post was first written in 2017 and was updated in October 2019.
Disclosure: Our visit was hosted by Visit Wichita, and they helped us select some great spots to try. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.
Where is Wichita, Kansas?
Wichita is located in south central Kansas and sits on the Arksansas River. Population-wise, it’s comparable to Omaha, with 389,255 people (in 2018).
Two well-known, fast-food chains started in Wichita: Pizza Hut and White Castle. Now, the city has more than 1,200 restaurants. How to choose which ones to visit?!
My plan for this trip was to visit Wichita restaurants that were locally-owned. The key was that they had to be kid-friendly, not kiddie… I wanted good food.
Best breakfast in Wichita
For breakfast to give your day a turbo charge of sugar, go to The Donut Whole. We were among several families there the morning we went.
You can go as vanilla or as rainbow as you want when choosing a donut here. The popular flavor is maple bacon, which you gotta try. All donuts are made from scratch daily.
There’s a wide assortment to choose from, and it is a tough choice. Cookie, candy, cereal…they’re all toppings here.
They once had a Breaking Bad donut with blue rock candy on top.
The coffee’s pretty good here, plus free refills. If you want a more substantial breakfast, you can get a breakfast sandwich (made with donuts).
Tip: If, for whatever reason, you’re up late, the drive-thru window is open 24 hours a day.
Doo Dah Diner is a dining hot spot in Wichita, and it has mastered the laid-back vibe. Everyone nods in approval if you tell them you plan to eat there. It’s good stuff.
We went on a Sunday, which turns out is buffet-only, which may or may not be great for your family. If you go Wednesday through Saturday for breakfast, expect a wait. But at least you get to have free monkey bread in line (while it lasts…which is about ’til noon).
I tried one of the buffet staples: Pork Belly and Grits, which got the thumbs up. You’ll also always find hashbrown casserole and smoked salmon on the buffet table every Sunday.
You can also get some food made-to-order, including some benedicts and omelets.
Going during the week? Timirie, co-owner of Doo Dah Diner, said the most popular things to order are Crab Cake Benedict, Chicken Fried Steak, Smothered Breakfast Burrito, Banana Bread French Toast (gluten free) and Corned Beef Hash.
The exterior of the diner doesn’t really hint to the fun decor inside. Think lots of colors and a mishmash of art on the walls.
Wichita restaurants for lunch or dinner
For lunch, try The Kitchen. When we visited, the restaurant was still pretty new to the Wichita scene. The focus is on seasonal and clean food (so no nitrates in lunch meat and the burger is 100% beef).
That’s not to say it’s health food. We dug into straight up comfort food here. Try the disco fries, a New Jersey take on poutine.
The owner, Natasha, described it as New American, adding “We like to say you can be as good or naughty as you like.”
The menu is seasonally inspired, so I can’t quite guarantee what you’ll be able to order. I can tell you that Natasha’s crew serves up a mean panini.
For drinks, they keep some Kansas craft brews on tap. I opted for a raspberry ice tea, which was made just right (not too sweet, thankyouverymuch). It’s a great summer drink.
Moms and dads who like local beer with good food, go earlier in the day to The Anchor. They’re known for a good lineup of 50+ craft beers on tap and this amazing thing called The Haystack.
It’s a pub, no getting around it. But, they have a kid’s menu, so they won’t snub families. And not just any thrown-together kiddie menu, but a solid burger served with fries, a fruit cup, and a Rice Krispie Treat.
If you’re really hungry go to the historic Delano District for some barbecue at Delano Barbeque Co. It’s huge servings, even on the kid’s menu. And messy, because, well, barbecue.
It’s on the quirky side for its Christmas lights.
Tip: Delano Barbecue is closed on Sundays.
Where to get a snack or dessert in Wichita
For lunch spot or a great place for a treat, is Old Mill Tasty Shop in downtown Wichita. This is a Wichita institution, which opened in the 1930s (the current owners bought it in the 1980s).
Everyone – and I mean everyone – you ask will tell you to get the chicken salad, and I sampled it and it lives up to the hype. If you like chili, try the green chili there.
I went there and got a chocolate shake, made the old-fashioned way behind their old-fashioned soda fountain counter, and loved every drop…that my daughter hadn’t swiped from me while I wasn’t looking.
By the way, it’s right by Intrust Bank Arena, so if you have tickets to a show, it’s a great spot for before-show food. Old Mill is open for lunches during the week, and until 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Tip: Old Mill Tasty Shop is closed on Sundays.
Nifty Nut House is the snack place to end all snack places. It got its start in 1937, and over time, it’s evolved into a wholesaler of nuts, dried fruit, snack mixes, gourmet chocolate, sugar-free items, and homemade fudge.
But wait, there’s more.
You can find just about any candy brand you can dream of there, too.
It’s a huge store, and one my food hero, Alton Brown, called “a national treasure.”
Tip: Nifty Nut House is also closed on Sundays.
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Want to start planning your own Great Wichita Weekend?
Start with My Wichita Bucket List to get some inspiration, then dive into these for more fun ideas:
The Great Wichita Weekend recap
A Kid-Favorite Destination: Bonanica Wichita
Wichita Home Base: Hampton Inn & Suites
Visiting Exploration Place With Kids
Exploring Tangyika Wildlife Park
For even more ideas for family fun in Wichita, check out my Pinterest Board.
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Monday 22nd of May 2017
What a great variety of places that you picked to highlight! My family loves your feature image - that is quite the crazy picture! The person's head on the table is definitely iconic!
Monday 22nd of May 2017
Thanks, Gretchen! That donut place was full of quirky and iconic images. Kids loved it!