Wichita's Favorite Coffee Stops

Upon my return home for the holidays, I was determined to stop by some of my favorite coffee shops, as well as check out new ones. I was delighted to discover a couple of new trendy and urbanite cafes had recently popped up in town, which is exactly what Wichita needed to stay in my favor. :) 

Although I have a few old-timers that I used to frequent when I lived in Wichita, such as Il Primo and Mead's Corner, I really wanted to mix it up and also showcase some fresher cafes that have more recently graced Wichita's coffee landscape. (Milkfloat was on my original list, but it was closed the day I tried to go. I'm coming back for it next time I'm in town because it looked cool AF from the window).

In order to review fairly, I ordered the same drink at every stop: an original latte.

Espresso To Go Go

As recommended by a friend, my first stop was Espresso To Go Go, which is located next to the Intrust Bank Arena downtown. It's a fun and quirky little shop, with its main decoration being an oversized disco ball hanging in the middle of the store. As a corner shop, large windows decorated the walls and I enjoyed the natural sunlight that poured in on a cold winter day. Although a few tables line the wall, I suspected this was more of a "to-go" coffee shop (hint the name). Nonetheless, I ordered my latte and made sure to stake out a table and delve into the full experience for a bit. As a coffee addict/connoisseur/American (whatever you'd like to call it), I particularly enjoyed that the regular coffee size was much larger than what I was expecting. Definitely got my money's worth!
Latte: 9/10 

The Donut Whole

Yes, I know The Donut Whole has been around for awhile. But I really love their coffee and if you live in Wichita and haven't been YOU'RE SORELY MISSING OUT. Mean it. Of course, you can't get a coffee without a donut as well. My go-to is the S'mores, but you could honestly choose blindly and still be a winner here. Although craft donut shops are all the rage right now, there is nowhere else like The Donut Whole. So Wichita. So donut. My high school friends and I spent many an evening here either watching our classmates/boyfriends play live music, going on first dates, having study sessions, eating lots and lots of donuts, etc. A good portion of my high school social life happened here, which is partly why it's on this list. Alas, I stand by my conviction that you're probably a loser if you haven't experienced The Donut Whole yet. Good coffee, good donuts, good vibes.
Latte: 8/10 

Il Primo

Although pretty unassuming from the outside, Il Primo makes some damn good coffee and has been a Wichita favorite for years. The indoor decor is less urban hip, more Luke's Diner-y. When you walk in, you kind of feel like you've entered a time warp to the late 90s, early 2000s, but you also most definitely love it that way. I don't usually get a normal latte when I come here because their signature creations are so much better. They do have a great latte, but it is definitely worth splurging when you come here to get something more delectable. They make my all-time favorite hot chocolate, as well!
Latte: 7.5/10.

The Reverie 

The Reverie is probably the coffee shop I frequent most post college when in Wichita, as it's just down the street from my parents' house (waddup, College Hillers). They use local milk for their lattes and also offer nitro coffee. The chestnut woodwork and brick walls give it a lofty ambiance that is ideal for the artsy Wichitan (turns out, it also works well for my parents). The 20 minutes I was here, I noticed a wide variety of people coming in and out, whether to meet with a friend, work, study or read. It really does a good job in creating a sense of community. When ordering, their small size is an 8 ounce cup, so if you have a bigger stomach for coffee, I would suggest going up a size. My dad ordered a Cocoa Dolce Mocha, which was the perfect amount of sweetness and chocolate flavor. I hate when you order a mocha or signature coffee drink and it tastes like a bunch of sugar was dumped into it. Definitely the place to get a mocha if you like them less sweet! My latte was very good as well—must have been that local whole milk! 
Latte: 9.5/10

Disclaimer: I was, in fact, raised as an Eastsider, and rarely venture to the West side unless I want to go look at some elephants and monkeys at the zoo. I am (sort of) deeply regretful I couldn't visit any coffee shops on the West side. Westsiders, if you have any recommendations for me, I would love to hear them!  Feel free to send me a message on Instagram.

Stay curious,

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Beers + Bubbly: SoT Social

There's a new kid on the block, and it's ready to play with the big boys. SoT Social—also known as South of Truman—recently opened in downtown Kansas City, and has described itself as creating the "feeling of discovering an unknown place" and a great place to escape to.

As I am always seeking to uncover the "unknown" and crave local, everyday escapes from this adult reality, I was looking forward to checking this place out myself. Accompanied by a group of friends on a Monday evening, I'll admit I think I discovered one of my favorite new bars in Kansas City.

The drinks are good—really, really good—and between the eight of us, we got to try most of the drink menu. I enjoyed The Tiki Cocktail, shown below, for its sweet, light taste but also for the beautiful chalice in which it was served. The copper mug is shaped as a pineapple, and the lid becomes a stand for the drink! Planning to get this drink every time I return merely because it made me feel like royalty (pinkies out).

Each cocktail was unique in some way. The Smoky Cocktail is *literally* served smoking and The Rhubarb Cocktail's key ingredient is the bleu cheese on the rim. One that I will be back to try is The Clarified Milk Punch, as I really like anything that involves dairy and elderflower.

They also had a dessert menu, which is dangerous and genius at the same time. Can you tell I'm in their target market? I didn't let my guard down this time around, but Glace Ice Cream Sandwich: I'm comin' back for ya.

south of truman kansas city

This was the perfect place to hang out on a cool, fall evening. The gorgeous lights cascaded above our table and the crisp air filled my lungs while a tropical cocktail filled my stomach. We talked about our parents and reminisced our childhoods across 4 different states. It was like this private patio was all ours and it felt like a place where we could come back and make more memories. They even had green grass-like squares on the wall—perfect for the Instaslam!

Stylish, unique and surprising: SoT Social earns a top spot on my favorites list. I want to encourage everyone and their moms to go, but I also selfishly want to keep it a secret. As it says on the website, it is indeed the "new best-kept secret in Kansas City."

So go ahead and check it out. Or don't. :)

Stay curious,

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Follow me on Instagram: @erika_reals

*Beers + Bubbly is a monthly series showcasing stylish bars in Kansas City and beyond. If your establishment is interested in being featured, please email erikaleereals@gmail.com.

The Coolest Corner in Wichita

It was one of those perfect trips back home, where no one in the family got into an argument and the fridge was fully stocked with iced coffees and Mountain Dew. All is good in this Wichita world.

After getting up early to go on a short run with my dad around the neighborhood, we decided to drive to the Riverside area to check out this health cafe that allegedly sells acai bowls—I had just taught my parents what they were and how to pronounce it correctly (ah-sigh-ee). They still can't get it right. *sigh*

What came next was quite the surprise, though! I had been to parts of Riverside before, but had no idea this little corner of shops ever existed. If I lived in Wichita, I would be over here all the time.  It reminded me a lot of 39th Street District in Kansas City.

The acai shop was called Songbird Juice Co., located at 11th and Bitting. 

They sell smoothies, acai bowls, pitaya bowls (which I still need to try!) and an assortment of cold pressed juices. It was such a cute little place. I ordered the acai bowl with granola, banana and honey with some extra acai berries on top. 

My mom ordered something that wasn't even on the menu yet —an acai bowl with cacao protein powder, coconut shavings, banana, strawberries and granola. They were both very good; my mom's could have been a dessert it was so decadent! (Those antioxidants, tho).

I enjoyed it so much that I'm going to make it a regular spot every time I come back. :)

This was a cool bike art piece that was just outside. Notice the Wichita flag painted in the background. This flag has become much more popular in the city and you see them nearly everywhere you go! I don't think I ever saw one in my lifetime until I went to The Doughnut Whole when I was back in Wichita during college breaks (shoutout to the DW for making college breaks so fun). 

Next door was a food hub that sold grass-fed meats, free range eggs and local produce. My mom bought some beef and sirloin and said the price was phenomenal, especially for it being grass-fed.

The coffee shop on the other side of Songbird Juice Co. was called R Coffee House. Inside featured a lot of local art, and they use PT's Coffee beans based out of Topeka, Kansas. It looked like local bands play live shows there at night as there was a music setup in the corner.

My favorite, picturesque place in the area, however, was across the street. 

This is an anomaly in Wichita—colorful and eclectic. A Mexican restaurant called Chiquita's Corner, it had a walkup order menu, Mexican-bottled Coca Cola and the cutest patio furniture in the city.

My dad and I ordered their classic taco, which was a fried flour tortilla (my fave) with beef, lettuce, peas, potatoes, queso and salsa. My dad said it best: "This is the best taco I have ever had."

I am obsessed with this little spot!

Ok, fine I'll have one.

Last but not least: evidence we had the best Mexican food in Wichita—maybe even the state of Kansas. Wichita friends and visitors, highly recommend stopping by this corner while you're here. It's a lively, hip area that's unlike the rest of town! 

Leaving Wichita is always bittersweet. It's sad leaving my parents and my dog, but it's a good reminder that I was right in choosing Kansas City as my home (for now).

"The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back." - Wendy Wunder

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Stay curious,