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MetroPursuitMetro Pursuit - Wichita is all things FOOD in Wichita - PLUS! 

Whether you're a lifelong resident of the Metro area, a Wichita State student, or just visiting the area, you've come to the right place if you're looking for information about restaurants, dining, drinking and food shopping in the Wichita metro area!  Where to go and yes, where NOT to go is listed here in Metro Pursuit. Serving the food and drink community of the Metro area, Wichita, Haysville, Derby, Andover, Bel Aire, Park City, Valley Center, Kechi, Maize - PLUS!


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Food Review: Member's Mark Deluxe Mixed Nuts with Sea Salt - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Member's Mark Deluxe Mixed Nuts with Sea Salt
A handy item to have around during the holidays

In another effort to get away from eating too many chip snacks, I recently picked up a 34 ounce (that's 2 pounds, 2 ounces for those of you who live in Haysville) canister of mixed nuts while shopping at Sam's Club.  Nuts are a nice alternative to chips because not only do they deliver some nice texture and a bit of crunch, they provide some protein and don't have near the volume of carbs that chips do.

The Member's Mark (Sam's Club brand) Deluxe Mixed Nuts with Sea Salt consists of cashews, almonds, pecans, pistachios and hazelnuts.  That's a nice blend and they're lightly salted with sea salt.  Some mixes available out there can go a bit overboard with the salt, not so with these, they're pleasantly salted, allowing the flavors of the nuts to shine.  This is a great snack, all the nuts are fresh and overall the mix is balanced with exception to the pistachios.  You get plenty of cashews, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts, but not so much on the pistachios.  I'll take that though, another downside to other brands of mixed nuts is they use peanuts as a 'filler' if you will, they go heavy on the peanuts and go light on the other varieties in their 'blend'. 

Member's Mark Mixed Nuts
5 grams of protein and just 7 carbs per serving

Handy to have around during the holidays, I paid $11.98 for that jug of nuts, which is under 36 cents per serving!  I'm giving Member's Mark Deluxe Mixed Nuts with Sea Salt 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They're tasty, wallet friendly with the only knock on the mix being a little light on the pistachios, but they're a repeat buy nonetheless!

4 stars

 


French Fry Battle: Wendy's new fries vs. McDonald's - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

French Fry Battle: Wendy's vs. McDonald's
French Fry Battle: Wendy's vs. McDonald's

When it comes to fast food, a lot of folks claim that McDonald's has the best fries.  I'm one of those people, when they're hot and salted correctly, they're tough to beat.  Coming out of the fryer, McDonald's fries are golden brown and you get the slightly crispy outside and fluffy potato inside.  When they're done right (a key phrase for McDonald's) the fast food king delivers what you're looking for in a french fry, it's a nice bite!

Well Wendy's has come out with "New" fries and in their marketing, are saying their fries are better than McDonald's fries. 

Here's the marketing hype from the Wendy's website: 

New Fries Are Here

And they're our best ever.

If you’re looking for cold and soggy French fries, you better look somewhere else. That’s because Wendy’s® new fries aren’t just hot and crispy...they’re guaranteed to be hot and crispy. Or we’ll replace them. We’re talking natural-cut, skin-on fries, sprinkled with a hint of sea salt. These fries are no afterthought. They’re ones you won’t forget.

French fry battle
Wendy's is a thicker cut fry

"Cold and soggy French Fries"...  That's a direct slam on McDonald's, notorious for filling their fry bin with staged servings of fries.

I like what Wendy's has done here, because natural-cut, skin-on fries are becoming the preferred kind of fry, the style you get in higher end burger joints, BBQ places and steak houses.  Why are they increasing in popularity?  Because this style of fry delivers better flavor and Wendy's is smart to recognize they need to up their game.

So how are the new Wendy's fries you ask?

I'm no longer saying "When McDonald's fries are fresh and hot, they're tough to beat."

In a side-by-side comparison, Wendy's has the better fry.  It's a bigger, 'meatier' fry, I got a better crisp on the outside and there's more fluffy potato inside.  They were perfectly fried and perfectly seasoned.  And it's not that the McDonald's fries were bad, I didn't get a staged serving, they were hot, but they flat out just weren't as good.  It's a thinner fry, a fry that's been the same style and fast food king for quite some time, but in my humble opinion, the skinny, not as much potato to be crispy on the outside, less potato to be fluffy on the inside has been dethroned.  Wendy's has a better product and comes with a hot and crispy guarantee.

French Fry Battle
McDonald's charges you more for an inferior fry

The Wendy's large fry cost me $3.21.  The McDonald's large fry cost me $3.54.  I did "just fries" orders for the purpose of this comparison, which is not exactly a wallet friendly thing to do.  Combo meals are they way to go if want bang for your buck.  But given the price, McDonald's charges more for an inferior fry.

5 stars I'm giving Wendy's new fries 5 out of 5 fast food Bachelor on the Cheap stars. 

4 stars McDonald's gets 4 stars and have been unseated as fast food french fry king.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

 

 


Food Review: Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust Pizza - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust Pizza
Generous portion of cheese, but not so much on the pepperoni, mushrooms or onion

You've probably seen the TV commercials, Pizza Hut has brought back and is pushing their Stuffed Crust Pizza.  Originally introduced in 1995, the Original Stuffed Crust Pizza features a large pizza with your choice of toppings and a crust that's stuffed with mozzarella cheese.  It's like cheesy bread and pizza, all in one slice.

I remember ordering these back in the day and appreciating them, so in seeing the latest Pizza Hut marketing hype, decided to order one for a trip down Pizza Memory Lane.

I went with my favorite pizza toppings, pepperoni, mushroom and onion.  My delivery order took longer than you would think it should for a Tuesday night, taking more than an hour to arrive at my house.  The text updates you get on your phone... It was stuck on "Out for delivery" for a good 25 minutes and my pizza wasn't exactly piping hot when I got it.  Receiving a delivery pizza that was marginally warm enough knocks a few points off the score, but I had to wonder what the heck the delivery driver was thinking/doing, or was otherwise distracted by, allowing the temp to drop like he did.  If it was simply other deliveries, then this driver can't handle it.

Enough about the delivery, "How was the pizza?" you ask...

It was so-so.  A younger me remembers this pizza more fondly than what I got on this occasion.   Even with cheese in the crust, there's too much bread in this pizza, lacking enough toppings and sauce to balance things out.  And that temp, the cheese was not as ooey-gooey as it should have been.  You know how you're supposed to take that first bite with this kind of pizza from the crust and not the point, right?  Well I didn't get the stringy, pull away bite like you see on TV.  This was more like somebody who has never baked before threw a mozzarella string cheese stick in some pre-packaged pizza dough and didn't bake it long enough.  The cheese was firming back up thanks to a slow delivery time.  I was looking forward to stepping into the pizza time machine back to 1995, but I have to say this was a disappointing pizza experience.  Then again, it's Pizza Hut, which for the most part serves up average pizza considering all the stepped up competition around these days.

Stuffed Crust Pizza
A lot of bread, and cheese that wasn't so ooey-gooey thanks to super slow delivery

I'm giving the Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust Pizza 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  The pizza was marginally warm at time of delivery, Pizza Hut is less-than-generous with the toppings and trying to compensate for a lack of sauce and toppings with cheese just doesn't cut it.  This is NOT a repeat buy and the Pizza Hut delivery option is NOT wallet friendly.  They advertise a 1 topping Stuffed Crust Pizza for $12.99, but that price is only good if you order carry out and stick to one topping.  Who sticks to one topping?  My pizza cost me just under $25 after delivery fee and driver tip (which had I known the driver was going to take his silly-ass time, I wouldn't have tipped at all but you have to pre-tip for contactless delivery).

Pizza Hut continues to serve up very average pizza.

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related:  Pizza Hut delivery is unreliable

Related:  Best Frozen Pizzas

 

 


Food Review: Southern Recipe Small Batch Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper Flavored Pork Rinds - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

20211109_112235
 

I've been enjoying far too many chips lately, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Sweet & Spicy Jalapeno (Delish!), Andy Capp's Cheddar Fries and more...  When traveling, which I've done quite a bit of lately, chips are an easy grab when refueling the truck.

Reeling in that chip fetish and all those empty carbs, I've gone back to an old friend, chicharrones.  I like them because they give you that chip crunch, they don't have any carbs, they satisfy the savory, crunch snack craving and yes, the flavored varieties taste good!  Original (plain) chicharrones, not so much of a great flavor profile...

So the other day I picked up a bag of Tom's Fried Pork Skins, the BBQ Chicharrones.  You can read that review by clicking here.  Another good flavor is Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper, I picked up a bag during my recent travels to Montana.

Southern Recipe Small Batch Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper Flavored Pork Rinds
You can see the cracked black pepper

Southern Batch Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper flavored pork rinds are tasty.  Of course, it's kind of hard to screw up fried pig skin but it is a challenge to kick up the flavor profile from ordinary pork rinds and the salt and pepper on these does the trick.  Costing me about $1.50 at a convenience store on the road, I'm giving Southern Batch Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper flavored pork rinds 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, they're tasty, reasonably priced and a repeat buy!  The only real downside is this flavor isn't so easy to find, but when you can it's a nice change of pace from the BBQ flavor.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

 

Related: Try this snack on Game Day!

 


Food Review: Member's Mark Beef Franks - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Member's Mark Beef Franks
Just look at the size of these dawgs!

Who doesn't love a good hot dog, right?

So I was in Sam's Club today doing a little shopping and while hot dogs were NOT on my list, they wound up in my cart.  Funny how that works when grocery shopping...

I was actually checking out the bacon - yes, on my list - when these 1/4 pound all beef franks caught my eye.  These are the same hot dogs that Sam's Club serves in the Sam's Cafe.  If you've ever enjoyed a Sam's Club hot dog, then you already know how good these things are.

Typical hot dogs weigh in at 1.6 ounces and that's why you get 10 hot dogs in a package making for a one pound package of dawgs.  It's an even distribution of weight because hot dogs were sold by the pound at the butcher shop back in the day, just like ground beef , steak or chops.  But in the 1940's, Oscar Meyer got smart and started packaging up their hot dogs in one pound packages for sale in retail grocery stores.  That's why hot dogs come in packages of 10, I'll explain why buns come in packages of 8 another time.

So, with that typical 1.6 ounce hot dog in mind, the Member's Mark dawgs are 1/4 pounders!  That means it only takes four Member's Mark dawgs to make a pound - take that Oscar Meyer!

Member's Mark All Beef Frank
An all beef frank, no bun required

After getting home and putting away the groceries, the dawgs remained on the counter.  I had to have one!  Prepared roller style, I enjoyed my dawg without a bun and simply dressed with some classic yellow mustard.  These dawgs are tasty and big sellers for a reason!  You get the snap of the skin and that all beef flavor is hot dog music in the mouth!

Costing me just $8.98 for a package of 12 dawgs, that breaks down to less than 75 cents per 1/4 pound all beef frank.  That's a very reasonable price for all that beefy flavor and I'm giving Member's Mark Beef Franks 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Wallet friendly, TASTY and such a convenient eat, these are definitely a repeat buy.

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...


Food Review: Tom's Fried Pork Skins BBQ Chicharrones - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Tom's Fried Pork Skins BBQ Chicharrones
Fantastic Crunch Factor!

I've been enjoying far too many chips lately, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Sweet & Spicy Jalapeno (Delish!), Andy Capp's Cheddar Fries and more...  When traveling, which I've done quite a bit of lately, chips are an easy grab when refueling the truck.

Reeling in that chip fetish and all those empty carbs, I've gone back to an old friend, chicharrones.  I like them because they give you that chip crunch, they don't have any carbs, they satisfy the savory, crunch snack craving and yes, the flavored varieties taste good!  Original (plain) chicharrones, not so much of a great flavor profile...

So the other day I picked up a bag of Tom's Fried Pork Skins, the BBQ Chicharrones.  This is my go-to flavor.  Sea Salt and black pepper is also good if you can find it. The flaming hot varieties are OK, but I'd rather enjoy BBQ, which also plays well when dressing up the chips, such as adding some melted cheddar, shredded pork, a splash of BBQ sauce and green onion for a crunchy spin on nachos.

Tom's makes good BBQ flavored chicharrones.  Of course, it's kind of hard to screw up fried pig skin.  Costing me about $1.50 at QuikTrip for a 2.375 ounce bag, I'm giving Tom's Fried Pork Skins BBQ Chicharrones 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, they're tasty, very reasonably priced and a repeat buy!  They're also available at Walmart for $1.17!

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

 

Related: Try this snack on Game Day!

 


Food Review: Starbucks Ham & Swiss Panini

By Mike Thayer

Starbucks Ham & Swiss Panini
Smart packaging, made for eating in the vehicle

I've never had a food item from Starbucks before.  I've enjoyed their coffee from time to time, but that's usually when somebody else is buying.  Don't get me wrong, it's good coffee, but it's expensive coffee.  Their food menu has never really intrigued me.  It's a coffee snob menu.

But being on-the-go again yesterday, I needed something on-the-fly and the Starbuck's drive through was a convenient stop for me.  I was going to order their Grilled Chicken & Hummus Protein Box but they were out, so as a plan B, I ordered the Ham & Swiss Panini.

Here's how Starbucks describes it:  Ham and Swiss cheese meld with Dijon butter in comforting warmth. An extraordinary feel-good taste.

Starbucks Ham & Cheese Panini
Nicely toasted roll

This isn't a true panini, because the sandwich isn't grilled or pressed.  But the roll was nicely toasted, it had a nice crispy outer edge and a warm, soft, chew on the inside.  The portion of ham was OK, but not heaping and it had good flavor.  The Swiss Cheese was melted nicely and bringing it all together was the Dijon mustard butter, this sandwich would be very ordinary without it.  Starbucks calls it "an extraordinary feel-good taste"...  not so much.  It's good, but not "extraordinary" good.  The best feature of this sandwich was the bread, but that's the problem, the meat/cheese to bread ratio isn't balanced, there's not enough meat & cheese to go with all that toasty bread.

Starbucks Panini
Good ham & cheese flavor, but not exactly a generous portion

Not a true panini and costing me about $7 , I'm giving the Starbucks Ham & Swiss Panini 3 out of 5 stars.  Overall it's a decent sandwich, but it's as overpriced as Starbucks coffee is and is not worthy of a repeat buy.  I'm still not impressed with the Starbucks food menu.  I'd rather spend my $7 on a better non-coffee snob sandwich somewhere else.

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

The Starbucks visited on this occasion is located at 2006 North Rock Road, Derby, KS 67037.  Hitting the drive through around 1:30, there were five cars ahead of me.  Service was polite but a bit slow due to the volume.  From the time I got in line to receiving my order, I was able to listen to 2 full classic rock songs on 104.5, The Fox.

Related Story: Coffee Challenge: Who makes the best hazelnut coffee? Ranking them from worst to first


Food Review: Sonic's Jumbo Popcorn Chicken w/Honey BBQ Sauce - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Sonic's Jumbo Popcorn Chicken w/honey BBQ sauce
Nice portion

I recently tried Arby's "Boneless Wings" trying both sauced flavors made available, the Buffalo and the Hot Honey.  I preferred the Hot Honey sauce over the Buffalo, but with both offerings, the "wings" were really chicken nuggets tossed in a sauce.  The tossed part is good, I'd rather have my chicken served that way, it's a better flavor experience, rather than having to dip the chicken into one of those little sauce packages.  Sauced, vs. not sauced - HUGE difference. 

Another take away from that eating adventure with Arby's is it's nice to have a 'boneless wing' well, Buffalo and/or Hot Honey sauced nuggets as an option.  Not all fast food restaurants have such a thing on their menu.

  • McDonald's - Nope
  • Burger King - Nope
  • Wendy's - Nope  (they offer 'spicy' nuggets, but nothing in Buffalo and nothing sauced)
  • Hardee's - Nope (they offer chicken tenders and a variety of sauces to include Buffalo, but nothing sauced)
  • Chick-fil-A - Nope (they offer nuggets and chicken strips with a variety of little package sauce sides to include Buffalo, but nothing sauced)

So no there aren't a lot of options out there when it comes to national fast food chains offering a truly sauced chicken wing/strip/tender/nugget.  Which is a shame, because sauced breaded chicken is a WAY better flavor experience than a, 'damn, I have to dip this thing in a little packet' piece of chicken...

Sonic's Jumbo Popcorn Chicken w/Honey BBQ Sauce
Nicely sauced, but the sauce sucks!

So in my search for some fast food sauced chicken, I headed to Sonic, which has sauced chicken on its menu.  I ordered the Jumbo Popcorn Chicken tossed in a honey/bbq sauce, with a side of tots and a signature cherry/limeade to drink.

Here's the description of the chicken from the Sonic website:  Our Jumbo Popcorn Chicken made with breaded 100% all-white meat chicken and coated in a tangy Honey BBQ sauce. This cravable favorite makes for a great snack or paired as a meal.

OK, they're not wings, it's popcorn chicken which is on the smaller side, but at least Sonic isn't lying to people like Arby's is and telling people they're getting "Boneless Wings."  And although small due to the popcorn chicken size, the portion was generous.  Jumbo though?  Not so much. 

This chicken was crispy, tender, seasoned nicely and juicy.  It was prepared well, but that sauce they have, well it sucks.  It was a downer on what was otherwise perfectly fine chicken.  The sauce was overly sweet.  It's honey on top of an already too sweet BBQ sauce, there's no balance here, no kick in spice to off-set the sweet.

I paid $8.59 for a Sonic's Jumbo Popcorn Chicken w/Honey BBQ Sauce, tots and a signature cherry/limeade.  It's nice to know there is a sauced chicken option out there in fast food, but unfortunately this is NOT a repeat buy.  The bottled sauce they use flat out sucks which is a shame because otherwise this breaded chicken is good.  Talk about a sauce that ruins a good thing, I'm giving Sonic's Jumbo Popcorn Chicken w/Honey BBQ sauce just 2 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  The meal was wallet friendly, but not worth eating again.

2 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

The Sonic visited on this occasion is located at 7702 E Harry St, Wichita, KS 67207.  Service was super friendly and fast, my order was brought to my window in less than one classic rock song on 104.5, The Fox.


Food Review: Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

20211029_133051On the go during a work day, it was time for lunch and no time to stop at home to pop something in the microwave.  Fast food drive through, here I come...  I was in the mood for tacos, but driving and eating those can be messy, you can end up wearing some.  Then it hit me, a Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme!

Here's the description from the Taco Bell website:  The Crunchwrap Supreme® is a flour tortilla layered with seasoned beef, warm nacho cheese sauce, a crispy tostada shell, crispy lettuce, ripe tomatoes and topped with cool reduced fat sour cream all wrapped in our signature Crunchwrap fold and grilled to go.

Not only was this going to satisfy my taco craving, but a Crunchwrap is like the perfect eating while driving food.  It's tasty, it's filling and the best part, you won't end up wearing some of it.  The shell is layered and grilled, which holds all the tasty morsels inside nicely. Whoever came up with this idea in the Taco Bell kitchen, they had "To Go" engineering in mind.  Nicely done!

20211029_133210Costing me about $3 and providing a nice combination of crunchy, soft textures and all the familiar Taco Bell classic food flavors, I'm giving the Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly and it's a repeat buy because it's satisfying and a neat eating experience...  See what I did there...  The play on 'neat'.... 

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

The Taco Bell visited on this occasion is located at 3725 E Harry St, Wichita, KS 67218.  There were 4 cars ahead of me in the drive through during a busy lunch hour, but the line moved fast and the service friendly.  From time in line to getting my meal was 1-1/2 classic rock songs on 104.5 The Fox.