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In search of Wichita's Signature Dish - Can a loose meat sandwich be considered a burger?

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Signature dishes, it's food that embodies a region, it's a celebration of iconic cultural flavors, where natives and tourists alike embrace that bowl, that plate, that sandwich, that finger food and say, "You HAVE to try this!".... 

Examples of iconic signature dishes includes the Rueben sandwich in New York; crab cakes in Baltimore; The Philly Cheese Steak in Philadelphia; Fried Chicken in Atlanta; Deep dish pizza in Chicago; Bratwurst in Milwaukee; Gumbo in New Orleans and Cedar plank Salmon in Seattle.

So with all that iconic food in mind, does Wichita have a signature dish, or is the Mid-Continent City a melting pot of foods and flavors?

Having fun and inspired by this Signature Dish Challenge, I decided to enjoy the offerings of a restaurant that's been a Wichita icon for 88 years now - NuWay!

NuWay Crumbly Burgers
NuWay Crumbly Burgers

NuWay is all about loose meat sandwiches, or as they prefer to call them, Crumbly Burgers.  Some would say that a loose meat sandwich is not a burger but I beg to differ.  Think about it, seasoned ground beef with all the classic burger toppings served on a bun amounts to a Crumbly Burger or a traditional burger no matter how you wrap it or box it up.  What NuWay does is a time-tested and very delicious twist with great burger ingredients.  NuWay also offers Bacon Cheddar and BBQ versions of Crumbly that I can't wait to try! 

Entering the NuWay located on East Harry shortly after 5pm on a Sunday, I was immediately greeted warmly by a lady behind the counter.  The restaurant was empty, with a couple cars in the drive through.  I reviewed the menu and decided to take advantage of the Sunday Special, buy one sandwich and a drink and get a second sandwich free. 

NICE LADY BEHIND THE COUNTER:  Did you want cheese on those?

ME:  Yes please!

NICE LADY BEHIND THE COUNTER: What kind of drink did you want?

ME:  I'll go for the root beer.

NICE LADY BEHIND THE COUNTER:  Did you want anything else?

ME:  I've got to have some fries.

NICE LADY BEHIND THE COUNTER:  Did you want the regular fries, curly fries or tater tots?

ME:  I'll go with the curly fries please.

My to-go order came to $7.49 and it was bagged and ready for me in less than two minutes.  My in-house made root beer was ice cold.  I kind of wish they had taken more time to complete my order, I was enthralled with all the nostalgia on the restaurant walls, newspaper articles about NuWay throughout the decades.  NuWay truly is a Wichita icon.

NuWay Crumbly Burgers
That's a lot of sandwich!

So how were the NuWay Crumbly Burgers you ask?....

Fantastic!

The beef was seasoned perfectly, I got the tart crunch from the pickle, the tang from the mustard, the cheese was melted nicely and the meat to bun ratio was spot on.  A NuWay Crumbly Burger is very satisfying!  The fries were tasty too, fried to perfection and seasoned nicely.  And here's something you don't get with a traditional burger.....  Some of the loose meat fell into my fries topped with ketchup, making for some beefy fries and ketchup bites - YUM!

NuWay is a repeat buy, the price is wallet friendly, the meal was quite tasty and the service was fast with a smile.  NuWay represents Wichita and burgers in a great way, getting four out of five stars.

4 stars

The NuWay visited is located at:  3441 E. Harry, Wichita, KS. 67218.

Don't go to McDonald's, Burger King or Wendy's, go to NuWay instead!

But my search has only just begun....  I'll be visiting a large variety of restaurants and sampling all types of food, getting input from patrons and restaurant gurus alike, trying to get a feel for what Wichita's Signature Dish might be.....  Oh, and national chain restaurants will NOT be a part of this challenge, I'm keeping it as local as possible, a true evaluation in finding what might be Wichita's Signature Dish.   

Stay tuned!

What a challenge huh?  I am SO looking forward to the rest of this challenge!

What do you think might be Wichita's signature dish?  Comment below.

 

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