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In search of Wichita's Signature Dish - How well does Dog-N-Shake represent burgers for the Air Capital?

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 another iconic burger chain that calls Wichita home - Dog-N-Shake!

'gotta love the no-nonsense packaging, keeping meal prices low!

Started in and serving Wichita since 1948, Dog-N-Shake is a classic fast food restaurant featuring Dogs. Burgers. Fries. Onion Rings. Shakes. Yum!  That's a snippet from their website.

Pulling into the Dog-N-Shake located on Hillside for lunch on a Thursday, the parking lot was about half full and there was a line of three cars I think in the drive through.  I walked inside and there was a small line of people waiting to order.

This local burger joint was busier than the McDonald's right next door!

"Nice!" I'm thinking to myself, "People buying local!"

Noting the peoples' preference for a local burger over Mickey D's, it was soon my turn to order.  I love that this place is old school, taking orders with a pen and paper and once written, handing it off to the kitchen where it gets hung on a line.

ATTENDANT:  Is this for here or carry out?

ME:  Carry out, I'll take the #1 meal please.

ATTENDANT:  Are you sure?

She said that jokingly, because I didn't hesitate with my order and after all, the meal listed as #1 indicates the most popular, right?  This lady was quick on her feet and good with the banter with customers.

After asking me what I wanted to drink, the attendant started ringing up my order and noticing that I had a $10 bill in my hand.....

ATTENDANT:  That will be $10....

She said with a Cheshire Cat grin...

As I laugh and am about to say, "Try Again" she says...

ATTENDANT:  OK, it will actually be $7.19

This lady was fun to banter back and forth with and so since there was a tip jar on the counter, in went $1 from the change I got back.  Kudos to her for working it. 

My order was prepped and bagged quickly and I was in/out of the restaurant within 5 minutes. 

So how was my Dog-N-Shake burger and fries you ask? 

Dog-N-Shake Double Cheeseburger
Nice meat to bun ratio

Pretty Good!

The Dog-N-Shake double cheeseburger is served on a butter toasted bun with mustard, relish and onions.  It's a classic flavor profile for this neck of the woods....  Toasted bun, meat, mustard, onions and some kind of pickle.  This was a good burger, but not a "WOW" good burger.  The beef was cooked nicely but a bit under seasoned.  The bun was toasted nicely and the mustard, onions and relish delivered on those expected flavors, but there was nothing in this burger that puts it over the top.   It's a burger to respect, holding its own in representing burgers in the Air Capital.  Here's the thing, don't get me wrong, it's a repeat buy, but I'd truthfully rather have a Bionic Burger.  

The crinkle cut fries were good too, but nothing special or over-and-above the competition.

Dog-N-Shake is most definitely wallet friendly, the meal I enjoyed for lunch was pretty tasty and the service was not only fast, but fun!  They get three out of five stars.

3 stars

The Dog-N-Shake  visited is located at:  1640 S. Hillside, Wichita, KS 67211.

Don't go to McDonald's or Burger King, or Wendy's, go to Dog-N-Shake 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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