An eclectic, flavorful array of restaurants has evolved Lawrence  into a local culinary destination, often enticing Kansas Citians to make the drive for a memorable meal.
I tend to always make a beeline for Free State Brewing Company (636 Massachusetts St., 785/843-4555, www.freestatebrewing.com , 11 a.m.–midnight Mon.–Sat., noon–11 p.m. Sun., $7.75–17.45) for a sizable menu that includes the batterless, flavorful Copperhead Chicken Tenders—oh, and locally brewed beers, too. Wheat State Golden and Copperhead Pale Ale rank as favorites among area beer snobs. Burger enthusiasts have two very delicious, very different options.
Nationally acclaimed Local Burger (7th and Vermont Sts., 785/856-7827, www.localburger.com , 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Sun., $4–11.75) is an organic fast-food restaurant that uses grass-fed beef, elk, and bison to create rich, mouthwatering burgers that are environmentally responsible. Vegetarians, don’t fret—you’ve got a gluten- and dairy-free veggie burger that ranks high on taste.
Conventional gourmet burgers take center stage at Dempsey’s Pub (623 Vermont St., 785/856-5460, 11 a.m.–2 a.m. daily, $7–9 for burgers, $2–4 for sides), including the Kobe burger, an incredibly rich concoction featuring a top-shelf blend of sirloin and Kobe beef topped with a healthy dollop of truffle butter, pickled onions, and greens. Add a side of genuine duck-fat fries for a truly indulgent experience.
Sushi rules within the stylishly cavernous surroundings of Yokohama (811 New Hampshire St., 785/856-8862, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Wed., 11 a.m.–1:30 a.m. Thurs.–Sat., $4.50–18), which boasts an extensive sushi menu of traditional favorites and one-of-a-kind house specialties. Don’t leave without sampling the Crunchy Munchy roll, one of my personal addictions.
Whether for breakfast or lunch, WheatFields Bakery & Cafe (904 Vermont St., 785/841-5553, www.wheatfieldsbakery.com , 6:30 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 6:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Sat., 7:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun., $3.25–7.95) is an inviting retreat that offers sandwiches and baked goods, some of which feature “Turkey” variety heirloom wheat, a hearty grain grown in Decatur County.
A dining experience awaits at Pachamama’s (800 New Hampshire St., 785/841-0990, www.pachamamas.com , 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–9:30 p.m. Tues.–Sat., until 10 p.m. Fri.–Sat., $7–28) as chefs create edible works of art using fresh, flavorful ingredients. Stop in their modern Star Bar, complete with an imbedded solar system, for cocktails and conversation.