Steak Is a Staple Here, but Ethnic Cuisine Fares Well, Too

By Michaela Jackson on May 4, 2011 at 9:10 pm EST


Eating an authentic Kansas meal in the capital city of Topeka means eating a steak, plain and simple.

The state’s cattle industry generates an economic impact of $6 million annually on local economies, and roughly 31,000 Kansas farms raise cattle and calves. That’s a lot of steaks, hamburgers and meatloafs.

One of the most tried and true establishments serving fine Kansas beef is North Star Steakhouse. The authentic steak and seafood joint, famous for its steaks, fries and gravy, has been in business for more than 70 years.

For beef done a little differently, locals stop in at Bobo’s Drive-In, a staple in the Topeka restaurant scene for half a century. The joint was featured on the Food Network’s show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Despite their fame, or perhaps because of it, their secret recipe remains locked in a safe.

Steak and hamburgers may be Topeka’s interpretation of American cuisine, but local diners find many other ethnic fares represented, as well. French, Oriental and Cajun Creole are not hard to find. Indian and Mexican are also popular international choices.

Globe Indian Cuisine is a family-owned restaurant and bar in downtown Topeka. The authentic cuisine includes mulligatawny soup, vegetable samosas and chicken tandoori rice.

Quetzal is a spicy joint in North Topeka with a twist. The menu includes a variety of Mexican and Guatemalan foods for lunch and dinner, but breakfast is straight-up pancakes, eggs and bacon. The restaurant’s owners are from Puerto Rico and the Philippines, so there’s no doubt that the ethnic food is authentic, but Quetzal is one of the only places in the area where diners can enjoy a sit-down, made-from-scratch breakfast.

In terms of festivals and markets, Topekans of German descent host Germanfest each summer, and those of a sophisticated palate enjoy Grape Escape, an annual food and wine benefit festival. Topeka also holds a farmers’ market downtown on Saturdays in the summer and fall.

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