When the sun goes down, the scene heats up downtown, the cultural center of Wichita.
Feed your head with everything from movies to music, and fill your belly with diverse dining options from snacks to steaks – then get ready for more. Downtown development is set to skyrocket in the next few years, with ongoing construction of the new Intrust Bank Arena and development of the WaterWalk.
But for now, carve out a week on the calendar and let this be your guide to the best of downtown:
Make a date with history at The Pumphouse [825 E. Second St.], a gas station and restaurant, purchased by the Ross family in the early 1940s, that makes some of the best burgers in town.
Then catch a game on the big screen and a brownie bomb at the recently renovated downtown location of Emerson Biggin’s [808 E. Douglas Ave.].
Or check out who’s on stage at the Concert Hall at Century II [225 W. Douglas Ave.].
Who needs Hollywood? The retro styled Old Town Warren Theatre [353 N. Mead St.] is the perfect place to experience movie magic after digging into a big bowl of paella from Sabor Latin Bar & Grill [309 N. Mead], a sophisticated South American spot just down the street.
Live high on the hog, or should we say the cow at Eaton Steakhouse [523 E. Douglas Ave.]. This fine dining restaurant serves premium Black Angus, Wagyu and Kobe beef in a Wichita landmark, the former Eaton Hotel. Then head over to the Century II, sit back and let the cast of the Music Theatre of Wichita entertain you with a Broadway classic. Their season runs June through August.
River City Brewing Co. [150 N. Mosley St.] has brats, baby back ribs and handcrafted beer on tap, plus Loft 150 upstairs, an entertainment escape with live shows Thursday through Saturday nights and one of the largest open-air decks in Old Town. Between your meal and the music, catch a movie during the Thursday night film series at the historic Orpheum Theatre [200 N. Broadway, Suite 102].
Get to the art of the matter at the Final Friday Art Crawl, a free year-round event in which galleries and other businesses stay open till 10 p.m. From sculpture to stilt walkers, it’s a “very vibrant, high-energy scene,” according to Elizabeth Stevenson, a member of the Fisch Haus artists’ collaborative. Refreshments are served at some of the stops, but you can top off the night with tapas and a glass of vino at Oeno Wine Bar [330 N. Mead St.]
Pick from a long list of paninis at Caffe Moderne [300 N. Mead St., Suite 108], where owner Janet Rine picked downtown to set up shop because she “liked the combination of the artsy, edgy group and the business crowd clientele.”
Then laugh it off at Mosley Street Melodrama [234 N. Mosley St.], one of Wichita’s oldest established entertainment traditions, where the audience is part of the action. Head out early for the dinner buffet or just go for the show.
Can’t get enough professional dinner theater? Perfect. Crown Uptown puts on performances of campy classics year-round at 3207 E. Douglas Ave.