Maybe you are making a trip to Manhattan, Kansas to see your Alma Mater take on K-State. Perhaps, you are hosting a booth at their career fair. Maybe you have heard of the amazing Fake Patty’s Day party and are traveling for a fun weekend of dirties. Whatever your reason may be, I would love to share with you the best spots to eat and drink when visiting MHK. Most of the spots I mention here will be located in Aggieville (Right off the edge of campus this is the college pub central) or downtown (picturesque small-town downtown strip about 7 minutes from campus). At the end of this post I suggest the perfect itinerary for a weekend visit to MHK in case you are looking for me to take the hassle out of your planning.
I couldn’t start this article with any restaurant besides Rock-A-Belly Deli. I am slightly biased because I worked here for two years but also, Rock-A-Belly has been around for 33 years now and the place is always full of people coming back to visit their favorite bar and have a summer beer on the patio. Rock-A-Belly serves steamed deli sandwiches and chips in a sit-down fashion. Their spinach artichoke dip, homemade hummus and potato salad should not be skipped. Everyone I have ever met loves summer beer, even if you are not a huge beer drinker. Summer beer is beer, vodka, and lemonade and you can add strawberry or pomegranate for some extra refreshing sweetness if you’d like. There is nothing better than a sunny afternoon on the Rock-A-Belly patio with a summer beer. This is also a fun spot for light night drinks with friends. It isn’t set up to be a wild bar with a dance floor but rather, a place where friends sit around a table drinking, chatting and laughing into the late hours of the night. They are famous for their shots called mind-erasers which are made with vodka and coffee liquor.
Taco Lucha is often crowded because of its delicious food and amazing tacos. So you may see people lined up waiting for a seat, but they move the line quickly and it is well-worth the wait. Taco Lucha has a great patio and it has plenty of heaters and there are blankets on every chair which makes the patio an awesome cozy experience for spring, summer or fall. Taco Lucha shares a kitchen with So Long Saloon which shares ownership so both restaurants have the amazing raspberry bean dip appetizer. It might sound gross, and I am a very picky eater, but this bean dip is MHK famous and I am counting down the days until I can have another. Both restaurants are also home to their famous Nancy’s. Nancy’s are beer and pineapple juice mixed together for a light refreshing drink. You can order your Nancy “dirty” if you’d like them to add a shot of vodka” or “pirate” will add a shot of rum. My favorite taco here is the steak slayer, I add guacamole to cool down the spicy peppers, but it is a hot one! Their tacos are served a la carte which is great because you can order based on how hungry you are.
So Long Saloon is on the other side of the Taco Lucha Kitchen but has a totally different menu (besides the bean dip and the Nancy’s). They are known for their peanut butter burger. This is the place in town to get thick juicy burgers, great sandwiches, fried tacos, sliders or my favorite, grilled cheese (with grilled chicken and buffalo sauce). But of course, pair your meal with a Nancy and a Bean dip just as I recommended for Lucha because you will want more than one bean dip during your trip. If you have to put your name in for a short bit at So Long, walk over to Acme gifts or Threads for a quick browse.
The Chef in downtown Manhattan is by far the best breakfast in MHK and the perfect place to rejuvenate yourself after a night on the town! This restaurant has a cute diner feel and like most places in Manhattan, the service is great. Everyone can order their favorite breakfast fixings and their Bloody Mary’s are really popular too!
Coco Bolos isn’t your traditional Mexican meal, but you are sure to get the amazing flavors packed into unique dishes. Every Thursday night during college me and my girlfriends would go to Coco Bolos for their $5 Margarita pitchers. On Wednesdays they also do $5 Sangria pitchers if that happens to be the day you are visiting. Their chips and salsa appetizers are very cheap so it is easy to get munching right when you sit down. My favorite thing to order is their soup, they have an amazing pork chili verde that is served with tortillas for dipping. Austin loves their fajita steak sandwich with a side of their tasty taters. Another popular dish are the stacked enchiladas that come loaded in a hot skillet. You are going to want to order everything on their menu. On Sunday mornings they do a special brunch menu which is important to note if you are planning this for your Sunday lunch that you will get a different experience.
This is a great spot for a cute date night in downtown Manhattan. This Whiskey and Tapas restaurant has amazing food that will have you spending 2-3 hours grazing on their awesome dishes because you order as you go! At Bourbon and Baker, you sit down, order a drink and decide which 1-2 plates you would like to try first. I recommend their chicken and biscuit or chicken and waffles as well as their asparagus and truffle fries. Once you have enjoyed the first two order a few more and keep the drinks coming. It will be sure to be a memorable night with unique food and drink! Another great thing about Bourbon and Baker is because they are not in Aggieville, they often have much shorter wait times for dinner. I certainly recommend this restaurant for dinner over lunch and if you come a bit early you can catch their happy hour.
Yard Bar does not serve food to my knowledge, but it is a really fun bar for a group of friends. As their name suggests, Yard Bar is full of yard games such as giant Jenga, bean bags, ladder ball etc. and the games are always on TV. It is a bar that gets full, but not too crazy or trashy which is my favorite kind of place. It is a spot to have fun with friends and enjoy the nice weather.
You can’t write a blog about MHK food and leave out the Varsity Donut truck. On Thursday-Saturday night the donut truck is parked out back of the varsity donut truck in a parking lot. It is the spot to experience a grilled cheese mac n cheese. Oh my gosh, these things cannot be good for you, but they are the BEST way to end an evening of drinking in the Ville. You can add bacon to your grilled cheese if you’d like. They also serve fried donuts, but I would go for the grilled cheese mac n cheese every single time. When my parents would come to town, I took them to the Varsity food truck even if we hadn’t hit the bars and they loved it! If you are trying to locate the truck, direct yourself to coco bolos and you will see it in the parking lot towards the bars. There is also a Varsity Donut shop in Aggieville which is a fun spot to grab a donut in the morning if you are not wanting to plan a full breakfast like the Chef.
The following is the schedule I follow when visiting MHK to maximize my ability to hit all the best spots:
Friday Night – arrive in town and get dinner at So Long Saloon, order a bean dip for an appetizer and a Nancy to drink. Then head over to Yard Bar for some drinks and games with friends. Finish the night drinking on the Rock A Belly Patio if you’re staying out for a bit but I wouldn’t burn yourself out on the first night
Saturday – Wake up early to get breakfast at The Chef downtown. Walk through a few shops like Gatherings at 3 Thirteen which has cute home décor. Most often, visitors are in town for a game or some Saturday event so you may be tailgating this day but if not, head to lunch at Coco Bolos or Rock A Belly Deli based on your mood and see my suggestions above on what to order at each. After lunch take a walk around campus, K-State is an awesome campus and the business building, library and college of architecture have recently been remodeled. You may want to take a brief afternoon rest to gear up for a fun night. For dinner I suggest going to Taco Lucha, expect to have to put your name in and stroll over to Threads or Acme gifts to kill time but don’t be gone too long because the restaurant wait times move fast. I also would suggest going to dinner a little later (7:30 or 8 PM) so that when you are done eating you can move right into enjoying Aggieville. Kites and Tanners are fun places to have drinks with a group if you already tried Yard Bar and of course, I recommend spending your Saturday night drinking at Rock A Belly. The patio is heated, and it is so fun to watch the crowds on Saturday nights while sipping Summer Beers and taking Mind Erasers if you’re feeling more adventurous. Once you have been out for quite a fun night. Stop by the Varsity truck which is right out the patio entrance at Rock A Belly and order a grilled cheese mac n cheese for the perfect end to your fun night.
Sunday Morning – Sunday morning grab a donut from Varsity donut shop in Aggieville and a coffee from Radina’s before you head out of town for the day. You can also rent tandem bicycles from the Varsity Donut shop and ride them around town which is a great Sunday morning adventure.