Fastidious foodies already know New York City, New Orleans and San Francisco are food meccas. But thanks to the Food Network, Travel Channel and websites such as livability.com, smaller cities, including Wichita and Omaha, are getting their fair share of culinary coverage. These Midwest cities have become, in their own right, great food destinations.

Wichita

Ranked in the top ten liviability.com small to mid-sized city food destinations, Wichita’s strong suit seems to be not a specific specialty as much5 as its restaurateurs’ ability to bring together many ethnic dishes and transform them with a uniquely local approach.

In the city’s historic Old Town, Larkspur Bistro & Bar is a good choice. A staple in Wichita, this restaurant offers a selection of Mediterranean, French, Italian and American entrées 6specializing in seafood, steak and pasta. Seafood entrées are first day fresh and steaks are served straight from the grill seared to hold in the natural juices.

While in Old Town, sample a local brew at River City Brewing Co, stop by Ceros Candies (a Wichita tradition in gourmet chocolates since 1885), and if you’re in the city on Saturday, make sure and check out the Old Town Farmers’ Market where you’ll find locally grown foods, baked goods, plants, and unique arts and crafts from May through October.3

A cornerstone in the newly developed Douglas Design District is the Donut Whole. Open 24-hours a day, this eclectic bakery makes its donuts from scratch every day from Kansas buttermilk, eggs, butter and locally-milled flour.

august 2013 - 1 247Selections include such brilliance as Cream Maple Bacon, Molasses & Ginger, PBG (peanut butter and grape), Root Beer Float and Bumblebee (a citrus glaze over a chocolate donut). Donut Whole is also a coffeehouse, art gallery and live music venue; a true destination in and of itself.

Another surprise is Wichita’s abundance of Mediterranean restaurants — more than 20 in the heart of the city.

Omaha

Best known for its steak, Omaha’s culinary-competitiveness has expanded to include chef-created cuisine, sidewalk cafes and ethnic eateries 6featuring specialties from around the world and good the old USA.

Big Mama’s Kitchen, for example, dishes up huge helpings of some of the best soul food in the country according to the Travel Channel, Food Network and Sundance Channel. Specialties include oxtail soup, oven-fried chicken, fried okra, beans and cornbread, greens and cornbread, and fried green tomatoes.

7As downhome as Big Mama’s is, Zin Room is pure sophistication. Located downtown, the restaurant caters to everyone from local business professionals to spontaneous tourists.

From signature salads and steak, seafood, chicken and mouthwatering pasta entrees to the decadent dessert menu of bananas foster, chocolate gateau with white chocolate mousse and fried ice cream with hot fudge, Zin Room aims to please.

For take-home sweets, head for Old Market Candy Shop. Specializing in homemade fudge and other chocolate delights, you’ll also find samplings of the world’s finest candy.

If you go:

Where to stay in Wichita: Fairfield Inn and Suites Wichita Downtown, 525 South Main Street, is centrally located and offers beautiful accommodations and friendly service,

Where to stay in Omaha: Hawthorn Inn and Suites, 7010 Hascall Street, is conveniently located off Interstate 80 and features spacious rooms and a friendly staff.

And while you’re seeking new culinary experiences, take in the sites; both cities offer first-class attractions. For more information on restaurants and attractions: Wichita: (800) 288-9424; gowichita.com. Omaha: (866) 937-6624; visitomaha.com.