Little Apple’s chow down spots

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When I first came to Manhattan three years ago, I was nervous about the quality and variety of food here. I’m from Fort Worth, Texas, and I’m used to having a wide range of food options available.

The metroplex has great sushi and Chinese, excellent Mexican and even better Tex-Mex, and hundreds of little unique burger shops. Also, did I mention my dad was a chef? He is, and I’ve become very spoiled because of it. So I didn’t expect small-town, middle-of-America Kansas to have the widest variety of eateries. But I was mistaken. Over the school years and into the summers I’ve eaten at close to all of the restaurants here and I think I’ve come up with five of the best places to eat in Manhattan.

My very favorite place to eat in Manhattan is CoCo Bolos located at 1227 Bluemont Ave. They use a wood-fired grill to cook a lot of their food and you can really taste the difference. I get my Mexican fix here. They have a good salsa sampler plate with a tomatillo based salsa and a fire roasted tomato salsa that are both very good. The downside to the salsa is that there are no free refills, and one round of chips and salsa never seems to be enough. In Texas, I get used to eating practically a full meal of chips and salsa before the main course is even out.

I’ve gotten chicken tacos here that are better than just about every other Mexican food place in Manhattan but the dish that keeps me coming back is the black and white pizza. The black and white pizza is a personal-sized flat crust pizza topped with alfredo sauce, black beans, fire grilled chicken, Monterrey jack cheese and jalapenos. I always have enough to eat then a good-sized lunch the next day, and it’s the cheapest pizza on the menu — only $8.99. If you bring along a pizza loving friend, be sure to snatch up some of the free Varney’s coupon books because they have a buy one pizza, get one half off bargain.

In fact, grab 20 coupon books. They pass them out throughout the first week of classes and there are some really good savings in them.

At the other end of the ‘Ville is Hibachi Hut — a great choice for a nice dinner. It is located at 608 N. 12th St. and specializes in Cajun/creole food. The outside of the building looks a little run down so I was hesitant to try it; I’m no fan of food poisoning. Eventually I was convinced after two years here to try it and my only regret is not eating there sooner.

The interior is dimly lit with string light accents and it’s perfect for a nice date. The red beans and rice is a great standby. It comes with a homemade andouille sausage and some super tasty Texas toast. I also get the grilled chicken breast blackened on the red beans and rice instead of herbed rice and veggies. It’s very good. They’re blackening spices are really tasty and a little spicy. They also have a good selection of delicious steaks but be prepared to pay for it. The cheapest steak they have is a top sirloin for $19.99.

My last food favorite in Aggieville is So Long Saloon. So Long is located at the corner of Twelfth and Moro streets. So Long is unique because it’s a bar that’s much more well known for having great food than having an actual bar. Don’t get me wrong, if you go in on a Friday or Saturday night, you’re bound to see at least one group pub-crawling, but for the most part people go to So Long for the food.

I ate at So Long the very first day I came to Manhattan during the summer before my senior year of high school while I was attending the Flint Hills Publications Workshop. I loved it then and I love it now. They have great burgers and hot crispy fries. Their Chipotle Raspberry and Black Bean Dip and fried tacos are delicious appetizers that oftentimes turn into a meal. Their drink specialty is pineapple beer, which is something just a little different that works well for So Long.

Another great, and cheap, burger place is Big D’s Burger Shack. Big D’s is a little out of most students way, but it’s worth the drive. You go north on Tuttle Creek Boulevard a little ways past Walmart and there’s Big D’s. Big D’s has great beer-battered, crispy, hot fries. Their order of fries is more than enough for two people to share and they’re always made fresh when you order them. The burger, also very delicious, usually becomes the side order because you want to gobble up the fries while they’re so hot and crunchy.

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