For a small college town in Kansas, when it comes to food Lawrence has a lot to offer. Whether you’re a student looking for a break from the dining hall food (let’s be honest, unless you’re eating at Mrs. E’s every day you’ve probably had the salad/sandwich bar at least three times this week), a parent looking to treat your poor starving college kid to a nice meal, or just a local who clicked on this post because it involved KU (Rock Chalk!), I’m sure there’s at least one restaurant on this list that will pique your interest. Without farther ado, here are my 10 favorite places to eat in Lawrence.
1. The Java Break Café
Coffee fans and cereal fans alike will find this charming café to be a favorite. Whether one needs a mix-n-match bowl of cereal at 2 am, or just a comfy place to pull an all-nighter with coffee just a few feet away, Java Break will satisfy. They’re open 24 hours a day, 5 days a week (they close at midnight on Monday and Tuesday), so students can get their java fix any time of day (and most nights).
2. The Ladybird Diner
A hotspot for liberals, feminists, and pie lovers alike, the Ladybird never disappoints. Known best for their popular pies, they can also be credited with bringing The Slinger (a St. Louis favorite) to Lawrence, also known as a great hangover cure. If a mixture of eggs, hash brown, and hamburger doesn’t appeal to your groggy Sunday morning self, they also offer a fine selection of adult morning beverages. What the Ladybird lacks in sophistication it makes up for in pure, delicious food.
3. Ramen Bowls
The best way to warm up on a cold day is with a piping bowl of ramen. Ramen bowls has something for everyone, ranging from their veggie bowls for an inexperienced ramen consumer, to the more adventurous (and definitely spicier) ghost ramen, featuring ghost peppers. The owners were trained in the Chinatown of Honolulu, so the restaurant also features Hawaiian specialties like Spam Musubi and Hawaiian Style Saimin. The mouthwatering smells that waft onto Mass Street are enough to draw any ramen lover in.
4. Free State Brewery
While it is definitely on the pricier side, Free State has fantastic food, and is a good place to visit while the parents are in town. Known for its calm atmosphere and craft beers (brewed in-house, of course), it’s a nice place to sit down, catch up, and hit your parents up for an advance on your allowance after they’ve sampled some of Free State’s selection. For those old enough to sample the selection themselves, it’s also a nice place to grab a beer with friends that doesn’t have the bar atmosphere.
5. Hot Box Cookies
A staple in every college town, Hot Box satisfies the “delivery cookies” business niche. Located in the bottom storefronts of the Oread Hotel, Hot Box is right off campus, meaning it’s a good place to swing by for an after class snack, and if you choose to have it delivered instead, delivery time is fairly short. I prefer the classic chocolate chip cookie, but Hot Box has several flavors, including peanut butter, snickerdoodle, and currently a seasonal red velvet.
6. Fuzzy’s Taco Shop
Another college town staple is Fuzzy’s. Fuzzy’s is, in my humble opinion, a step up from Taco Bell but still not authentic Mexican cuisine. Regardless, it’s good, cheap, and their margaritas are huge! They have tons of options for their tacos, and everything tastes good dipped in their queso sauce. Of course, thanks to the secret ingredient they sprinkle on their chips, it’s not like you really need queso. Buuut we put queso on it anyway, because queso.
7. Pizza Shuttle
A Lawrence specialty, they’re best known for their cream cheese pizza. Of course, they serve regular pizza too, but you cannot truly call yourself a KU student until you’ve tried the cream cheese pizza. It sounds weird, but just do it, I promise.
If Ramen Bowls wasn’t your style, give TryYakki a try. Tryakki serves more typical Chinese cuisine- sweet and sour chicken, crab rangoon, sushi, etc. It’s a good place to go when you need quality Chinese food but you’re living on a budget. Plus, you can order from them through the Eat Street app, which lets you pay with you Beak ‘Em Bucks!
9. Sylas and Maddy’s
If you’re looking for the best homemade ice cream in all of Kansas, Sylas and Maddy’s is it. With classic flavors like chocolate and banana, to specialty flavors like Maddy’s Mud or Rock Choc. Jayhawk, they have it all. And of course, there’s no better way to celebrate graduation than by finally having a scoop of Graduation Day. Plus, there’s buy one get one free for college night on Tuesday’s! (with student ID)
10. Alchemy Coffee
Another fantastic coffee shop, the coffee from Alchemy is actually served at many Lawrence establishments. However, there is no better place to get it than here, at the source. They have several varieties of cold brew, pour overs, and espresso, that can be paired nicely with items from their bakery. They pride themselves in being “micro sourced and crafted with love”.
These 10 establishments are what I deem to be the best of Lawrence cuisine. If you haven’t tried them yet, I suggest you do ASAP!