Eat local, a guide to the perfect Topeka food and beer pairings

Charles Rankin

Topeka has some really great restaurants that feature a variety of food and drink opportunities. With this mixture you are sure to find something that you enjoy eating or drinking. The trick, however, is finding that right kind of combination of food and drink.

To help with this, I have compiled a list of some of the best food and beer pairings, along with a nice breakfast option, for Washburn students in Topeka.

To start, a restaurant that began in Lawrence and quickly made its way to College Hill: The Burger Stand. The Burger Stand offers a large variety of fries, such as the popular truffle and duck fat, some hot dog options and even some unique milkshakes, both kid friendly and alcoholic.

As the name suggests however, burgers are what rule the menu here and Burger Stand has it all. From The Classic burger, with just a slice of Vermont white cheddar, tomatoes onions and greens, to the Black and Blue burger, with blue cheese and a granny smith apple chutney, Burger Stand has a variety of gourmet burger options, one of which is sure to please the palate of any college student.

The other thing Burger Stand does well is have a nice selection of draught beer, from regional favorite breweries like Free State and Boulevard, to selections from the craft beer center of Colorado, Fort Collins’ own Odell and New Belgium, this place has something on tap that you’re sure to love.

As for pairing goes, my go-to food and beverage combination is the Smoke burger paired together with Topeka’s own Blind Tiger Java Porter. Served with smoked applewood bacon, gouda and a chipotle cocoa ketchup, this is Burger Stand’s take on the classic bacon cheeseburger, and it certainly does not disappoint.

I’m a huge fan of dark beer and while most people don’t think of porters or stouts to go with a burger, the smokiness of the bacon and the little bit of heat and cocoa from the ketchup pairs well with the maltiness and coffee notes of the Java Porter.

Pro tip: The burger should fill you up, but if you want a little more food, add a side of Poutine fries. While not completely authentic, Burger Stand’s take on the Quebecois staple is the best versions I’ve had outside Canada.

Ichabod tip: If you bring your Washburn ID on Mondays to receive 50 percent off certain food items, including the Smoke burger.

Next we have a barbeque place that is fast, simple and, most importantly, good. HHB BBQ is a favorite of many who work in downtown Topeka. It serves a variety of barbecued meats and plenty of sides to choose, from cheesy potatoes and cole slaw, to baked beans and mac and cheese. My personal favorite dish is the one meat or sandwich and two side combo. I go with a brisket sandwich and a side of smoked mac and cheese and a fantastic potato soup. To pair with it, another local selection, the Happy Bassett Purebred Porter. As with the Smoke Burger, the smokiness of the barbecue compliments the dark flavors of the Purebred.

Pro tip: While the meat itself is tasty, tender and juicy enough, put a little HHB BBQ sauce on it. It adds that extra flavor.

Another great option is the Blind Tiger Brewery and Restaurant. I mentioned its Java Porter before, but Blind Tiger is more than just one beer and has a restaurant with a great variety of foods. From steaks to barbecue, fish to pasta you are sure to find the right food to pair with the right beer. One such pairing is the fettuccini alfredo and the Holy Grail Pale Ale. The alfredo is met with the hops of the ale for a combination that creates for the perfect balance of creamy and bitter.

Pro tip: With such a variety of beers, including rotating seasonals, try something new you might not think you would enjoy.

Finally, PT’s Coffee has been a staple of Topeka for 25 years. With a location across from campus in college, it offers a great alternative for those might who think it’s too early for a beer. While known for its coffee, PT’s also offers a nice array of food options, from traditional breakfast served all day to a lunch menu that offers options such as soup, salad and sandwiches. All of these comes with PTs traditional artisanal style with great looking plating. When I think PT’s though, I think coffee, and when I think coffee, I automatically think breakfast, so my go-to is the simple Old Fashioned Oats with brown sugar and butter paired with a simple, no frills latte. This combination may seem a little boring, but the simplicity of the oats and the perk of the espresso are the perfect thing to help you wake up after a long night of studying.

Pro tip: While I enjoy my oats with just a little sweetness of the brown sugar, for only a couple more dollars, you can add fruit or nuts for a little more added flavor.

Ichabod tip: PT’s offers a 10 percent discount to Washburn students.