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Itzcali Tapas & Tequila

Posted on February 15, 2024 by under Food and Drink.    

My friend Chris Townley and I went to check out a new place for lunch a couple of weeks ago. Itzcali is a new Mexican-Italian fusion tapas place that’s actually been open a few months. As with any new restaurant, you never want to go when they first open. You want to give them a bit of time to work out the kinks. Fast forward to the other day when we finally ventured out there for lunch to check things out.

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I’ve heard mixed reviews about this place. Either people really love it or absolutely hate it. Part of the problem is the sub-par service but that’s probably when you go at dinner when they are super busy. We went during lunch when it was slow and had decent service. Our server was helpful and friendly.

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The interior of the restaurant is nice. There’s plenty of seating. You can sit at a table, booth, or at the bar. The decor is unique and they designed the bar to have ample room for customers who want to sit up there. I also really like the large, custom chandelier, which is a nice interesting touch. When you see it, you know you’re at Itzcali and nowhere else.

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The furniture and the art on the walls all tie with the theme.

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I’ll have to take Brian there for dinner at some point because the lunch menu is limited. We look at their dinner menu and there are several options that are not available during lunch. Anyway, what is extensive is the tequila menu. They had page and pages of it. No tequila was consumed at lunch. That’s another thing I will have to go back for at some point.

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Here are some pictures of our food. It was good but I think expensive for lunch. Although, I think you are paying for the setting as well. This is kind of nice sit-down place as opposed to Chipotle.

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I’m making the comparison because I probably could have gotten a similar bowl at Chipotle for half the price. LOL.

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I suppose, when you’re eating out, you’re paying for more than just the food. You’re also paying for the experience. And that’s what you’ll have at Itzcali. It’s a pretty good experience as long as you go when they’re note getting slammed. Have you been? What did you think?

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iPN Wichita Winterfest

Posted on February 12, 2024 by under Pickleball.    

We hosted our very first iPickle Nation pickleball tournament in Wichita a couple of weeks ago at Genesis Rock Road where they now have 10 pickleball courts painted on their tennis courts in the bubble. Genesis is getting into pickleball – finally – and it was time to celebrate this. Here’s a short video I made of all the medalists:

It’s a pretty short video because we didn’t have as many teams participate as I would have liked. We drew 65 players. While we had enough teams to host the tournament, we were dozens of players shy of the 100+ that I wanted to see. Last year, Chicken N Pickle hosted a tournament and, even with talent like Jack Oxler participating in it, the event drew less than 50. I really don’t understand why (a) Wichita players aren’t playing the local tournaments, and (b) players from all over aren’t flocking here to play. What is it about Wichita? What are we doing wrong? Or is it something we are not doing?

Since I started playing in tournaments three years ago, I have traveled West as far as California and East as far as Florida and played in maybe a hundred tournaments. Some have been amazing and some I will probably never, ever want to play ever again. It costs a lot of money to travel somewhere and play in a tournament, even when you drive there and don’t factor in air fare. You still have the cost of lodging, food, etc. besides the already astronomical tournament registration fees that just seem to continue to increase year over year as the popularity of the sport increases.

I quickly realized that it’s not sustainable for me to travel and play in all of these tournaments and that there are many pickleball enthusiasts, amateur pickleball players like myself, in Wichita who would enjoy playing in these tournaments but don’t have the resources to travel all over. For the last year or so, I’ve made it a goal to try and bring events to Wichita so that players like me could enjoy the competition without all of the added travel expenses. But now I’m wondering if I am unique in my desire to want to be able to play in tournaments at home. Maybe people really want to spend thousands of dollars traveling all over the place to play in these tournaments so we don’t really need any big tournaments at home.

I’m actually starting to wonder. Maybe I don’t know our local pickleball population at all and I truly have no idea what our community needs? Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.

Anyway, despite not drawing as many players and teams as we would have liked, the weekend was actually quite productive. I’d never used the Pickleball Brackets platform before and this tournament allowed me to see how to use it behind the scenes. I’ve only ever interacted with the platform as a tournament player so I’ve never really seen how the Tournament Directors use it. Duane Christian from iPickle Nation gave me access so I could see some of that and he explained to me how they organize their tournaments. I learned a ton.

I’m not sure how worthwhile it would be to host another one of these types of tournaments but at least I have some experience under my belt. I wish you all the best in your pickleball endeavors, no matter where it may take you. Until next time!

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Holy Shit – Literally

Posted on February 9, 2024 by under Life.    

First trip to the Anchor since they reopened. I really like the new open space now. The bar is no longer in the middle, dividing the two sides of the restaurant. The new bar is also much bigger than the original bar.

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Anyway, if you’re looking for pictures of food. I’m sorry. I forgot. Service was super slow that day and it took forever to get our food – I think over 30 minutes! We were all starving so as soon as the food arrived at the table we scarfed it up like a pack of hungry vultures over a carcass. By the time I remembered to take a photo, all of our food was gone. It was really sad.

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That’s not even the worst part of this day. The worst part was finding Brian’s car completely covered in rotten fruit and bird poop when we came out of the restaurant. Brian literally just washed his car the day before.

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He was like, “I thought I scored with the really good parking. No wonder no one was parked here!” They knew something he didn’t.

The tree next to this spot is filled with overripe fruit so the birds have been having a heyday. They’ve been camping out at the tree, eating and shitting the fruit. Most of it landed on Brian’s car. That shit has staying power too. Brian washed his car later that day but the automated car wash brushes really couldn’t rub the stuff off so Brian still had to manually wash his car to clean up the mess after.

If you go to the Anchor, be warned. Do not park in this spot. LOL.

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Brian’s Work Dinner at Firebirds

Posted on February 8, 2024 by under Food and Drink.    

It’s been a while since we were last at Firebirds. Has it really been 10 years? There’s no way! Grandma‚Äôs 92nd birthday was the most recent blog I could find that mentions the restaurant and she’s turning 102 this year. It’s crazy how quickly time flies. Anyway, Brian and I met his work team there last weekend for dinner because their boss Rune Larneng wanted to take the team out for a celebration.

Since it has been quite literally a long time, I guess I owe you all some pics.

Firebirds Bar Area

Right as you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by the fully stocked bar with a really cool pineapple light fixture. I don’t remember this from before so it must be something they added within the last few years.

Pineapple Lamp

I thought it was neat and worthy of a pic. I feel like it distinguishes the Firebirds bar from all the other bars in town. I like when restaurants have unique elements like this. Anyway, I kinda want a pineapple lamp for myself now. It will go fantastically well with my Sand Cloud pineapple blanket!

Dinner Selfie at Firebirds

Brian and I were the first ones to arrive so we took a selfie while we were waiting. I don’t know how Brian managed to talk the group into going to Firebirds because everyone on their team lives on the West side of town but I am grateful they picked an East-side restaurant because Firebirds is just a few minutes from our house.

Firebirds Drink Menu

While we were waiting, we also took a moment to peruse the extensive drink menu.

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I didn’t get pics of everyone’s drinks but these were some of the cocktails we tried.

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The ladies (April and Debbie) had martinis. They had a good selection of them. Mike had some old fashioneds (not pictured). I think Cory had rum and cokes. Brian just had the red wine we had with dinner.

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I pretty much stuck to my “go to” drink – sangria. The white sangria at Firebirds is made with moscato and it fruity and refreshing.

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Rune picked a Cab off the menu called Two Hands Sexy Beast that none of us had ever heard of or tried before and he ordered two bottles. I’m pretty sure he went through the list and just picked the one with the most fun name. Anyway, it was a risky move considering we didn’t know what we were getting but I guess, as red wines go, Cabernet Sauvignon wines are a pretty safe bet.

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Everyone enjoyed it. Brian liked it so much he said he would look for it at Groves next time we go. I looked online and I think you can get it for $30-40 a bottle, depending on the vintage. The restaurant charged almost $90 for each.

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Dinner was fantastic. April and I started with the spinach side salad that our server recommended. It’s not on the menu so you just have to ask for it. It was really good.

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April didn’t want hers doused in dressing so she asked for her dressing on the side. That’s the picture above. Below is what the salad looks like tossed in dressing (mine). Not being much of a vegetable eater, I always cover my salads in dressing. I joked to April that I only ask for dressing on the side when I want extra. LOL.

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This was easily the best side salad I’d had in a long time. Below are pictures of our entrees. Everything was fabulous. I did not hear a single complaint about the food the entire evening.

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At the end of the meal, we ordered three kinds of desserts.

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Cory and April shared a five layer lemon cake and Rune had a slice of it for himself.

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Mike and Debbie shared a carrot cake.

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Brian and I shared the big daddy chocolate cake. Our server told us they only had one slice left when she last checked and so our alternative was going to be the brownie. I am sure the brownie would have been good too (everything we had was great that night), but I am so glad we got the last slice of the chocolate cake because it was amazing. I am seriously still dreaming of it.

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I don’t know why we ever quit going to Firebirds. The place is fabulous. Brian and I decided it was time to put this restaurant back on the regular weekend dinner rotation. Thank you for the fabulous dinner, Rune!

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Local Flavor with My Baby

Posted on February 2, 2024 by under Food and Drink.    

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Pictures at Local Flavor last week. I took Brian there to try it as he had never been. I think this was only my second time there.

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If you enjoy food with lots of flavor, you must check this place out. Not only do they have a wall of various hot sauces from all over, but they also have a wide array of homemade salsa and homemade BBQ sauces.

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I had the smoked mac and cheese. I still like the one at Station 8 better but this was pretty good. Specially topped with chopped brisket.

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I got to try both of the sauces and they were excellent. The brown one is more of a traditional, sweet BBQ sauce and the white one has a great ranch flavor. We will be putting Local Flavor in our regular dinner rotation. Whenever we aren’t making Hello Fresh food at home, that is.

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