Gotta be honest, this isn’t an original idea. I got it from Alligator Army, the SB Nation blog for the Florida Gators, who compared Gainesville restaurants to each conference. But I’m putting my own twist on it and deciding which Manhattan restaurants or bars represent each Big 12 school best. There are absolutely no objective criteria for this, it’s all my opinion, and like everything else on this blog, should not be taken too seriously.
If you think you can do better, and I’m sure you can because there are no right answers, leave a comment and let me know what you think.
After K-State we’ll revert to alphabetical order.
K-State: So Long Saloon
This pairing is natural, because K-State is my favorite team in the Big 12, and So Long is my favorite restaurant in Manhattan. Plus, So Long is a small, successful restaurant just like K-State is a small, successful athletic department.
Baylor: Gumby’s Pizza
These two pair up because Gumby’s made a much-criticized decision during my years at K-State to stop selling alcohol. Baylor has made a few decisions that have been criticized at various levels over its history, including some involving alcohol. Hey, which school hasn’t had some of those decisions? But unfortunately for Baylor, its decisions are often charged with religious implications, and thus end up making bigger headlines.
Colorado: Rock-A-Belly Deli
Rock-A-Belly is probably the oddest, most eclectic restaurant in Manhattan. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means it’s different. Colorado is also just a tad...different, from its students gathering to smoke pot in public to its former university president—a woman, by the way—stating publicly that the c-word can be used as a term of endearment. Like the restaurant, CU has had its high points in the past and looks to have more in the future.
Iowa State: Bluestem Bistro
I have seen this restaurant advertised, but I don’t know anybody that has eaten there, and honestly couldn’t even tell you where it’s located. Similarly, Iowa State has fallen on hard times and, while there’s nothing about them that makes me dislike them, I can’t really form an opinion, either. If anybody has some input on Bluestem Bistro—or the Cyclones, for that matter—let me know in the comments.
KU: Planet Sub
Considering this restaurant started in Lawrence—as Yello Sub—this pairing is kind of a natural. It doesn’t quite make sense because I personally like Planet Sub way too much to truly compare it to KU, but the place is counterculture all the way...kind of like Lawrence thinks it is.
My first semester at K-State, I loved Chipotle. I still don’t mind it, but it always sounds better than it really is. Every time I get talked into going to Chipotle, I am initially excited, but always walk away a little disappointed (not to mention with a stomach full of gas). This perception may change this year, but Mizzou has also been the team that traditionally doesn’t meet expectations, so they get paired up with Chipotle.
Nebraska: Hibachi Hut
I’m sure I’m going to piss some off with this one, but like I said it’s just my opinion and really shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The people who love Hibachi Hut LOVE it. I’ve never seen what’s so special. It’s not the worst restaurant in Manhattan by a long shot, and it has its good points, but it’s not as good as its fans think it is. The comparison to Nebraska should be obvious by now.
Oklahoma State: Hunam Chinese Buffet
I really struggled with this one. I’ll admit it. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Okie State is prone to wild outbursts that cause some trouble. For examples, I point to Eddie Sutton’s drinking and driving to the end of his career and Mike Gundy’s media...lecture. Hunam’s counterpart is its numerous health code violations over the years. But for the people who like the place (guilty), there is quite a bit of good there.
The bar complex that is known as Rusty’s in Manhattan is without a doubt the king of the Aggieville area. It’s the biggest and clearly most successful bar in Manhattan, considering all the space it has bought up. Similarly, OU has dominated the Big 12, winning four conference championships and one national title since the conference formed. And, while both occasionally do something right— OU saluting Bill Snyder when he retired, Rusty’s opening a non-smoking section—overall I have a lot of reasons to dislike each. But they’re the kings, and with that title comes much, uhh, envy.
Texas: Harry’s Uptown
Do I really need to explain this? The most expensive restaurant in Manhattan and the school with the most money in the Big 12. It’s pretty much a natural fit.
Texas A&M: Vista Hamburgers
Texas A&M is full of traditions, and some of them are even enviable. Vista is a throwback to the 50s, with its old school building, shakes, burgers, and servers who count your change back to you and say "please" and "thank you" (what a concept). When I want to feel like I’m in a place with traditional food and service, I go to Vista. When I want to go to a football game with a lot of fun traditions, I go to A&M.
Texas Tech: Bob’s Diner
Tech is that party school way the hell out in the middle of nowhere in Texas. The students get a little crazy sometimes because they probably have a little too much time on their hands and a little too much beer in their fridge. As such, I give them a restaurant that will be the shining light at the end of that brutal morning hangover...Bob’s. At Bob’s, you can get breakfast pretty much 48 hours a day, it’s all good, and it has enough grease to break up almost any amount of firewater you imbibed the night before.