When the weather finally turns warm, I want to be outside, on a patio, in good company, drinking many beers. And on the rare occasion Kansas gives us a day we can sit outside peacefully, I need to make a decision and commence patio sitting, posthaste. Enter Patio Quest 2010! My mission: Find the best patio(s) in Wichita. And sit on them.

For the purpose of this review, I’m breaking the patios into three categories: Old Town, East Wichita and West Wichita. Old Town is first. The time to hesitate is through; let the patio questing begin!

Pumphouse (2nd and Mosley)
When we hit up Pumphouse during the week, getting a drink is a breeze. But we found service on Fridays and Saturdays is more complicated. Getting a bartender’s attention is a struggle, but the good news is that when you get it, they don’t bat an eye when you order six beers. In fact, they’ll drop those six bottles in a six-pack box and send you on your way. This is the way I recommended sitting on their patio. The only problem is that in the hot summer months, those beers won’t stay cold for long. This means you’ll really have to focus on drinking them.

Rock Island Live (Douglas and Rock Island)
Rock Island Live is a “newer” bar as far as Old Town goes, and I haven’t been there a ton. I love live music, but it’s hard to front a cover not knowing what’s going on inside. When I’ve asked the door guys about the band, they’ve looked at me like I’m a pretentious snob. No, dude, I’m just cheap. Once inside, though, there are two bars, so we never wait long for drinks and the bar staff is friendly. There’s tons of space and the tables are spread far enough apart that you can easily move around. Overall, a good choice, and I plan to make it there more this summer!

Moonbar (Douglas and Mosley)
As far as I know, this is the only rooftop patio bar in Wichita. There’s always music and while there are some sitting areas, the bar is mostly occupied by standing or dancing patrons. Aside from the one time I watched someone take a shot and instantly vomit it back up, the bar is relatively clean. The bartenders are fast and friendly. If you’re looking to enjoy a quiet night, it’s probably not for you. But if you want to mingle and dance, it’s a solid choice.

Brickyard (1st and Rock Island)
Brickyard is great because there’s lots of room, lots of live music and plenty of places to sit. The only problem is there’s only one bar. And on weekends you need to allot a decent percentage of your night maneuvering your way to it. They’ve mitigated this struggle somewhat with beer tubs. I wish they’d place one on both sides of the bar. The biggest con is the bathrooms. Hold onto your golden seal, folks, because they’re worth avoiding since they’re outdoors. Think “outhouse in the summer.” Yikes. Everyone, bouncers included this time, is friendly. They always have good music, but if it’s live music, expect to pay a cover.

Mort’s (1st and Washington)
I love Mort’s. They have a fun selection of martinis. Cigars for sale. And there’s free popcorn. What else could you ask for? They commonly have a band, and unless I’m mistaken don’t charge a cover. Well played, Mort’s. They even have live music on school nights. The tables are really close together, which isn’t awful because they promote sharing tables. But this makes it complicated to get to the bathroom and even harder to talk about your neighbor. Even when they’re busy, I’ve always had great service at my table. This definitely invites the relaxation part of patio sitting. But if you go to the bar, the bartenders are just as friendly. What more could I want? I’m in.

Old Chicago (2nd and Mead)
I love Old Chicago because they have big beer specials on Sundays, the crux of patio sitting. They don’t have a huge patio, but aside from mealtime you can generally get a spot. The patio is staffed like the other sections of the restaurant so you always get great service. I would sit on Old Chicago’s patio whether I’m in Old town, out west or on the east side.

Loft 150 (1st and Mosley)
I’ve tried a few times to get on The Loft’s balcony and it’s always packed. The few times I’ve made it to the promise land it’s been late at night on a weekend, and I haven’t had any type of wait staff service. So, needless to say, I know this place has great potential; I’ve just never experienced it.

Heroes (Douglas and Mosley)
Heroes has lots of space and a small bar area where you can order drinks outside. It’s a one-in-one-out deal, but it’s better than having to go inside. Again, on weekends, there’s not much as far as table service goes, but you don’t get that inside, either. It’s not impossible to get a seat on the patio, assuming you’re willing to stand around and wait for a table to open up.

Doc Howard’s (2nd and Mosley)
Doc Howard’s is also fairly new. They have 18 to enter nights, which I’m not a fan of. They also have a bathroom attendant who takes your drinks hostage. I don’t leave a drink unattended because my mom would disown me, so this presents some logistical issues. The patio itself is narrow and hard to navigate, but during warm nights they open up the hookah bar, extending the overall area. For some reason, I see the patio as more of a smoker’s destination than a place to relax all night.

I feel like I just conquered my Everest! Stay tuned for east and west Wichita. What did I miss? What’s your favorite patio in Old Town?

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