By Anita Harris, Convention Sales Manager at Visit Wichita

Food is a topic near and dear to my heart – not only do I love to discover a new food joint close to home, I appreciate that Wichita’s dining scene is a major selling point in my job working with meeting planners who are considering hosting an event in our city.

I’ve worked in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry for decades, including stints in banquet and food and beverage management for Hilton and Hyatt. For the past four years, I’ve helped bring fraternal, Greek letter societies, hobby and avocational, religious and military reunion events to Wichita.

When I first started in this job, it was the first year Visit Wichita and the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association had organized Wichita Restaurant Week. Many folks, like me, weren’t aware it existed but in just a few short years it has become one of my favorite annual events. If you’re like me, you would jump at the chance to discover new dishes, new restaurants and you love a good deal with a good cause attached – all of which Wichita Restaurant Week offers.

The 4th annual Wichita Restaurant Week took place from Jan. 20 through 29 at 32 restaurants all across the city. From barbecue to fine dining, diners could choose from a variety of lunch and dinner options, and when they ordered off of the special menu 10 percent of the proceeds went to benefit the Wichita Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas. In foodie terms, enjoying a delicious meal and helping local kids like Andre is the icing on the cake or the butter on the bread.

Wichita has more than 1,000 restaurants and it seems like every month we’re seeing a new chef-owned venture that adds to the diversity of cuisine found here. The quality is amazing, but don’t just take my word for it: named AVI Seabar & Chophouse the most romantic restaurant in Kansas, Tasting Table cited Siena Tuscan Steakhouse on its United Steaks of America list of most beloved steakhouses in each state, Wine Spectator awarded three Wichita restaurants  its Award of Excellence rating in the most recent rankings and named Wichita a "Top 10 Surprising Foodie City." And we love that Food Network star Alton Brown can’t stop talking about his foodie finds in our city!

Wichita’s restaurant scene is blowing up, and it is one of the many things I love to share when selling our city. I’m already daydreaming about next year’s restaurant week! If you’re a meeting planner, I welcome you to consider a site visit to Wichita – we can even arrange for your own mini restaurant week to show you all that our city can offer your event attendees.