Lawrence Bolsters Culinary Niche

Cooking classes and great dining make for a fun getaway

The culinary star of Lawrence has been shining brightly, not only with the fare at local restaurants and cafés, but also with the bounty of summer gardens. You can plan a trip to Lawrence around a food preparation class and bring your newly developed skills home with you. And enjoy a night on the town before the students return.

The Merc Co+op offers an array of food preparation classes to the public with 13 scheduled in its dedicated cooking classroom during August. The offerings include “South of France Cooking,” Aug. 17; “Summer Italian Dinner Party,” Aug. 18; “Refreshing Summer Salads,” Aug. 24; and “Healing Foods,” Aug. 28. The community-supported facility has been a part of Lawrence since 1974 and operates a full-service grocery store and deli that feature organic and local foods.

Register for classes on The Merc Co+op website, or by calling 785-843-8544 or in person at the store, 901 Iowa St.

Where to Dine

715 Mass

A broad and deep menu keeps Lawrence residents coming back to this chef-driven island of sophistication downtown. The cuisine changes with the seasons.715 Massachusetts St.,785-856-7150

The Basil Leaf Café

An unpretentious establishment located in part of a gas station. Ample portions of dependably delicious Italian-inspired dishes. What it lacks in atmosphere is made up in the flavors. Great for take-out. 616 W. 9th St., 785-856-0459

Wheatfields Bakery Café

One of the best breakfasts in the Midwest can be consumed here, with cinnamon rolls to write home about. Fresh-baked bread and desserts complete the aromas. A long-time Lawrence staple. 904 Vermont St., 785-841-5553

Where to Stay

Eldridge Hotel

A historic hotel conveniently located in downtown Lawrence. The all-suite hotel is completely restored to its 1925 grandeur. Suites from $166/night. 701 Massachusetts St.

Halcyon House

A charming bed-and-breakfast inn located between downtown and the KU campus. Good spot for some quiet unwinding after a great meal. Rooms from $125/night. 1000 Ohio St.

The Oread

Located adjacent to the KU campus. Many of the contemporary-styled rooms have sweeping views. Rooms from $159/night. 1200 Oread Ave.,