8 Wonders of Kansas cuisine

An 8 Wonder of Kansas Cuisine

Carolyn's Essenhaus, Arlington

Address: 104 E. Main, Arlington, KS 67514
Phone: 620.538.4711
Website: carolynsessenhaus.com

Open Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
Saturday 6 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Breakfast served until 10:30 a.m.
See menu, click here.

Carolyn's Essenhaus is a finalist for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine because it's an Amish Mennonite establishment that has been using family and ethnic recipes for 20 years.

Carolyn Bontrager was working at another restaurant years ago when a customer said, "There's no sense in you working so hard here. We need a restaurant in Arlington." Carolyn had always had that dream and in 1989 it became official with the opening of Carolyn's Essenhaus (eating house).

She's obviously doing something right because this year (2009) she'll celebrate her 20th anniversary -- a notable achievement in a town of 450.

Carolyn is Amish Mennonite and her family comes from Switzerland and Germany. The connection to her roots is obvious in the food. A well-worn recipe book and many family recipes are the origin of most of the foods. Her father, Eldon, is at the restaurant every day during the week at 3:30 a.m. baking pies! All of those factors are a recipe for success.

Carolyn's signature menu item is the skillet-fried chicken served on Wednesdays. Verenike, a German Mennonite dish, is also very popular and is served Friday from 5-8:30 p.m. but from 11:30-8:30 on the first Friday of every month. A staple on the menu is the chicken-fried steak. The meat comes from Yoder Meats in Yoder and is hand-breaded.

Her pastry bar is another favorite of the regulars. It's set up in the middle of the restaurant Monday-Saturday from 6-10 a.m.. You pick from the array of tempting pastries, deposit the cost in the basket, and go to your table and enjoy. Big cinnamon rolls cost only a dollar. Other goodies include the caramel nut roll, muffins, donuts, scones, and Danish. A coffee cake, called Bienen Stich (Bee Sting), is a recipe that came from Carolyn's mother's cousin.

The restaurant also has banquet rooms and Carolyn caters as well.

Carolyn's Essenhaus is an anchor in downtown Arlington enjoyed by the locals and people that come from all around.

 Meet Carolyn! 
 A popular dish on Friday evenings is Verenike

From left to right top:  Lemon Meringue Pie, Chocolate Cream Pie and Peach Pie
From left to right bottom: 
Bienen Stich (Bee Sting Coffee Cake), Homemade bread