No Free Lunches

Adam Johnson and Jordan Winter talk about their online video series "No Free Lunches." The series highlights local restaurants in Lawrence.

Navigating Lawrence’s extensive list of restaurants, bars and coffee shops may seem to be a daunting task, especially if you're new to town. “No Free Lunches,” a local-based video series, takes it on by exploring noteworthy locations in Lawrence’s foodie scene.

Since its creation in February, the vlog already boasts two collections — each containing four episodes — detailing some of the best spots to grab a cocktail or a vegetarian bite in Lawrence.

When Explore Lawrence put out a request for ideas to showcase the city as a “foodie destination,” creator and videographer Adam Johnson responded immediately.

“They wanted to showcase to people who don’t live here but live within the area that we are a great destination to come for all of our culinary delights, as well as great bars and other services,” Johnson said.

Johnson approached recent University of Kansas graduate and partner Jordan Winter about hosting the new show, and the project was born.

Winter's past experience as a server at Ramen Bowls and Johnson's experience as a cook at Burger Stand gave them a "behind-the-scenes" understanding of the foodie scene.

While the focus has always been food, the vlog highlights the creators of the cuisine as well.

“They’re consistently trying to push the envelope with their specials [and] with the ingredients they bring in,” Johnson said. “It’s just nice knowing that most people who own restaurants here care about not only the food but the people they’re serving and the community as well.”

In the most recent video in the vegetarian series, Winter talks with the owners and chef of Culinaria.

“We just wanted to have a chance to be able to tell the stories of the people making the food and to highlight the food itself,” Winter said.

With the influx of new students each year to the area, restaurants are constantly seeing new customers — and students are looking for their new favorite spots. “No Free Lunches” aspires to show those new students the best places to eat in Lawrence, Johnson said.

The duo has already completed a vegetarian and cocktail collection, visiting restaurants such as Burger Stand, Burrito King and Lark A Fare. The project is heading into new collections, as well. 

“Next up is hidden gems,” Winter said. 

Collections of bakeries, breweries and breakfast spots will follow, Johnson said.

"Through the first eight episodes, we’ve learned a lot about what people like, what they don’t like, what works with a two-person crew and how to really highlight the things that are interesting about a restaurant,” Johnson said.