Midwest Living Review
For a taste of Lawrence's homegrown community culture, eat at The Merc, a co-op run by volunteers. This funky grocery store near Kansas University's West Campus features several hot and cold fresh food bars, a gourmet coffee bar and a bakery. Merc founders Harry and Judy Kroeger started the store out of their garage as a volunteer-run, bulk-food buying club. Today The Merc has Kansas's only certified organic produce department carrying 125 items. Most of those items are grown within 200 miles. Deli sandwiches, soups, salads and baked goods are made daily. Build-your-own sandwich options include tuna salad, grilled portobella, honey-chipotle pork, turkey, grilled vegetables and hummus. The box lunch with side, $9, makes for a tasty picnic at nearby Clinton Lake. Pay-by-the-pound meals include two entrees, three sides and one steamed veggie ($7.99 a pound). On Sundays, The Merc dishes a special brunch bar of seasonal veggie-loaded frittatas, egg strata, sausages and buttermilk biscuits sided with mushroom-leek gravy. Chow down in the community room, which also hosts ethnic dining events, healthy-eating seminars and book talks. Weekly food bar and deli menus are posted online.