As this year's Omaha Restaurant Week winds down — tonight is the final night of the 2015 edition — I've been thinking about more than just the incredible deals diners can get during the event. My favorite part of Omaha Restaurant Week is how the event offers diners the chance to rediscover the spots they don't always make it to, and remember what's so great about them in the first place. It also gives diners the chance to support their everyday favorites and experience a new menu at those beloved spots. I did both this weekend.
I've been doing a lot of traveling this summer and thought I'd do a quick recap of where I've been -- and what I've eaten -- so far. We drove out to Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend, and I had the plan of crossing a few spots off my list, The Publican among them. (Read more about the Fulton Market gastropub here.)
This morning, a Wall Street Journal writer called out Omaha as one of his favorite small dining cities in the country.
Last night at The Other Room, the 20-something seat speakeasy in Lincoln's Haymarket district, bartender and co-owner Jill Cockson did her thing like she always does, mixing craft cocktails and talking to customers about the petite bar that's gained a cult following during the past year.
I'm broadening the "old school" category for the purposes of this list. Generally speaking, the old school steakhouses are the ones who hold this title, but as they wane — don't worry, they also make my list! — I think it's wise to recognize some of the city's other classics. New classics, if you will. Here are my favorites from 2014.
Here's the second — albeit delayed — entry in my list of 2014 year end favorites. Mexican is probably the style of food I get most asked about, and lucky for you, Omaha has some good offerings. Here are my favorites.
Here are my favorite patios of 2014. (Yes, I realize patio weather is far, far away today. But a girl can dream, right?) Stay tuned for the rest of my year-end series.
This season I've been asked more than once what cookbooks I recommend for beginning cooks, so I decided to do a story about it, and you can see my five favorites in today's paper.
Yesterday I did a small feature about Omaha-based Black Iris Botanicals, a company whose owners forage local ingredients for a line of beauty products all made right here in town.
This morning, Paul Urban and Jessica Joyce Urban, who run Block 16 in downtown Omaha, remembered that Food Network personality Alton Brown was going to be in town today. They wondered what might draw him into their restaurant.
I've read a lot lately about how brunch is "so over." May I heartily disagree?
I think its fair to say Omaha has become a craft cocktail town.
I didn't learn my grandmother made home brew until I was well into my 20s. One day she pulled out a small glass bottle off a basement shelf in my grandparents' house and handed it to me. "Cherry Bounce," she said.
Archetype is one of the first businesses to open in the new "Blackstone District," in the neighborhood of 40th and Farnam Streets.
Confession time: before today, I’ve never had a mint julep. I’ve wanted to try one since we were in Oxford, visiting William Faulkner’s house, and I saw his julep cup and original recipe. What better time to do it than the weekend of the Kentucky Derby?
In case you missed it, Omaha-style pizza came about during my pizza Food Prowl last December, when I prowled for the city’s best with Omaha native and Director Alexander Payne and chef/owner of The Grey Plume Clayton Chapman. From the story:
My pick is featured in the May issue of the magazine. The al pastor taco at South Omaha’s La Choza won the prowl and it’s just as good now as it was then. La Choza (formerly known as Tacos Peligros) slaps a hunk of pineapple on top of its rotisserie, and the juices from the fruit melt down into the meat, making an incredibly tasty melange of sweet and savory.
One of my Omaha standbys for late night downtown dinners and people watching is — has always been — M’s Pub. The restaurant recently introduced a happy hour, and I checked it out. We tried three of the new menu items (Though I love revisiting the old standbys on the M’s menu, new food at a reliable restaurant is always exciting.)
A friend in Oxford asked me excitedly during my recent trip to the South if I’d heard of or owned the B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery Cookbook. I had a copy sitting on my desk way back in Nebraska and I had to admit that I hadn’t even cracked the cover before I left for the Delta (read more about my trip here, here and here.)
I started reading William Faulkner’s Absalom Absalom! before we left for Oxford, and what started out as a bit of a slog turned into an absolutely fantastic read as soon as we got on the plane to Mississippi. (If you give it a go, stay strong through chapter 3.) I’m nearly finished with the book now, and the fact that I was in the middle of it when we visited both Faulkner’s home in Oxford and an exhibition of first editions of his work on the Ole Miss campus made both visits all the more special.
, and I feel the same way now. I have the desire to write about it, but I’m simply not sure how to do it. There’s too much to say and even now that I’m back in Nebraska, it still feels a touch dangerous to tackle a bit of writing about my experience. I want to get it right.
I can count my “incredible dining experiences” on my ten fingers. They don’t happen that often. The latest happened during a handful of days last week in Mississippi. It’s one of those dining experiences that makes me want to rely on clich?: “I’ll never forget it” or “You have to see it to believe it” or “too amazing to be captured with photos.” I can’t say how much I love the above sign, which applies to Taylor Grocery, but to me, too.
Three Little Birds Punch from Le Bouillon
Meeting very cool people at bars and breweries all over town to sip on beers and opine on their flavor, like I did for the first Food Prowl of 2014, is an enviable job. It’s a ton of fun. But it’s not always that easy (I know, I know, that seems like a lie.) But as evidence to the challenges of a story like this one, wherein a team tries more than 50 beers and talks in detail about every single one, I give you this photo. The Spreadsheet.
The only evidence I have that I was ever in the Other Room — a fantastic new speakeasy in Lincoln’s Haymarket — is a business card.
2014 Favorites: Patios
2014 Favorites: Mexican
2014 Favorites: The Classics
2013 Favorites: Restaurants I can't stop visiting
2013 Favorites: Under $10
2013 Favorites: Cocktails, Wine & Beer
2013 Favorites: Brunch
2013 Favorites: West of 72nd Street
Food Prowl is a series of stories in theOmaha World Herald in which we examine what the city's restaurants have to offer and choose our favorite foodss. Find every single prowl and every single dish we've tried at omaha.com/foodprowl.
The 2015 Lineup:
Our favorite Onion Rings:
Our favorite Sushi:
Our favorite Margarita: coming soon
Our favorite Diner: coming soon
What we ate in 2014:
Our favorite Nebraska Brewed Beer:
Our favorite Ice Cream:
Our favorite Pad Thai:
Our favorite Barbecue:
What we ate in 2013:
Our favorite Steak:
Our favorite Macaroni and Cheese:
Our favorite Buffalo Wings:
Our favorite Crab Cakes:
Our favorite French Toast:
Our favorite Gourmet Burger:
Our favorite French Fries:
Our favorite Bloody Mary:
Our favorite Sweet and Sour Pork:
Our favorite Chicken Fried Steak:
Our favorite Coffee
Our favorite Pizza
What we ate in 2012:
Our favorite Eggs Benedict:
Our favorite Chicken Tikka Korma:
Our favorite Old Fashioned cocktail:
Our favorite Fried Chicken:
Our favorite Classic Hamburger:
Our favorite Taco:
Our favorite Cupcake:
Our favorite Falafel:
Our favorite Spaghetti:
Our favorite Pho:
Our favorite Reuben
My book, The Insider's Guide to Omaha and Lincoln, is the first nationally published travel guide written about the two cities. It includes my take on more than 150 restaurants, including many you've probably never heard of before.
My "Insider's Picks" throughout the book include favorite thrift stores, dive bars and hangouts. It also has practical sections: one on where to stay when you're visiting and a second perfect for students or people relocating to Nebraska.