I’m just going to get to the point today. I love La Buvette in the Old Market, and you should, too. It’s a gem. You can choose your own adventure there, whether seated inside amongst the wine and groceries or outside on the patio under greenery that provides a bit of shaded exclusivity in the summer.
The Old Market is the neighborhood that almost wasn’t. If it weren’t for the foresight of the Mercer family, everything from the river to the cop shop would look like a combination of the ConAgra campus and the Mid-America Center. Sure, the brick streets can get a bit askew in some areas of the Old Market, and parking can be a challenge. Having walked these streets off and on for a couple of decades now, I’ve broadly seen the changes.
It’s probably difficult for some to believe, but there was a time when the Old Market had an air of danger to it. Not everyone had a shopping agenda, there were squatters in abandoned warehouses and skittish parents wouldn’t want their younguns walking around its once dimly lit streets. Maybe that was just me and mine, though. Rubes, you know? It didn’t have the palpable feeling of imminent victimization you get in New Orleans, of course. It’s difficult to quantify scientifically, but dial the Big Easy paranoia down about 90% to 95%, and that was the Old Market feel in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
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Today, the Old Market is the closest thing a local can get to the Old World feel that some larger, older cities thrive on, and La Buvette is the closest thing one is going to find to a taste of Europe inside a 50-mile radius. If you’ve never had a chance to get a little piece of France on the continent, then go to La Buvette.
La Buvette is easily one of my favorite places for a first date. It does half the work. It’s casually impressive, and all diners can really have their own positive experiences. It’s chill, it’s sophisticated, it’s authentic, a good sort of provincial and often quite busy. All the things you want a date to think you are. It’s also a test. If your date doesn’t appreciate La Buvette, then it’s a foregone conclusion that a relationship is unlikely to ensue.
I was doing double duty reviewing and dating — pretty successfully I might add. (Thanks, La Buvette!) Not an inexpensive one, mind you, but that had more to do with my consumption from the bar’s great list of wines. There are 29 wines on tap, at current count, ranging from $4.25 per glass of Frontera chardonnay from Chile up to $15.95 for a glass of Nicolas Feuillatte Brut champagne.
The handwritten menu reads like a novella. In addition to wine, there are daily kitchen specials like braised rabbit, taramasalata and chicken liver mousse. Regular offerings include gravlax, bresaola and assorted charcuterie. Check the website and the chalkboard out front for updates.
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La Buvette the closest thing you'll find to a taste of Europe inside of a 50-mile radius. Read more
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The Crescent Roadhouse Bar and Grill in Crescent, Iowa, is a dive bar with a good kitchen. It's largely a domestics-in-the-bottle kind of place. Blue Moon, Lagunitas and Corona are about as hip as you’re gonna get. Click here to read more.
There is likely room in your schedule somewhere for The Cabin’s happy hours. They last from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Click here to read more.
Pour Craft Beer & Spirits has two dozen brews on tap from local favorites like La Vista’s Kros Strain Brewing, Omaha’s Brickway Brewery & Distillery and fellow Lincoln newbie Cosmic Eye Brewing. Click here to read more.
Lincoln’s Pub sits where Dixie Quicks used to in Council Bluffs' historic 100 Block. It is turning into a worthy successor. Click here to read more.
Cosmic Eye Brewing opened in east Lincoln fall of 2018. Its location makes it unique for a couple of reasons — for one, it’s the only Lincoln brewery in a former laser tag place, and the only brewery in the neighborhood. Click here to read more.
Pat and Mike’s has Chiefs games, cheap tacos and arcade classics like “Ms. Pacman” and “Frogger.” Click here to read more.
As nice as it might be to go to a bar where “everybody knows your name,” occasionally it’s pleasant to go to a bar where no one knows who you are, what you do or where you’re from. The District offers that. Click here to read more.
Florence's New Frontier is a great dive. It is quaint, friendly, out of the way and time-worn, but clean and comfortable enough to exceed one’s most reasonably tempered expectations. Click here to read more.
Barley's, a saloon-style bar in Council Bluffs, offers 30 brews on tap, a friendly staff and an "epic" amount of parking. Click here to read more.
Not all dives are cut from the same cloth. George’s Tavern in Blair hits all the right notes for socializing on the DL and has what discriminating tastes aspire to, if not actually settle for, in a dive. Click here to read more.
Green Flash has some traditional brewpub offerings like wings, of course. But, in general, the eatery specializes in slightly more sophisticated eats, with more fresh vegetables and fewer fried foods. Click here to read more.
The Spillway in Council Bluffs is always family-friendly. There is an ATM, pool, darts, 11 TVs, free Wi-Fi and — the best idea ever — a Breathalyzer by the door reminding you to stay safe and never drive buzzed. Click here to read more.
You can enjoy drinking with strangers at Rathskeller Bier Haus, including a few real Germans. Wall art consists of European beer signs, a boar’s head and a reproduction of Berlin Wall graffiti. The back garden will still nurture you once warm weather returns. Click here to read more.
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