Many visitors to Lincoln stick to the downtown, Haymarket and Railyard areas. Or, put another way, they stick to the parts of town that are closest to Husker sporting events.
But there’s far more to Nebraska’s capital city than that. Lincoln offers plenty of things to do, eat — and drink — outside of the downtown area.
Grata Bar & Lounge, for example, offers a comfortable place to grab a drink and a meal — far from the crowds you’ll find in other parts of town.
The bar is nestled in a strip mall in the Clocktower Shopping Center off 70th and A Streets.
Thanks to its location, Grata is a more grown-up establishment than many of the more college-oriented bars you’ll find elsewhere in Lincoln. Its décor is a bit classier, its food a bit better and its drink menu a bit more varied.
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Though Grata offers lots of traditional bar food like chicken wings, nachos, pizza and burgers, its menu features more elevated versions of these classics. For example, the burger list includes a wild truffle, mushroom and Swiss burger; a Gouda, bacon and barbecue burger; and a salmon burger. The menu also includes a wide variety of appetizers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups, pastas and specialty pizzas.
Most of the items on the food menu cost between $10 and $15, and even the largest-size pizzas are under $20.
My go-to orders at Grata are the chicken quesadilla and the crispy chicken sandwich.
The chicken quesadilla — which is on the appetizer menu — comes with mojito lime or seasoned grilled chicken, a five-cheese blend, red onion, red peppers, lettuce and sour cream for $10. Even if you’re sharing with a friend, it’s generous enough to eat as a meal.
My usual Grata dinner order is the crispy chicken sandwich, which you can get crispy or blackened, and which comes with ghost pepper jack cheese, applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and avocado mayo for $11.50. It’s served with home-cut potato chips, or you can upgrade to fries, a salad, soup, onion rings or sweet potato fries. I’d recommend sticking with the chips, though, because they’re super crispy.
When it comes to drinks, Grata serves up the same variety as its food menu. The bar offers a selection of wines, mules, bloody marys, cocktails, martinis and craft beers. I’m a big fan of Grata’s mules, of which they offer five. I usually stick to the classic mule with Tito’s vodka, lime juice, lime and ginger beer, but they also offer a pineapple mule, Mexican mule, pomegranate mint mule and Tuscan mule.
In addition to my beloved mules, Grata offers more than two dozen wines, four bloody marys, eight cocktails and more than a dozen martinis.
In terms of entertainment, Grata has keno and plenty of televisions. It also offers live music and, three Thursdays of the month, it has trivia starting at 7:30 p.m.
Thanks to its drinks, eats and entertainment, Grata has become one of my frequent haunts in Lincoln. It’s proof that the city has more to offer than just the bars and restaurants that are within walking distance of Memorial Stadium.
So, the next time you’re in Lincoln, take a departure from your usual path and stop by Grata.