I always like to visit a city with an open mind and Omaha, Nebraska exceeded my expectations in their both culinary scene and their heart and passion behind each dish. They take their food scene seriously sourcing as much as possible locally while raising the bar in creativity and flavor. I’m sharing more about culinary adventures that you will definitely want to add to your list.
Dante’s (West Omaha)
Fresh seafood in the Midwest? These wood oven roasted scallops were in the water at Hampton Bay, NY the day before I dined and in my belly that night. Chef and owner Nick Strawhecker works with producer partners from Nebraska and beyond to source the freshest ingredients possible in season and the results are pretty fantastic!
Known for their Neopolitan pizza (that I ironically didn’t try), Dante’s also offers Rustic Italian Cuisine (that I did try) with fantastic wine pairings. (Nebraska Beef Carpaccio, Plum Creek Farm Chicken & Carrot Ravioli, Wood-Oven Roasted Scallops, and Carmel & Espresso Brownie) In addition to wonderful food, they have Omaha’s only Italian-only wine list with wines from each region of Italy.
Hand Crafted Chocolates (West Omaha)
You know you’ve made it big when you are on Oprah’s Favorite Things list! The Cordial Cherry takes chocolate to the next level in taste and artistry. Each of their chocolate covered cherries is made from scratch and hand decorated and they are almost too beautiful to eat….almost….but it is chocolate, and I’m committed to my research.
If you are normally not a chocolate covered cherry fan, I invite you to still try one, but you will still find plenty of other artisan chocolates in other flavors and varieties. The Cordial Cherry is conveniently located a few steps from Dante’s which means that you can cross off two culinary adventures in one visit.
Monarch Prime (Downtown)
Art Deco fans will love the space and design and foodies will be even happier. Monarch Prime elevates each dish in taste and presentation.
During my visit, we tried the French Onion Dip, Beet salad, Garganeli pasta, Goose, 21 Day Wagyu Sirloin, Baby Red Potatoes, Cauliflower, and Challah Bread with brown butter.
Make sure that you check out their creative cocktails and sample some of their amazing desserts. We shared the Smores, a Donut, Shortcake, and Panna Cotta.
Take A Culinary Food Tour
I LOVE to take a food tour whenever I visit a city for the first time. It’s such a great way to learn about the local food and culture past and present in a relaxed atmosphere. Omaha Culinary Tours hit it out of the park with their excellent restaurant choices that made us HURT. SO. GOOD! We enjoyed a tasting at each location and learned more about what made each stop so special by sampling menu items and learning more about the restaurant’s story from owners and passionate staff. We experienced a customized tour that took us to several stops throughout the city.
Crescent Moon (Blackstone District)
Known for their Reuben sandwiches made with slow cooked corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss and 1000 island dressing, plus a couple of our secret ingredients, grilled on marble rye using the recipe from the famous Blackstone Hotel that was located across the street. If you enjoy craft beer you will be happy to discover that the Crescent Moon has over 60 beers on tap every day.
If you happen to make a return visit, you might want to check out the Huber-Haus German Bier Hall located down the stairs to learn more about “Das Boot” that contains 2L of Beer served in a glass boot. The boot comes with rules so make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into.
Stirnella (Blackstone District)
Locally sourced and globally inspired, Stirnella provides a great ambiance with flavors from around the world. During our visit we tried the Burrata served with apple butter, squash, grilled peasant bread, Risotto made with beets, celery root, Parmigiano, truffle, bruleed telaggio, Arancini made with saffron, telaggio, bolognese, basil, Parmigiano , Spatzle made with oxtail, onion confit, roasted mushroom, comte, mustard seeds and for dessert we tried the Gooey butter bar made with banana curd, Nutella ice cream, shortbread crumble
Coneflower (Blackstone District)
Our next stop on the food tour was Coneflower Creamery known for being farm to cone ice cream sourcing ingredients from farmers in Nebraska and Iowa. They make everything in-house including the waffle cones and even the sprinkles. The Blackstone Butterbrickle flavor is one of the more popular flavors as a nod to the Blackstone Hotel that introduced the flavor in the 1920’s made with housemade toffee and chocolate. There are lots of great creative seasonal flavors so I recommend sampling a few before you commit to your scoop of choice.
Le Bouillon (Old Market District)
Located in the heart of the Old Market, Le Bouillon serves up French-inspired cuisine and comfort foods in a gorgeous historical building dating back to the 1890’s and a Niki de St. Phalle Tree. We enjoyed a craft cocktail, hand cut frites along with the Bikini sandwich, think elevated grilled cheese…..that is not bikini friendly but worth every bite!
Howard Street Wine Merchant (Old Market District)
You don’t even have to walk outside to visit Howard Street Wine Merchant after a visit to Le Bouillon if you don’t want to. There are doors that conveniently connect the two spaces. We enjoyed a tasting from several wines from around. Howard Street Wine Merchant also offers special tastings and has a wine club that you can join.
Brickway Brewery and Distillery (Downtown)
You can take a tour and then enjoy a beer or in my case a wonderful Mule. It’s nothing personal, I just don’t care for beer but the Mule flavor options (Omaha, Strawberry, Coconut, Cucumber, and Blood Orange) at Brickway made my day…along with the AMAZING pretzel served with Pimento Cheese and Beer Mustard.
Upstream Brewing Company (Downtown)
Another brewery that you can cross off your list. I can’t speak for the beer at Upstream but I did enjoy their Thai Chicken Salad made with Chicken sautéed with sesame-peanut glaze, jalapeños, and onions atop spring greens with Mandarin oranges, tomatoes, peanuts and orange soy cilantro dressing and their Bugeater Root Beer.
The Omaha Craft Brew Penny Pack
Cross more breweries off your list with The Omaha Craft Brew Penny Pack program that was created specifically for out of town guests. When you sign up on their program online, you get coupons good for 12 featured breweries for “buy one 1 beer get 1 for a penny.” That’s a deal that’s hard to beat!
Creative Cocktails at a Tiki Bar (Downtown)
A tiki bar in downtown Omaha? I didn’t expect it which is what made it even better! Seriously, Laka Lono Rum Club is SO MUCH FUN! Relaxing swings, Polynesian style decor, and a laid-back ambiance that makes you feel like you are no longer in the Midwest. You can order a shareable group cocktail or order a cocktail of your own….but make sure that someone at your table orders one of the drinks that lights on fire…just because it’s fun.
Coffee Stop (Downtown)
Looking for a coffee shop while you are in town? Hardy Coffee has three locations including one downtown. They are a bakery, roaster, and coffeehouse in one. If you don’t like coffee you will still find plenty of other options available including a Root Beer Chai that’s very good.
Learn from the Pros (Midtown)
I typically try to get out of cooking as often as possible. The only time that I don’t really mind it is during a cooking class for a few reasons. 1.) It’s social and we get to eat at the end but don’t have to clean up. 2. I have a professional guiding me who can intervene if need be.
During my visit to Omaha, I participated in a Pasta Cooking Class led by Chef Clayton at Provisions by The Grey Plume. He made the art of pasta making very attainable and dare I say enjoyable!
I can’t say that I would commit to making pasta from scratch every time but it is pretty great to have that knowledge…just in case. We were also given the recipes to take home.
Enjoy Pizza by the Slice (Old Market)
Located in the heart of the Old Market, Zio’s Pizzeria offers full pizza or made to order pizza by the slice. I opted for the jalapeno and chicken.
Breakfast of Champions (Blackstone District)
If you are looking for a wonderful place for a breakfast spot, I highly recommend visiting Earlybird Brunch offering menu options that will satisfy both your sweet or savory cravings. I always want sweet AND savory so I highly suggest inviting a food sharer to join you so that you can get the best of both worlds.
Next door you will also want to make a to go stop at Bob’s Donuts for creative artisan donuts served in the shape of a square. If you are unsure of what to pick, you can’t go wrong with Bob’s favorites the Creme Brule, Boston Creme, PB & Jelly, and Maple Bacon.
Quirky Candy and More (Old Market)
The eye candy in the store is the wide range of items ranging from vintage to pop culture. There is even a piano in the store that was once used by Lady Gaga for a music video.
Try a Local Fast Food Chain
Because …why not? While I was in Omaha, I kept on seeing signs for a popular local fast food chain called Runza. My curiosity got the best of me and my friend and I decided that we needed to at least check it out before we left town. They have a variety of class American fast food items but of course, we had to try the sandwich that they named the restaurant after.
So what’s a Runza? A Runza sandwich has ground beef seasoned with a top-secret blend of spices and mixed with cabbage and onions wrapped up in fresh-baked bread. There are variations of the sandwich so you can either be a purist and try the Original Runza or mix things up with one of the variations of the classic.
I’ve found that what you eat with your chili depends on where in the country you are from. Chili served with cinnamon rolls is how they do it in Nebraska…or at least Omaha. The combination is also available seasonally at Runza.
Located in burbs of Omaha, my friend Michelle from (Simplify, Live, Love) and I visited B&B’s Classic Dogs in Bellevue to support our travel writing friends, Tim and Lisa Trudell who were launching their book 100 Things to Do in Omaha Before You Die.
Serving Nathan’s All Beef Hot Dogs with creative topping twists that will appeal to all spice levels…so of course, I had to order the menu item that included jalapenos.
Where I Stayed
Now that you know more about the food scene in Omaha you can check out my 5 Reasons You Need to Visit Omaha post to learn more about other places that you don’t want to miss!
Thanks again to Visit Omaha for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own. This post does contain affiliate links
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