Update: Omaha Culinary tours has permanently closed
This Christmas, I had a couple people ask me for gift ideas for their parents. I’d heard great things about Omaha Culinary Tours and I was certain their parents hadn’t been on one yet, so I suggest one of those.
And the more I thought of it, the more I thought it’d make a great gift for my parents.
My parents got to take their tour this month, and Mr. Wonderful and I joined them.
If you haven’t taken a tour of your hometown, it’s an interesting experience. Here’s what I learned from our A Bite of Omaha tour:
- You won’t know where you’re going until your meet-up spot.
This one is hard for a control freak. But, it is a culinary adventure so just deal with it. Our meeting place was Chef2 Oils, Vinegars and More at Midtown Crossing. I’d heard of the place but have never been inside. If you have a foodie on a gift list, you’ll find a great present here.
- Holy GPS, Batman, there are great restaurants out west.
I knew this fact, actually, but lately, I’ve been a little lazy with exploring the city, and I’ve stuck close to Midtown and downtown. This tour took us to the far reaches of West Maple Road. If you go on a tour, it may be different than ours, but for the sake of this post, I need to share where we went: The West O restaurants were Salt 88, Zurlo’s Bistro Italiano and 7M Grill.
- You and your companion(s) won’t agree on which place is the best.
I’d been looking forward to visiting Salt 88 for a long time and I was not disappointed. We were served the ravioli artesa with buffalo mozzarella and I wanted to lick the plate.
My dad, however, seemed more pleased with what Zurlo’s served up – a fresh and light Tuscan salad with a couple calzone varieties.
- You’ll dine somewhere new to you.
Bold statement, but as a person who actively seeks out new places to eat, I had only been to one of the stops: Brix Midtown Crossing. One out of six. There’s a good chance you’ll be introduced to something new.
- You’ll eat something new.
You don’t get a choice of what to eat. You can make a note at your reservation that you’re a vegetarian or have a food allergy, but you still don’t get to order off a menu. Again, sorry control freaks.
- You might eat something not new.
While this was a culinary tour, we weren’t anything to make you squeamish. Most things your average Joe would probably eat with retching, but may not order it off a menu. Among the tamer foods would be the hummus at Chef2 – they showed us how to make it – and the charcuterie plate at Brix. Both good, but nothing new to me.
- You might get a little bored on the bus.
I’m not trying to dis our tour guide, he was darling. He had a script with interesting facts of our city and some trivia. But, there were long lapses of silence on our drive from 30th and Farnam to 129th and Maple (and on our way back). I checked Facebook. I browsed Instagram. I’ve been on tours in other cities where the tour guide would not shut up, they had so much to say about the city they clearly loved. I retained no details from those tours, but I was never bored.
- The dessert(s) will be better than whatever you would’ve ordered.
We had two desserts on our tour. First was the Sin-viche at 7M Grill. With five types of chocolate in it, I probably would’ve ordered it because I always order chocolate, but no one else in my party of four is that way. It was ridiculously good, by the way.
We also had cupcakes on the bus by Gina Sterns Pastries. Three decades of baking experience goes into these perfectly sized cupcakes.
- You can embarrass your loved one if you plan it right.
We sang “Happy Birthday” to a gentleman seated in front of me on the bus. Turns out, his daughter bought the tour tickets for the couple and noted at the reservation it was a birthday present. He got a little treat from Cordial Cherry, so any embarrassment suffered was soothed by chocolate.
- You’ll want to go back to at least one place.
I’m planning on a return to Salt 88 to enjoy that patio when the weather warms up.
I also want to return to 7M Grill because our tour guided hyped up the chef’s bold use of comfort food in unexpected ways. I didn’t really see that in the dessert we had, but after checking out the menu, I knew I’d like a real meal there.
- You’ll want to go on another tour.
Omaha Culinary Tours offers four shuttle tours and three walking tours. I’d love to go on another, because there are a lot of local gems out there I have yet to try.
It cost more than a dinner out but less than a dinner out to all the places we visited, so … I say I’d plan around a special occasion the next time.
This one was special, so it was totally worth it.
If you go
Omaha Culinary Tours
Chef2 Oils, Vinegars and More, 3157 Farnam St.
Salt 88, 3623 N. 129th St.
Zurlo’s Bistro Italiano, 13110 Birch Drive
7M Grill, 15805 W. Maple Road, suite 101
Brix Midtown Crossing, 220 S. 31st Ave., suite 3103
Gina Sterns Pastries, available at her website or Tasty Pastry, 5423 Leavenworth St.
Your turn: I love trying new restaurants so tell me your favorites in Omaha! If you have a recommended dish, please share it in the comments, too. Thanks!