July 14, 2019

15+ Quirky Restaurants in Omaha

I’ve written a lot about great Omaha restaurants and the best kid-friendly restaurants. Now it’s time to dive to look around Omaha and beyond and see what’s unique, what’s unusual in the Omaha dining scene. So here’s my list of the quirky restaurants in Omaha and nearby.

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Unique and quirky restaurants in Omaha and in nearby towns - This list includes restaurants with unique atmosphere and decor, peculiar menu items, or one-of-a-kind entertainment. #dining #guide #nebraska

This list is divided into sections. The first section covers restaurants that either have quirky atmosphere and decor or offer some unique form of keeping diners entertained. The second section features restaurants with weird or off-the-wall menu items.

Discover even more unique and quirky restaurants in the book “Unique Eats and Eateries of Omaha.” It’s written by two of my friends, Tim and Lisa Trudell (AKA, The Walking Tourists), and they’ve included and quite a few restaurants on this list, and several more. They provided several photos for this post, too.

Restaurants near Omaha with quirky entertainment or decor

Want a restaurant in Omaha that stands out from the crowd? Here are a few of Omaha’s most unique restaurants, from a chance to dine with monsters, raccoons and flashing boaters.

Quirky Omaha restaurants include Alpine Inn, where diners can watch raccoons through large windows as they pick at discarded chicken bones.
Photo courtesy Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau

Alpine Inn

Where: Northeast Omaha

Alpine Inn has been a family-run establishment for three generations. Appearing to look more like a bar than a restaurant, Alpine Inn proudly has one thing no one else in the area offers: Raccoons.

Your dining entertainment is watching raccoons and stray cats pick at discarded chicken bones. Don’t worry, they’re not indoors. You watch them through a window.

People are divided if the fried chicken served at Alpine Inn is good or not, though. The raccoons seems to like it.

One of the most unique places to dine in Omaha is Brother Sebastian's Steakhouse & Winery, where the theme is old California monastery.
Photo courtesy The Walking Tourists

Brother Sebastian’s Steakhouse & Winery

Where: Central Omaha

Ever just felt like dining in an old, California monastery? Haven’t we all? Brother Sebastian’s is one of Omaha’s oldest steakhouses and its atmosphere hasn’t changed much since the beginning.

It’s dimly lit and servers are dressed as monks. There’s stained glass windows and wine barrels in keeping with the monastery theme.

Put it all together and the effect is actually quite romantic.

Guaca Maya

Where: South Omaha

South Omaha is where you go for good Mexican food. Guaca Maya sets itself apart from other restaurants in South Omaha, though. I liken its dining room to a Mexican plaza…but an indoor plaza. It’s colorful, for sure.

I’m told there’s also someone making fresh, homemade tortillas right out in the open. I didn’t notice that when we visited, but I can see it fitting in there.

One of the oldest Omaha restaurants is Johnny's Cafe, with unique retro decor to check out.

Johnny’s Cafe

Where: South Omaha

Johnny’s Cafe has been around since 1922, making it one of Omaha’s oldest restaurants. The decor is the draw here – it’s so old school and retro. The massive front doors are just the start.

The lobby is fun to wander around, but really, it’s the dining room and bar area that steal the show (though, ladies, peek in the bathroom to see the funky tiles). The look of the place is so iconic, it served as a scene in Alexander Payne’s film, “About Schmidt.”

One caveat: The dining experience itself was pretty bad for my family. So, while the look is quirky, I must caution you that I’ve not returned since our last visit.

Monster Club is Omaha's only monster-themed restaurant.
Photo courtesy The Walking Tourists

Monster Club

Where: Old Market

One of the newest restaurants in the Old Market, The Monster Club is a horror movie-themed eatery. From the decor to what’s playing on the screen, there’s no mistaking the monster love.

It’s surprisingly kid-friendly (assuming your kids aren’t spooked by Hollywood monsters) – there’s a kid’s menu.

Photo courtesy The Walking Tourists

Surfside Club

Where: Northeast Omaha

I love Surfside Club but not for its food (it’s all fried…but the fritters are great). I love dining outdoors and this is one of the few places where you can sit with a view of the Missouri River. And it’s a festive kind of place.

However, the quirk of this place is what’s going on the river itself. People who go to the Surfside know that it’s pretty common to have boaters attempt to one-up each other entertaining the restaurant crowd. Usually that involves mooning the diners.

Wicked Rabbit

Where: Downtown Omaha

Part of the fun of the Wicked Rabbit is that you don’t know what to expect, other than, you know, there will be drinks there. Wicked Rabbit is a speakeasy and to get to it, you’ll need to use a secret passage hidden behind a wall in a small shop next to Hotel Deco.

The dimly lit, small bar is cozy and feels removed from the rest of the world.

Quirky honorable mentions

Quite a few Oh My! Omaha Facebook fans mentioned restaurants that had quirky decor, particularly those with with memorabilia or nostalgic decorations. Some of those mentioned include Lisa’s Radial Cafe, 11-Worth Cafe, Shirley’s Diner, Louie M’s Burger Lust, and Goldbergs In Dundee.

I’m particularly indebted to Louie M’s, since Lou helped me collect photos and stories for my book, “Lost Restaurants of Omaha.” The restaurant is a trove of particularly for interested in seeing photos of what Omaha’s Little Italy once looked like.

Restaurants with quirky menu items

eCreamery

Where: Midtown Omaha

This ice cream shop typically has an odd flavor or two on rotation (avocado ice cream, anyone?), but that’s pretty standard for ice cream shops. eCreamery is unique for having the Dundee Dozen ice cream challenge.

The Dundee Dozen is eating 12 scoops of ice cream, gelato or sorbet of your choice, then topped with 12 toppings of your choice and a bunch of whipped cream. If that sounds manageable, don’t forget that you have just 20 minutes to finish it on your own.

Unique restaurants and bars in Omaha - The Homy Inn is known for its unique offering on tap (four kinds of champagne).
Photo courtesy Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Homy Inn

Where: Midtown Omaha

Confession: The Homy Inn is pretty much just a bar (unless you want to count the peanuts served in a dog bowl). But The Homy, as we call it, is on this list because of what’s on tap.

Champagne. They have four kinds of champagne on tap. So, yeah, you can get a pitcher of champagne at The Homy Inn if you so choose.

A unique spot in Omaha, Laka Lono Rum Club is a tiki bar that has both the quirky atmosphere and the quirky menu items.

Laka Lono Rum Club

Where: Old Market

Confession No. 2: Laka Lono Rum Club is also a bar and not a quirky restaurant. I love a good tiki bar, and Laka Lono embodies tiki life to the fullest. It has the quirky atmosphere, complete with pufferfish lights (I mean, real pufferfish that have been tinkered into becoming lightbulbs).

But, the draw here is definitely the rum drinks and their unique presentation. Some will arrive at the table on fire.

Group drinks are available too. Four types of group cocktails are available, serving anywhere from 2-3 people to 10-11 people.

M’s Pub

Where: Old Market

Almost everything on the menu of this Old Market favorite is great, and not exactly what anyone would consider quirky. Everything, that is, except for the carrot dog.

The carrot dog is the M’s Pub veg alternative to the hot dog, and it’s what it sounds like. The “dog” is marinated and grilled, served on a whole wheat hoagie and topped with lettuce, tomato, relish, stone ground mustard and sauerkraut.

Quirky restaurant near Omaha - Round the Bend in Ashland, Nebraska, is home to the annual Testicle Festival
Photo courtesy RedThread

Round The Bend Steakhouse

Where: Ashland, Neb.

It looks like your typical Nebraska steakhouse, but Round The Bend Steakhouse serves more than a prime cut of beef. This restaurant is home to the Testicle Festival. Every Father’s Day weekend, the festival has live music, fireworks, ball eating contests, and well, just regular portions of fried testicles to eat.

If you can’t make the June event, the menu always has “Beef Fries” to order at any time. For the faint of heart, you can just order one… it’s called a Buck A Nut.

Stella's Bar & Grill is home to one of the craziest food challenges, The Stellanator. You have 45 minutes to eat a burger that six patties, six fried eggs, six pieces of cheese, 12 pieces of bacon, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, pickles, jalapeños, peanut butter, and a bun...plus fries.
Photo courtesy The Walking Tourists

Stella’s Bar & Grill

Where: Bellevue, Neb.

A regular contender for the best burger in Omaha on various lists (and some national ones), Stella’s has something no one else has: The Stellenator.

The Stellenator is a food challenge few can conquer. You have 45 minutes to eat a burger that six patties, six fried eggs, six pieces of cheese, 12 pieces of bacon, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, pickles, jalapeños, peanut butter, and a bun. Oh, and an order of french fries.

Learn about Omaha's most unique restaurants & bars - Plan a night out at one Omaha's most unique restaurants, including a monster-themed restaurant, a steakhouse that resembles a monastery, and a place where you can watch raccoons through the window while you dine.

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Comments

  1. I’ve been wanting to visit Omaha! Definitely adding a few of these to my restaurant list when I do!

  2. The Round the Bend Steakhouse is the only American restaurant I know of that serves bull testicles. Called “criadillas” here in Spain, testicles are typically grilled with a splash of oilve oil and some sliced garlic. With kidneys, honeycomb tripe and grilled pig snout, they are among my favorite “variety meats”.

    After the disappearance of the Bohemian Café, the French Café, the Gaslamp and several of the Italian places I knew and enjoyed in the 60s and 70s, it’s heartening to know that some of the good old good ones, such as Johnny’s Café and M’s Pub, are still cooking. My last visit to Johnny’s was limited to the visual and aural: i saw it in “About Schmidt”. (Alexander Payne, an Omaha wonder, won my admiration long ago with “Sideways”. I’ve seen all of his films that make it to the big screens in Madrid.)

    • I’d try almost any dish made in Spain – I spent a year there as a student. Can’t say that I tried criadillas there, though!

      As for the old school classic restaurants, there are a few still hanging in there.

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