Benson is a popular neighborhood in Omaha, Neb., having a fun vibe without much pretension. You’ll encounter a mix of ages depending on where you choose to dine, drink and/or hang out.
UPDATED: This post was first published in 2020 and has been updated in February 2022 to reflect closures.
I remember moving to the area 10 years ago, pregnant with my firstborn and not worrying about missing much while I sat at home and ate pickles and mac & cheese. And then, one year later, the neighborhood was cool. Like, everyone was going there, and great bars were opening, and breweries, and concert venues, and and and…and I had a baby so I felt like I was missing out.
These days, Benson has evolved into an eclectic neighborhood that’s welcoming to all, with unique nightspots, a stellar concert venue, and a few places that kids will love. I still don’t get to visit as much as I’d like to, but it is one of my go-to places with friends and for date nights. Here’s my guide to Benson.
Where is Benson in Omaha?
Most people refer to the stretch of Maple Street between 60th and 65th streets as Benson, but it actually extends a bit more each way (and extends north and south of Maple into neighborhoods). It’s considered a part of Midtown Omaha.
For the purpose of this blog post, I’m focusing on that busy stretch of Maple Street. It’s kinda what you’d call Benson’s downtown area.
Where to park it in Benson
Parking in Benson, as is the case in a few of Omaha’s popular neighborhoods, can be a bit of a headache. However, I’ve never NOT been able to park. Plus, parking is FREE. So relax. We can handle this.
The first parking lot to check is just south of 61st and Maple Street (on the southeast corner of the block). If that’s full, begin checking neighborhood streets south of Maple Street, as well as on-the-street parking along Maple Street.
Very few businesses have (tiny) parking lots, but they exist. Ted and Wally’s has a few spots, for instance.
Dining options – Benson restaurants
Breakfast, brunch, dinner, dessert. Whatever you want to eat, Benson has it. There are a lot of restaurants to run through so I’ll start with my favovrites and then share the rest.
Where: Star Deli, 6114 Military Ave.
Why: The sandwiches are crave-worthy. I don’t go often since my kids (weirdly) don’t like sandwiches.
Burrito Envy & Tequila Bar, 6113 Maple St., this is a comfy place for Mexican food.
Where: Virtuoso Pizzeria by David Losole, 6056 North Maple St.
Why: This casual pizza shop serves up delicious pie by the slice. It’s a quick option if you’re planning on going to a show and it’s low-key enough to want to hang out there with friends for a while.
1912 Benson, 6201 Maple St., casual hangout with burgers and great drinks, plus a nice rooftop bar
Bärchen Beer Garden, 6209 Maple St., pub grub with good German beers plus (as the name implies) they have a beer garden.
Danny’s Bar & Grill, 2007 N. 72nd St., this is a little ways from Maple Street but a solid choice for pub food. There’s also a kid’s menu.
Hartland Bar-B-Que, 5402 Northwest Radial Highway, this is a solid choice for take-out barbecue just east of the main strip of Maple Street. They have a “best of Omaha” award under their belt, too.
Where: Au Courant Regional Kitchen, 6064 Maple St.
Why: This cozy place purposely has European touches to it. I highly recommend splurging on the chef’s tasting menu. One warning about the menu, though: Creative bites are sometimes exactly that. Bites. If you’re a big eater, a tasting menu like this may not fully satisfy you.
Yoshitomo, 6009 Maple St., this sushi restaurant has a devoted following. I have no complaints about the food, and I found the menu to be creative. But for some inexplicable reason, it’s just never one I recommend to people.
Restaurant for dessert & treats
Where: Ted & Wally’s Ultra Premium Ice Cream, 6023 Maple St.
Why: This made-from-scratch ice cream is my favorite. The Benson location is Ted & Wally’s second location and I find that it’s also the one with the least amount of wait no matter the season. Same ice cream, less wait. Score!
Baked After Dark, 6103 Maple St., satisfy your sweet tooth with this late-night cookie shop.
Hardy Coffee Co., 6051 Maple St., a coffee shop that often has irresistible baked goods.
Benson restaurants I’ve yet to try
So, I haven’t eaten at every restaurant in Benson (shocking, I know). So the following restaurants I can’t quite tell you whether or not they’re great choices. Yet.
Ika Ramen and Izakaya, 6109 Maple St.
Jojo’s Diner, 6118 Military Ave., word is this new diner is a good place to go for breakfast.
Mantra Bar & Grille, 6913 Maple St.
Mayne St. Market, 6207 Maple St.
TACO CO., 6108 Maple St.
Taqueria Chingon, 6324 Maple St.
Cheers! Bars & breweries in Benson
It’s easy to bar hop in Benson, since there are a lot of unique places in one compact strip of Maple Street.
Where: Krug Park, 6205 Maple St.
Why: This is a great bar housed in a restored 1908 building. The craft beer and cocktail selection are superb, and usually, the music is perfection.
If you’re eager to try local beers, head to either The Benson Brewery or Infusion Brewing Co. The Benson Brewery has the bonus addition of serving up good pub food, too. The Benson Brewery, 6059 Maple St., and Infusion, 6115 Maple St.
Barley Street Tavern, 2735 N. 62nd St., go here for live music and a neighborly, convivial atmosphere.
Burke’s Pub, 6117 Maple St., it’s got the neighborhood bar feel to it.
Bars that I just haven’t been to yet
Flavas Margarita Lounge, 6052 Maple St.
Jake’s Cigars & Spirits, 6206 Maple St.
Kaitei, 6109 1/3 Maple St., look for this hidden little Japanese bar below Ika Ramen.
Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave.
St. Andrews Pub, 6102 Maple St.
The Sydney, 5918 Maple St., it’s been so long, I don’t know if I can tell you what The Sydney is like. I do recall it has good acoustics if you can catch a live show there.
Things to do in Benson with friends
Benson is a grown-up’s playground. There are several things to do for nights out with friends or for dates. But first, let’s talk about daytime.
There isn’t an abundance of shops and galleries in Benson (yet), but there are some worthy stops. For thrifty clothes, head to Daisy Jones’ Locker and Lion’s Mane Vintage. For chic home decor, check out Found Vintage Market.
There’s also a lingerie store right on the main street of Benson with window displays that nearly always makes me giggle uncomfortably like a 12-year-old.
For daytime and nighttime, a fun place to go is the Beercade at 6104 Maple St. It’s a classic arcade disguised as a really good craft beer bar. You can play pinball or challenge your friends to the likes of “Mortal Kombat.” You don’t have to have a drink in your hand to play.
If shuffleboard is your thing, head to Musette Bar. This dive bar is not really my scene, and I’ve only been there once. Bring cash.
I’m most likely, though, going to be headed to a concert at The Waiting Room Lounge if I’m in Benson at night. There are some fantastic tours that pass by this venue, as well as popular local vands. And, if craft beer is a priority, this concert venue has a fantastic selection on tap.
New to the scene, is Omaha Virtual Reality, a virtual gaming place I’ve yet to visit. It sounds like a fun place to go with friends.
Things to do with kids in Benson
Arguably, Benson is more fun for grown-ups. However, we’ve found many reasons to head to the neighborhood with the kiddos over the years.
When the weather is nice, we’re at Benson Park, 7028 Military Ave. The playground is huge and there’s a great splash park there. There’s a short, paved trail around the lake. It’s where my kids learned to ride their bikes. Even though it gets a tad crowded, it’s one of our favorite Omaha parks.
And when it’s not so nice outside, we tend to spend time at the Omaha Public Library Benson branch, 6015 Binney St., which has a pretty solid kid’s section. They’re known for their annual event with several storybook characters that’s free and really adorable.
The Benson Community Center is also a good spot, though, to be honest, we’ve only ever been in there for the Halloween party.
Which reminds me, Benson businesses LOVE trick-or-treaters and there’s an afternoon each October set aside for kids to stop by stores and get goodies.
If you’re wondering which Benson restaurants are the best for families, the ones that are my family’s favorites include Ted and Wally’s, Leo’s Diner, and Virtuoso.
Events in Benson
Benson’s annual and seasonal events are more in the spirit of neighborhood celebrations, though a few can and do draw large crowds.
Benson First Friday is a free monthly art event in Benson. You can venture into pop-up galleries in businesses and see (and purchase) art by local artists. It’s pretty casual and you’ll likely meet all of the artists.
Benson Days is held in July each year. It’s a neighborhood celebration held on a single day, though the name Days has stuck. There’s typically a parade, live music and other family-friendly activities. There’s also a 5K fun run planned near or on Benson Days.
Benson Boo Bash is held on a Saturday in October and consists of trick-or-treating at various businesses as well activities as at the community center.