Omaha Food Trucks – An Introduction

Editor’s note: My friends, Lisa and Tim, over at The Walking Tourists wrote today’s guest post. What started out as a short conversation about food trucks in Omaha led to their quest to try every Omaha food truck! It’s a work-in-progress, so below is just a sampling of what’s in our city. Follow The Walking Tourists if you want to get updates on this food truck quest.

Food Truck Collage

My wife has a fascination with food trucks. We don’t really know why. She always wants to eat from a food truck when we travel to other cities.

A couple of years ago in Los Angeles, we saw a food truck shortly after our arrival. We planned to dine at one for lunch during the week we were there. We didn’t see another one at all. I’m sure we could have researched online and found a spot. But, I guess we didn’t think it was that big of a deal.

We actually ate at our first food truck in Omaha. Localmotive was located downtown during the Farmer’s Market one weekend. While it was food from a truck, it didn’t count as food truck dining to her because it wasn’t an out of town truck.

She got her wish last summer while we were in Milwaukee. Food trucks there meet up at a business office complex near downtown once a week. We researched it and managed to get Lisa her food truck lunch out of town.

Since then, it seems there’s been a food truck explosion in the United States (not due to my wife wanting to eat at them).

The trend has found its way to Omaha.

At last count, we believe there are 15-20 food trucks that do regular business around the city. Trucks are even rotating days at the new food truck “plaza” at 11th and Nicholas streets, just north of the TD Ameritrade baseball stadium. It’s a couple of blocks from the Hot Shops art center in North Downtown (NoDo).

Cuisines are as varied as the names – from Taste of New Orleans’ Cajun menu to 402BBQ’s barbecue. Each mobile kitchen has its menu specialties.

We checked out a few of the trucks in Omaha.

Taste of New Orleans

Lisa with Chef Lee and his Taste of New Orleans food truck.
Lisa with Chef Lee and his Taste of New Orleans food truck.

Taste of New Orleans offers Cajun food on its menu. The truck has been in operation since last July.

Chef Lee moved to the Omaha following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. His brother was stationed here in the military. His mother actually came to Omaha before him, but left. She didn’t care for the winters. Understandable after she broke her ankle twice on ice.

Chef stayed. He’s grown to enjoy living in Omaha over the past several years.

His take on Cajun food can usually be found in the parking lot at Canfield’s sporting goods store, near 84th and Center.

Taste of New Orleans offers daily specials – with Cajun strongholds red beans and rice and jambalaya on the menu.
Taste of New Orleans offers daily specials – with Cajun strongholds red beans and rice and jambalaya on the menu.

Taste of New Orleans offers daily specials – with Cajun strongholds red beans and rice and jambalaya on the menu. Other daily specials include shrimp creole, chicken and sausage Etouffe, po boys, boudin balls, gumbo and catfish.

Jambalaya, anyone?
Jambalaya, anyone?

Why a food truck?

“It allows for low overhead and cheaper way to get started,” Chef Lee said. “It gets your feet into the industry.”

Chef Lee has a long history with food, starting at about age 10, when he helped his mother cook. Eventually, he attended Holmes Community College in Mississippi to study culinary arts.

His long-term plan is add two to three more trucks.

Taste of New Orleans can usually be found in the parking lot at Canfield’s sporting goods store, near 84th and Center.
Taste of New Orleans can usually be found in the parking lot at Canfield’s sporting goods store, near 84th and Center.

Eventually, he’d love to have a sports bar with a New Orleans theme.

For more information on Taste of New Orleans, check out their Facebook page – A Taste of New Orleans4Omaha.

Scotty’s Go-Go Grill

Scotty’s Go-Go Grill is based out of Omaha’s storied Benson neighborhood.

Scotty's Go-Go food trucks sets up business daily, rotating between the DTN building on Dodge Street and the food truck park in NoDo.
Scotty’s Go-Go Grill food trucks sets up business daily, rotating between the DTN building on Dodge Street and the food truck park in NoDo.

Scotty sets up business daily, rotating between the DTN building along Dodge Street and the food truck park in NoDo.

Scotty’s serves a solid variety of burgers and other sandwiches. The Barnyard Burger is a favorite among diners at the truck.

Scotty’s may be known more for his dessert - aebelskivers (Danish pancakes). His latest endeavor is a salted caramel aebelskiver. They’re balls of dough that are quite tasty.
Scotty’s may be known more for his dessert – aebelskivers (Danish pancakes). His latest endeavor is a salted caramel aebelskiver.

Scotty’s may be known more for his dessert – aebelskivers (Danish pancakes). His latest endeavor is a salted caramel aebelskiver. They’re balls of dough that are quite tasty.

Lisa and her uncle enjoyed lunch at Scotty’s. Lisa had a Brie and apple grilled cheese sandwich, which she described as cheesy in the best of definitions. Her uncle enjoyed a chicken-bacon ranch wrap with parmesan fries. His lunch was also tasty.

Lunch by Scotty's Go-Go food truck in Omaha.
Lunch by Scotty’s Go-Go Grill food truck in Omaha.

Scotty has been in the food truck business for a little more than a year, starting in April 2013. He has made a great reputation in that short time. His enthusiasm and love of the industry have played a big role.

A year ago, there didn’t seem to be a lot of interest in having a food truck in Omaha, so he was ahead of the game.

With the growth of the industry since then, he doesn’t see other trucks as competitors, but rather as a food truck “family.” He will even give shout outs and recommendations to the other food truck operators on social media.

Scotty’s long-term goal is to have a food truck empire. If his success now is any indication, we may be seeing the early days of the empire.

For more information on Scotty’s Go-Go Grill, check out their Facebook page – facebook.com/Scotty’s Go-Go Grill.

402BBQ

Our last food truck to visit on this journey is 402BBQ.

402BBQ only started service in March 2014 and already they have a following.
402BBQ only started service in March 2014 and already they have a following.

We met them at the Lucky Bucket brewery in Sarpy County. They have a permanent base in Benson, but also rotate a spot at the food truck park.

Husband and wife team Kelly and Todd started the truck in March. Despite being in business for a few months, they have gained a following.

They focus on providing excellent sauces for the menu options – beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage and barbecue chicken.

The sauces range from sweet to hot.

The sweet bourbon sauce has a nice sweet taste to it. It’s not overpowering or underperforming. It’s the right mix of ingredients for a sweet, tangy taste.

The Big Red (because they are in Nebraska, you know) has a medium heat. It, too, has a nice taste to it.

The hot sauce is ghost-pepper infused.

They have an Alabama-based white sauce. It is based on southern recipes, using mayonnaise as an ingredient. Trust me, it’s good!

Todd has been involved with BBQing for years. His father taught him the art.

The couple has worked in the food industry previously. While they weren’t in the food industry at the time, they decided they should have their own business. While a brick and mortar restaurant would be the dream, a food truck can get a business going quicker. They opted for a food truck.

402BBQ food truck focuses on providing excellent sauces for the menu options – beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage and barbecue chicken. The sauces range from sweet to hot.
402BBQ food truck focuses on providing excellent sauces for the menu options – beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage and barbecue chicken.
The sauces range from sweet to hot.

For more information on 402BBQ, check out the website.

While we have only looked at three food trucks in the Omaha area, there are so many more; each with its own story and unique take on menus. Wherever you live, give food trucks a try for lunch or dinner. You’ll enjoy a good meal and support a truly small business.

Dine well!

 

 – Tim and Lisa love traveling – locally, regionally, nationally and internationally (not as often as they would like). They originally started The Walking Tourists to share their experiences with friends and family. Whether it’s across the world or in their own backyard in Omaha, Nebraska, they love to explore the sites and experiences all around us. Check out more of Lisa and Tim’s travels at The Walking Tourists!

 

Date Night Alert: Tequila Dinner at Cantina Laredo

I’m giving you all an early heads up on a tequila dinner at Cantina Laredo on June 13 featuring Don Julio Tequilas. Because I love you, and you really ought to try the Mango Tequila Mojito they’ll be serving at it.

I was lucky enough to sample the entire menu recently with a group of bloggers who had way bigger cameras than me. Ah, to dine with food bloggers.

tequila Collage 2

Let me tell you about the four-course meal.

It starts out with a cocktail hour. We were given three tequilas to taste: Blanco, Reposado and Anejo. Tequila aficionados will go straight for the anejo, aged 18 months. Follow their lead, this is the smooth stuff.

First course

Crab Avocado Chalupas paired with a Cosmolito.

This appetizer has a nice spicy kick to it, with mango and mint standing out among the flavors. The punch of the Cosmolito held up nicely to it (but it wasn’t my favorite drink of the night).

Second course

Cranberry Pecan Salad paired with Mango Tequila Mojito. Here’s when the dinner got real good.

I may have been the first person to finish this drink. It's not a contest. But, I win.
I may have been the first person to finish this drink. It’s not a contest. But, I win.

I could drink five of these mojitos. The summery salad was quite nice, but really, the mojito wins this round.

Entree

Choice of Sea Bass Oscar or Lamb Chops with Pistachio Pipian paired with Tengo Calor Margarita.

That's a crab cake on top of the sea bass. This dish made me happy.
That’s a crab cake on top of the sea bass. This dish made me happy.

I went with the Sea Bass Oscar and ay dios mio, I’m glad I did. That buttery goodness you’re tasting poured over the fish? It’s a jalapeño beurre blanc. The sea bass was served over cilantro lime rice with a side of asparagus. This entree wins the night. I almost licked the plate.

The margarita has a cayenne pepper kick to it, which was a nice twist to the usual drink.

A margarita with a kick.
A margarita with a kick.

You’ll like it.

Dessert

Sorbet Trio paired with Hot Summer Never Ending (and coffee if you need it). This was a lovely and light way to end a meal. You get mango, raspberry and lemon.

The sorbet trio.
The sorbet trio.

Try the mango. Just do it. The drink is a cocktail that screams summer muddling cucumber, watermelon and jalapeño with tequila, triple sec and lime juice. This wasn’t my favorite, and I found myself eyeing my neighbor’s unfinished mojito.

Más información, you say?

Don Julio Tequila Dinner

Where: Cantina Laredo at Midtown Crossing

When: Friday, June 13, 2014. Cocktail service at 7 p.m., four-course dinner at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $49.99 per person

Reservations: Call 402-345-6000. Gluten-free and vegetarian options are available, just request what you need when you make the reservation.

Disclosure: My Don Julio tequila dinner was complimentary of Cantina Laredo at Midtown Crossing. All opinions expressed are mine. A special thank you to Cantina Laredo, Midtown Crossing and Danielle at Martinis and Minivans for inviting me.

Fall Foods In Omaha Restaurants

Fall in Omaha: Football games, changing leaves, shorter days. And pumpkin-flavored food. And pumpkin-flavored drinks.

I had a pumpkin spiced latte the other day from Scooters and I nearly whispered to it, “Where have you been all year?”

UPDATE: This post was updated in June 2020 to reflect the closure of Crane Coffee.

Here are some restaurants in Omaha and Council Bluffs that have my favorite fall foods (and drinks, yes please!):

Beertopia/Crescent Moon

oktoberfest-2013-lrg

Want to get on my good side? Buy me a six-pack of an imported Okotberfest beer. It’s my favorite and it’s only available in the fall. The corner of 36th and Farnam streets is Beer Corner USA, and this is is the place to find the biggest variety. You’ll find many on tap at Crescent Moon, Huber-Haus and Max & Joe’s, or you can head next door to Beertopia and buy some retail. You can join a few hundred of your closest friends and celebrate Oktoberfest and good beer this Friday and Saturday, actually.

Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard

You experience something transcendent when you dig into a slab of fried apple pie at Ditmars in Council Bluffs. I was pregnant when I first tried it, so it could have been the bump talking, but I was in heaven eating this utterly unhealthy treat.

Jones Bros. Cupcakes

Jones-Bros.-Cupcakes1

Ah, the cupcake. So many flavors, so little time. I asked the good folks at Jones Bros. what their most popular fall flavor was and they couldn’t narrow it down. I don’t blame them, how can you pick from this list: Caramel Apples, Pumpkin Cheesecakes, Caramel Apple cupcakes, Smores Cupcakes, Pumpkin Pie cupcake…

They also make an assortment of hot drinks including Spicy Chai, Hot Chocolate Truffle, and Pumpkin Latte. I have a lot of sweet stuff on this list, so I’m also to note Jones Bros. has a few comfort foods that remind me of fall too, such as pumpkin soup and pot pies (for you traditional meat eaters, Stephanie at Jones Bros. pointed out they serve meatload sandwiches).

Discover many more ways to enjoy Fall in Omaha by visiting these other great local blogs!

Yellow Mango LifeThe best places for a fall run and fall fun runs in Omaha

Coolest Mommy’s Coolest ThoughtsIncorporating Fall into your family activities … making memories during Fall

Liv, Laugh, LoveApple Jack Festival

The Walking TouristsVala’s Pumpkin Patch offers fun for all ages

Family Fun in OmahaFREE Fall Family Activities in Omaha

Bolton Carley’s BlogWhat’s your favorite season? quiz

LPO Beauty – Changing Up Your Look for Fall

Where To Go After The Show For Treats In Omaha

Restaurants in Omaha - Family walking to Ted and Wally's in the Old Market

Back when I was a reviewer for a newspaper and a cool aunt (perhaps self-described), I’d take my nieces to the performance and then them to a post-show treat. Usually ice cream, though, twice little Gracie and I went from The Rose down to Taste of Omaha for funnel cake and fireworks (Tip: The Rose’s season closer usually lines up with Taste of Omaha’s opening weekend). Now that my kids are starting to be fun theater companions, we’re starting to find favorites with them (things haven’t changed much, we go to the same places my nieces liked years ago).

Do you have favorites your family often goes to after a play, concert or other event? Here’s where I’ve gone with kids after concerts and theater performances for post-show treats in Omaha:

Ted & Wally’s

You can find Ted & Wally's at 1120 Jackson St. in the Old Market of Omaha.
You can find Ted & Wally’s at 1120 Jackson St. in the Old Market of Omaha.

The gold standard of treats in the Old Market, the ice cream here is incomparable. Summers, expect a line, but at least it gives you time to read the available flavors on the chalkboard. Feeling adventurous? You can ask to sample an odd-sounding flavor first (they share their flavors each day on Facebook). Ted & Wally’s is good to consider after a show at The Rose, The Orpheum Theater and the Holland Center (also if you saw a show at The Bluebarn, though, you’re not likely bringing your kids to any shows there!).

Cold Stone Creamery

I’ve escaped the Old Market hustle with kiddos by heading to Midtown Crossing and visiting this chain. It’s tasty and unlikely to have a long wait.

Delice

Also at Midtown Crossing is Delice. Pastries to die for. Do not waste sharing any yumminess with unappreciative toddlers.

eCreamery

Not far from the Omaha Community Playhouse is the Dundee frozen treat oasis at 50th and Underwood streets. You can sample the crazy ice cream or gelato flavors here before committing. We stopped here on the way home from taking Farley to his first concert – an afternoon performance by Dan Zanes. If you happen to go to a rare Tuesday night performance (like the Omaha Performing Arts’ National Geographic Live Speaker Series in 2014), you can head to eCreamery for $2 Tuesday tastiness. Click here to find out what today’s flavors are.

What are your favorite post-show treat stops? Is your kid’s favorite different from yours?

Healthy Food At The Omaha Zoo

I love Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. I could spend all day there. My kids could spend all day there. We don’t, that’d be beyond tiring with young children, but you see where I’m going with this? The zoo is all-day fun.

Picnics at the zoo in Omaha are always popular - as seen here "dining" with the family on the grass back in 2011 - but the health nuts and veg lovers out there have options, if you choose to purchase food there.
Picnics at the zoo in Omaha are always popular – as seen here “dining” with the family on the grass back in 2011 – but the health nuts and veg lovers out there have options, if you choose to purchase food there.

So you’re going to get hungry there. If calories and gluten and fat are welcome in your diet, you’re going to enjoy yourself. If you have a special diet – say vegetarian or low-fat – you’ll be limited on choices, but you will have choices.

Healthy food options at the Omaha zoo

1. Best bet: The Durham Tree Top Cafe located in the Lied Jungle building. It’s my favorite place anyway, since it’s has a wall of windows overlooking the indoor rainforest. It also gives you the most options for healthy food. Salads and wraps being the best, though vegetarians (and kids at heart) can also get grilled cheese.

I checked with the zoo, and they too agree that the Durham Tree Top Cafe offers the most selection.

“Our Treetop restaurant offers the most variety with the following: Tossed salads, a vegetarian spring mix salad, a spinach and wild berries salad, and and veggie wraps,” Dawn Patterson, Food & Beverage Manager, wrote to me in an email. “We also offer an oriental chicken salad, blue cheese steak salad, turkey cobb, chef (and) grilled chicken salad. We also offer a grilled chicken sandwich and turkey wraps.”

2. Food stands: You’ll find very limited “meal” options, few are going to please your nutritionist. Patterson pointed out several locations with healthier alternatives in food, though. “Our Qwest and Silverback concession stands offer turkey wrap, chef salads and tossed salads,” she said. “We have a quick stop portable open weekends only in our Hubbard Gorilla Valley Lookout that offers the same as well during our summer months. Gluten Free is becoming a big part of everyday menus and we are working on a few options other than what we have right now.”

Vegetarian options

1. Food stands – Your options will be limited all over the zoo. At most other stands, your choice is limited to one or two of these: Fries, popcorn, cookies and maybe peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As Patterson pointed out, you can find salads at the Qwest and Silverback concession stands, too.

Vegetarian meals are not abundant, but food options are available if you plan well.
Vegetarian meals are not abundant, but food options are available if you plan well.

2. Desserts around the zoo are, as you might expect, also options. You’ll find frozen malts, soft serve ice cream, chocolate frozen bananas and sno cones, for example.

 The zoo has its own rundown here.

What do I eat when we’re there? If we dine at the Tree Top Cafe, I usually get a veggie wrap. The food stands are extremely limiting for me. I usually end up noshing on fries; not a meal, does fries make. I’m happiest when we bring a picnic. If you’re coming in from out of town and don’t have that kind of option, there’s a Jimmy John’s near the zoo (gluten-free option: the unwich) as well as a gas station with some snack choices.

There is more healthy options to come, according to Patterson. “We are looking at adding a veggie burger for 2014 along with a possible fish option.”

Kid-Friendly Breakfast Restaurants In Omaha

A friend of mine recently asked me for suggestions on breakfast and brunch restaurants in Omaha that had healthy food (possibly featured organic food), and most importantly, kid-friendly. Her question inspired this post on kid-friendly Omaha restaurants that serve great breakfast foods that kids will eat.

Updates: This post was first written in 2013 and updated in December 2019 with restaurant closures.

Farley is in heaven. A pancake bigger than his head, courtesy of Leo's Diner in Benson.
Farley is in heaven. A pancake bigger than his head at Leo’s Diner in Benson.

Since this post first published, I’ve had A LOT of feedback on what was missing. So, it has been updated with new restaurants and new-to-me restaurants. And I’ll admit, we mainly frequent breakfast spots that offer heaping pancakes because of this kid. Seriously, this family knows pancakes.

Of course, if kid-friendly is not a requirement, you’ll want to jump over this post to read about these 19 Great Places To Get Breakfast In Omaha.

Kid-friendly breakfast restaurants in Omaha

Bailey’s

There is an abundance of temptations on the menu. Their claim to fame is the egg benedict (six to choose from). You can still customize your order for a more nutritious meal if you want.

Leo’s Diner

This Benson staple is in no way going to give you health food – check out the well-known “islands” served there. If that’s how you like it, definitely visit this diner.

The staff is friendly, the pancakes are my son’s favorite and Rotella bread they serve with breakfast is mighty tasty. One downside to Leo’s is that I’ve never liked the coffee there.

Parents of infants, please note: No changing table.

Breakfast pancake at Lisa's Radial Cafe in Omaha

Lisa’s Radial Cafe

A midtown staple where you can expect to wait on the weekends. Expect huge portions for not much money. Seating leaves little room in the aisle, so chasing speedy little ones can be tough.

Parents of infants, please note: No changing table.

Over Easy

I knew I had to go to this West O eatery as soon as I read about their homemade Nutella pop tarts. Turns out the strawberry pop tarts are just as tasty.

The kids weren’t thrilled with their creative takes on old standbys like pancakes and oatmeal, but I enjoyed my meal. I’d go for the pop tarts alone. And the atmosphere is charming.

Bonus: This place has a drive-thru.

Le Peep

A lovely national chain restaurant with a few locations in Omaha, Le Peep was also recommended by Katie at Yellow Mango Life long ago and I just now got around to adding it (sorry!).

I love the fresh fruit included in a lot of meals. Their site said they were voted best for breakfast in Omaha, so how ’bout that?

Farmhouse Café

When my mom gets to pick a breakfast spot for the whole family to meet at, quite often, Farmhouse is suggested. They can handle our large group, plus they offer delicious (and huge) portions.

Sweet tooth? Try the pecan roll. Reader Erica reminded me via Facebook of this spot that I neglected to include earlier.

Vidlaks Brookside Café

This West Omaha diner was reader Missy’s suggestion on Facebook. I’ve been there once and all I remember is yummy bacon (but isn’t that enough?).

It’s highly ranked on foodie sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon, so there you go.

Waffle at Saddle Creek Breakfast Club in Midtown Omaha

Saddle Creek Breakfast Club

SCBC, as it’s easier to say, is the new darling on the restaurant scene of Omaha. Housed in a small building means there will be a wait to be seated – so get there early to avoid temper tantrums (yours or your kid’s). Still, it’s a vegan-friendly, kid-welcoming restaurant if you can nab a seat.

11worth Café

Reader Erica suggested 11worth Café and it totally brought me back to my 20s. Ah, now this place is an Omaha staple with a lot of character. Kids will not tire of taking in the scenery here.

Each time that we’ve gone, they’ve given the kids a balloon, which has made my kids fans.

Kitchen Table

Kitchen Table was suggested by reader Katie, who recommended it for its locally-sourced ingredients and kid-friendly items on the menu. Check it out here.

I was all set to go here with my parents and kids one morning when my mom had a change of heart. We’ll make it there one of these days!

Early Bird

Early Bird is one of the newer restaurants in the trendy Blackstone District. I haven’t been there, but I’ve heard it’s kid-friendly. In fact, it’s on the list of Billy McGuigan’s favorite places to dine with his family, and I love every other place on the list, so I say, it must be good.

Plus, any place that puts cereal in pancakes or serves a donut sandwich (made with Bob’s Donuts, no less), is going to appeal to families.

Notable chains:

First Watch – While this is, indeed, a chain restaurant , we’re no strangers to it. Creative and seasonal food, healthy options and kid-friendly staff make this a favorite with my family and in-laws.

Alissa over at Planet of the Apels recommended adding this to the list, and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s a great spot for families (plus – free coffee while you wait).

Jason’s Deli – We love this place for dinner, but you can get here around brunch time and enjoy their offerings. I love the salad bar, as well as many of their vegetarian offerings; the kids dig the mac n cheese, surprise surprise. Want to know more about its healthy and organic offerings?

Check out the Food Babe’s investigation, who pointed out that they are the first major restaurant chain to eliminate transfat and high fructose corn syrup, and about 20% of Jason’s Deli menu is organic (plus they also do not use any artificial colors).

We try to offer the kids healthy food options while we're eating out, but Mooch still wanted half her brother's mac n cheese at Jason's Deli. The nickname suits her well.

 

Looking for donuts in Omaha? 

Sure you are. Check out this post for The Best Donuts In Omaha. If you’re up for a drive, there are a few donut shops near Omaha on this Nebraska Donut Trail list.

Looking for an Omaha restaurant for breakfast or brunch? Omaha locals share their favorite breakfast spots that are also family-friendly. #Omaha #Nebraska #restaurants #Midwest #brunch #breakfast #pancakes
Family-friendly restaurants in Omaha to try for breakfast

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