54 Essential Restaurants In Omaha Nebraska To Try At Least Once
Omaha is a city that loves food. There are a lot of great, locally-owned restaurants producing creative dishes. If you’re short on time and wondering what the best restaurants in Omaha are, you’re in luck. I’ve already sought out the answer.
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2023 UPDATE: This post was first published in January 2018 and has been updated in October 2023 following the announcements of restaurant closures. If you see an error, please comment or email me.
Block 16 is probably the most popular casual restaurant in Omaha. There’s a reason why there’s nearly always a line at Block 16. It’s that good.
I’m partial to the Croque Carcon burger, and not just because Alton Brown deemed it one of the best in the world (though, I do feel like his opinion means something). It's messy, so grab extra napkins.
Dante is my go-to recommendation for great Italian in West Omaha. Ingredients are as local as possible and seasonal, and poritons are just right. It's nice enough for a date nice but won't drain your checking account.
The thing about Fincky Frank's is that they are so sincere about sourcing local ingredients that they can go as far as tell you who the farmer is that delivered the eggs and when he collected them. It's that local.
The burgers, incidentally, are pretty darn good though they are surprisingly left off a lot of best of lists.
A surprise hit with my family, this restaurant tucked in a strip mall north of Blondo Street is a gem of a restaurant. Chaikhana specializes in eastern European cuisine, and as close as you’re going to get to Russian food in Omaha.
Omaha has become known for its steaks, but we do venture away from meat from time to time. Modern Love is a swanky vegan restaurant at Midtown Crossing that is top notch, and will impress even the biggest meat eater in your group. It's chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz's first restaurant (her second is in Brooklyn).
It’s seasonally-based, so what you should order will depend on the time of year. I'm a comfort-food kind of eater, so I'll vouch for their version of mac and "cheese."
La Casa is not for everybody, because of thin crust, but they are a legend in Omaha. And I love them exactly for that crust. My top choice is. hands down, their Margherita. It doesn't hold up as well if you get it to-go, so I recommend dining in.
They serve other things but I honestly have never ordered anything else. it's Margherita all day, every day.
Dinker’s is a bit of a hole in the wall, but don’t be scared off by the exterior. It’s a popular burger place in Omaha and has been around for more than 50 years. Many will argue they serve the best burgers in the city.
If you want meal that will impress your guests, The Boiler Room is the place. I've been there once -- to celebrate publishing my first book -- just so you have an idea of the kind of occasion this place calls for.
To say dishes here are exquisitely crafted would be an understatement. And of course, the wine list is incredible.
I haven't found an Indian restaurant in Omaha I haven't liked, yet, but there's only one that we've gone back to more than once. And that one's Kinaara. The chef at Kinaara specializes in Biryani and South Indian dishes.
The most bang for your buck, so to speak, is at Sage Student Bistro. It's up-scale food at a super affordable price. The secret? Sage is a Metro Community College classroom where chefs-in-training prepare the dishes and work the front of house. The menu changes seasonally, and is only open when students are in session.
Having dined here for a regular dinner as well as pairing dinners, I've never been disappointed. In fact, I felt like the quality of the meal was a steal.
There's not much to the menu at Amsterdam, and that's totally OK. It's all delish. You get your choice protein (falafel or doner kebab), choice of sandwich or not, and choice of sauce. And add the curry fries. Always add the curry fries to your order.
620 N. 50th St., Omaha, Neb. (OG)
10000 California St. inside Flagship Commons Food Hall, Omaha, Neb.
Twisted Cork is one of those not-so-showy places that quietly blows you away with its entrees. The owners are from Seattle and they bring an appreciation for Pacific Northwest dining and wines to Omaha. It's a low-key bistro that's perfect for a low-key date night.
They own another favorite of mine, Pacific Eating House.
M's Pub is an Old Market establishment that's been around for ages. It came close to closing for good following a devastating fire, but it returned and is as good as ever. It's fine casual dining for lunch and a charming date night spot witthout being too stuffy. Get the lovash if you can't decide on what to order.
Brazen Head is often associated witth live Irish music and a rockin' St. Parick's Day celebration. But don't miss out on their menu - it's comfort food with an Irish flair. From boxties to bangers & mash, it's hearty fare, for sure.
Dreamy homemade ice cream from a rotating menu of flavors, Ted & Wally's is my family's go-to for a treat. I can't resist their plain ol' chocolate, but I usually at least pair it with one of the odder flavors of the day. I think they've made nearly 3,000 cominaitons so far.
One of the newer restaurants on the list, Good Lookin' is the breakfast spot the Dundee neighborhood needed. The menu is a creative one, with plenty of options for the foodie in all of us. And booze...they have booze.
I love La Buvette almost as much for the charming atmosphere as the excellent wine list. It's about as close as we get to European cafes here. Order a charcutterie board and prepare to while away the hours.
Tip: The outdoor seating is a prime spot for Old Market people watching.
If you’re in the mood for sushi, there’s a city-wide debate on who does it best. Yoshitomo in the Benson neighborhood is one of the best, though. The upscale Japanese restaurant gets creative with its dishes, so if you don't know what to order, go with the tasting menu.
6011 Maple St., Omaha, Neb.
UPDATE: The owner of Yoshitomo opened another sushi restaurant, Koji, in 2022.
For burritos (or bowls or tacos) like no other, take a look at Burrito Envy's menu. I usually sitck with a classic like slow-cooked carnitas, but if you want something bolder, there's a Koreon burrito I hear is amazing.
The metro's best Korean barbecue is at Korea Garden. If you're not sue what to try, you can't go wrong with any bulgogi entree. I ilked the beef bulgogi, which was accompanied with various pickled dishes.
Any place that focuses solely on my favorite meal of the day, is a good one in my book. Early Bird is a strictly breakfast and brunch spot, with belly-filling dishes like pancakes topped with cereal and the tastiest hash holes ever.
Now with four locations, it’s easier than ever to get the best Thai food in Omaha. My notoriously picky kids will not complain here. Try not to overstate your spice level tolerance because they do go big here.
So at my old job, once a year a vendor would send the marketing department a Lithuanian Napoleon torte and the whole office would rejoice. It was Torte Day. I'm not even exaggerating - we reallly were super excited for this torte. I can't overstate it enough: Lithuanian torte is divine.
If you head Lithuanian Bakery & Cafe, you can eat a suitable lunch, but take my word for it, save room for a slice of that torte. Specifically, you want to get the original torte with vanilla apricot filling.
SCBC is the little hip diner that could. Right out of the gate, they had a legion of fans, and the wait for their scruptious food was long. But, there were some struggles, and it looked like SCBC would be no more.
Luckily, this little restaurant rebounded, and now is growing and adding a second location soon!
1540 N. Saddle Creek Road, Omaha, Neb. (OG)
Second location is slated to open at Countryside Village, 87th and Pacific streets, Omaha, Neb.
Omaha has lost just about all of our greasy spoons. Lisa's is one of the closest spot to one (it's a step above, actually). The pancakes are fluffy, the decor is eclectic and the regulars are on a stool at the counter.
Stirnella is one of those perfect eateries that doesn't make much of a fuss compared to some of its more well-known neighbors in the Blackstone District, so many people haven't heard about them. They are worth seeking out.
It's as much a sophisticated date spot as it is a fun place to dine at with friends. Somehow they balance romantic and fun.
Save room for dessert. Their gooey butter bar is the bomb.
This West Omaha eatery specializes in Asian fusion dishes, so you can get pad thai or a delicately prepared salmon filet. You really can't go wrong. Wave Bistro has been a steady prescence in town for almost 30 years.
I know what you're thinking: This Omaha restaurant list only now gets to a steakhouse. What the what? We're known for steaks, but forgive me for not being super nostalgic about our old-school steakhouses. They're fine. Committee Chophouse, though, is the heavyweight champion though. My Delmonic steak was the most perfectly-cooked slice of heaven ever.
Like a lot of steakhouses, it's more of a wine and dine kind of place, a swanky dimly-lit restaurant that will impress your guests. Save it for a special occasion.
302 S. 36th St. inside Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel, Omaha, Neb.
If you can't tell, I love me some wood-fired pizza. Timber has a list of pizzas with enticing topping combos that willl make you want to try one of each. (resist the temptation, no mortal can eat all that)
They also have a popular brunch, and word on the street is the mimosas are bottomless.
Omaha has a lot of food trucks. A LOT. And most are pretty good. A few of the best are found regularly at Trucks & Taps, an outdoor bar and food truck stop. There are enough choices for everyone’s taste.
One of the newest regulars to join the lineup is the super popular Izzy's Pizza Bus.
There’s something cozy about this very contemporary place. It must be Via Farina’s giant wood-fire oven. Whatever you order, it’s going to be the most satisfying meal in memory, without feeling like you overeat. They portion things well.
1108 S. 10th St., Omaha, Neb.
Pick a neighborhood: Omaha restaurants near me
If you’re not from Omaha, it’s going to matter where you’re staying when it comes to choosing a restaurant. I’ll go through some of the most popular neighborhoods in Omaha and point out where my favorites are located.
Old Market and Downtown restaurants
I’m including North Downtown (NoDo) restaurants on this list as well as a few that time may consider South Omaha. Pretty much, “downtown” is anywhere from the Missouri River west to about 20th Street…give or take. This part of town is close to Creighton University.
The Old Market is typically the Omaha neighborhood most visitors go to due to its proximity to hotels, concert venues and arenas, and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.
Blatt Bar + Table
Louie M’s Burger Lust
Nicola’s Italian Wine & Fare
Olsen Bake Shop
Shuck’s Oyster Bar
The Boiler Room
Wilson & Washburn
Upstream Brewing Co.
If you’re not familiar with Benson, it’s time to get to know this neighborhood in the north-central part of Omaha. Benson has small, locally-owned restaurants that bring in crowds of fans.
Au Courant Regional Kitchen
Ted & Wally’s
Dundee neighborhood is one of the city’s most historic and smallest of areas (when it comest to retail and restaurants). Still, it’s a great place to dine! It’s close to the University of Nebraska at Omaha, in particular.
Ahmad’s Persian Cuisine
Blackstone District has grown tremendously in the past few years. What once was a strip of dive bars and apartments is now one of the hottest places to hang out.
Midtown Omaha has been my stomping grounds for years when my kids were young, so this is the area I’m very familiar with. I love my eaters in Midtown!
Brazen Head Irish Pub
Chaikhana Bar & Shishkabobs
Crescent Moon Ale House
La Casa Pizzaria
Lisa’s Radial Cafe
Saddle Creek Breakfast Club
The Committee Chophouse
Vietnamese Asian Restaurant
West Omaha Restaurants
It’s hard to define the borders of West Omaha — it really depends on who you ask. For the purpose of this blog post, West Omaha is most of the metro located west of Interstate 680 that cuts north to south through the city.
Pacific Eating House
Porky Butts BBQ
The Corner Kick
Trucks & Taps
Twisted Cork Bistro
North Omaha & Northwest Omaha Restaurants
North Omaha is generally the Florence neighborhood on north to nearly-Fort Calhoun area. Northwest is pretty much everything north of West Omaha.
Big Mama’s Kitchen & Catering
Bellevue, Neb., is its own community, no doubt about it. But, I often lump it into “Greater Omaha Metro” because it’s so close.
Be sure to download the app Together A Great Good so you can do good while dining out! Some of these restaurants will donate a percentage of your bill to the charity of your choice. Restaurants on this page that contribute include: Au Courant, Block 16, and V. Mertz.
What food are you looking for: Omaha restaurants by category
Sometimes you crave something and it doesn’t matter which side of Omaha the restaurant is located. For those craving something specific, here are my suggestions for the best of the best:
I am working on a round-up of great Omaha restaurants for vegetarians, but it’s not ready for this list yet. So, while you wait, I recommend trying Modern Love, a great vegan comfort food restaurant at Midtown Crossing.
Add these new restaurants in Omaha to your list
Opening a new restaurant is not easy, but dozens have made a run in the last few years. Time will tell if they last long enough to be added to this list. Do your part and visit few and let me know how they area!
The answer will vary depending on who you ask. For me, I’ve celebrated birthdays at Finicky Frank’s; an anniversary at V. Mertz; and publishing my first book at The Boiler Room. I’d say if it’s extra special, go with V. Mertz or The Boiler Room.
People will fight on this one. Omaha has many classic Italian steakhouses, you know, kinds that serve mostaccioli with your steak. I think the predominant classic steakhouse of choice is The Drover, which opened in 1968. That was the place we’d recommend to touring performers back when I worked at O-Pa.
As for me personally, the most recent steak that knocked my socks off was served at The Committee Chophouse.
What food is Omaha known for?
Yes, we have Omaha Steaks. Besides steaks, though, Omaha is known for being the city that originated the Reuben sandwich and butter brickle ice cream.
Nebraska is known for corn and this thing called a Runza sandwich. It’s like a bieroc, or if you don’t know what that is, it’s essentially bread stuffed with beef, cabbage and onions. It’s a lot better than it sounds. There’s a local fast food chain called Runza, we love it so much.
Is Omaha a foodie town?
Yes, absolutely. Part of the reason is Metro Community College’s culinary program, which has been churning out some truly innovative graduates who stick around and open amazing restaurants like Finicky Frank’s.
Omaha has also attracted out-of-state chefs who’ve relocated here, or have at the very least, chosen to open a restaurant here. Two that come to mind are vegan chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz and sushi chef Keen Zheng.
What’s a good restaurant near CHI Health Center Omaha?
If there’s a big concert in Omaha, it’s likely at CHI Health Center Omaha in downtown Omaha. The closest entertainment district to the arena is The Capitol District, which has a few bars and restaurants to choose from. DJ’s Dugout is going to be your bar & grill option in the bunch.
The Old Mattress Factory is also within walking distance to CHI Health Center Omaha. It’s pub food, as well. The food is nothing special but it’s a large space and can accommodate crowds. Just another block away is my favorite option, Blatt Bar + Table.
Many people opt to find a restaurant in the Old Market, though. It’s still within walking distance.
Where’s the best lunch in Omaha?
The answer will depend, obviously. If you’re looking for a restaurant in downtown Omaha and not on a time crunch for lunch, try Block 16 or M’s Pub.
If you’re hungry for pizza but want just a few slices, Omaha has several excellent pizza shops choices from New York-style to thin crust. Omaha staples like Zio’s Pizza and La Casa Pizzeria have lunch menus with two-slice options.
There are plenty of Omaha restaurants to choose from when it comes to accommodating a large group. For a more intimate group of less than 15, look to restaurants like Sullivan’s Steakhouse or Dundee Dell.
Disappointed not to see Sinful Burger included in the Bellevue section. Also. First Watch (several locations), Le Peep (several locations), and Good Evans -- three excellent breakfast / brunch restaurants.
Otherwise, a very helpful listing of local restaurants. Thank you!
Wednesday 19th of August 2020
Stokin Goat 158th Maple
Twisted Fork 10th Howard
Taxi's 120th Blondo
Thursday 7th of May 2020
I just happened upon your blog while looking for local restaurants to support during COVID-19, and I appreciate your diligence in updating the list so it aligns with the current situation. I have one addition to add to this list: Tasty Pizza. It is a quite small restaurant with amazing prices and the most delicious pizza that I have ever had. Their crust is similar to a delicious baguette, a perfectly crisp outside with a soft inside, and, frankly, I would buy loaves of it. They top this delectable base with a myriad of scrumptious toppings, creating what I believe to be the perfect pizza. I can't recommend them enough. They are open for takeout during the quarantine, so dine, indulge, and support a wholesome local business.
Friday 8th of May 2020
Tasty Pizza has been on my to-try list for so long, I'm a little embarrassed I still haven't been there!