Omaha has a brag-worthy culinary scene. And now, in recent years, Omaha diners have embraced the food hall scene. Here’s what you can expect at each of the city’s food halls, including which local Omaha restaurants have a location at a food hall. Plus, I share tips on what to order and which restaurants have kid-friendly grub.
What’s a food hall
Think of a food hall as an upscale food court, typically with a focus on locally-owned restaurants with a few new-to-the-city concepts. I call them hipster food courts. And I mean that affectionately.
Where are Omaha’s food halls?
Omaha’s first food hall, Flagship Commons, opened at Westroads Mall in late 2015. Westroads is a pretty conveniently located mall near busy Dodge Street, as well as near Interstate 680.
It’s definitely not like any mall food court you may have encountered. Flagship was the first of its kind in the entire state.
Most of Flagship’s seating is in a common area, with a mix of typical table seating, bar seating, and my favorite spot, couch seating by a fireplace. Most seating is indoors, though if you dine at The Blatt, you can snag a table outside.
In 2019, Inner Rail Food Hall opened at Aksarben Village. Unlike Westroads, this isn’t a mall setting in the traditional sense. Aksarben Village is an entertainment district with a mix of shops, restaurants, apartments and businesses, as well as a large green space and playground. Inner Rail is within that development in its own space with indoor and outdoor seating.
A third food hall, The Switch Beer & Food Hall, is the most recent to open. New restaurants are still being announced occasionally. It was the first food hall in the nation certified as a three-Star Certified Green Restaurant™ by the Green Restaurant Association and the second restaurant in Nebraska to earn it.
Switch is located in the Blackstone District at 3618 Farnam St.
Things to know about the Inner Rail
Inner Rail Food Hall is all quick-service restaurants with a definite world flavor appeal to it. Located at the ever-growing Aksarben Village, it’s in Midtown Omaha and not nearly as easily accessible to get to as Westroads.
(If you’ve ever driven 72nd Street during rush hour in hopes of reaching Aksarben Village, you’ll understand my rage.)
Being the new kid on the scene, you can expect a wait to order at most counters at Inner Rail. You’ll find some counter seats, and a lot of traditional table seating.
Inner Rail has a great outdoor space with two firepits and a lot of seating. When the weather’s nice, you might see a giant Jenga and bean bag games set up.
Fun side note for all of you youngsters or out-of-towners: Inner Rail is a racing term that references the former life of the area where Aksarben Village is located. It was once Aksarben Race Track and Colosseum, a horse race track.
Restaurants at Inner Rail include:
The Bánh Mì Shop – This restaurant has a devout following at its Bellevue location, so no doubt, Midtown people love to have a close location now. The quick service restaurant here serves up the most popular sandwich in Vietnam, the Bánh Mì. It’s a baguette served with mayo, sweet carrot and daikon pickles, cucumber and cilantro. (LOCAL)
Noli’s Pizzeria – Noli’s original location is in the hip Blackstone neighborhood. These guys take their New York-style pizza seriously, even getting the water filtered to mimic the granite filtered qualities of New York’s water. (LOCAL)
Maharani Indian Kitchen – Indian cuisine with a few good options for vegetarians out there.
Sofra Creperie – This place serves savory and sweet crepes. I have one word for you all: Nutella. They have Nutella. I had the savory So Cal and it was pretty good, though maybe it’s more of a testament to my appetite, I was still hungry afterward.
ACTQ – This is the third taqueria to be opened by Brooklyn chef and restaurant Akhtar Nawab. It stands for Alta Calidad Taqueria and the food is defined as Mexican-inspired (and it’s yummy).
B Squared Burger – What could be better than burgers and tater tots?
Briggs Bean – Here’s where you go to get your caffeine fix, including nitro cold brew. They also happen to serve pastries from the local pastry shop, Sweet Magnolias.
Kathmandu Momo Station – These guys were the popular as a pop up and now they have this great little space in Inner Rail. Kathmandu serves up Nepalese street food including momos (stuffed dumplings) and Burmese ramen. (LOCAL)
Ela’s Creamery – Serves up soft-serve ice cream in two flavors that rotate each week. I had the luck of sampling Cinnamon Toast Crunch when I was there. If that’s ever an option for you, get it!
Backstretch Bar – The bar! What more need I say? OK, I can say more. The perk of Inner Rail is that you can order a drink at Backstretch and take it outside with you to sit by a firepit.
Best food to order at Inner Rail Food Hall
I’ve eaten at Inner Rail an impressive amount of times since it’s only been open like a month and I don’t even work near there.
The surprise winner was the roti at ACTQ. It’s a flat bread that’s great for sharing. I had the vegetarian roti, which had queso and avocado.
I also highly recommend getting the naan with whatever entree you order at Maharani. It’s top notch.
SO MANY people told me to try the momos at Kathmandu. I tried both the fried and the traditional steamed ones. I preferred the steamed dumplings, though truth be told, good luck trying to get your kids to try one.
What’s kid-friendly at Inner Rail
Since Inner Rail is so new, we haven’t had many chances to test places out on our kids just yet. However, they are fans of the Noli pizza slice.
I didn’t notice many kid’s menu options at the restaurants, so unless your kid has a big appetite, just plan on sharing with him or her.
I’ll tell you what, my kids want nothing to do with momos. There. I said it.
Related food: Best Omaha Restaurants For Families
Things to know about Flagship Commons
Flagship has mostly quick dining restaurants, as well as a bar, coffeehouse and one full-service eatery. A few Omaha favorites have opened a location there, including my favorite, Blatt Beer & Table.
Restaurants at Flagship Commons include:
Blatt Beer & Table – Blatt makes every “best of” restaurant list I ever write. I love the Blatt, and so does my family. It’s the only full-service restaurant at Flagship. The drink specials here are pretty good. (LOCAL)
Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob – Small menu, big tastes. I can’t get my kids to like the falafel here, but if I’m dining without them, it’s a solid choice. (LOCAL)
Aromas Coffeehouse – This is the place to go for your caffeine fix, or if you’re so inclined, dessert. I personally like the baked goods there more than the coffee. (LOCAL)
Yum Roll – Run by Blue Sushi Sake Grill, this is your sushi joint, if that’s what you’re craving.
Yoshi-Ya Ramen – Classic ramen quick service. Some people swear this place is the best. I’ve never embraced the whole ramen scene, though, so I’ve got nothin’.
Weirdough Pizza Co. – Weirdough serves Roman-style pizza al taglio. Surprisingly, my kids won’t eat this pizza.
Juan Taco – Love fancy tacos? Juan Taco serves food-truck style tacos.
Clever Greens – This is an upscale salad quick-service restaurant.
The Bar – It’s exactly what it sounds like.
Best food to order at Flagship
There are a few places I frequent regularly at Flagship Commons. If you go to Blatt, you have to try the Dirty Bird at least once. It’s a chicken sandwich that’s absolutely horrible for you, which means it tastes delicious.
For something a little quicker, head to Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob. I absolutely love the falafel here, as well as curry fries.
What’s kid-friendly at Flagship Commons
Like I said before, we’re a Blatt family. The kid’s menu has great food, and the staff is typically pretty great with the kids.
There is also a great discount on Wednesdays at select restaurants. Family Wednesday means ½ price kids meals for ages 12 and younger at Juan Taco, Blatt Beer & Table,
Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob, Clever Greens, Weirdough Pizza Co., Yum Roll and Yoshi-Ya.
Flagship has started Family Bundles at a few restaurants, where you can get a meal for four for $30 (upgrade to feed more mouths). These bundles are offered at Juan Taco, Weirdough, Amsterdam and Yum Roll. Pre-order your bundle and they’ll be available any time from 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Happy Hour at Flagship
Like your food and drinks discounted? Of course you do. Two places at Flagship Commons has happy Hour specials:
Fridays, 3 to 6:30 p.m.
Saturdays, 3 to 6:30 p.m.
Sundays, noon – close.
Blatt Beer & Table (dine-in only)
Mondays through Saturdays, 3 to 6:30 p.m.
Fridays & Saturdays, 8 to 9 p.m.
Sundays, noon to 6 p.m.
Go beyond the Omaha Food Hall
Food halls are great because of the variety of food options paired with high-quality ingredients. However, if you’re looking for something with more service, check out other restaurants in Omaha. Here are a few lists to get you started:
Wednesday 20th of November 2019
I drove past Inner Rail and REALLY wanted to stop to check it out, but no time! It will definitely get a visit on my next trip to Omaha.
Friday 22nd of November 2019
It's worth planning a quick stop next time, if only to grab a snack!
Tuesday 12th of November 2019
Reading your article ALMOST makes me want to try something at Aksarben again. I usually avoid that area like the plague because of the lack of convenient parking and high prices.
My one experience with a food hall is NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids IA. Besides the local fast food, they also had small ice cream and chocolate stores, pet and baby food shops, toiletries, and so far. I LOVED the idea that I could get a gourmet taco at one stand, some weird fries or sides at another, and some craft soft drinks to wash it down at yet another.
I keep hoping for something like that in Omaha. I figure it will show up (if ever) in one of the older parts of town trying to make a new life out of a larger store (like they did there.)
Wednesday 13th of November 2019
I'll have to keep NewBo Market in mind if I'm ever out near Cedar Rapids. I'd say, give Aksarben another shot. They made parking a little easier by adding signs indicating the number of stalls open at each garage. It helped a lot last time I was there!
Tuesday 12th of November 2019
Love Flagship Commons! Something for everyone there. I noticed Aromas is no longer there, at least as of 10/30/19. :(
Tuesday 12th of November 2019
Really?? Thanks for the heads up on Aromas. Is it a different coffee shop now? I'll have to go back and double-check.