April 10, 2019

Best Omaha Restaurants For Families

Omaha is enjoying an explosion of great, locally-owned restaurants opening up. The food is creative and delicious. But it’s not always easy to know which Omaha restaurants are kid-friendly and which are not.

I’ve learned how to spot the restaurants that welcome families AND have good food. Here’s my list of the best Omaha restaurants for families, where you’ll find good food and a kid-friendly environment. I’ve asked a couple of friends who dine at far better places than I typically go to with kids, and they’ve added their recommendations to the list. Bon appetite!

Local's tips on the best restaurants in Omaha for families - Where to go for a special family night out or the kid-friendly restaurants that offer something good for adventurous diners. #Omaha #Nebraska #USA #restaurant

Kid-friendly Omaha restaurants for breakfast

Bob’s Donuts

Where: 3824 Farnam St.

Why: What kid is going to resist the chance to order an Oreo donut or one topped with cereal? Not even a big kid. But, creative flavors aside, Bob’s Donuts is on this list because they also serve chicken sandwiches. For breakfast. I love them.

I may have my favorite donut shop elsewhere in Omaha, but Bob’s is great for my family because the kids can have their donuts, and I can force a little protein into them by having them split a chicken sammie, too.

FarmHouse Cafe & Bakery

Where: 3461 S. 84th St.

Why: This is my extended family’s go-to place for breakfast out with a large group. They also offer lunch and dinner, but breakfast is my jam there.

The variety of food is great (portions are ginormous) and there are usually coloring pages offered to occupy kids. Even with the large portions, you may want to order a pecan roll to split with the rest of the table.

The only downside to the restaurant is that on the weekends, there will likely be a wait. But, the good news is that FarmHouse is connected to Mangelsen’s, a craft shop that’s fun to explore while you wait. You’ve got to check out the Halloween and Christmas sections.

11-Worth Cafe

Where: 2419 Leavenworth St.

Why: 11-Worth Cafe is the quintessential greasy spoon on an unappealing street, yet, people love it. They’re doing something right. This is a good place for breakfast near the Old Market, where the service is quick, the food is good, and sometimes, your kid leaves with a balloon.

It’s also the last of the Caniglia-owned restaurants, which probably means something only to those who’ve lived in Omaha for decades. If you’re looking for healthy breakfast options, this isn’t going to be your place.

Omaha Restaurants with kid-friendly lunch and dinner options

Big Green Q & Ted & Wally’s

Where: 6023 Maple St.

Why: It’s no secret that I have an undying allegiance to Ted & Wally’s – they have the world’s best Dutch chocolate ice cream. If you venture to the ice cream shop’s Benson location, you’ll find Big Green Q sharing the building.

The barbecue place has a following from its food truck days. The food is pretty good, the kid’s meals are reasonable, and then you have to get ice cream for dessert, right? One thing that makes Big Green stand out is that its effort at sourcing ingredients locally AND everything is compostable. And the tots are good too.

Blatt Table + Beer

Where: 610 N. 12th St.; 2835 S. 170th Plaza; inside Westroads Mall at Flagship Commons, 10000 California St.

Why: Blatt is on just about every restaurant list I make. The food is just that good, plus they have a great craft beer selection. But, for the purpose of this post, I’ve been a fan of the restaurant since my early parenting days when I discovered the original NoDo location had a changing table in the bathroom. The kid’s menu offers substantial servings, similar to what adults can order.

Related post: Looking for more downtown Omaha restaurants that are kid-friendly? Check out this list of 8 Great Downtown Omaha Restaurants For Families.

Korean Garden

Where:  5352 S. 72nd St., Ralston, Neb.

Why: So one of my friends is Korean and I trust her taste in food, so if she says a Korean restaurant is good, I’m going to believe it. And, knowing she’ll take her three kids there means it has a spot on this list. And as a bonus, Korean Garden has tabletop grilling there. My kids will eat anything if they’re allowed to cook it themselves.

Lalibela Restaurant

Where: 4422 Cass St.

Why: If you have adventurous eaters, head to Lalibela. It’s an Ethiopian restaurant where traditionally, you eat from shared plates (and you eat with your hands).

If you’ve never experienced it, basically, you’ve got injera, the bread, and you tear off a piece and scoop up the food. Some kids are going to love it (mine did not). The food is fantastic and the service is prompt.

Louie M’s Burger Lust

Where: 1718 Vinton St.

Why: This is a meat eaters’s kind of place, where you’ll find more creative burger options than you thought possible. The real reason we go here, though, is that it’s one of the closest restaurants to Omaha’s zoo. There are closer restaurants, but the food at Louie M’s is better.

It’s not a big place, so you might have a wait. The kid’s menu has some activities on it to help pass the time.

Pitch

Where: 5021 Underwood Ave.; 17808 Burke St.

Why: Handmade dough and a great Happy Hour? Pitch doesn’t quite sound like a family-friendly place. But it is. I always see kids there, because…pizza. Now this is the type of pizza my kids balk at – it’s what my kids call “Fancy Pizza.” I like it very much, but it’s not your chain restaurant type of pizza.

Related post: Pitch made it onto this list, Where To Find The Best Pizza In Omaha.

Plank Seafood Provisions

Where: 1205 Howard St.

Why: This is one of the few Old Market restaurants where you can get good fish entree, and as a bonus to parents, there’s a kid’s menu. Kid’s meals at Plank come with a little bag of goodies, including tattoos.

Shuck’s

Where: 1911 Leavenworth St.; 16901 Wright Plaza; 1218 S. 119th St.

Why: Like Plank Seafood Provisions, Shuck’s is a fish lover’s destination. It’s preferred by my family to Plank (for the price, it can’t be beat).

Tables typically have brown paper on them, making it ideal for kids and adults to color and play tic-tac-toe while you wait. If you go during Lent, expect a wait on Fridays.

Upstream Brewing Co.

Where: 514 S. 11th St.

Why: Rare is a brewpub that welcomes families, but Upstream Brewing Co. is a good one. Kids get little bendy sticks to play with while you wait. If you visit on Tuesday nights, you may encounter Joe Cole, a roving magician who’s highly entertaining.

Kid’s portions are large and they come with a choice of vanilla ice cream or a root beer float for dessert. And, for adults, the standard beer Upstream brews is superb and they have a few seasonal ones that can be pretty creative flavors.

Zio’s Pizzeria

Where: 1109 Howard St., 7834 Dodge St., 12997 West Center Road, and 18110 Wright St.

Why: Zio’s is a favorite of my family’s (but not of mine). However, it’s one of the few places that I know of that you can ask for a ball of dough and they’ll bring it to you. When my kids were younger, this was better than Play-Do to them.

There is a kid’s menu, but we usually order pizza by the slice. The Old Market location on Howard Street is convenient to most tourists visiting Omaha, but if you ask me, the Dodge Street location has better pizza.

Restaurants to go to on off-hours in Omaha

The following are restaurants that aren’t going to snub you if you bring well-behaved kids, but they’re in this category because they may either be typical “date night” places or they’re just a little fancier than the run-of-the-mill family restaurants. Don’t overlook them, just know that the dining experience is a little more formal.

Avoli Osteria

Where: 5013 Underwood Ave.

Why: I’m going to take my foodie friends at the word for Avoli being family-friendly (at off-hours) because I’ve been saving it up for a special date night occasion and haven’t been. I’ve heard it’s “impress-your-date” good.

But my friends have brought their kiddos to this Dundee staple to enjoy the northern Italian cuisine, so at least one family has pulled it off.

Dario’s Brasserie

Where: 4920 Underwood Ave.

Why: While I have’t brought my kids here–yet–the thought has crossed my mind to do so. (I have gone for date nights and it’s fantastically casual and yet romantic).

Featuring fine Belgian cuisine and the best fries in Omaha, Dario’s a remarkable restaurant that reminds me of charming European cafes I visited in my 20s.

My friends and their kids have gone during quiet hours and can vouch that it’s suitable for families. And, by the way, this place has one of the best beer selection in Omaha, if you love Belgian stuff.

M’s Pub

Where: 422 S 11th St.

Why: Introduce your kiddos to an Omaha institution. M’s has had quite a history, being one of the first restaurants to open in the Old Market after it was revitalized decades ago, only to suffer a terrible fire that nearly ended its run. It’s a beloved restaurant by many, and I’ve been there for date nights (pre-fire).

It’s a rather small place, so go during off-hours if you don’t have a reservation.

Via Farina

Where: 1108 S. 10th St.

Why: Via Farina serves wood-fired pizza in an impeccably designed space. If you’re the Instagramming kind of person, you’ll feel at home. I love it for hanging out with friends before a show at the Bluebarn Theatre.

I wouldn’t have thought of it as a place to bring my kids since they usually snub yummy wood-fire pizza, but my friends have brought their kiddos. The pizza here has more adventurous ingredients (by my kids’ standards).

From fine dining to casual, local Omaha restaurants welcome families. Here are our top picks for the best family restaurants in Omaha. #Nebraska #dining #eatlocal

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January 8, 2019

How To Get Free Drinks In Omaha

I’m past the days of bar hopping. I’m more into finding great places for a meal or a drink. There’s a new, local app that totally gets me. The app, called Libate, is designed to get people out exploring neighborhood bars and hip restaurants around Omaha and Council Bluffs. The best thing about Libate? You get free drinks with it.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Libate. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Want to get a free drink the next time you visit a new restaurant in Omaha? There's an app that gets people out exploring new bars and hip restaurants all the while enjoying a free drink. #Libate #partner #Omaha #Nebraska

How To Get Libate

Libate is an app you download to your phone. The app is available to download on iOS and Play stores. You get a free drink just for downloading the app. Then you have two options: Use the free version or become a member.

The Libate app logo and "Drive Adventurously" tagline

The free version gets you one free drink a month. You choose which place to get that free drink from a list of participating establishments.

The member version is $10 a month. As a member, you get one free drink at each of the establishments every month. It’s a steal.

And good news: Oh My! Omaha readers get their first month free! Use promo code OHMYOMAHA after you download the app to claim your free month. Download the app from iOS and Play stores.

How Libate Works

Using the Libate app to get a free drink at Herbe Sainte in Omaha
I used Libate to get a free frozen cocktail at Herbe Sainte. The flavor? Frosé, which is a frozen rosé. Beware: Some on the waitstaff at this restaurant do not think the app is accepted at Herbe Sainte. The app’s designer confirmed in January 2019 that the restaurant is, indeed, participating, but in February 2019, it was again refused.

I talked with Mike Roth, the app’s designer, about Libate and what inspired him to launch it. You see, Roth is a firefighter in Council Bluffs, so it’s not like he’s a restaurant owner hoping to bring in customers. Roth saw a similar app in New York, where people could get a free drink, and he thought it could work in this market.

“Libate to encourage people to get out and visit new places and try new drinks,” said Roth. “Drink adventurously.”

That’s my kind of app. I like finding new places, but trying new drinks…I’m always a little reluctant to buy a new drink in case I don’t like it. But, it’s good to get out of your comfort zone, and this has zero risk since that drink is free. It reminds me of the time a bartender at Spirit World proved that I could actually like a drink with gin as an ingredient.

A draft beer on the bar at Stirnella. It's a participating restaurant in the Libate app.
Stirnella, a restaurant in the Blackstone District, allows Libate app users to get a draft beer or tap wine for free, up to a maximum of $8. Photo courtesy Libate

Libate has about 30 restaurants and bars participating so far, plus one brewery. Once you download the app onto your phone, you can check out the list. There are quite a few I’ve been to–and love–around Omaha and Council Bluffs. Here are a few restaurants I can’t wait to return to for that free drink:

  • Stirnella
  • Herbe Sainte – It should be noted, both times I tried using the app at the restaurant, the waitress said it wasn’t accepted there. In January 2019, I was told by the app’s founder that the owner of Herbe Sainte confirmed they were participating, but a month later, I had a waitress refuse to accept it. Just beware you may not get your free drink here.
  • 712 Eat+Drink (Council Bluffs – featured on 8 Great Places Breakfast Spots In Council Bluffs)
  • Cellar 19 Wine & Deli (Council Bluffs)

Roth sought out a great variety of places right from the start. The places I listed above are a bit more upscale than some of the others on the list, but they all have their charm. Whatever you’re in the mood for, there’s are place for it.

Interior of 712 Eat + Drink in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It's a participating restaurant in the Libate app.
712 Eat + Drink is a participating restaurant in the Libate app and allows users to get a free drink, excluding shots, worth up to $8. It’s my brunch pick for Council Bluffs, in case you were wondering.

In the Old Market? You can get a drink at Brickway Brewery. Seeing a concert at CHI Health Center? You can choose between Nosh Wine Lounge or Moe & Curly’s Pub. Headed to the historic 100 Block in Council Bluffs? You’ve got a free drink waiting at Barley’s Bar.

“We want people to try new things, that’s our mission,” said Roth. “Use this app as an excuse to go to different places.”

Each restaurant and bar experience is going to be different. Some establishments may impose limitations, like limiting the your complimentary drink to costing between $5 or $10.

Other places may limit app users to getting a specific cocktail or a class of cocktails, or maybe just a glass of wine or pint of beer. The app will communicate the limitations. For instance, for Cellar 19 Wine & Deli, their limit is that the drink must be $9 or under, and excludes shots and double pours.

Interior photo of Cellar 19 Wine & Deli in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It's a participating restaurant in the Libate app.
Cellar 19 Wine & Deli is a wine bar and deli in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It’s one of the participating establishments that gives a free drink to Libate app users. Photo courtesy Libate

For obvious reasons, so you can’t go from bar to bar in 20 minutes to claim all your free drinks and then pass out. You need to wait two hours before going to a new place to claim a drink. So chill out and enjoy that cocktail.

Try the Libate app for free

I’m pretty excited that Libate is letting Oh My! Omaha readers try the app’s member level for one month at no cost! All you need to do is download the app (available at iOS and Play stores) and enter in the promo code OHMYOMAHA.

Go out and try something new for me, OK?

Learn how to use the app Libate which allows users to get free drinks at restaurants and bars in Omaha & Council Bluffs. #Libate #partner #Omaha #Nebraska

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December 26, 2018

8 Great Downtown Omaha Restaurants For Families

Having worked in downtown Omaha for more than five years, and living downtown for about seven years before that, I know my restaurants in the area. And I know which ones are great to take kids to. If you’re looking for a family restaurant in downtown Omaha, here are some of my recommendations:

Family restaurants in downtown Omaha

Short list of recommended family-friendly restaurants in downtown Omaha, including near the Old Market and TD Ameritrade Park

 

The Blatt Beer & Table North Downtown

By all appearance, this looks like a gastropub where grown-ups want to hang out in peace, but they’re pretty welcoming to families. The kid’s menu is above-average here (try the chicken strips), and the location can’t be beat for games and shows at TD Ameritrade Park and CHI Health Center. Plus, they have a changing table in the bathrooms.

Address: 610 N. 12th St. (North Downtown)

Olsen Bake Shop

Olsen is strictly a carry-out, hole-in-the-wall kind of bakery, but don’t let that deter you. They have, quite arguably, the best best donuts in Omaha. Not only do they taste good, they’re cheap, too. Olsen is on the list of
Best Donuts In Omaha.

Address: 1708 S. 10th St. (downtown, south of the Old Market)

Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria can be found just outside of the Old Market, in a neighborhood that was once a bustling Little Italy.

Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria

It’s Omaha’s longest-running restaurant for a reason. The garlic bread is my favorite, though it hardly makes a meal, so go ahead and order a sheet of pizza. Since I’ve visited last visited Orsi’s, it has expanded to have a dining room (or is planning to), so it has moved beyond being mostly a take-out kind of restaurant.

Address: 621 Pacific St. (Little Italy, southeast of the Old Market)

Plank Seafood Provisions has great outdoor seating – perfect for Old Market people watching.

Plank Seafood + Provisions

My kids are touch and go with seafood, but I can often get them to eat the fish sticks at Plank. The menu for adults and kids is pretty good (try to get there at happy hour for the best deals), and when we went, they gave my kid fun temp tattoos.

Address: 1205 Howard St. (in the Old Market)

Trini’s The Mexican Restaurant

Trini’s is located in my favorite part of the Old Market: The Passageway. It’s a charming indoor space with shops and restaurants. Trini’s is pretty casual and budget-friendly when ordering with kids (though, there is no kid’s menu). Trini’s made the list of best places to Mexican food in Omaha.

Address: 1020 Howard St. (in the Old Market)

Upstream Brewing Co.

I know. A brewery? I’ve gone for brunch, lunch, and dinner and my kids have always been welcomed. There is a kid’s menu (not for brunch, though), and usually some form of entertainment to occupy them while we wait for the food. They also happen to have great beer. The upstairs area will be more of a bar-like atmosphere, so stick to the first floor or the outdoor seating in front.

Address: 514 S 11th St. (in the Old Market)

Zio’s Pizzeria has a location in the heart of the Old Market in downtown Omaha. 

Zio’s Pizzeria

Zio’s is a bit of an institution in Omaha. If you dig New York-style pizza, try it out. There is a kid’s menu, and often, the waiter will bring a ball of dough to the table to keep your kid occupied. Zio’s made the list for best places to get pizza in Omaha.

To be honest, though, if we’re going to have pizza downtown, my kids ask for Old Chicago; and if we’re downtown without the kids, we go to Via Farina. But if you’re looking for local and kid-friendly, Zio’s is a good bet.

Address: 1109 Howard St. (in the Old Market)

11-Worth Cafe

This is classic greasy spoon food at its best. I’ve only been for breakfast, so I can’t vouch for the grill after noon, but beforehand, it’s spot-on. They have a kid’s menu and, usually, will give your kid a balloon before you leave.

Address: 2419 Leavenworth St. (downtown, east of the Old Market)

Related post: 20+ Must-Try Restaurants In Omaha

Recommended restaurants and donut shops in downtown Omaha #familyfriendly #OldMarket #Nebraska

Bonus restaurant for zoo visitors

Headed to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium? You can purchase food there at plenty of dining locations, but they aren’t always satisfying and they’re definitely pricey . If you didn’t pack a lunch, here’ s another option we tried recently:

Louie M.’s Burger Lust, 1718 Vinton St. Located in the historic Vinton neighborhood, this small but charming burger joint is going to please both kids and parents. I brought the kids here after a trip to the zoo recently, and was pleased they had a kid’s menu. Order a burger, obviously.

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July 25, 2018

Food Tips For Storm Chasers Games

There’s about one more month left in the 2018 Omaha Storm Chaser anniversary season, so let’s talk ballpark food. All I want is a bag of peanuts at the game, so, I asked Storm Chaser fans to share their food tips so you know what to try the next time you’re at Werner Park. If you have a favorite food or suggestion, leave a comment and let me know!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Omaha Storm Chasers. Any thoughts, opinions, or typos are my own.

Fans share tips on what to eat during Omaha Storm Chasers games

Must-Try Food At Storm Chasers game

The most original suggestion came from Martie Cordaro, the team’s general manager and president. “Try the Brisket Egg-rolls at Sarpy Smokehouse paired with an #AleStorm beer; then the Pop Tart Ice cream sandwich at Swirls finishes the night.”

La Mesa’s stand has quite a few fans. Tiffany N. always gets La Mesa supreme nachos at the game. “Got to get the nachos at La Mesa with jalapeños. Then around the 7th inning you have to get the ice cream in a helmet.” tweeted @TheDunkKing. Megan S. tweeted “I usually go for the queso from the LaMesa stand. And a frozen strawberry lemonade.”

Another Nebraska favorite at Werner Park is Valentino’s, which has been around since 1957. Two replied on Twitter saying, “My son always has to have a slice of Valentino’s pizza and a Dippin Dots.” (@RoyalsCollector) and the other had the food and drink combo recommendation: “Cannot go wrong with some @valentinospizza and a @drpepper out by left field 👌” (@BallenB2013)

Looking to eat a somewhat healthy? I did receive one tip from a fan offering some options found at Werner Park: “Something nutritious and tasty. Burrito bowls, chicken sate, hummus dip with vegetables,” tweeted @Wanncook

Sweets at Werner Park

My kids are happiest with a bowl of Dippin Dots, and they’re not alone. When I asked about desserts, @RoyalsCollector tweeted that it was what his son always got (along with that Valentino’s slice).

“My son loves the huge pretzels and cotton candy. Best dessert I think is the funnel cakes but (my husband) says Dippin Dots,” said Tiffany N. on Facebook.

“My son loves making his own green sno-cone with the syrup machine over between 3B & LF,” said Megan S. on Twitter.

Storm Chasers Food Promotions To Know

To get the most bang for your buck, pick a game on one of these promotional nights with food deals:

50 Cent Tuesday – In honor of the 50th Season in franchise history, five different concessions items are 50 cents each at Tuesday night home games (except Aug. 7), including french fries, small sodas, nachos, peanuts & Uncle Ray’s Potato Chips.

Weiner Wednesday – Fans can enjoy full-sized hot dogs for just 25 cents each at Wednesday evening home games.

Thirsty Thursday – Not food, but pairs well with it. Enjoy $2 Bud, Bud Light & Busch Light on Thursday home games, in addition to $1 Pepsi Fountain drinks!

Bands & Brews – Another drink promotion…Prior to select Saturday home games, fans can enjoy drink specials and live music at the Bud Light Downdraught Bar right after gates open.

This isn’t a promotion but an annual event:

Peanut Free Night – The Storm Chasers host their annual Peanut Free Night, with a thorough cleaning of the ballpark prior to the evening’s game. No peanut products will be allowed into the park or sold for that night’s game. This year, it’s held on Aug. 1. I’ve got more Storm Chasers fan tips here, including their suggestions on parking, getting ticket discounts and what kids can do at the ballpark.

Headed to a game at Werner Park in Omaha? Here are food tips from Omaha Storm Chaser fans! #baseball #stormchasers #baseballfood

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July 3, 2018

Must-Try Ice Cream Places In Omaha

When the weather is hot, there is no other dessert besides ice cream. (Seriously, I asked and I was ridiculed because really, is there anything better?) We have many great ice cream places in Omaha, but few can top the ones on this list. If you have a favorite or a recommendation that isn’t on this list, please leave a comment.

Updated: This post was written in 2018 and updated with a new restaurant. If you know of any other updates, please let me know in a comment!

Here are some of my favorite Omaha ice cream shops (the first five I can vouch for) and some readers tell me are top notch.

Top ice cream places in Omaha

Coneflower Creamery is one of the best ice cream shops in Omaha. Splurge on the homemade waffle cone.

Coneflower Creamery

Coneflower Creamery is a fairly new ice cream shop in the Blackstone District that uses local ingredients and deserves all the rave review it has received.

Expect a line out the door, but also expect it to be worth the wait (though, my guilty secret is going during Husker football games – no line!). You won’t regret splurging on a waffle cone – they’re made in-house. 3921 Farnam St.

Related post: 33+ Must-Try Restaurants In Omaha

Ted & Wally's is an Old Market ice cream institution. The second location is in the Benson neighborhood.

Ted and Wally’s

I’m pretty loyal to Ted and Wally’s, which has a location in the Old Market and in Benson. The flavors rotate regularly and some can be pretty radical combinations.

In previous visits, they’ve had the option of ordering an ice cream sandwich made with a fresh donut. I’m a traditionalist and swear by their dutch chocolate – it’s the best in the world. Yes, the world. 1120 Jackson St. and 6023 Maple St.

eCreamery is a Dundee ice cream shop.

eCreamery

Perhaps you saw eCreamery on “Shark Tank”? Their Shark Bait ice cream is legendary, and well worth sampling, if not just getting yourself a waffle cone of it.

For those always up for a challenge, eCreamery has the Dundee Challenge – eat 12 scoops of ice cream in 20 minutes. 5001 Underwood Ave.

The Durham Museum

For old-fashioned root beer floats, you’ve got to go to the soda fountain at The Durham Museum. It’s one of those Omaha experiences you just have to do.

Note that it’s in a museum, so you will have to pay museum admission – might as well explore while you’re there. 801 S. 10th St.

Related post: Everything You Need To Know About Durham Museum Annual Events

Freezing Thai Rolled Ice Cream is an ice cream place in the Omaha neighborhood of Aksarben Village.

Freezing Thai Rolled Ice Cream

For something a little different, there’s rolled ice cream. The way Freezing makes its ice cream sundaes is an impressive process, but in my opinion, the flavor isn’t nearly as good as the first three on the list. 1918 S. 67th St.

Zen Coffee Co.

Coffee shops aren’t my first choice for ice cream, either. But for a jolt of energy with your ice cream, head to Zen Coffee to get an affogato, which is typically vanilla ice cream (or gelato) and a shot of espresso.

Zen Coffee uses Ted and Wally’s ice cream, so it’s delish. 230 S. 25th St., suite 3

Dairy Chef

This Elkhorn, Neb., ice cream shop continues to pop up every time I ask the question, “Where’s the best ice cream in Omaha,” so I’m beginning to suspect I need to make a trip out west to test it out. Because Dairy Cheff continues to be recommended, I’m adding it to this list. PS, look up their Facebook page.

Lately, they’ve been sharing some pictures of tasty ice cream sandwiches with homemade cookies and crumbled Reese’s Pieces. 3223 N. 204th St., Elkhorn, Neb.

Doozie’s

This ice cream shop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, has a following, and like Dairy Chef, always comes up when I’m talking about homemade ice cream. In 2019, it was voted The Daily Nonpareil’s Readers Choice. Doozie’s also wins for its location: It’s right by Lake Manawa State Park. 321 Comanche St., Council Bluffs, Iowa

The Hunger Block

Since I wrote this, I found out about a place in Omaha serving HUGE milkshakes, and I felt that it should be mentioned (though, I can’t vouch for quality or if it’s worth the price since I haven’t been there).

The Hunger Block, 11036 Elm St., is a Latin restaurant but their shakes are getting attention. They’re served in mason jars and topped with ice cream, donuts, sundae cones, cookies and more. Good luck finishing it!

Tip: You can also find monster ice cream shakes at Vala’s Pumpkin Patch. It’s only open for a short time in the fall, though.

Here's a list of places to get ice in Omaha (and nearby)! Find out what ice cream add-ons to splurge on and what to skip. Omaha's top ice cream shops are on the list, as well as a few restaurants in Omaha with ice cream so good, you'll want to leave room for dessert. #Omaha #eatlocal #OmahaRestaurants  #Nebraskas #Foodie #IceCream #Guide

* * * * *

If you like this list, you’ll probably like my post about the best places to find chocolate in Omaha. Several of these ice cream shops make the list.

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June 18, 2018

Billy’s 10 Favorite Restaurants In Omaha

I’ve been a fan of Billy McGuigan ever since I was reviewing theater for The Daily Nonpareil and I heard him sing the first few notes in “Rave On: The Buddy Holly Experience.” He’s gone on to perform in other great shows too, including “Rock Twist,” opening Aug. 2 at Omaha Community Playhouse. So I have this chance to ask him anything about Omaha…and my mind goes to food. Typical. I’m so glad I asked him what his favorite restaurants in Omaha were, because, you guys, McGuigan’s list is stellar.

This post was first published in 2018. It’s been updated to include “Rock Twist” 2019 performance times.

Billy McGuigan Rock Twist
Billy McGuigan’s “Rock Twist” runs Aug. 1-12, 2018 at Omaha Community Playhouse. Photo courtesy Christine McGuigan Photography

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Rave On Productions. All thoughts and opinions below are Billy’s. 

Here’s Billy’s take on the Omaha food scene, in his own words:

I would never classify myself as a foodie. Let’s start there. But, after touring the country and world for the past 15 years, I started noticing that I judged a city by its local restaurants and the food in a city in general. San Francisco’s Dungeness crab, New Orleans’ crawfish and any restaurant in Albuquerque are some of my favorite spots in the U.S. Omaha is no exception and I’ve come to love the local flavor of this town. With that, I’ve put together my 10 favorite food spots in Omaha in no particular order. If you haven’t tried these places, please do!

list of favorite restaurants in Omaha

Billy’s favorite restaurants in Omaha

10. Stokes (Old Market and West Omaha)

Billy McGuigan orders an off-the-menu hot sauce to go with the Sharon’s (World Famous) Enchiladas at Stokes. Photo courtesy Billy McGuigan

I first had Stokes when it was located in the 114th and Dodge streets area. After having Sharon’s chicken enchiladas with a side of inner beauty (their off-the-menu hot sauce), I was immediately hooked. Spicy and fresh and delicious. I’ve eaten at Stokes more than any other restaurant in my life.

Favorite Menu Items: Sharon’s (World Famous) Chicken Enchiladas, Koko’s Harvest Salad, Stokes Tenderloin Pueblo

9. Wilson & Washburn (Downtown Omaha)

Wilson & Washburn is located in downtown Omaha. Photo courtesy Billy McGuigan

This place is an experience. It feels very Chicago, very New York. The drinks are finely crafted and the food is so great. The bartenders tend to remember you after a few visits and they learn the way you like your drinks made and typically how you ordered your food the last time you where there. Bonus party room upstairs for private parties as well!

Favorite Menu Items: Scotch Egg, Beet Chips (seriously!), Beet Burger (again, seriously), Braised Short Rib

8. Early Bird (Blackstone)

Billy McGuigan and his kids in front of Early Bird, a favorite brunch spot for his family. Photo courtesy Billy McGuigan

My kids would kill me if this all-day brunch place wasn’t included on this list. It opened last year and I think we’ve been here six times already. Be prepared for a wait because this place is super popular. It is totally worth it. A unique brunch menu filled with both traditional and non-traditional breakfast items (check out the Ka-Bob’s) as well as sweet and savory. The service is also fantastic!

Favorite Menu Items: Ka-Bobs, Corned Beef Hash, Cereal Killer Pancakes (my son Ciaran’s favorite), Morning Pot Pie (my daughter Cartney’s favorite)

7. Mula (Blackstone)

Mula makes borracha beans like Billy McGuigan’s grandmother used to make. Photo courtesy Mula

I’m a complete and total sucker for Mexican food. My grandmother was a Garcia and she made borracho beans so good they could make you cry. Mula makes these and after the wave of nostalgia I got from eating them here, I choked up a bit. A massive tequila selection and a varied selection of unique tacos and tortas.

Favorite Menu Items: Any of their Guacamoles, Camaron Tacos, Carne Asada Torta, Jalapeño Margarita

6. Block 16 (Downtown Omaha)

Billy McGruigan promises that Block 16 is worth the wait. Photo courtesy The Mullers via Block 16

The first time I came here, I nearly didn’t go in because there was such a long line. The guy in the back of the line looked at me and told me it was well worth the wait. I couldn’t agree more. If you’re under the impression that vegan food has no flavor, you should go vegan here. I love this place so much!

Favorite Menu Items: Vegan Sloppy Nick, Vegan Dragon Fries, Vegan Poutine Burrito

5. Yoshitomo (Benson)

Sushi at Yoshimoto is as good as the best Billy McGuigan has tried across the U.S. Photo courtesy Yoshimoto

I’ve been a huge sushi fan since the late ‘90s when I had it for the first time at Sushi Ichiban when it was on the corner on Dodge street. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to try it all over the country and Yoshitomo is as good as any I’ve ever had. Super classy environment and a menu that rocks!

Favorite Menu Items: Sake Nigiri, Hamachi Nigiri, 3 Kings Maki, Aburi Wagyu

4. Pitch (Dundee)

Pitch in Dundee
Pitch manages to make pizza without cheese so good, you don’t miss the cheese. Photo courtesy Billy McGuigan

Full disclosure: I have a dairy allergy. I know, pizza with no cheese? Yeah, it’s hard to find. Pitch’s pizza is so good, it works without the cheese. Try it! Also, those Brussel sprouts. Have you not had these? They are ridiculously good.

Favorite Menu Items: Shrooms Pizza (no cheese), Roasted Brussel Sprouts, House Made Fennel Sausage Pizza (No cheese)

3. Coneflower Creamery (Blackstone)

Coneflower makes a wickedly good, dairy-free ice cream. And a tip from McGuigan: Always add Spanish peanuts. Photo courtesy Billy McGuigan

Speaking of no dairy, do you have any idea how hard it is to find really good, dairy-free ice cream? Look no further. This place is an absolute gem. There’s nearly always a line, but again, totally worth it. The vinyl records and great taste in music also add to the ambiance of this wickedly good ice cream shop!

Favorite Menu Items: Vegan Golden Milk Ice Cream, Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter, always add Spanish Peanuts

2. Red Lion Lounge (Blackstone)

McGuigan’s choice for a place to hang out with friends and enjoy a good cocktail. Photo courtesy Billy McGuigan

“Friends” had Central Perk. “How I Met Your Mother” had McLarens. You know, the iconic place to hang out with friends and have a drink or two. I always wanted one of these and I’m pretty sure I’ve found it in the RL. Limited snack items and amazing craft cocktails. Amazing “Mad Men”-esque decor with iconic black and white photos throughout. If you find Roald Dahl, you’ll find me.

Favorite Menu Items: Candied Cashews, Local Heirloom Popcorn, Rusty Nail, Infusion Vanilla Bean Blonde

1. Farine + Four (Midtown)

The spicy chicken sandwich at Farine + Four. Photo courtesy Farine + Four

You ever hope and dream there’d be a place you could wake up and walk to and grab a great coffee and a sandwich? Farine and Four is this place for me. Nestled in the heart of my neighborhood is this gem. Farine + Four means Flour + Oven in French. It also means they only use four ingredients as the base for all of their breads: flour, water, salt, and levain (yeast). It’s so amazingly good and you have to try it. They open the garage door in the summer and you won’t be able to resist the smells coming from their kitchen.

Favorite Menu Items: Spicy Chicken Sandwich (best you’ll ever have), Egg Sandwich, Peanut Butter Cookie

Billy McGuigan’s “Rock Twist”

If you didn’t know Billy McGuigan before this post, you’ve got to hear the music of this foodie-that’s-not-a-foodie. You can see him in the show, “Rock Twist,” which will be at Omaha Community Playhouse Aug. 2-18, 2019.

The show features McGuigan and a 13-piece band performing the music of artists who have impacted McGuigan’s life. There’s everything from Frank Sinatra to The Doors and Chuck Berry. 

Performances of “Rock Twist” are Aug. 2-18, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $42 each and are available at by calling the box office at 402-552-0800 or go online to www.omahaplayhouse.com.

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