September 27, 2017

Best Coffee In Omaha

Omaha loves a good cup of coffee, so there are many great local coffee shops with loyal fans. You can’t throw a corn hat without hitting a Omaha coffee shop window.

I asked Oh My! Omaha fans on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share their favorite place for coffee, and they did not disappoint. Here you go, the list of the best places to get coffee in Omaha:

Accerlerando Coffee House

7023 Cass St.

Accerlernado had a couple fans recommend it. They might just win for most intriguing coffee drink name: @frommetovuu wrote “Accelerando coffee house and totally the cornflake latte!!” Anyone else curious what’s in the Cornflake?

 

Archetype

3926 Farnam St.

For the freshest and smoothest coffee around, Archetype is your place. They’ve made it a science and roast in-house. @programmerman tweeted “Archetype has the best coffee in Omaha.” And over on Instagram, others were just as definitive. @emilymtaber wrote “Archetype. No question.” @mylittlelorelaiI shared my sentiments exactly on Instagram: “I do love archetype but I always feel like I stand out for not being hipster enough.”

 

Aromas Bliss

1033 Jones St., 6051 Maple St., and inside Westroads Mall at Flagship Commons

This had a couple fans across different social platforms. I’ll admit, I got to Aromas more for the Bliss Bakery goodies than their coffee drinks, but its caffeinated fans are loyal! “We love Aromas!” tweeted @therusticroad.

 

Beansmith Coffee Roasters – Closing Oct. 15, 2017

1213 Harney St.

Beansmith is particular about coffee and it left a good impression on me when I visited during the Caffeine Crawl a year ago. Do you know how hard it is to stand out from the pack on a tour?

 

Caffeine Dreams

4524 Farnam St.

This Midtown coffee shop was accidentally left off this list but @aroger brought it to my attention: “Great hangout spot, warm and cozy, good for studying or casual conversation, their roasting is top-notch and best chai latte.” He’s right. How could I forget Caffeine Dreams?? I’ve been a few times to play games with my kids (and probably annoy the college students studying). If the weather’s nice, check out their outdoor space!

 

Crane Coffee

5923 Center St., 7772 Cass St., and 3027 S. 84th St.

This is a particular favorite in my family. Any early morning road trip begins at the Crane on Cass Street, picking up a coffee for me and Mr. Wonderful and a chocolate chunk scone for the kiddos before we head out.

 

Culprit Cafe

1603 Farnam St., suite 101

Like Aromas, I associate Culprit with baked goods more than coffee, but it has some serious fans. “From simple pour overs to amazing lattes (try the vanilla one), @culpritcafe is my go-to,” writes @jbath13.

 

Delice European Cafe & Bakery

3201 Farnam St., suite 6112

 

Karma Koffee

587 N. 155th Plaza

 

Mug Life

2452 Harney St.

 

Omaha Bicycle Co.

6015 Maple St.

This place wins for most unique combo: It is in fact a bike shop and a coffee shop.

 

ROAST Coffee House

1904 S. 67th St.

This is a newer one in Omaha, and it already has a lot of fans. @spartanjess wrote she loved the breve there. I love a Hill of Beans, who has amazing coffee beans you can purchase for home brewing, so I know their coffee shop has to be serving incredibly good coffee.

 

Scooters

Several locations

This local chain of coffee shops had quite a few fans. I’m going to guess it’s partly because they’re super convenient (and they have a great of flavored coffee, IMO).

 

Stay Sweet Nicolas

805 S. Main St., suite 2, Council Bluffs, Iowa

 

Urban Abbey

1026 Jackson St.

Urban Abbey got a vote from @jbrummer1031 on Instagram, and it reminded me to return to this great place. I usually only go on Saturdays when I make it to the farmers market next door.

 

Well Grounded Coffee House

707 S. 24th St.

 

Whole Foods

10020 Regency Circle

Those familiar with the chain probably have a favorite treat there (mine is the cheese samples…). @_mommyk._ wrote “A simple vanilla latte at Whole Foods has my vote!”

 

Zen Coffee Co.

230 S. 25th St., suite 3

 

13th Street Coffee

519 S. 13th St.

Kerri W. is a fan of this place. I used to go there often back when I had an Old Market apartment, but once more coffee shops opened downtown, I’ve found new favorites.

 

Best Coffee Shop Specialty Drinks in Omaha

Green Beans Coffee

6831 S. 167th St.

This one had a couple fans raving about, particularly the mocha. Says Amy R. “I usually get a mocha but anything there is great!”

 

Scooters

Several locations

“Scooters has the best cappuccino blender. It’s not overloaded with sugar like some others,” said Darci D. Kelly R. recommended the Carmeclious, “It is amazing.” (I have to agree with her)

 

Is this list missing your favorite Omaha coffee shop? Leave me a comment telling me what it is and why!

 

Hungry?

 

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July 14, 2017

Lost Restaurants Of Omaha

Update: I’ve been adding author appearances & locations to purchase the book. Scroll down to find them!

Disclosure: The following posts contains affiliate links. At no cost to the consumer, when you make a purchase from the link, I receive a teeny, tiny amount of money to help me continue doing what I love to do – writing. Thanks for your support!

I’ve written a book, you guys, and it’s now published!  “Lost Restaurants of Omaha” was published by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press on Oct. 30, 2017. 

Lost Restaurants of Omaha cover

 

This has been a labor of love for over a year. I’ve interviewed a number of families and friends connected to some of Omaha’s most beloved restaurants; scoured hundreds of newspaper stories, magazines and books; and one time, chatted on the phone with Alexander Payne during my son’s 7th birthday.

True story.

 

This is what book research looks like at Louie M’s Burger Lust. Louie Marcuzzo’s grandma opened Italian Gardens in Little Italy, a restaurant that was bombed right before opening.

 

There are some incredible photos in the book, too, and I want to express my appreciation for the folks at The Durham Museum Photo Archive, who not only helped me search for photos properly, but helped make it affordable to secure the rights to use the images. You can browse their archives, too, and even reprint photos for your own use. 

Researching this book made made me realize how connected restaurants are to this city’s history. Many of the restaurants in this book were open during my lifetime and, yet, I never dined there. My hope is that what I’ve written will recreate some of those dining experiences for those who did make it to those restaurants, and inform the rest of us what we missed. Writing this book spurred the Old School Omaha dining series on this blog where I visited some of Omaha’s oldest restaurants, because I don’t want to realize too late that I missed visiting a gem in my own city.

 

Where to buy “Lost Restaurants of Omaha”

Amazon

Arcadia Publishing

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

The Bookworm

The Durham Museum gift shop

Indie Bound

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters in Omaha

 

Author Appearances

Nov. 2 – Tune in to KMTV Channel 3’s “The Morning Blend” to hear me talk about the book. The show airs from 9 to 10 a.m.

Nov. 3 – Tune to Star 104.5 FM morning show with Chris and Terri. I’m pre-recording an interview with them and anticipate it airing the following morning.

Nov. 4Omaha Public Library’s Read It & Eat Culinary Conference (I’ll be doing the Q&A at 12:15…the conference is all about sweets, you guys, and there will be food samples. You need to go!)

Nov. 12 – Forgotten Omaha monthly meeting at DJ’s Dugout, 5 p.m. Books will be available for purchase.

Dec. 9 – Book signing at Barnes & Noble Booksellers at Crossroads Mall, 1 to 3 p.m. Books will be available for purchase.

Dec. 10 – Book signing at Barnes & Noble Booksellers at Oak View, 1 to 3 p.m. Books will be available for purchase.

Dec. 16 – Book signing at Sarpy County Museum, 2402 Clay St, Bellevue, Neb., 1 to 3 p.m. Books will be available for purchase.

Dec. 17 – Book signing at The Bookworm, 2501 S. 90th St., suite 111, 1 p.m. Books will be available for purchase. Other authors at the book signing will be Gretchen Garrison (“Detour Nebraska”) and the author of “Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (Landmarks)”

 

Stay tuned for updates on local stores to purchase the book and more author appearances!

 

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June 28, 2017

Feed Your Inner-Child At These Omaha Restaurants

Omaha’s food scene has made it entirely possible to eat like a child and not feel guilty. Cotton Candy after dinner? Yes, please. Homemade pop tarts? I’ll try one of each. Mac and cheese? Well, it is gourmet.

I asked Oh My! Omaha Facebook fans and friends in the Omaha Area Foodies Facebook group, to share their thoughts on the topic: Restaurants that include your inner-child.

Want to indulge your inner-child? Dine at one of these Omaha restaurants:

Omaha restaurants to feed your inner-child

Cotton Candy

Salt 88 has been surprising diners for a few years, handing over cotton candy as an unexpected treat at the end of a meal. You’ll never know what flavor it will be, but it’s safe to assume it’s going to be tasty. Heather reminded me of this delicious treat, adding 💕💕💕 to her comment, because it is that good.

Salt 88, 3623 N. 129th St. (Closed July 22, 2017)

 

French Fried Twinkies & Other Delights

The only thing better than a Twinkie, Oreos or a Snickers, is a french fried Twinkie, Oreo or Snickers. Amirigtht? Gabriela agrees with me. She recommends going to W.C. Frank to try these delicious treats. Yeah, the W.C. Frank from your childhood is back.

W.C. Frank, 210 S. 16th St. (in the Brandeis Building food court).

 

Grilled Cheese…But Fried

Cheese and fried foods. It’s a match made in heaven. Amanda recommended readers try the cheese frenchee at Don & Millies.

There are seven locations in Nebraska.

 

Hot Dogs

Hot dogs have been taken to a new level at B & B Classic Dogs. Think of topping a hot dog off with peanut butter and bacon, or perhaps try the Some Mitch, which is covered with mac & cheese, bacon & barbecue sauce. Two people, Jen and Danell, gave me high praise for this Bellevue restaurant.

B & B Classic Dogs, 1020 Lincoln Road, Bellevue, Neb.

 

Ice Cream

If it was socially accepted, I’d eat ice cream daily. Maybe as a meal itself. Cindy agreed with me, and confessed she sometimes eats ice cream for lunch…Ted and Wally’s ice cream, that is. I get it. It’s that good. Cindy and I would get along, because she’s also a traditionalist when she orders, getting vanilla and Dutch chocolate in a waffle cone. You can get fancier and more playful flavors, but why would you? That Dutch chocolate is the best in the world.

Ted and Wally’s, 1120 Jackson St. and 6023 Maple St.

Loose Meat Sandwiches

Craving this Midwestern staple? Jamie at The Kitchenarium recommends going to B&G Tasty Foods to relive your childhood. The Bee Gee hasn’t changed since 1953.

B&G Tasty Foods, 7900 W Dodge Road

 

Mac N Cheese

Omahans love their macaroni and cheese, the more gourmet, the better. When I was pregnant, I swear I’ve tried them all. The best of the best, in my opinion, is found at Marks Bistro. Others disagree. Jamie at The Kitchenarium recommends going to the Blatt Beer & Table (in NoDo) for their mac and cheese. Jake suggested going to Leadbelly at Midtown Crossing for it. And, Cassie directed people to Benson Brewery to try it.

Marks Bistro, 4916 Underwood Ave.

Blatt Beer & Table, 610 N. 12th St.

Leadbelly, 3201 Farnam St., Suite 6101 (there’s a Lincoln location, as well)

Benson Brewery, 6059 N. Maple St.

 

Open-Faced Grilled PB&J

You’re going to want to head to Kitchen Table for this modern take on the peanut butter and jelly classic. Janelle from Bakes in Slippers suggested it.

Kitchen Table, 1415 Farnam St.

 

Pizza Cones

You didn’t even know these were a thing, did you? They are, and they’re so good. You can get the cone of cheesey goodness at The Session Room in NoDo. While there, further indulge that inner-child and play some oversized Jenga.

The Session Room, 1506 Mike Fahey St.

Pop Tarts

If you’ve never had a homemade pop tart, you’re missing out. Over Easy in West Omaha serves up this amazing breakfast pastry with a twist. You can get one stuffed with Nutella or a seasonal flavor.

Over Easy, 16859 Q St.

 

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June 5, 2017

Old School Omaha: Nitehawkes Cafe

Kim’s Note: While working on a book about Omaha restaurants that have closed, I started to notice a trend about the more recently shuttered spots. I hadn’t dined at most of them, and I missed out on some gems. So I’ve decided to make it a goal to visit Omaha’s oldest restaurants before any more shut down. Don’t miss the other posts in the series, Gorat’s Steakhouse, Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria and Johnny’s Cafe.

It’s about time I got a breakfast out of this oldest restaurants series! NiteHawkes Cafe serves breakfast and lunch, but, I’m always on the look for a new place to try for breakfast. So, we headed up to North Omaha to try this long-running diner.

This family owned restaurant (the Hawkes family, if you’re wondering) has been around since 1942. They serve breakfast and lunch, with the made-to-order breakfast menu available that entire time.

Nitehawkes Cafe

A busy parking lot is a good sign for a local restaurant.

My kind of place.

Atmosphere at NiteHawkes

The exterior isn’t much to write home about, nor is the interior. It is more spacious than you’d think, once you’re inside, and on the Saturday morning of our visit, it looked like there were regulars all around us.

I bet this place gets pretty busy on a weekend morning.

There’s a small counter near the kitchen that added some interest to the interior, but other than that, not much made this place standout.

It’s no Johnny’s Cafe when it comes to decor, is what I’m saying.

The food at NiteHawkes

You’d better arrive hungry at NiteHawkes Cafe. This is The Scrambler and it comes with either pancakes or toast. Go big or go home.

I ordered one of their specialties (“Hometown Favorites” on the menu), and Mr. Wonderful order another. We went big, because, why not. I tried The Scrambler with toast, justifying the gravy and hashbrowns because of all the vegetables that were added to it. Legit, right?

Mr. Wonderful had The Stacker, which is eggs, hashbrowns and gravy over some flaky biscuits. 

I’m not much of a gravy person, but the sausage gravy was what made both dishes.

M&Ms on my kids’ pancakes because the syrup was just not enough sugar. 🙂

The kids each got a smiley face pancake with a side of bacon. For $2.69 a plate, that was a great deal.

If you’re serious about your coffee, relax. It’s pretty good here.

Good coffee elevates a diner to a whole new level.

I can’t vouch for the quality of lunch food. I can tell you it’s what you’d expect for a diner: Sandwiches, a good variety of grilled foods, soups and salads. There are some interesting burger toppings to point out: There’s the Dan Special which includes some Royal French dressing on top, and The Big Hawkes Burger, with 1000 Island dressing on it. I’m pretty curious about the dressings, that’s for sure.

Overall experiences

Hanging out at the Nitehawkes Cafe counter.

The NiteHawkes Cafe is the quintessential diner – no frills, just good, straight-forward food. The price is about right for a diner and the service was quick.

There’s little wonder why this restaurant has stayed in business for so long.

If you go

Nitehawkes Cafe

Where: 4825 N. 16th St.

When: Tuesdays through Fridays, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and closed on Mondays

Website

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May 18, 2017

Old School Omaha: Johnny’s Cafe

Kim’s Note: While working on a book about Omaha restaurants that have closed, I started to notice a trend about the more recently shuttered spots. I hadn’t dined at most of them, and I missed out on some gems. So I’ve decided to make it a goal to visit Omaha’s oldest restaurants before any more shut down. Don’t miss the other posts in the series, Gorat’s Steakhouse and Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria!

 

Johnny’s Cafe has a lot of supporters. When I asked which restaurant should be on my tour of Omaha’s oldest restaurants, people suggested Johnny’s. You ask where to get a good steak in Omaha, and Johnny’s Cafe is on the list.

Friends rave about Johnny’s

It had the Hollywood allure, having a scene from Alexander Payne’s “About Schmidt” filmed there.

I’d never been, so I figured now’s the time to go.

It wasn’t what I had expected.

Unfortunately.

History of Johnny’s Cafe

Johnny's Cafe exterior

Johnny’s Cafe opened in Omaha in 1922, making it one of the oldest restaurants still in operation.

Johnny’s Cafe opened in 1922. Frank Kawa, a Polish immigrant, expanded the restaurant in spite of Prohibition and the food rationing of the 1940s. A large part of the success was its proximity to the booming Stockyards.

A lot of the features people associate with Johnny’s Cafe were added during remodeling in the 1970s, including the memorable front doors and a new look to the interior.

It’s still a family-owned establishment, with Frank’s granddaughters running things.

Johnny’s Cafe Atmosphere

Johnny's Cafe interior

The dining room at Johnny’s Cafe is unforgettable in its retro cool way.

I want to focus on the atmosphere because that is something Johnny’s does remarkably well. Every room at Johnny’s is a time warp, right down to the yellow and orange tiles in the bathroom.

The retro dining room is large, and even on an early lunch visit, it was fairly busy. Lights were dim, but the large backlit wall mural added some additional light to things. 

It looked so cool in there, I wanted to walk around and take a picture of everything. It totally makes sense why a movie would have a scene here. It’s evocative of an era and you won’t forget how it looks inside.

Johnny’s Cafe may just have the coolest entrance in Omaha. The front doors are so interesting.

I liked the lobby, too, with a massive chandelier and the restaurant’s history framed on the walls for you to read while waiting.

Don’t skip peeking into the bar area. My photos can’t do it justice.

Food at Johnny’s Cafe

The chicken and mashed potatoes entree at Johnny’s Cafe.

The food at this legendary establishment was a letdown. There’s no way around it. Having heard so many great things, and suggestions on what to order, nothing lived up to everyone’s enthusiasm.

It started out rocky. The famous cottage cheese spread appetizer was a hit with half of our table. I didn’t like it much.

Most dishes ordered was served overcooked, from the orange roughy to the chewy chicken. I tried one of the beef specialties, the chicken fried steak. It was pretty chewy, salty and not much else to note about it. The worst offense was my mashed potatoes, which tasted straight out of a box. A sad piece of parley accompanied my entree. I sampled food off two other plates around the table and I could not find one thing to recommend.

What Johnny’s does right when it comes to food is the kid’s menu with a good variety in a range of $2.95 to $7.95, including steak, shrimp, burgers, and grilled cheese. The best thing I tasted was the dessert my son ordered, the Dirt Shake, complete with a gummy worm.

I take that back. The bread pudding was pretty delicious, too.

One last thing about Johnny’s Cafe

Johnny’s Cafe is such a neat looking place, and it’s a part of Omaha’s history, so I hate to say the dining experience was a disappointment, but it was.  

It’s lasted more than 90 years, I suspect, out of loyalty from regulars. My hope is the food gets back on track and begins to live up to its reputation. 

If you go

Johnny’s Cafe

Where: 4702 S. 27th St.

Note: Getting there is tricky. Take the L street exit of the Kennedy Expressway and head south like you’re about to get back on the expressway.

Website

 

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May 3, 2017

Old School Omaha: Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria

Kim’s Note: While working on a book about Omaha restaurants that have closed, I started to notice a trend about the more recently shuttered spots. I hadn’t dined at most of them, and I missed out on some gems. So I’ve decided to make it a goal to visit Omaha’s oldest restaurants before any more shut down. Don’t miss the first post in the series about Gorat’s Steakhouse

Orsi's Italian Bakery

The longest running restaurant in Omaha is Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria. Orsi’s started in 1919 and added pizza in the 1960s.

Let’s talk about Orsi’s. I’ve never been inside this tiny place in Little Italy until a rainy day this spring.

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 is a popular pizza to serve at public gatherings, and so I have tasted it before. 

However, I soon learned that eating a slice in a conference room pales in comparison to visiting in person.

Italian Food at Orsi’s

I brought my son with me to try Orsi’s and, so, while there were deli items on the menu, we were there for the pizza. I always figured I was a thin-crust kind of pizza lover, but Orsi’s has proven me wrong. This is good stuff, and so fresh. A medium was more than plenty for the two of us.

Orsi’s is more of a take-out restaurant than dine-in.

We also tried the garlic bread, which Jim, the friendliest guy behind a counter ever, added on to our order on the house. My son could’ve, and would’ve, only eaten that if I let him.

For dessert, there are cookies and cannoli to choose from, plus a lot of sweet stuff on the store shelves. We split a cannoli, half chocolate and vanilla. If you ask me, the vanilla was the best; my son would disagree.

Like anything good, there’s a wait. Order ahead of time if you are in a crunch over the lunch time.

They sell their fresh baked goods, plus meats and cheeses and a ton of imported goods, as well.

Little Italy Atmosphere

The deli counter at Orsi’s.

This is a deli and bakery and there is no permanent seating, besides some benches. However, they are prepared for people like me, who’ve never been there.

Jim set up a table for us in front of a bench, and we dined while looking at old photographs on the wall and people-watching as regulars came and went with their take-out.

The deli has imported goods and homemade pastas and baked goods.

Orsi’s maintains a neighborly feel to it, having been a part of Omaha’s Little Italy for decades. It is one of the few remaining establishments from what had been a very lively neighborhood.

It’s a comfortable place, and you feel like you’re stepping into Omaha history when you walk through the doors.

Final Thoughts

Orsi's sign

Orsi’s was a pleasant surprise for me. I was unsure about dining in, and as I suspected, there isn’t a technical dining room. But, I enjoyed our makeshift spot and liked the atmosphere of this neighborhood joint.

I’d recommend ordering takeout, for sure, but it’s not a bad thing to sit and watch a neighborhood bakery/pizzeria’s hustle.

If you go

Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria

Where: 621 Pacific St.

Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Website

 

 

Let’s keep this old-school Omaha tour going. Where should I go to next?

 

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