Omaha has a satisying dining, drink, and coffee scene. According to Food & Spirits magazine, it ranks 55th (just behind Kansas City) in the number of restaurants per capita in the top 100 largest metro areas.
My mother, Audrey Sparks, and late stepdad, Larry, lived in Omaha for more than 10 years. Oh, how I lived to visit because I knew we’d get to go to Ted and Wally’s for ice cream, the Lazy Leopard Lounge to hear Larry sing to mom backed up by the amazing Johnny Ray Gomez band, and then onto Mr.Toad for more music.
Larry, being a big meat and potato kind of guy, loved taking mom to Anthony’s Steakhouse. Anthony’s has been an Omaha staple for more than 50 years.
When mom and Larry decided to leave Omaha in lieu of a smaller town to retire, I was not happy. Then when I heard the Lazy Leopard Lounge had closed, I was heartbroken. However, neither tragedy keeps me from visiting once a year to find new places to eat and grab coffee like the Twisted Fork and Plank Seafood & Provisions.
Last week I asked several long-term Omaha residents where they eat out and grab coffee. This is what they shared.
Mary and Mike Geiger have called Omaha home their entire 32-year marriage. When I asked them about their favorite date-night destination, they said date nights were rare. Mary said, “When we do treat ourselves to a night on the town, we love eating Mediterranean food at El Basha Grill because it’s always fresh or German food at Rathskeller Bier House.” (Rathskeller means Wine Cellar in German.) In addition to great German food, Rathskeller Bier Haus offers 29 rotating taps of European and local brews.
The Geiger’s love that Omaha has a variety of things to do, tons of restaurants, and little traffic or crowds. “Omaha isn’t too small or too big. Plus, Omaha hasn’t experienced the spike in Covid-19 cases other cities are wrestling with around the country,” says Mary. “We love calling Omaha home.”
The Geiger’s daughter Cecelia, or CeCe for short, is the big coffee drinker of the family. Cece says Omaha has a plethora of exceptional coffee shops, but she has a handful of favorites. Rally is her favorite for coffee. Hill of Beans is her favorite roast coffee. Amateur is her favorite for lattes.
“Amateur’s lattes are vegan, served with Oat milk. It’s revolutionary,” said Cece Geiger.
For a perfect place to study, Cece’s heads over to Myrtle and Cypress or Muglife.
Nelson and Jovi Torraca moved to Omaha from the Bronx in 1985. Nelson is a retired Air Force Sergeant. He and Jovi love the convenience and affordability of living in Omaha for the past 35 years. “Omaha just suits me,” says Nelson. “And it’s a great place to raise a family.”
The two restaurants the Torraca’s go to most for family celebrations are Brother Sebastian’s Steak House & Winery and Shucks Fish House & Oyster Bar, which has three Omaha locations. You can enjoy $5 off crab dinners on Crabby Monday’s or 99 cent Blue Point Oysters on Wednesday.
Jeanette and Steve Pelster have lived in Omaha for nearly 40 years. Steve is Vice President of the Omaha Golden Gloves and loves that Omaha’s middle of the country location cuts his travel time in half. As a former boxer himself, Steve loves a cold beer and perfectly cooked steak. He says South Omaha has a bar on every corner. Steve’s favorite pub is Ralston Keno, where you can win big and eat big, because it’s close to home. He and Jeanette often celebrate anniversaries and special occasions at Texas Roadhouse.
Why not check your calendar now and plan to get to Omaha before winter hits? Tom and I now try to avoid going in January and February after we drove right into a blizzard 2019 that shut Omaha down for the weekend.
We recommend staying at Hotel Deco and a drink at the Wicked Rabbit Speakeasy. We loved that combo of fun even though the fire alarm went off at 2 a.m. requiring us to exit our room one cold winter evening. We later learned two male guests on our floor were smoking weed, which set of the alarm.
How wicked of them.