7 Must-Try Restaurants In Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha is perhaps best known as the home of great steaks. While this reputation, which dates back to when the city was home to the largest lager in the world, is certainly deserved, Omaha’s culinary scene has expanded to include many other options, including vegetarian and international.
In fact, visitors may not be aware that there are some truly unique dining experiences to be found in Omaha, from dinner with raccoons to a massive cheeseburger-eating challenge.
Here are seven of the must-try restaurants – you won’t find places like this anywhere else!
1. Alpine Inn
The Alpine Inn serves some of the best fried chicken in the country, but the real draw for guests is the local wildlife. What started as a way to get rid of chicken bones and other foods has become a tourist attraction. Every evening, employees throw scraps of food and bones on scaffolding just outside the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows, and dozens of raccoons and feral cats dine on the fortifications. Some of the raccoons come from 2 miles away for the festival! Customers gather around the windows to watch the animals devour the food.
If all you want to do is enjoy the delicious chicken dinner, you might want to arrive early in the evening. If you want to dine with the raccoons, plan for dinner closer to sunset. The later you stay, the more raccoons and cats you will see.
Whether you go to dinner or the show, you are sure to enjoy your experience at the Alpine Inn.
2. Harolds Koffee House
Strolling through the door of Harolds Koffee House is like stepping back in time to the 1950s. Harold’s was founded by Harold Halstead, a former shoe seller, in the Florence neighborhood and quickly became known as the place to enjoy a delicious meal at a reasonable price. Halstead knew he needed something unique to attract customers and one day bought an orange sign with black letters that spelled FOOD. The sign is still hanging over the entrance. Halstead was also known for wearing a white paper cap when cooking.
Halstead’s family was involved in the business early on, and it was his wife Pauline who created the Susie’s Special. Her daughter Susie was sick and wanted her mother to make her something to eat, so Pauline added freshly cut hash browns and onions to a scrambled egg. The dish was a hit with customers and remains one of the house’s most popular products.
When Halstead retired, his children took over the business. Today grandson Matt Bohnenkamp runs the restaurant together with his mother. Harold’s greets first-time visitors with a free donut.
3. Stella’s Bar & Grill
This greasy Bellevue spoon is perhaps Omaha’s favorite burger joint. It’s known to serve burgers without plates or cutlery, and people use napkins (and many of them) as plates. You can order your burger with all kinds of toppings including peanut butter, bacon, eggs, jalapenos, and jelly.
In addition, Stella’s Bar & Grill offers guests the opportunity to receive the Stellanator – six burger patties, six slices of cheese, six fried eggs, 12 pieces of bacon and all kinds of toppings as well as an order of french fries – free of charge. The catch? You have to eat it within 45 minutes. If you are successful, you will receive a free t-shirt and your picture on the Wall of Fame. If you fail, pay $ 35 and receive your picture on the Wall of Shame. A competitive eater managed to shut down the stellanator in 3 minutes and 40 seconds!
The number of seats is limited. So be prepared to wait.
4. Brother Sebastian’s Steak House & Winery
Brother Sebastian has been around since 1977 and is still considered one of the best steakhouses in Omaha. When the original structure was destroyed in a fire in 1996, owner Loren Koch quickly rebuilt it according to the original design.
The building resembles a Spanish mission, and the waiters wear uniforms that resemble religious customs. The dining area of the restaurant looks like a monastery, including a library and a wine bar. In low light, you feel like you are actually dining with monks.
While most steakhouses want to be known for their steaks and prime ribs, Brother Sebastian’s also prides itself on its salad bar, which is one of the best in town. The restaurant also offers an excellent selection of wines.
5. Malara’s Italian restaurant
Caterina Malara is 32 years old, widowed and had to look after her four young daughters. She turned to what she knew best: cooking. The Italian immigrant (via Argentina) sold homemade ravioli from home.
After a few years, she started looking for a location to continue her business. Rotella, a local bakery, rented her a place where she sold sandwiches and ravioli through a take-away window. An opportunity later came up to buy the building, but she didn’t have the money to close the deal. A family friend loaned her the money to grow her business.
Located in a residential neighborhood between downtown and South Omaha, Malara’s has grown significantly over the past 35 years. With her daughters and grandchildren who help her, Malara continued to cook until her 80s. She still uses the old fashioned pasta maker she once used to make ravioli in her basement.
Their pasta has a unique texture and special homemade sauce, and their restaurant offers a charming, family-friendly dining experience. You might get a hug from the matriarch after dinner!
6. Sage Student Bistro at Metropolitan Community College
Sage Student Bistro, managed and staffed by students of the Metropolitan Community College’s culinary arts program, offers unique and delicious appetizers. The restaurant is designed to help students learn about restaurant management. Each student works as a server, floor manager and in the kitchen.
The restaurant is open daily during school hours and offers a casual lunch like sauteed shrimp and noodles or a short rib grilled cheese sandwich. Dinner is upscale and requires a reservation. Guests sit at tables covered in white tablecloths as they enjoy evening entrees such as chicken roulade and strips of beef.
Before you set off, make sure to spend hours checking out the website and the menu.
7. The Monster Club
Classic horror movie fans aren’t sure if the Monster Club on the Old Market is a museum with food or a restaurant with creepy decor. Whichever way you look at it, a site visit is a must!
Opened by horror movie and pop culture fans, the restaurant features movie posters, props, and life-size sculptures of classic horror movie creatures like the werewolf, Pennywise, the dancing clown, and the gremlin. Above each booth is a creepy figure climbing out of a window. You will see Dracula and Freddy from the A Nightmare on Elm Street film series. Customers are encouraged to walk around the Monster Club and enjoy the view.
The menu includes burgers and sandwiches with creepy names like the Monster Burger, the Son of Monster Burger and the Chainsaw. The cocktails also have unique names, including the Hiya Georgie and the Corpse Reviver.
While it might be scary for some little ones, the restaurant has a kids’ menu.
What to do before or after your meal in Omaha
While in Omaha, be sure to check out some of the city’s best attractions before or after a great meal.
Omaha is home to the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, one of the best zoos in the world. You can spend an entire weekend exploring the zoo’s many attractions, including the African Meadows, the Desert Dome, and the Song Rainforest Jungle.
Just a few blocks from the popular historic Old Market neighborhood, the Durham Museum, housed in a former train depot, offers a glimpse into the area’s railroad and pioneering history.
Omaha’s riverside is another great area to visit. Walk down Lewis and Clark Landing en route to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, the largest pedestrian bridge that connects two states.
Want to learn more about Omaha’s food and drink scene? Here you will find the best beer, wine and spirits in town. Here are 11 great brunch places to try.