The best of Omaha restaurants, perfect for al fresco dining
Omaha is home to a fantastic culinary scene. The large number of authentic restaurants with inventive menus might surprise you. If you think Omaha is a sleepy little town on the prairie, you will be shocked (in a good way) to discover all of the delicious restaurants there. There is something for everyone in the Omaha food scene.
Nowadays many of the local restaurants either have terraces or are considering how to get patios because so many people like to dine outside. Especially with the large outdoor heaters, it is quite possible to dine outside for most months of the year, even in Omaha. As soon as spring comes, Omaha outdoor dining gets really hot. So my advice is to make a reservation for the terrace or get on the waiting list early.
Here are some of my favorite places in Omaha for alfresco dining.
Jams has been an Omaha favorite for years. Jams pays off as an American grill and has three different locations in town. The original is in central Omaha, but there is also one to the west in the Legacy Shopping District and one downtown in the Old Market. I usually go to the central location in Omaha because it is closest to my home, but there is no outdoor seating there. However, both the Legacy location and the Old Market location have good outdoor spaces. Legacy has a large deck with a few tables (complete with umbrellas so you don’t have to worry about the sun). And at night it’s really pretty with all the fairy lights. The outside area of the Old Market is a cozy terrace.
I’ve been to all three Jams locations several times – it’s one of my favorite chains in Omaha – and the food is delicious. I almost always get the coconut and chicken salad. It’s incredible! The onion ring starter is fantastic too, as is the midtown meatloaf and the skyscraper sandwich. There is a great happy hour during the week with martinis worth $ 7. And on Saturday and Sunday mornings, you can enjoy bottomless mimosas.
La Buvette, a small French grocery and wine bar in the historic Old Market neighborhood, tops the list of the best outdoor restaurants in Omaha. It’s absolutely full of charm and popular with almost everyone in town. While there is indoor seating, the best way to experience La Buvette is to grab a table on the patio and sit down.
We’ve been here countless times and always love the ambience – it’s just a great terrace! We recently went to La Buvette for coffee on a Saturday morning and the simple coffee was some of the best I’ve had. The catering service starts at 11:30 a.m. and the tables fill up quickly! Browse inside and grab a bottle of wine to enjoy with your meal or to take home with you.
Pro tip: Make sure to check out the freshly baked bread. The last time I was there I grabbed a bread filled with olives and garlic and it was amazing.
Inner Rail Food Hall
The Inner Rail Food Hall is a newer Omaha spot that I really like. It’s an indoor / outdoor food court space on the site of the old Aksarben race track (yes – that’s Nebraska spelled backwards!). You come in and order at the counter in the restaurant of your choice. You will then receive a pager that will light up when your order is ready. So you don’t have to wait for servers or tip!
What I really like about the hall is that there is a lot of variety. If you and your dinner partner crave different things, you can each snap up the meat you feel and still have dinner together.
I especially like Noli’s Pizzeria. It’s nice because you can order a different kind of pizza or two. The crust is thin and crispy – just the way I like it. Recently we tried the Kathmandu Momo Station for ramen and momos. Momos are traditional Nepalese dumplings. We shared an order of pork ramen and 10 momos and had plenty to eat. I’m always eager to try new foods and both dishes were tasty. I will say the momo dip sauce put a heavy strain on the curry. So if you’re not a curry fanatic, keep this in mind. Looking forward to going back and trying something different.
There are also a few other restaurants to choose from, including the Maharani Indian Kitchen, which serves excellent chicken tikka masala, and the very popular burger restaurant, B Squared Burger. There is also a great bakery, Culprit Cafe, where you can get a sandwich on freshly baked bread. You can definitely get the entire crew to Inner Rail and everyone will find something they like.
Inner Rail also has a full bar. As for the seating, you can sit inside or outside on the huge terrace. We sat outside near one of the fire pits which kept us perfectly warm.
M’s Pub is another favorite in Omaha’s Old Market. It has been in its current location since the 1970s and has a very loyal following. In fact, people were broken when M’s was hit by a devastating fire a few years ago and had to close its doors to rebuild. Thankfully, with the remodel, they were able to recreate almost every detail so it’s still the perfect place.
I love Ms inside and out, but the small, very pretty terrace in front of the house is my favorite. You can dine while listening to the street musicians nearby. All types of people come here, from students to retirees. If you can’t get a table on the terrace, you’ll love the warm and welcoming space in the historic building. It really has a European feel to it.
For starters, you have a glass of wine and one of their baked dishes. I usually go for the baked shrimp scampi, sometimes followed by an order from Lahvosh. Their Thai Lahvosh is particularly spicy and good. When you’re feeling adventurous, choose the most unusual thing on the menu – the carrot dog! It’s a real carrot, grilled and marinated and served in a bun. I’ve never had it before but it has always been on the menu so people must love it!
Located in a historic building in the Benson neighborhood, Benson is one of my favorite summer restaurants. Inside, on the first level, you’ll find plenty of seating and a large bar. A cool feature of this level is the front wall. It’s built like a garage door and actually opens. When the weather is nice and the door is open, a breeze blows through the restaurant. The inside of the place is ok but in my opinion you really need to grab a table and park on the roof terrace. It overlooks Maple Street and is amazing! It’s a super fun atmosphere, especially when the sun goes down. Order a drink from the rooftop bar and relax outside.
They also offer a full menu. We have tried numerous products and especially like the sweet potato routine and the delicious nachos with pulled pork. On the weekends from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. they offer a full brunch menu of French toast with lemon pound cake, homemade fritters, and mimosa flights!
Saddle Creek Breakfast Club
The Saddle Creek Breakfast Club is an award-winning venue that serves creative breakfast and lunch dishes in a contemporary setting. This is a small restaurant with a small outdoor dining area. So you will likely have to wait for a table, but it’s worth it. Everything here is pretty darn good and I love breakfast. They make different dishes, not just the same old bacon and eggs. I like the Benny Crab Cake, which is Benedict’s eggs. But their famous banana pancakes are the best of them all. I longed for some sugar the last time I went to Saddle Creek. I went for these decadent banana pancakes and I was not disappointed!
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