Monday, May 14, 2012

12 Places Where You Should Go Eat in West Omaha

That's Annabel on her 1st birthday enjoying a bento box lunch at Maru

I've lived in Omaha for almost 5 years and often times I'll hear lifelong Omahans comment that they've never heard of a restaurant I mention. And it can be either a new place, an old one, a moderately priced restaurant or a dive.

When I moved here from New York City, I made it my mission to know Omaha inside and out. But like many who came from bigger cities, I really kept my knowledge to midtown and east. God forbid I go anyplace "out west" in the 'burbs.

But now that I live in "uncool" West Omaha, I've really found that there are great little places to go for a bite to eat that aren't necessarily chains (contrary to what midtowners and downtowners want to believe).

I've compiled a list of some great eats in Omaha -- most which are located in....yup, you guessed it, "uncool" West Omaha.

This is a list of unexpected places to go that are all west of 42nd Street...

French: Le Voltaire -- My husband is taken to this restaurant every year on his birthday. The last time we were there, we looked at each other and thought, "Why do we come here only on special occasions?" The prices are reasonable enough -- depending on what you order -- and you'll definitely be treated to one the best meals you can get in Omaha for any night of the week. Their specials are wonderful, although definitely more pricey.

Italian: Pasta Amore -- I have yet to find a true Northern Italian restaurant in Omaha. But if you want dependable Italian cuisine with a Southern bent, I recommend this place located in Rockbrook Village around 108th Street. Try their penne a la vodka or get any of their veal or chicken specialties.

Japanese: Sushi Japan -- Try to get a sushi bar seat and enjoy their omakase menu. I really like the sushi chefs there and they do sashimi and sushi very well. If you sit in the dining room, look at their specials and get something truly fresh and delicious. This is located out west too around 141st Street.

American: J. Coco -- I'm a big fan already of this new spot in Omaha. It has an edited menu with special dishes to cater to many appetites. Everything from bouillabaisse to osso bucco to wagyu steak. It's a jewel box of a restaurant, so you'll want to make reservations for sure. Or sit at the bar and wait for your table with a craft cocktail from Chris Engles, their bartender extraordinaire. Located in the old Wohler's building on Leavenworth around 52nd Street.

Korean: Maru -- At the very least, you can tell everyone you went to Omaha and had Korean food. People will raise their eyebrows thinking, HUH? For Korean novices, get a seafood pancake and pan fried dumplings to start. Kalbi is a must and the dolsot bibimpop is to-die-for good. Be sure to scrape all the crunchy bits of rice and savor all the yumminess. Maru is located south around 108th Street.

Mexican: Rivera's -- I cannot believe there are people in Omaha who have never eaten here! Rivera's is better than any other Mexican food I've had in NYC including Rosa Mexicano and the like. Their Sparky's nachos are unlike anything I've ever had and are so incredibly flavorful and spicy! And you cannot go wrong with their chicken mole enchiladas. Seriously good stuff. Rivera's is located around 120th Street and Blondo.

Asian Fusion: Hiro -- We had our rehearsal/out-of-towners dinner here and there isn't anything on the menu that does not please and delight. Start with the Asian short ribs, gyoza and avocado spring rolls and choose either the salmon plank, miso cod, peanut butter chicken or Mongolian beef for your entrée. And don't miss their crazy delicious gooey chocolate cake! Hiro is located near Eagle Run, off Maple and 129th Street.

Indian: Tanduri Fusion -- My love of Indian food goes way back to when I first moved to New York City in the early '90s. Tanduri Fusion hits the spot like no other place in Omaha for Indian food. It's another restaurant located way out in West Omaha and people just don't know about it enough. There may be better looking places or more "hole in the wall" joints, but this place can't be beat in my opinion. I love some of their special lamb dishes like safed maas and their chicken makhani or korma are some of my favorite dishes. Tanduri Fusion is located around 175th and Center.

HomecookingHeartland Café -- It's located way, way out west, technically in Elkhorn. But it has a seriously amazing buffet brunch that is hard to beat. We had our out-of-towners' brunch here for our wedding and guests from California to Maryland to New York were delighted with the chicken fried steak, perfect pancakes, crispy bacon, made-to-order omelettes and mini cinnamon buns among other offerings.

Belgian/Brasserie: Dario's -- In my opinion, they have the best brunch menu in Omaha. I love the variety of items including sweet and savory crêpes, quiches, salads and Belgian specials like mussels and frites. A delicious cocktail menu includes one of my favorites, "the Cocktail Aux Lillet, a classic spritzer turned head over heels in love with classic Elderflower Liquor." They have an amazing dinner menu as well, and you don't want to miss the frites with their special aioli. Dario's is located in the heart of Dundee at Underwood and 49th.

Gastropub: Lot 2 -- This newest addition to the Omaha foodscape scene is a well-needed and modern one. We love the look of the place and the food is great to boot. The brunch menu offers everything from croque madames and eggs benedict to ramen. Bloody Marys and a High Life are served post-noon for those who are looking to nurse their hangovers. Dinner service has an eclectic array of dishes ranging from bangers and mash to special fish entrées. Lot 2 is located in Benson on Maple around 62nd Street.

Chinese: New Gold Mountain -- If you want to have dim sum, this is the place to go. There aren't the traditional carts of food going around the room but it's a Chinese-owned joint that has mostly Asian clientele. My usual order includes Singapore noodles, shrimp dumplings, roasted pork, BBQ pork buns, lotus leaf wrapped rice, turnip cake, 1/2 order Peking Duck. And if you want Vietnamese, they serve a mean pho. This is also the place to get traditional Chinese dishes like moo shu pork, General Tso's chicken and a Szechuan shredded beef. New Gold Mountain is off 156th Street, north of Maple.

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