When you think about Omaha, most people have never been or think it’s just flyover country. I had been for work a few times but never really had time to check out Omaha. When Visit Omaha contacted me about coming for a weekend I was really excited. It just so happened to be Omaha Restaurant Week as well. Delicious food and a chance to try new restaurants. Sign me up.
Where we stayed:
A beautiful historic building with a ton of charm, great rooms and a convenient location to downtown and the Old Town area.
After getting checked into our hotel we went in search of lunch. We had read some great reviews on the Benson Neighborhood and particularly, the Benson Brewery. Local beers, great burgers and a stylish interior. It has undergone a gentrification and is the new “hipster” spot. Great restaurants and breweries.
Balsamic Bacon Jam Blue Cheese Burger. As good as it looks and sounds!
Traditional cheseburger with onion straws
Onto the Joslyn Art Museum. A mix of ancient Greek art to modern 20th century painters. My favorite pieces were all of the blown glass, the building itself (done in an Art Deco style) and the beautiful sculpture garden. Major bonus? It’s free!
A stroll through Old Town to check out the shops, visit another local brewery/distillery and just got some walking in. Sitting in the car all day doesn’t do much for my step count.
Borgata has been open a few months in another historic space, they remodeled it beautifully and their hard cider and white whiskey are pretty fantastic. They have high end cocktails as well and were prepping for their Oktoberfest on Saturday (we had too much going on or we would have gone!)
We had dinner at Taita on Friday night, another gem in the Benson neighborhood that serves sushi and a locally driven menu. There were two options for the restaurant week menu and we opted to share one of each. It was the best way to try the most dishes!
- local tomato salad: soy vinaigrette | local greens | puffed rice
- brown butter scallop | edamame | soy glaze | spices
- braised beef cheeks | wheat berry risotto | mint pesto
This was chef choice and included a roll, a ceviche dish and 4 pieces of sushi. It was delicious!
Our one complaint, the service was a bit slow (they were really busy) and the sushi portions were quite small. I am glad we shared since it was enough for the two of us but I know Scott would have needed more sushi.
After a complimentary breakfast at our hotel we bundled up (it was in the upper 40’s) and headed to the Henry Doorly Zoo to visit all the animals. I am glad we arrived shortly after it opened, by the time we were done it was packed.
I appreciate the learning aspect of zoos but do feel a bit sorry for the animals. I do applaud the zoo for expanding habitat areas and ensuring the animals had additional space to roam. We really loved the aquarium and the chance to be outside soaking up the cool but beautiful morning.
Stop #2 for the day, The Lauritzen Gardens. I think this was our favorite attraction of the weekend. 100 acres of gardens, plants and a chance to enjoy some quiet after the zoo. Haha. I had been a while since I was last at a zoo and I had forgotten how loud they get. This was the perfect respite.
We strolled, talked about our favorite areas and flower, we may even have a few ideas for our own back yard. The gardens are open all year but I can only imagine how beautiful they are at the peak of summer.
It was after 1:30 by the time we were done and really ready for some lunch. Pizza sounded pretty fantastic and especially a coal fired pizza place that had modern décor, a great beer and wine list and delicious food. Check out Pitch Pizza, it is fantastic. This pizza was delicious! Super spicy for Scott and I just took most of the pepperoncini’s off and still enjoyed the flavor.
Given my affinity of talking with my hands I almost sent this pizza flying. Seriously. Scott managed to catch it. We had a good laugh about that one as my face was bright red…
We headed to Midtown Crossing after lunch to check out one more area, we knew we would be having dinner there that evening but had heard good things about Brix and Grane. Two “bars” that allow you to preload a card with a set amount and select the sample of your choice.
At Brix wines range from $1-8 for a small sample and full glasses are around $12-18 (for higher end wines). We also happened to be there for a free tasting and got to try some great cabs for fall. I think we may have found a new favorite cab! We didn’t even end up using a card at Brix because of the free tasting (moderation is key) and walked over to Grane which is owned by the same group.
Grane features whiskey and scotch. I was a happy happy girl. Scott and I shared a tasting after loading a card with $20 and having 3 very unique samples. A smoky, peaty Islay scotch, Green Spot which doesn’t make it to the U.S. very often and Arran which was a tiny bit sweeter. This place was a blast! I loved talking with the staff and hearing their recommendations. The cocktail list was pretty fantastic too.
To end our evening on Saturday we headed to The Grey Plume for the best meal we’ve had in quite some time. Excellent service, really unique food and the wine pairing was spot on.
- potato soup: crème fraiche | potato salpicon | black summer truffle
- honey creek creamery chevre gnocchi: tomato confit | sunflower sprout | candy onion
- blue valley steelhead trout fillet: summer succotash | pattypan squash | cherry tomato | okra
- great plains certified piedmontese beef collar: potato | maitake | broccoli | grilled peach | pastrami
- earl grey pot de crème: chocolate | bergamot | black tea
- peach blancmange: pecan | sage | brown butter
We enjoyed everything but if we had to pick a favorite, the soup and the trout were the best things. The beef collar was a bit tough and since neither of us had ever had it before we didn’t know what to expect.
It was quite dark in the restaurant but Scott did manage to get this great shot of our second course wine and dessert wine. It was a lovely two hours to just enjoy the food, sip our wines and loved the atmosphere.
If you are looking for a great place to check out for a weekend, head to Omaha. Great food, wonderful attractions and it’s very drivable from a lot of cities. It took us about 5 and a half hours from the Twin Cities and made for a perfect long weekend.
Thank you to Visit Omaha for providing our hotel and dinners on Friday and Saturday evening. We had a fantastic time!