September 16, 2014



I started out just copying and pasting the restaurants listed on the Omaha Restaurant Week website to better be able to sort myself.

And since it's me, I obviously used Excel for this exercise.

But an interesting trend emerged... it appears that participating restaurants were allowed to enter their own descriptions, and since self-identification is always such an interesting exercise, I promptly sorted the list by cuisine type.

The real question now... which to visit next.

Restaurant Cuisine Type
Tussey's Casual Grill
 
American  
 
Twisted Fork Grill & Saloon

 
American Comfort Food 
 
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
 
American Pub Fare 
 
Wave Bistro
 
Asian Fusion 
 
Bourbon's BBQ & Steaks
 
BBQ & Steakhouse 
 
Brix 
 
Bistro and Wine Bar 
 
Piccolo's Steaks & Cocktails
 
Classic Italian Steakhouse 
 
Plank Seafood Provisions
 
Coastally-inspired Seafood and Oyster Bar 
 
7M Grill
 
Comfort Fusion 
 
Boiler Room Restaurant
 
Contemporary American 
 
Lazlo's Brewery & Grill
 
Creative Comfort Food 
 
Blatt Beer & Table
 
Curated Pub Food 
 
Dante Ristorante Pizzeria
 
Farm-to-Table Italian & Wood-Fired Pizza 
 
Le Voltaire
 
French 
 
Dario's Brasserie
 
French/Belgian Comfort Food 
 
CRAVE
 
Fresh - Vibrant - American 
 
Pig & Finch
 
Gastropub 
 
Cantina Laredo
 
Gourmet Mexican Food 
 
Shucks Fish House and Oyster Bar
 
Gulf Coast Seafood 
 
Zurlo's Bistro Italiano
 
Italian Bistro 
 
Pasta Amore
 
Italian Ristorante Cafe & Bar 
 
Kona Grill
 
Kitchen, Sushi & Cocktails 
 
Twisted Cork Bistro
 
Local, Natural Food 
 
Dolce
 
Modern American 
 
Nosh Restaurant & Wine Lounge
 
Modern American 
 
Railcar Modern American Kitchen
 
Modern American 
 
Salt 88
 
Modern American/Mediterranean 
 
Le Bouillon
 
Modern French & Raw Bar 
 
Jackson Street Tavern
 
New American  
 
Flatiron Cafe
 
New American Fine Dining 
 
Louie's Wine Dive
 
New American Restaurant and Wine Bar 
 
J. Coco
 
New American/French 
 
Lot 2 Restaurant & Wine Bar
 
New American/French 
 
Avoli Osteria
 
Northern Italian Cuisine 
 
Spencer's for Steaks and Chops
 
Prime Beef Pure and Simple 
 
Benson Brewery
 
Pub Style 
 
Taita
 
Seafood 
 
The Grey Plume
 
Seasonally-Driven, Farm-to-Table 
 
Stokes Grill & Bar
 
Southwestern Cuisine 
 
Espana
 
Spanish Tapas Bar, Paella & Sangria 
 
360 Steakhouse
 
Steakhouse 
 
801 Chophouse
 
Steakhouse 
 
Gorat's Steak House
 
Steakhouse 
 
Johnny's Italian Steakhouse
 
Steakhouse 
 
Sullivan's Steakhouse
 
Steakhouse 
 
Blue Sushi Sake Grill
 
Sushi  
 
Modern Love Restaurant
 
Swanky Vegan Comfort Food 
 
Thai Pepper
 
Thai Cuisine 
 
Black Oak Grill
 
Traditional American 
 
Jack Binion's Steak House Upscale Steakhouse 

September 12, 2014

It took some gentle encouragement on part of the owner, but I [finally] revisited Voodoo Taco a little over a year after my initial review. Since that time I've also recently had food from the newly christened Voodoo Taco truck, which visited my place of employment midweek. I will say I was a bit wary to eat from the truck after some stories I've heard, but happy to report I did not suffer any ill effects (unless you count eating too much). 

Our return to the restaurant was spurred on with a meal on the house (full disclosure). Though as I assured the owner, I wouldn't let something like that affect my review. 

This time, the menu board TV was fully functional. But I wish I'd had my glasses as I found myself squinting. And we still had to get out the paper menu to figure out side-sauces. (That would be a good thing to get printed out and have on a poster-board or something for ordering). 

We ended up with many of the same varietals we sampled last time... Smoked Brisket, Barbacoa Beef, Alligator. And a couple of new ones. "Taco of the Month" was the Arabes (cotija cheese, Mediterranean pork,  4 chili sauce, cilantro lime tzatziki, lettuce, cotija cheese and pico de gallo) so strange sounding I had to try it - and a Fried Chicken. 

Starter was a basket of chips... some of which were HEAVILY seasoned (to the point of avoidance) and some delicious queso dip. The kind that you really can't stop eating, but there's so much of it you know you shouldn't dare finish it all. 


chips and queso
just look out for the overly-seasoned chips
Dessert, eaten later at home, was the 'Voodoo Brownie' from somewhere the manager couldn't recall. "Chocolate... something". The description sold me easily: Double-Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Chipotle, Bacon Brownie. This seems to be the theme at Voodoo, many crazy combinations of flavors, which are obviously not intended as generic crowd-pleasers. This one was right in my wheelhouse, and the best thing I've eaten from Voodoo. 



The tacos came out in two baskets, but honestly I had trouble identifying which was the Alligator and which was the Arabes even after a couple bites. This is probably because I didn't read the description for the Alligator, but both had decent flavor. I [think] I preferred the Alligator though since the Arabes had too many crazy contrasting flavors going on. 


taco of the month flier
Alligator (left) and Arabes (right)
Ironically last time we also had trouble figuring out which taco was which. I would say perhaps this is a personal flaw, but Bill can back me up on this... we could tell what the meat types were (generally) and after biting into them it was more obvious still. The Alligator I finally identified when I realized the Arabes didn't have corn in it. 

Also looks like I didn't read the descriptions - again - just like last time. You know what else I obviously didn't read before ordering? 

My previous review. 

Carnitas (bottom) and Barbacoa Beef
Smoked Brisket (Fried Chicken behind)
I sampled bites of all the tacos (note, it was obvious that shells were at least thrown on the grill at some point before serving) and they were all a-okay. Nothing I would fight anyone for, but decent and filling... or was that the cheese dip? 

The biggest difference this time was that the meal was definitely edible, which I have to say is a big step forward. My favorite were probably the Alligator and the Barbacoa Beef. The Carnitas was probably the least appealing, on account of the dryness of the meat. 

Would I drive out of my way to get here? Unlikely. But many people would... and do. Enough so that Voodoo has expanded to Nebraska Crossing, the aforementioned truck, and soon Aksarben Village (where it is entirely likely I will try for a fourth time. Or fourth-meal). Not a restaurant I'll probably factor into my regular rotations, but it will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood, I'm sure.



August 23, 2014

Since I got some grief for my Calculated "Best of Omaha" list, I realized this week it's past time I did a dedicated post listing MY Favorite restaurants in town. And for those of you that don't really read all of the context and just skip to the list portion, I'll try to keep the wordiness down to a minimum.

This compilation is just from the past few days. (I like my variety)!
The real question now is where I’ll end up for dinner tonight… because after writing this post it's very hard to decide! As part of this list, I went back through my Yelp list of favorites and started to update many of my Yelp reviews, but after about 10 it was lunchtime and I realized if I updated them all it'd take weeks [or months]. All in all, again, this post ended up being much more time consuming than I planned. But it was a labor of love, so I hope you enjoy. It was harder than I thought to come up with 100, and the order gets a little less 'important' as it goes on.

But for right now, these are my favorites in Omaha, for one reason or another. Generally static, sometimes changing, always delicious. 

Sarah Eats Omaha – My Favorite Restaurants

1 The Grey Plume
2 Sushi Japan
3 Block 16
4 French Bulldog
5 Stella's Bar & Grill
6 Jams
7 Shuck's Fish House & Oyster Bar
8 The Jaipur
9 Twisted Cork Bistro
10 Vietnamese Asian Restaurant
11 Tasty Pastry
12 Kitchen Table
13 California Tacos & More
14 Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
15 New Gold Mountain
16 El Basha
17 Zio's Pizzeria
18 Salween Thai
19 Lot 2 Restaurant & Wine Bar
20 Flavors
21 Benson Brewery
22 Dudley’s Pizza & Tavern
23 Mariscos Los Willy's
24 Taita
25 Dante Pizzeria Napoletana
26 J. Coco
27 Localmotive Food Truck
28 Jackson Street Tavern
29 Blatt Beer & Table 
30 7M Grill
31 Bailey's
32 Marrakech Gourmet
33 Barrett's Barley Corn
34 Katie’s Restaurant & Taverna
35 Railcar Modern American Kitchen
36 Le Quartier Baking Company
37 Espana Restaurant
38 Big Mama’s Kitchen
39 Gusto Cuban Café
40 Mouth of the South
41 The Boiler Room
42 801 Chophouse
43 Avoli Osteria
44 For the Love of Food Truck
45 Jack Binion's Steak House
46 Maru Sushi & Korean Grill
47 Hiro 88
48 Abelardos Mexican Food
49 Crescent Moon Ale House
50 Pitch Coal-fire Pizzeria
51 Dundee Dell
52 Wilson & Washburn
53 Dixie Quicks
54 Thai Spice
55 Gerda's Bakery
56 Ponzu Sushi & Grill
57 Three Happiness Express
58 Upstream Brewing Company
59 Mark's Bistro
60 Greenbelly
61 Mai Thai Aksarben Village
62 Star Deli
63 Taqueria El Rey Truck(s)
64 Los Portales
65 El Rancho
66 Malara’s
67 Paradise Biryani Point
68 Saigon Surface
69 Buffalo Company
70 Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob
71 B&G Tasty Foods
72 Baxter's
73 La Casa Pizzaria
74 Brazen Head Irish Pub
75 Dario’s Brasserie
76 Joe's Café
77 King Kong
78 La Casita
79 Mangia Italiana
80 Sage Student Bistro
81 Taxi’s Grille & Bar
82 Time Out Foods
83 V. Mertz
84 Wave Bistro
85 China Palace
86 Frank’s Pizza
87 Goldbergs in Dundee
88 Green-go Coffee & Deli
89 Hartland Bar-B-Que
90 Laos Thai Market
91 Mediterranean Bistro
92 Nosh Wine Lounge
93 Orsi’s Italian Bakery
94 Taqueria Tijuana
95 Runza
96 Surfside Club
97 Bulldog Burgers
98 Varsity Sports Cafe & Roman Coin Pizza
99 Canton House
100 Bronco's

August 07, 2014

My friend Courtney gave me this great idea to do a post on which area of town has the best restaurant. It may come as no surprise to some that I have my biases already (Midtown for life!) but being of an analytically-inclined mind, I had to do the calculations to be sure.

Then things got a little crazier.

Inspired by the Yelp 100 list, and the popularity contest that is the annual 'Best of Omaha' I thought it would be a good idea to also figure out what the top places to Eat in Omaha were!

This list was created with Yelp's listing of the restaurants in Omaha, sorted by 'Highest Rated'. I made a spreadsheet an took the top 200 listings, and calculated a score for each based on the average rating and number of reviews. This was a little tricky and is totally arbitrary, but I think came up with a reasonable result which didn't unfairly rank places with 5.0 ratings and 5 reviews higher than places with 4.5 rankings and 100 reviews.

I didn't include the Culvers and Which-Wich chain-type places that were included in the top 200. Or things that I don't think qualify as 'restaurants' - awesome though they maybe - like Howlin' Hounds, International Bakery or Jacobo's. I also tried to exclude places that have more than 5 locations (Bonefish Grill, Sullivan's Steakhouse) in an attempt to answer the "what qualifies as a chain" question.

Also, I deleted duplicates (sorry Abelardo's and the many iterations of Blue Sushi) and - this was a difficult decision - places with less than 10 reviews (sorry Mariscos los Willy's). To handle score ties I also sorted by average rating, then # of reviews. I also feel the need to point out that these are NOT my favorite restaurants, or even necessarily an endorsement, but it's certainly a better indicator than rating alone or popularity alone.

Here's what I came up with for our Top 150 (because 100 just wasn't enough!) Interestingly enough, I have only been to 127 of these restaurants. There are probably better ways to do the formula, so bear with me on this first 'Best of' iteration.


The 150 "Best" Restaurants in Omaha 

Rank Yelp Restaurant Avg. # Score
1 33  M’s Pub 4.0 222 622
2 3  Stella’s Bar & Grill 4.5 167 617
3 108  Upstream Brewing Company 3.5 266 616
4 9  The Drover 4.0 214 614
5 7  The Boiler Room 4.5 144 594
6 2  The Grey Plume 4.5 130 580
7 5  Block 16 4.5 125 575
8 37  Pitch Coal-fire Pizzeria 4.0 173 573
9 11  Dario’s Brasserie 4.5 104 554
10 15  Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob 4.0 149 549
11 6  Lot 2 Restaurant Wine Bar 4.5 88 538
12 46  Plank Seafood Provisions 4.0 135 535
13 8  Kitchen Table 4.5 77 527
14 21  Leo’s Diner 4.5 73 523
15 14  Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant 4.5 72 522
16 17  Mother India 4.0 121 521
17 95  Blue Sushi Sake Grill 3.5 170 520
18 12  801 Chophouse 4.0 117 517
19 30  Saigon Surface 4.0 114 514
20 4  Mahogany Prime Steakhouse 4.5 59 509
21 18  Taqueria Tijuana 4.5 58 508
22 16  Crescent Moon Ale House 4.0 104 504
23 10  Laos Thai Market 4.5 52 502
24 19  La Buvette Wine & Grocery 4.0 100 500
25 26  Mangia Italiana 4.5 48 498
26 49  Marks Bistro 4.0 98 498
27 31  Big Mama’s Kitchen 4.0 98 498
28 39  Avoli Osteria 4.5 43 493
29 122  Twisted Fork Grill and Bar 3.5 141 491
30 38  Taita 4.5 40 490
31 75  Korean Grill 4.5 38 488
32 65  Lisa’s Radial Cafe 4.0 87 487
33 20  The Salty Dog Bar & Grill 4.5 35 485
34 27  Hartland Bar-B-Que 4.0 85 485
35 62  Dixie Quicks 4.0 85 485
36 107  California Tacos & More 3.5 131 481
37 22  Maru Sushi & Korean Grill 4.0 80 480
38 69  McFoster’s Natural Kind Cafe 3.5 129 479
39 43  Nicola’s 4.0 78 478
40 66  Espana Restaurant 4.0 78 478
41 60  Pizza King 4.5 27 477
42 28  Twisted Cork Bistro 4.0 77 477
43 23  Thai Kitchen 4.5 26 476
44 51  John’s Grecian Delight 4.5 26 476
45 24  Blatt Beer & Table  4.0 76 476
46 64  Hiro 88 4.0 75 475
47 45  Jackson Street Tavern 4.0 73 473
48 34  Golden Palace 4.5 21 471
49 59  Shuck’s Fish House & Oyster Bar 4.0 71 471
50 68  El Basha 4.0 71 471
51 89  Time Out Foods 4.5 20 470
52 71  Bangkok Cuisine 4.0 68 468
53 52  Localmotive Food Truck 4.5 17 467
54 41  Jams 4.0 67 467
56 86  Star Deli 4.5 14 464
57 83  Zio’s Pizzeria 4.0 64 464
58 168  Sam’s-Leon Mexican Supplies 4.5 13 463
59 187  Harold’s Koffee House 4.5 13 463
60 85  Dinker’s Bar 4.0 62 462
61 189  Morning, Noon, & Night 4.5 11 461
62 74  Salween Thai 4.0 61 461
63 47  Wilson & Washburn 4.0 58 458
64 78  New Gold Mountain 4.0 58 458
65 84  Bailey’s 4.0 58 458
66 35  Flavors 4.0 57 457
67 57  Louie M’s Burger Lust 4.0 56 456
68 88  Flatiron Cafe 4.0 56 456
69 105  Marrakech Gourmet 4.0 55 455
70 73  Abelardos Mexican Food 4.0 53 453
71 123  11-Worth Cafe 4.0 53 453
72 100  Sakura Bana 4.0 52 452
73 167  Vivace 3.5 101 451
74 145  Bohemian Cafe 4.0 50 450
75 104  Dundee Dell 3.5 100 450
76 56  Swine Dining 4.0 49 449
77 29  French Bulldog 4.0 49 449
78 102  Azteca 4.0 48 448
79 157  7M Grill 4.0 48 448
80 114  Spezia 4.0 46 446
81 36  Boxer Barbeque Co 4.0 46 446
82 127  Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill 4.0 45 445
83 90  Dudley’s Pizza & Tavern 4.0 45 445
84 32  Ragazzi’s Pizza 4.0 44 444
85 98  Oscar’s Pizza & Sports Grill 4.0 43 443
86 110  Eat the Worm 4.0 43 443
87 148  Roja Mexican Grill + Margarita Bar 3.5 93 443
88 164  Tokyo Sushi 4.0 42 442
89 87  Sushi Japan 4.0 42 442
90 42  Mai Thai 4.0 42 442
91 82  Wave Bistro 4.0 40 440
92 141  Netties Fine Mexican Food 4.0 39 439
93 131  Brazen Head Irish Pub 4.0 39 439
94 97  Taxi’s Grille & Bar 4.0 38 438
95 109  Nosh Wine Lounge 4.0 37 437
96 161  Railcar Modern American Kitchen 4.0 36 436
97 58  Dolce 4.0 36 436
98 76  Worker’s Takeout 4.0 35 435
99 150  V Mertz 4.0 35 435
101 99  Canton House 4.0 35 435
102 134  Thai Spice 4.0 34 434
103 112  Over Easy 4.0 34 434
104 101  Mantra Bar & Grill 4.0 34 434
105 48  Katie’s Restaurant & Taverna 4.0 34 434
106 195  Malara’s 4.0 33 433
107 106  Tanduri Fusion 4.0 32 432
108 192  Pla Too Thai 4.0 32 432
109 55  Orsi’s Italian Bakery 4.0 32 432
110 166  Kobe Steakhouse of Japan 4.0 31 431
111 61  Ethiopian Restaurant 4.0 31 431
112 116  Le Voltaire 4.0 30 430
113 152  Bulldog Burgers 4.0 30 430
114 165  Le Bouillon 4.0 29 429
115 151  Legacy Gyros 4.0 28 428
116 113  JC Mandarin 4.0 28 428
117 124  Pudgy’s Pizzeria 4.0 26 426
118 179  Okinawa Sushi 4.0 26 426
119 156  Jim & Jennie’s Greek Village 4.0 25 425
120 178  China Buffet 4.0 24 424
121 139  Beyond BBQ 4.0 24 424
122 153  Rivera’s 3.5 74 424
123 197  Thai Orchids 4.0 23 423
124 162  Shirley’s Diner 4.0 22 422
125 184  Vietnamese Restaurant 4.0 21 421
126 128  Gerda’s Bakery 4.0 21 421
127 103  Caribbean Delights 4.0 21 421
128 190  Vidlak’s Brookside Cafe 4.0 18 418
129 129  Taqueria La Esmeralda 4.0 18 418
130 147  El Rancho 4.0 18 418
131 193  El Alamo 4.0 18 418
132 135  Dante Pizzeria Napoletana 3.5 67 417
133 137  Los Portales 4.0 16 416
134 130  House of Hunan 4.0 16 416
135 163  Ethnic Sandwich Shop 4.0 15 415
136 144  The Jaipur 3.5 64 414
137 169  La Casa Pizzaria 3.5 63 413
138 136  Jimi D’s 3.5 61 411
139 132  J Coco 3.5 57 407
140 125  Ponzu Sushi & Grill 3.5 56 406
141 94  Sinful Burger Sports Grill 3.5 55 405
142 154  Rice Bowl 3.5 54 404
143 172  Vietnamese Asian Restaurant 3.5 51 401
144 121  Benson Brewery 3.5 48 398
145 138  Sgt Peffers Cafe Italian 3.5 47 397
146 115  Guaca Maya 3.5 47 397
147 158  Wheatfields Eatery and Bakery 3.0 97 397
148 171  Three Happiness Express 3.5 46 396
149 117  Salt 3.5 46 396
150 159  Mama’s Pizza 3.5 46 396


Neighborhoods

And what about that neighborhood thing? From the list above, I next needed to list which neighborhood each were in. (Luckily I could do this mostly from memory, which saved some time).

To do this, I had to decide which neighborhoods to use, and to keep it simple I originally used the Visit Omaha website and was going to use:

Downtown Omaha

20th Street on the west to the Missouri River on the east, and Leavenworth Street on the south to Cuming Street on the north.



North Omaha

Cuming Street on the south, Read Street on the north, 72nd Street to the west, and East Omaha and Carter Lake, Iowa to the east



East Omaha

The Missouri River on the east, the Carter Lake and Carter Lake, Iowa on the south, and Florence Boulevard from Jaynes Street north to Read Street on the west.


South Omaha

Dodge Street on the north, Harrison Street on the south, the Missouri River on the east, and 72nd Street on the west



Midtown Omaha

Cuming Street on the north, Center Street on the south, 24th Street on the east, and Saddle Creek Road on the west.

West Omaha

Traditionally all areas of Omaha west of 72nd Street, but by the early 21st century 72nd Street to I-680 is often considered Central Omaha




But that seemed too simplistic, plus the definitions were a little arbitrary and up for debate. So, I decided it'd be much more fun to just make a big Google Map of these restaurants and let people decide for themselves. It's kind of a toss-up depending on where you draw the boundaries. Enjoy!