Posts Tagged ‘NE’

Papa Reno, Bellevue, NE

25 August 2016

Papa Reno's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

This restaurant is in the location once occupied by my beloved Mama Alvino’s. I will try very hard not to compare the two.

I had lunch here today with a work friend. We both had calzones. Mine was pepperoni and sausage. The calzone was not that large, and I thought that it was very light in the stuffing (read: there wasn’t much pepperoni or sausage). There was quite a lot of cheese. I would like to make a recommendation to the staff: you might not want to cut the calzone in half before serving, as it spills its cheese guts out; I think it should be plated and served uncut. The crust was pretty good, just the right amount of chewy and decent flavor. The marinara was OK, and each calzone comes with some on the side.

They don’t have real iced tea, but the Dr. Pepper wasn’t bad. Service was pretty fast. The food was OK. My check was $10.64. I will go back, and probably try the pizza next time.

La Mesa, Omaha, NE (Northwest)

25 August 2016

La Mesa Mexican Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tonight I met a work friend here for dinner, as it was roughly between our hotels. And like the rest of the La Mesa outlets, it was outstanding.

As usual, I had mixed chicken and beef fajitas with no bell peppers. Except it showed at the table with bell peppers, and got taken back and replaced very quickly. I dumped my beans, a lot of the excellent salsa, and lettuce on the meat, and squeezed the lemons from my iced tea over the resulting mess, then ate it! It was, simply, perfect. All cooked nice and tender, and with tremendous flavor.

The iced tea was wonderful, the conversation great. Service was perfect. Our check for two was $35.85.

Just a great meal. La Mesa is one of the best Mexican restaurants I have been to, anywhere.

Garden Cafe, Omaha, NE

24 August 2016

Garden Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

After I got my hair cut this evening, I did a Google search, and was surprised to see a listing for the Garden Cafe nearby.

There used to be about 10 of the Garden Cafe outlets around the Omaha and Council Bluffs area, and there was even at least one in Kansas City I really liked them, in particular their potato casserole dishes. Regrettably, over time more and more closed.

So I headed over there. It seemed to be the same as the chainlet I thought it to be. I ordered an Omaha Potato Casserole. When it got to the table there was at least a quarter of a chopped red onion, and some pickles. I did a little configuration change by getting rid of the onions and chopping up the pickles over the meal.

It was excellent. The amount of ground beef was prefect, the potatoes were cooked all the way through, there was copious cheese, it was great!

Service was fast and friendly. The iced tea was great. The meal came with a blueberry muffin (pretty decent) that I had as a snack an hour ago. My check was $13.35. Overall, a very good meal that I will be happy to repeat.

Blimpie’s, Omaha, NE (Eppley)

21 November 2014

Blimpie on Urbanspoon

Yesterday, I got to Eppley for my 1100 flight about 0930, to discover the flight had been pushed back and back to 1450 (a maintenance issue with the flight from DFW had caused AA to switch airplanes; we eventually left at 1430). So I needed lunch. I decided to try the Blimpie’s in terminal, outside the security area.

I had a small wheat ham, bacon, turkey and cheddar, with provolone substituted for the cheddar. In a nice touch, the meat and cheese was welder together (er, heated up) in a toaster over, then put on the bread and lettuce, mayo, and ranch dressing added. I declined having the whole thing toasted.

It was very good! I liked the warmed-up guys of the sammich. I enjoyed the lunch a lot. Service was pretty fast, and very friendly. My check was $9.14, and included a bag of chips and a medium drink.

While I had never tried a Blimpie’s prior to this, it was a good experience, and I would be happy to have another.

We’ll Smoke U, Gretna, NE

21 May 2014

We'll Smoke U BBQ on Urbanspoon

I was looking for BBQ for dinner, and saw that We’ll Smoke U (a silly name, I know) had very good reviews, so I decided to check it out. I was joined by three friends who have also been working in the Omaha area this week. We got there about 1845; they close at 1900, but it was no problem.

The menu is kind of odd. It seems that every one of the items is essentially a sandwich. It’s kind of limited as well, in that there doesn’t seem to be any chicken. There is a double meat, but it included sausage, which I’m not a big fan of. I asked if I could get brisket and pulled pork, which was agreed with.

I uploaded a picture of my meal to UrbanSpoon. The meal came as a bun with a decent amount of pulled pork topped by a good amount of brisket. I also got some fries (excellent!) and baked beans (not my favorite, had quite a bit of jalapeno). The brisket was very good, with good smoke flavor and very tender. I thought the pulled pork was a little less flavorful than it could have been, but it was tender, and there was a lot of it.

The sweet sauce was a bit overpowering, and the hot not too hot. I mixed the two together and it was a good combination. They also have a mustard-based sauce.

There was “tea” out of the soda machine, it wasn’t good at all. I had some DP and some Coke, and they were OK. My check was $11.66, which was decent value. I will be glad to go back. Chalco Hills has a lot of trails near by, hmmm….

Spaghetti Works, Omaha, NE

20 May 2014

Spaghetti Works on Urbanspoon

I had dinner here last night with a number of friends. I have been to Spaghetti Works a number of times over the years, but it’s probably been 10 years since my last visit.

We had worked a full day and then some, so we got there around 1930 and were seated immediately. The meal came with some decent garlic toast and a salad bar that was OK.

I got chicken parm; it was pretty good. The chicken was plump and not overcooked. The spaghetti was al dente, and the marinara wasn’t too bad at all, not too sweet like a lot of them are. It was a bit on the runny side, and the cook was a little frugal on the serving. All in all, not a bad meal, and not too huge. I had a piece of Brads pepperoni pizza as well, and liked it.

Service was OK, the iced tea was pretty good (and in LARGE glasses!). My check was $15.66. Not the best Italian I’ve had, but also far from the worst.

Jimbo’s Diner, La Vista, NE

18 May 2014

jimbo's Diner on Urbanspoon

I stopped here for late dinner last night. It was really good! It’s attached to a large Keno place, and they pipe the Keno calls into the restaurant, which is a little annoying.

I got the fried chicken, which was two breasts and two wings, and was HUGE. It was excellent, also. The chicken was moist and not greasy, plump and not overcooked. Great stuff.

The meal came with some spaghetti and meat sauce, which was OK. There were also some great hash browns.

Service was friendly and attentive. The iced tea was GREAT! My check was $13.77. I’d be glad to go back.

Siam Cuisine, Bellevue, NE

3 May 2014

Siam Cuisine on Urbanspoon

I had lunch here last Tuesday with my friends Wendy and Wes (I just noticed that the receipt was off by a day). We all got the buffet. It was a smallish buffet, but the items were pretty good. I particularly liked the red curry, which was marked as spicy but really wasn’t. I got some chicken items as well.

The iced tea was good and kept refilled. My check was $9.00. Not bad at all.

Imperial Palace, Bellevue, NE

28 March 2014

Imperial Palace Express on Urbanspoon

I was looking for fast lunch food close to Offutt, and decided to hit Imperial Palace. I haven’t been here in years. It was extra pleasant since I ran into a buddy of mine there.

I got #13, the chicken fried rice. It had a goodly amount of chicken, was perfectly tossed, and just the right amount for lunch. It tasted very good. I got excellent iced tea with it.

My check was $8.03, excellent value. Recommended.

Sam and Louie’s Pizza, Bellevue, NE

28 March 2014

Sam & Louie's New York Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

I had lunch here yesterday. It’s not bad. I got a small (12″) pizza with pepperoni, sausage, and hamburger. And then I ate all of it. It wasn’t the best I’ve had, but it was pretty darn good.

The iced tea was Gold Peak and not very good, so I switched to Coke. My check was only $6.39. In and out pretty fast, and decent pizza.

Helen’s Pancake and Steakhouse, Chadron, NE

3 July 2013

Helen's Steak & Pancake House on Urbanspoon

This was a nice find! We stopped here for dinner while in transit to Scottsbluff, NE.

We started with the salad bar. It wasn’t a huge selection, but it was good. I particularly liked the potato salad, and what I think was a creamy garlic dressing that was very close to that served by the Charlestons. The creamy potato soup was pretty good as well.

Erin got a burger and liked it, but she had filled up on salad. Raegan got the fried chicken, which was great. The chicken came with mashers and very good gravy. I got a CFS. Simply outstanding. A 9.5, just not quite as tender as it needed to be to make it perfect. More of that very good gravy. I got my with hash browns (yum!) and brown gravy.

The iced tea was strong and excellent. Service was perfect and friendly. This place was a good find. Our check was $41.52. Recommended.

Milio’s Sandwiches, Omaha, NE

1 July 2013

Milios Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

I had never heard of this chainlet before, but noted that we would be near it while doing some errands in the Omaha area.

Raegan and I split a #17 (ham and turkey) on the famous Milio’s french bread. It was pretty good. One note: I increasing dispike long pickles in my sandwiches. Some places will put chopped pickles on instead, or relish (OK, but not as good as relish is usually too sweet). Erin got a ham and cheese. We all got “Mighty Tasty Meal” packages that include chips and a drink, and we all got a chocolate chip cookie (very good).

They are a Pepsi shop, so I got DP, Raegan got Mountain Dew, and Erin just got water. They only have the vile and disgusting Brisk tea, about which the less said, the better. Our check was $22.87. It was a decent sandwich (which is what their motto is), and the service was friendly and fast. I would go again, but not out of my way. Subway has more variety, and makes a better sandwich, as does Which Wich (which also uses chopped pickles).

B&G Tasty Foods, Omaha, NE

30 June 2013

B & G Tasty Foods on Urbanspoon

Permit me a slight diversion. I like good local food. A while back, I read an article in USA Today that talked about “loose meat” burgers. The descriptions left me slavering for some. The article referenced a chainlet called “Maid Rite” that was in Iowa mainly, but had an outpost in Arlington, TX. I literally grabbed a Post-It and wrote the names and cities of the Arlington location and the location nearest to Omaha, then stuck it on the wall next to my computer at work, in anticipation of trying one or the other. So this style of burger is on my mind.

So as we drove along Dodge this afternoon, the B&G sign caught my eye. Rather, the part of the sign that said “Loose Meat Sandwiches”. I drove around the block (twice) to find the place, amusing Raegan no end.

I pulled up, went in, looked at the menu, and ordered a double cheeseburger, anticipating that first “loose meat” experience. I ate it, and it was a very good cheeseburger, with great beef flavor, a nice crust, and just the right amount of mayo. SCORE, I thought. Since I just bought the burger, with no fries or drink, my check was only $6.25.

So it’s now later in the evening, and I started to write the blog post. I wanted to remember the name of the Maid-Rite chainlet, and in doing so, I read several descriptions of the loose meat sandwich, which convinced me that I had just ordered a regular-issue (but very good) cheeseburger. The B&G menu posted online has an item “The Bee Gee” which looks like the loose meat I was looking for. Well, crap, thought I.

In my reading this evening, I noted that several other chainlets (including one in Wichita) also specialize in loose meat sandwiches. Since we are headed to South Dakota (through Iowa), I’m going to keep a lookout for any more of these. I will have one of those sandwiches…

Pudgy’s Pizzeria, Omaha, NE

30 June 2013

Pudgy's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Erin needed dinner at the hotel this evening, so we ordered takeaway for her from Pudgy’s. She got a 12″ canadian bacon with extra cheese, thin crust. It was really good! The pizza was cut into rectangles, kind of odd. We picked it up (they don’t deliver), and started eating it while driving back to the hotel. Was it the best pizza I’ve ever had? No, but it was also far from the worst. I’d gladly get another pizza here. Our check was $13.68.

Malara’s Italian Restaurant, Omaha, NE

17 May 2013

Malara's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

My friend Brian told me about this place a number of years ago, and told me at the time to not tell anyone else. I hope a blog post doesn’t count… 🙂

I had dinner here this evening with my friend Wendy. It was excellent. I had fettuccine al fredo with chicken. The chicken is usually grilled, but the chef sauteed it at my request. It was perfect. The al fredo was that balance between too heavy on the butter and cream, and too much filler. I ate every bite without that sensory overload that a too-buttery al fredo can cause. The meal came with a decent salad.

So it was wonderful food and conversation. Service was right on the money. My check was $16.50. Great stuff, I need to come here more than every five years or more!

Don and Millie’s, Bellevue, NE

15 May 2013

Don & Millie's on Urbanspoon

It’s been a while since I was at this Don and Millie’s location. It was very good.

I got a Double Don, which is a double meat bacon cheeseburger. I got the fries with chili (very good!) and cheese (nacho queso). The fries were pretty darn good. The cheeseburger was very good, with a nice crust and texture, and very good flavor; just the right amount of juicy.

The iced tea was pretty darn good as well, and service was outstanding and friendly. My check was $10.36. Good stuff.

Lil’ Burro, Bellevue, NE

15 May 2013

Lil' Burro on Urbanspoon

I haven’t eaten at the Lil’ Burro for a while, so we went there for lunch yesterday. It was excellent. The last time I was there, the place was cash only, and now they take credit cards, which is nice.

I got the ground beef chimichanga. It comes with green chili sauce poured over it, and I asked for chili con carne instead. We had a language issue, at the end of which it was suggested that I try a spicy pork gravy over the chimi. I was warned that it was pretty spicy, but when it came, I thought it was only moderately spicy, and was hugely flavorful. The chimi was excellent, with the right amount of seasoned beef and cheese, and cooked up perfectly. The sides of beans and rice were very good also.

Service was right on the money, and the iced tea was excellent. My check was $11.05. Great food!

Hartland BBQ, Omaha, NE

14 May 2013

Hartland BBQ on Urbanspoon

I had dinner here this evening with my buddy Brad for no better reason that it was the #1 BBQ place in the Omaha area. We got there around 1830.

I wanted to try a two-meat with brisket and chicken, but was told no. I ended up getting a brisket dinner and a chicken basket (no sides); the total cost was reasonably close to what I would usually pay for a two-meat, but it was a LOT of food. The brisket was OK; it was a little dry, and a little less than fully tender, and had OK flavor. The chicken was pretty good; first of all it was HUGE, and a half a bird. It had pretty good flavor, but was a little dry on the inside (it was huge, after all). I got baked beans and green beans for my sides. The baked beans had quite a bit of jalapeno, and I ate little of them. The green beans were very plain.

They do not have iced tea (Lipton Brisk is not tea). They are a Pepsi shop. I would recommend they make tea, which is good with BBQ. My check was $20.83, a little high but due to the fact that I bought two meals. Service was very friendly. The place was pretty busy. I would probably go again, but would not go out of my way.

Culver’s, Bellevue, NE

13 May 2013

Culver's on Urbanspoon

I had lunch here today with two work friends. I got the two piece chicken dinner (both breasts) with cole slaw and mashers. Great meal! The chicken was plump and juicy and tasty. The mashers and gravy were very good, and the cole slaw was pretty much perfect. The iced tea was very good.

My check was $10.11. Service was prompt and very friendly. Good stuff!

Jack and Mary’s Restaurant, Omaha, NE

9 May 2013

Jack & Mary's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I needed to check out a couple places in west Omaha this evening, and for some reason I wanted fried chicken, so I did a quick Urbanspoon search and found Jack & Mary’s. I started off with a bowl of excellent chicken noodle soup. That stuff was great! My main course was a three piece chicken, all light. It came pretty quickly.

So the chicken was not just scorching, piping hot, so I presume it was already cooked when I ordered it. The chicken, which had been cooked connected, had been chopped into three pieces with a serious cleaver. I’ve not had chicken cut up quite like that. The chicken was OK, mostly pretty tender, but was a touch on the less-than-moist side. It didn’t have just a heck of a lot of flavor. In terms of quantity, it was just right for dinner for me.

The dinner came with some very good mashers and gravy. My second side was the soup.

I don’t usually get dessert, but they had a blueberry bread pudding. Since we all need our antioxidants, I got it. It was excellent! But it was HUGE. I think three people could have been fed with it. I managed to eat about half.

Service was very good, and the iced tea was excellent. My check was $21.03 of which $4.00 was the dessert, so I think it was pretty good value. I saw some pretty nice looking food aorund me. I think I would like coming back to the place.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Bellevue, NE

8 May 2013

Chipotle Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

I’ve had lunch and dinner at this location several times over the past couple years. Brad and I had dinner here this evening after a couple sets of tennis at the Offutt Field House.

First, I’ve never seen this location as crowded as it was. We got there about 1815, and the line was out of the door. It moved more slowly than I am used to at other Chipotles locations.

I got one of my two “usuals”: a burrito bowl, white rice, black beans, barbacoa, hot salsa, lettuce, and cheese. It was just as I expected, hot, tasty, and filling. I thought it needed a bit more barbacoa (but not a double order).

The tea was great as always. My check was $9.15. Inexpensive, *not* cheeseburger, pretty fast, and tasty.

11-Worth Cafe, Omaha, NE

29 March 2013

11-Worth Cafe on Urbanspoon

I have not been to 11-Worth in a while. I don’t get to near downtown Omaha nearly as often as I used to (I would stay at hotels downtown before nice ones were built in Bellevue). Today I got done with work in time to get there for lunch. Great stuff!

I got a CFS with mashers and chili. That chili was great stuff, not too many beans, just the right amount of heat, and served up in an oversized coffee mug. Yum! The CFS was excellent, 9 out of 10, fork tender all the way through, and breaded up and cooked just right. I asked for their famous sausage gravy instead of the standard cream, excellent stuff (even if it did cost an extra $3.25). I wasn’t too impressed by the mashers, they seemed to be too uniform and didn’t have a lot of flavor.

All of this was eaten up with no problem at all. The iced tea was pretty good, and service was just the right blend of visits and solitude. My check was $15.72. Need to get there more often.

That’s Amore, Bellevue, NE

29 March 2013

That's Amore on Urbanspoon

My friend Clark and I were looking for a late dinner this evening. We drove by Stella’s, but there was a line out of the door. Instead, we drove to downtown Bellevue and checked out That’s Amore.

We started off with a plate of BBQ chicken wings. Yes, BBQ wings at an Italian place. They were great! Plump, tasty, the BBQ sauce was very good, and with very nice homemade ranch and bleu cheese dressing to dip them in. I liked those wings.

The meal came with a very nice mixed greens salad with more of that ranch dressing. Good stuff.

I got fettuccine and chicken al fredo. I can’t say this part of the meal was bad, but I will say it was bland. There wasn’t just a huge amount of al fredo on the dish, but what was there wasn’t rich or overly flavorful. The noodles were OK. So I think that the meal could have been somewhat more tasty.

Service was super friendly and outstanding. My check was $21.94 (the wings were $7.50 of that). So not a bad meal, but could stand some improvement. I’d like to go back and try the meat sauce.

Panera Bread, Bellevue, NE

29 March 2013

Panera Bread on Urbanspoon

I had a late snack today at this Panera. I like the food at Panera in general, but I find myself stopping by for snacks more than anything. Today I worked through lunch, and was quite hungry around 1700, so I had a peanut butter cookie and iced tea. The PB cookie was really good, and the tea was pretty darn good as well.

Yesterday I did the same thing, except it was really cold, so I had a a large hot tea and a chocolate chip cookie. One thing about Panera: they will give you very nearly boiling water out of their steamer, and that extra hot water certainly helps the tea steep in all it’s goodness.

Service was a little slow today, but they quickly brought two more cashiers to bring the line down. My check was only $4.47. Great place for a snack and a place to read the paper, or catch up online.

Ixtapa Mexican Grill, Bellevue, NE

28 March 2013

Ixtapa Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

I had dinner here this evening with my friend Clark, on the recommendation of my friend Karren. It helped that it was only about a block from the hotel.

First of all, I loved the salsa; it was a perfect consistency, and just the right amount of heat. I think the chips could be a little thinner and crispier.

I got mixed chicken and beef fajitas. They were pretty darn good. Kind of heavy on tomatoes. I was concerned the onions might not be fully cooked, but it turned out to not be an issue. The fajitas had very good flavor, and both meats were nice and tender. I crushed a couple pieces of lime over the plate just after the “sizzle” stopped. The sides of beans and rice were decent.

The iced tea was outstanding, strong and dark. Service was very good. My check was $14.70. I would gladly go back to Ixtapa.

Millard Roadhouse, Millard, NE

15 March 2013

Millard Roadhouse on Urbanspoon

I was near Millard after work today, and noticed Millard Roadhouse on UrbanSpoon. I got there around 1930 and left about an hour later.

The salad I started out with was very good; the ranch dressing was outstanding. My main dish was simple: three pieces of fried chicken, breasts, with mashers and gravy. Simply a wonderful meal. The chicken pieces were HUGE (see the photo I posted to UrbanSpoon). The skin was perfect, crunchy and tasty. The meat was full of flavor, was moist, not stringy, and not greasy either. It took some work to put all that chicken away, but I was up to it. The meal came with some decent mashers, and the mashers came with excellent cream gravy. The only thing I could count the meal down was an occasional hint of burned oil taste in the chicken, mainly in the skin; not often and not a lot of the burned taste.

I had iced tea (great stuff!), and it was kept refilled. Service was prompt and friendly. My check was $17.44. Next time (and there will be a next time), I will get the two-piece.

Big Mama’s Kitchen, Omaha, NE

13 March 2013

Big Mama's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

I had extra time for lunch today, so I drove to NW Omaha to try Big Mama’s. Great stuff!

I had the 3-piece oven-fried chicken, all white. The breading was not really crisp enough to be “fried” chicken, it was more baked. It was excellent. The breading was coarse, and tasty, and textured. The meat was perfectly cooked, and just juicy enough; not a hint of dried-out here. The meal came with cornbread, sweet and not too crumbly, and I chose pintos as my side. They were tasty, and in a juice that was almost jet black, like you would expect in black beans. The only gripe of the meal: those beans were way salty, almost too much for me (and would be for many people).

I had sweet tea for lunch, yummy, but served in a small mason jar. My check was $14.62. Great lunch.

One side note: Big Mama’s was hosting a city council candidate forum while I was there. The debate was lively, questions from the audience were pointed and relevant. Democracy in action! That was a good way to spend a lunch hour.

Twin Peaks, Omaha, NE

13 March 2013

Twin Peaks on Urbanspoon

As I noted in my review of Twin Peaks in Plano, if Hooter’s offends you, so probably will Twin Peaks.

I had dinner here Monday evening with six others. We got there around 1830 and left around 2045. I got a couple appetizers. The fried pickels were excellent, those things were great! The pulled pork nachoes were OK at best; they didn’t have very much pulled pork, and the pulled pork wasn’t particularly tasty.

I got a cheeseburger, Man Sized (i.e. double meat). The burger was OK; most of the flavor was in the toppings, as the beef had little flavor. The fries were great, though.

I had iced tea, it was very good. Service was excellent. My check was $28.46; a little expensive, but most of that was the appetizers. Not a bad experience at all.

Famous Dave’s, Bellevue, NE

20 February 2013

Famous Dave's on Urbanspoon

I’ve been to this location several times over the past couple years. It is consistently decent BBQ. Last night I had dinner here with my friend Ron.

I ordered a dozen wings to start. They were OK, but a little on the small side, and had little meat. I had a two-meat special with brisket and BBQ chicken. Both of the meats were excellent. Both were tender, had great flavor, and were just the right amount. I particularly liked the chicken, it was moist all the way through.

I had beans (very good) and fried potato wedges as my sides. The iced tea was great, and kept refilled. Service was perfect, very friendly and always available. My check was $29.39 (the wings were almost $10 of that).

I generally do not get the ribs at FDs, but the rest of the menu items are pretty darn good, especially for a chain.

The Hanger, Eppley Airport, Omaha, NE

29 April 2012

The Hanger on Urbanspoon

I got to the airport to head home a little early last week, and so got an early dinner here.

The iced tea was decent, a pleasant surprise. I got a grilled chicken sandwich, with mayo! It wasn’t bad. I wrote “O….. K…..” on the receipt. It was tender, but just didn’t have a lot of inherent flavor. The meal came with decent french fries. I also ordered soup, er, chili, er, beef stew. The cup was advertised as chili, but it was more stew in taste and consistency. There was no spice heat, a few beans, and chunks of stuff like veg. Not chili. Stew. But pretty good for stew.

Service was pretty good. The restaurant was not crowded. My check was $11.83. I would not mind going back again.

Dinker’s Bar, Omaha, NE

12 April 2012

Dinker's Bar on Urbanspoon

I’ve had a number of people tell me that Dinker’s burgers are better than Stella’s. The sign outside says “BEST BURGERS IN OMAHA” or something like that. I got to town this evening, and decided to give it a try.

I got there about 1745 and left around 1900. The place was no more than 10% full. I found a table, and… waited. About 10 minutes. Eventually I noticed a sign over a counter in the back of the place: “ORDER HERE”. Hmmm. I went back there and ordered. I tried to order iced tea to drink, but no, you have to order drinks at the bar, towards the front of the restaurant. OK, ordering at the counter, I get that. Having to get all drinks at another place, I don’t.

I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, with onion rings. The tea that I got was decent. The onions rings were wonderful! I loved those. Perfectly cooked, with a tasty breading that was flaky and thin, like I like. Good stuff. The cheeseburger was cooked medium well like I like. The beef had decent flavor, a nice crisp outside texture. The bacon was really good.

So in the inevitable comparison between Dinker’s and Stella’s, I give the edge to Stella’s. Their burgers are much more flavorful.

My check was right about $10. The place is cash only. My usual comment: cash only, huh? Do you not want customers?

I would go back to Dinker’s if someone else suggested it.

Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant, Bellevue, NE

28 March 2012

Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Clark and I ate at Mi Casa Monday evening. It was very good. We got there about 1915 and left about an hour later. One note: this is probably the only Mexican/Tex-Mex restaurant I have been to that does not automatically bring chips and salsa.

We started off with beef and bean nachos. LOTS of beef and bean! Really good stuff.

The menu is limited. I order a #6, which is three beef enchiladas. I got them with ground beef. They were unusual. It was more like there was a bottom tortilla, with a LOT of ground beef and enchilada filling in it, and then overlaid with another tortilla, which was sealed to the bottom one and baked. It was good, though. Just not what I expected (not always a bad thing). The beans and rice on the side were pretty much as expected.

I got a dessert. It was flan, which was kind of a custard. Really good. I can’t find my check, but it was on the order of $8. The tea was really good, service was really good. This was a really good local place, I will be glad to eat here again.

Wheatfields, Papillion, NE

26 March 2012

Wheatfields on Urbanspoon

This place was pretty darn good! A group of us went here for lunch Saturday. We had six, and we sat on the patio outside.

I ordered the fried chicken. It was three pieces, with two sides. I got mashers and cole slaw. They were both pretty good, with poultry gravy. The chicken was perfectly cooked. The pieces of chicken were pretty small. That being said, the meal was very tasty.

The iced tea was another matter. They have straight up and sweet tea. The sweet tea was the weakest stuff I have ever seen, barely amber in color. The unsweet was the dark color I expect, but it was not very good tasting. My recommendation for Wheatfields: learn to make good iced tea.

There was a lot of good looking stuff on the menu. All of the meals that came to our table looked very good. I am looking forward to taking my family there on a trip to Omaha. My check was $14.54. Service was OK.

Karray’s Cafe, Bellevue, NE

23 March 2012

Karrays Cafe on Urbanspoon

I ate at Karray’s more than a year ago, and liked it. I didn’t have the opportunity to return until today, when I walked to Karray’s from my hotel for breakfast.

And a good breakfast it was! I had chicken fried steak and eggs (over easy), with hash browns and toast. It was all excellent. The hash browns in particular were perfect – cooked all the way through and yet not scorched, with a nice brown crust on them. The CFS was very good (I’d give it a 9.5 out of 10), fork tender and with decent flavor. The gravy that came with the CFS was a great addition. I asked for more, and ate all of it on both the CFS and for the hash browns. The eggs were cooked just like I like them.

The iced tea was excellent. Service was pretty much perfect, the tea was kept full. I got there about 0815 and left about 30 minutes later. My check was $11.75. There are other interesting breakfast items on the menu that I would also like to try. Recommended.

Gorat’s Steak House, Omaha, NE

18 February 2012

Gorat's Steak House on Urbanspoon

Bill Hensley's Random Blog Colorado Springs restaurants

Gorat’s was recommended to me by a work friend, and this evening, after we got done with work, I headed over there. I got there at 1650, and was informed that They Do Not Open Until 1700 (well, they said 5 o’clock). I could have waited in the lounge, but I just stood around about 10 minutes, and was seated.

So Gorat’s is a clone of Johnny’s, Anthony’s, Cascio’s, Piccolo’s, and the like in Omaha, both interior and the food. Gorat’s is primarily a steakhouse, that has some Italian entrees, and some sort of pasta or green beans for a side, along with a potato. The food is just as good from place to place.

I ordered an “Omaha Sirloin”, which is a bone-in strip steak. It was not the most tender steak I have had, but it had a lot of flavor, and was cooked a perfect medium, just as ordered. The steak was proceeded by a mixed salad with ranch dressing, and a mixed basket of bread (rough wheat, garlic rolls, and the like).

I also got hashbrowns and spaghetti for my sides, and while the hashbrowns were pretty standard, the spaghetti and sauce was very good.

I finished off the meal with chocolate cake ala mode; the cake was moist and way, way chocolate.

The place is open for lunch, until 1400. My check was 28.36, but of course, I had a big steak and a decent dessert. Service was pretty darn good. My one gripe: the iced tea glasses were really, really small.

So I would go back to Gorat’s. They have oven fried chicken that I would like to try.

Stella’s, Bellevue, NE

16 February 2012

Stella's Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Stella’s is a Bellevue institution. I first ate here probably ten years ago, when Stella’s was in a building that could be charitablly described as a dump. It got rebuilt a couple years ago, and enlarged a bit in the process, but the burgers are the same – excellent.

I went to Stella’s today with three other guys. We got there around noon and the place was packed (we got the last table), and when we left at 1300 the place was still packed, with a couple people waiting for a table.

I got a double cheeseburger. The thing is proably more than 2/3 lbs of meat. Very good meat. The burger has some of the best flavor to be found in a restaurant. There is a little bit of black pepper cooked in to the meat. The bread is a good, fairly dense and tasty in its own right. The burgers are served on a napkin. I got mine with mayo and pickles. That cheeseburger was a 10!

I got onion rings with the burger. They were excellent. The onion was cooked all the way through and was sweet. The breading was just the right thickness and adhered well to the onion. Great stuff. I got iced tea as usual, it was perfect.

My check was $13.38. Great price for a great meal. Stella’s is a keeper for anyone who visits Bellevue.

La Mesa Mexican Restaurant, Bellevue, NE

14 February 2012

La Mesa on Urbanspoon

La Mesa is a chainlet in the Omaha area. I have to say up front that La Mesa has the best fajitas I’ve had anywhere. This evening Clark and Brad and I hit La Mesa for dinner after work.

I got the fajitas as usual, mixed chicken and beef. They were wonderful, all the meat was tender, the onions were cooked completely, and the tomatoes added a nice flavor. I used the included lemons to add lemon juice during the sizzle phase still happening after the food was delivered.

The iced tea was good. The chips were a bit thick and hard, but the salsa was, as usual, perfect. Service was very good; our iced tea never ran out.


Sinful Burger, Bellevue, NE

14 February 2012

Sinful Burger Sports Grill on Urbanspoon

I love cheeseburgers. So when Clark suggested trying out Sinful Burger, which was very near my hotel, I was happy to check it out.

We got there around 2110; the place was empty. We were the only two customers.

I ordered a basic Sinful Burger, with onion rings. I also ordered a side of chili to check out. The burger was OK at best. The “deal” about Sinful Burger is that the cheese part of the burger is inside the patty. So they form the patty around the cheese, and then grill it up. When you bite into the burger, the cheese oozes out. So the burger really had little flavor to the beef. The cheese was good. The burger was very juicy, but the flavor was just not there. I ate the thing, but it wasn’t good enough to make me want to come back.

The onion rings were excellent. Clearly breaded there, thin sliced, and wonderful flavor. The chili had a lot of beans in it, and was trying to be a sorta-southwestern chili. I won’t get it again. The tea was OK. I think it was Gold Coast tea, and just off tasting as usual.

Service was very good. Our check for two was $21.38 (essentially two basic burgers, fries/rings, and tea). Would I go back? Maybe. If someone else wanted to go, I would go. But if I have my own choice, I would head to Smashburger on the other side of the building, or to Five Guys a bit farther away.

Foodies, Omaha, NE

17 November 2011

Foodies on Urbanspoon

I had lunch here after visiting Tea Smith to get some Yunnan Gold (great stuff!); the two places are in the same shopping center.

Foodies has sandwiches, soup, pizza. I got a Classic BLT. It had lots of B, middling L, and just enough T. The sandwich was excellent, very tasty, with crunchy B. I got it on wheat bread.

The meal came with soup, which today was beef barley. First of all, it was HOT! As it cooled, it was really, really tasty. It had (amazingly enough) beef and barely, but also carrots and celery.

They have China Mist iced tea. I tried some, not expecting anything good, but was pleasantly surprised. The China Mist didn’t suck nearly as much as most of the China Mist I have tried! It wasn’t nearly as good as real brewed iced tea, but it was drinkable.

The place was almost empty when I got there for late lunch at 1500. My check was $11.45. The place was good, I will go back.

Shirley’s Diner, Omaha, NE

16 November 2011

Shirley's Diner on Urbanspoon

I have had several recommendations for Shirley’s, and yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to give it a try.

From the outside, the place is nothing to look at; just a door in a strip shopping center. Once through the atrium, it lights up, and you are surrounded by photos and memorabilia for various Hollywood stars. My table was a shrine to Marilyn Monroe, lots of nice photos of her.

The house specialty is chicken fried steak. What else could I do? The CFS was fork tender throughout, clearly hand breaded. The meat was a little thin, and was not jus bursting with flavor, but it was pretty good. The gravy was excellent, with pieces of sausage.

The meal came with nice cut green beans, and very good mashers (nothing dehydrated there).

The iced tea was good and kept refilled, and service was excellent. My check was $12.37, and I would gladly go to Shirley’s again.

Lo Sole Mio, Omaha, NE

6 May 2011

Lo Sole Mio Ristorante on Urbanspoon

I was reminded by someone that this was an excellent Italian restaurant. I headed to find it after work this evening. When I got there, I realized I had eaten here before some time ago, and liked it.

I ordered iced tea, it was excellent. The meal came with some bread; it was white rolls, and not bad, but not really good. There was garlic EEVO on the table, and I asked for some balsamic vinegar, and that helped.

I had, for the first time I think, minestrone soup. It was pretty good, I would have it again.

I ordered chicken marsala. The marsala sauce was thick, like gravy, and it was very good. The meal came with some very good sweet carrots. It also had a choice of either angel hair pasta tossed in EEVO, or oven roasted potatoes. I got both. While they were good, I think that next time I would get some fettuccine alfredo (if I didn’t get that as a main course). There was a lot of food; I ate all of the chicken and about 90% of the potatoes and noodles.

I got there around 1820, and left around 1940. My check was $26.04; a little expensive, but very good every once in a while. Service was outstanding.

The name, by the way, translates to “The Sun Mine”, or I guess “My Sunny Place”.

DJ’s Dugout, Bellevue, NE

6 May 2011

DJ's Dugout on Urbanspoon

DJ’s used to be in a strip shopping center a block north of the freestanding building it is in now. I dimly remember having a meal there many years ago. Some work friends suggested it for lunch today, and it was pretty good.

We got there around noon and left around 1300, the place was crowded but we were seated immediately.

I got iced tea; it was from concentrate but wasn’t too bad. We went there for the special of the (Thurs) day, it is a ribeye with potato for $7.99. Mine was a perfect medium, pretty tender, and had good flavor. For an $8 9-oz steak, not too bad. I got fries, they were OK. The meal also came with a decent salad.

There are lots of TVs all around, and a Keno area if you are into that. My check was $11.29 with the drink, and service was good. This is not a bad option for a Thursday lunch. My companions reported that the rest of the food on the menu is good also.

Hiking Indian Cave State Park, NE

5 May 2011

This was a wonderful way to spend a couple hours while driving from Oklahoma City to Omaha.

Summary: 6.4 miles, steep climbs (100-300 ft), forested trials overlooking the Missouri River.

I have passed by Indian Cave State Park many, many times over the years. I became aware of the hiking potential of the area several years ago, but timing never worked out for a visit. Monday, the timing was pretty good, so I took advantage of it.

I got to the park around 1615. It has a $4 vehicle entry fee; I only had a fiver so that was my fee at the self-service station. The gate for the park had a sign that it closed at 2200, so that was my hiking limit. There are a few places in the park to get your water bottle filled; I stopped at the pump near the RV pumpout station.

A couple word about signage. The park map shows roads and hiking trails, but there is not a lot of directional signage, so you need to keep an eye on where you are. I was looking for Trail 4, and drove right past it as there was no sign pointing to the trailhead or the road the trail was on. This extends to the trails themselves. They are numbered, and some of the numbers are kind of confusing. There were two Trail 3s, for example, and they do not seem to be connected.

The trailhead itself was well marked.

Trail 4 headed down immediately. Then it went up. Then it went down again. Then it went up. I was targeting the Missouri River bank, and it was, it turns out, three ridges away. This was a hike with a lot of up-and-down.

There are no switchbacks here. If you need to get to the top of a ridge, you go straight up the side of the hill. It gets steep.

Most of the trails are made for horses.

There are some trails that are hiker-only. It’s hard to tell, but this is one of them. Note that you are looking down.

This is another example of “up”.

Trail 4 ended up (literally, UP) at an open area. A little manual recon in the area showed a trailhead for Trail 6 (the trail map shows them connecting; they don’t). Trail 6 eventually gets to a multiple trail connection. There are four trails that converge, and signage for *three* of them. That one leads towards Trails 8 and 8A, which run along the Missouri River. When I got to the intersection of 8 and 8A, there is a really nice view of the river.

I headed down here along the river. The trail along the river (8A) has a lot of debris, doubtless due to persistent flooding.

I looped back on Trail 8. It went up and up and up (you can see it clearly on the altitude plot). The view from up there is amazing.

This is a closeup. You are looking into Iowa; vehicles on I-29 are visible, along with a wind farm.

This is looking north.

Up on the ridge, there is a REALLY neat camp. It has a lean-to. I really like this, it’s one of the coolest campsites I have seen. The view up there is wonderful.

I finished Trail 8, which lead through another set of three lean-tos near the 8/8A intersection. Before you get there, there is a “Trail 3” marker that leads off downhill. I wanted to finish 8 so I kept going, and then after I walked through the camp, there was another Trail 3 marker; I walked down it for a while, and realized it loops around the camp. So it had nothing to do with the real Trail 3. I went back, found the 2/3/6/sorta 8 interchange, and went up the real 3. Up and up and up!

Trail 3 ends up (or starts out, depending on your point of view) on the same road that I parked on to start the hike, about a half mile away. A treat – there was a really neat elevated viewing platform. The interesting thing about the photo, I was on the ridge above the river a short time before.

I finished the hike with a short walk along the road to get to the car. The total was 6.4 miles, but I knew it was hard because certain muscles were telling me so! I really enjoyed it.

I saw a couple squirrels on the hike, and a lot of deer tracks, but no other mammals. There were a lot of birds. I saw what I think was an oriole (a very orange chest), jays, and sparrows, and buzzards up on the ridge. I heard a barred owl hoot a couple times, and I also heard a number of woodpeckers.

I saw a total of three people on the trail – two people hiking along 8A, and a guy on a mountain bike a couple hundred yards away.

The hike on a topo map, a Google Earth terrain overlay, and the altitude of the hike.

This is a scan of the trail map for the park. Notice that I stayed in the central part, and didn’t get near the cave, or into the northern part at all.

I spent right at three hours here, it was well worth it. I only hiked about a third of the park, as near as I can tell. I will be back to hike some more! I like the lean-tos that are along some of the trails, I think they are a great idea.

I didn’t get to visit the Indian Cave for which the park is named. Next time!

Hickory Road BBQ, Auburn, NE

5 May 2011

Hickory Road BBQ & Catering Co. on Urbanspoon

After a long, hard hike at nearby Indian Cave State Park, I was coming into Omaha via Auburn. I saw Hickory Road as I drove through town, and decided to hit it for dinner. I got there about 1955, and left around 2040.

I ordered iced tea to start. It was Gold Coast, and not bad, but like most Gold Coast, not very good, either.

I got a three-meat special, with sliced brisket, chopped pork, and pulled chicken. It was all excellent! The meat was all tender, had great flavor, and was in a perfect quantity. I really like the chopped pork in particular. I mixed the hot and sweet sauces about equally, and that made a great enhancement to the meat. The meal came with a chunk of corn, two sides (I chose mac and cheese and baked beans), and a bread stick. All of this was really good.

The only downer was a very loud and very drunk woman at another table. Service was good. My check was $19.20.

One thing I found amusing – the food presentation was right out of a Famous Dave’s. The sides, the corn, the round dish and checked paper, all made me think I was in a Dave’s. Except the BBQ at Hickory Road was better.

If you are traveling through Auburn, this is a darn fine place to get some chow.

Spezia, Omaha, NE

7 April 2011

Spezia on Urbanspoon

I had Raegan and the kids to this restaurant a couple years ago; we were staying at the Homewood Suites that used to be the hotel next door (it’s something else now). Tonight, I went there with four other work friends. Overall, not a bad experience.

We got there around 1740, and left around 1920. Service was pretty good. Stan ordered an Italian Sausage & Roasted Pepper, which was sort of like a rectangular pizza, but without sauce. It was really good.

I ordered Chicken Broccoli Fettuccine Alfredo. It was not the best I have had, but it was good. The broccoli needed a little more cooking. The chicken was a breast grilled and dropped on top of the fettuccine; it should have been cubed or diced and sauteed and mixed in. The alfredo was good, but not terribly rich, and it was thin.

So the meal was not bad, but it was not nearly ideal. My check was $19.63. It was a lot of food, and from that aspect it was value, but it was not overly flavorsome. The iced tea was good.

I would go back again if someone suggested it.

Ozark Smoked Meat Co, Omaha, NE

6 April 2011

Ozark Smoke Meat Co on Urbanspoon

I had dinner here this evening with six work friends. We got there around 1720, and left around 1900 after a good dinner and a good conversation. There was one other table occupied while we were there.

What I wanted was a two meat dinner with brisket and chicken. They didn’t have that, but they had a dinner for two (BTW, it’s not on the online menu if you look at their website) for about $21.00. It has three meats, and four sides. Eddie and I got that; the meats were brisket, spare ribs, and a chicken breast. It was darn good! The ribs were not the meatiest I have had, but they had good smoky flavor and were tender. The brisket was pretty good also, and tender. The chicken was good as I started eating it, but it was a bit dry towards the middle. Overall, a really good meal.

They didn’t have any iced tea. I got DP instead, it was OK.

I would gladly go back again, this was good BBQ.

Brewburgers, Omaha, NE

5 April 2011

Brewburgers on Urbanspoon

Ate here for lunch today with some work friends. We got there around 1205 and left at 1250.

I got an iced tea and an Old Fashioned. The Old Fashioned is brisket that is roasted in brine. It certainly is salty. There was almost no flavor to the beef. It was tender enough, but just had no flavor, just salt taste. It came with mustard on rye bread. I only ate half of it. I chili cheese fries with it; they were OK, and there were a LOT of them! The tea was good.

Service was OK. My check was $12.44. I will not go out of my way to eat here again.

Smashburger, Bellevue, NE

18 March 2011

Smashburger on Urbanspoon

OK, I’ve noted before that I like cheeseburgers. I have heard of Smashburger over the past couple years. The last time I was in the Omaha area I noticed that one had opened up just a block from my usual hotel there.

I had dinner there this evening. One thing I overheard was one of the managers tell another customer that they were not “fast food”, but they were “quick dining”, or something like that.

I got a “classic big smash”. For a side, I got haystack onions, which most any other place would call onion straws. The onions were excellent, crispy and flavorful, and the onion was fully cooked. These came with a dipping sauce that had some catsup, and some horseradish, and maybe ranch dressing in it; it reminded me some of fry sauce from Utah. It was OK; the horseradish dominated the flavor. Next time I will ask if they have plain ranch, or BBQ sauce.

I got there around 1700, and left around 1745. My check was $10.45.

The burger was… huge. It had to be a 2/3rds pound of beef. It was cooked medium rare, which I was surprised was not disclosed. I will be sure that I ask for it to be medium well next time (and there will be a next time). The burger had a nice crust, good texture, and decent taste. I did add just the lightest sprinkling of salt to the last half of the burger. I got it with pickles (thick bread and butter pickles), lettuce (a largish leaf, and their Smashsauce (or something like that), which is a mix of mayo, mustard, catsup, and something else (the manager described it as similar to deviled egg filling, and I concur with that). This was messy burger, enough grease dripped off that it worked through the wax paper and on to the table. I went through four napkins; there was a lot of Smashsauce as well.

The tea, surprisingly, was Tazo black, and as such was very good, even iced. They have self serve tea and Coke and such.

Smashburger was not the best burger I’ve had, and it was far from the worst. I don’t know that it is in my top ten, but it’s pretty darn good regardless. You could do far worse than to eat a Smashburger.

Farmhouse Cafe, Omaha, NE

4 December 2010

Farm House Cafe on Urbanspoon

After work last night, I needed to find a place to eat, so I fired up Google Maps on my Blackberry and searched for “cafe”. Farmhouse popped up as #3 on the list, and I liked the reviews, so I headed over there.

I got there around 1800. The place was only about 20% full, and I was seated immediately.

I looked at the menu, it is full of comfort food. I ordered a cup of chili, and the three-piece chicken, all white, with iced tea to drink.

The chili showed immediately. It was OK, but only OK. It was probably 20% big chunks of tomato. There were also tons of beans and unidentifiable stuff. There was little meat. There was no heat (spice) to it at all. The flavor was OK.

The chicken arrived while I was still eating the chili, very quickly. The usual “all white” order would be a breast, thigh, and wing, but this was three large breasts. I barely got all that chicken down. It was pretty good. I think that it was baked instead of fried, since the skin wasn’t very crispy. The chicken was fairly moist and not dried out, and had good flavor.

The chicken came with mashers and green beans. Kind of unusual – the mashers were dumped on top of the green beans, then gravy was dumped on top of the mashers. Bad aim on the part of whoever assembled the plate? I dug out all of the green beans and ate them (not bad), and ate most of the mashers (couldn’t get them all, too much chicken).

I had asked for some extra gravy up front. The gravy was… odd. It had a definite taste of cream. I couldn’t taste any flour or grease or anything like that. I think it was a plain roux. Now that I think about it, this “gravy” reminds me quite a bit of the cream sauce that Raegan makes when we have red-skinned potatoes.

The meal came with a muffin; I wanted blueberry, but got cranberry. My server went and got a blueberry, and let me keep the cranberry. I had a nibble off of each, pretty good. They will become breakfast.

I left around 1900. The meal was OK. The service was also. The tea was good. The bakery stuff there looked really good. My check was $19.04.

Stella’s Bar and Grill, Bellevue, NE

3 December 2010

This is about the “new” Stella’s. The “old” Stella’s was a rathole by any standard, but made darn fine cheeseburgers. The old building was torn down, and another built in it’s place. The burgers are just as good.

We got there today around 1215. We had to shoehorn three of us around a two-top, since the place was about 95% full. We got our orders in pretty quick, though.

I got iced tea, a double cheeseburger, and a bowl of chili. The tea was good, the burger outstanding. It has wonderful beef flavor, and was hotter than heck right off the grill. Not to greasy, but nice and juicy. The chili was OK. No heat, and a lot of kidney beans and bits and pieces of non-meat. Good flavor, though.

We left around 1300. My check was $13.11. Service was good in spite of the large number of people. Great cheeseburgers!

Swine Dining, Bellevue, NE

3 December 2010

Swine Dining BBQ on Urbanspoon

This place has real potential. The history I got is that they used to sell their BBQ out of a truck at various locations in Bellevue, mainly along Galvin Road. They recently opened up in a newish building just east of downtown on Highway 370.

A couple friends and I went there for lunch today. We got there around 1230. The place was about empty.

The ordering concept is a bit odd. There is a paper menu and a bunch of pencils, and you check off what you want. It looks like pretty much sandwiches only for lunch, and I think you can get dinners in the evening.

I got “The Whole Hog”, or something like that. It’s a hoagy roll with a fair amount of chopped everything they have, including sausage. That was some pretty darn good meat! I didn’t have much of the bread, there was so much meat. I tried both the mild and hot sauce. The mild was OK, little taste or heat. The hot had some good flavor enhancement and wasn’t too spicy at all.

It came with two sides; I got baked beans (decent), and cole slaw (creamy, also decent). The tea was self serve and good.

We left about 1310. My check was $7.10. I look forward to going back, that’s some of the best BBQ I have had in Omaha.

Karray’s Cafe, Bellevue, NE

3 December 2010

This place is just a block away from my favorite hotel in the Bellevue area. It’s open 0630-1400 everyday but Sunday. I dropped in there for lunch yesterday since I had a longer-than-normal lunch.

I got there around 1145, and was seated immediately. There were about five tables occupied out of about 25. I ordered iced tea, and the lunch special – shepard’s pie!

The tea got there quickly. It was not that good, but it wasn’t so bad that I sent it back. I think it was a concentrate like Gold Coast, which is highly variable.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Restaurants ought to brew their iced tea (in dedicated containers) instead of buying concentrate or using instant (which is a dining crime, in my opinion). It has to be less expensive, and it tastes better.

Moving on. The shepard’s pie arrived shortly. It was pretty good. I think they made some of the filling by using ground beef and a spice and seasoning mix, mixed in some corn, then topped it with clumps of mashers, and stuck it in the over for a couple minutes to crisp up the mashers.

it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t true shepard’s pie. It should have had carrots and peas in it, and it should have been completely covered with mashers and then baked until hotter than heck and with a crust on the mashers.

But I would get it again! I ended the meal with an excellent piece of chocolate pie.

I left around 1245; the restaurant was about 40% full. My check was $11.70. Service wasn’t bad. I’d like to try Karray’s for breakfast.

The Chatty Squirrel Cafe and Bakery, Omaha, NE

27 July 2010

The Chatty Squirrel Cafe & Bakery on Urbanspoon

We were cruising along Center Street in west Omaha last Saturday afternoon looking for someplace to eat. When we drove past the Chatty Squirrel, we said with a name like that, we just had to try it.

It turns out that the Squirrel had been open in this location since Monday! They had been on Giles in Papillion and had move here for more business.

The Chatty Squirrel has a pretty healthy menu. It is largely sandwiches and soup.

Raegan and I got turkey sandwiches on wheat. It was good, except that the sandwich was served on a roll instead of wheat bread. Good turkey, though. We also got some mushroom and potato soup, it was good.

Erin and Ian got grilled cheese sandwiches. Ian also got a smoothie that he really liked.

Raegan and I got iced tea. It was a little weak, but not bad.

The adult meals come with a sweet. Raegan got a butterscotch brownie, and I got a cake brownie. Both were really good!

So overall, the food was good, if a smaller serving size than you get at most places. That, of course, is not a bad thing on several levels.

So I can recommend the Chatty Squirrel. It’s family owned and operated. The staff is friendly. The cost is reasonable (our check was $31.51). There were three tables out of about ten occupied when we got there around 1230, and five out of ten when we left about 45 min later.

River Country Nature Center, Nebraska City, NE

26 July 2010

We stopped in Nebraska City on the way home from Omaha so Raegan could visit the Pendelton Wool outlet there. We had passed through town several time when the Nature Center was closed, so I took the kids there, and Raegan joined us later.

It was great! The Center is mostly made up of Nebraska animals that had been mounted. The guy who did most of the mounts was the only taxidermist for miles around, and so got tons of work. He is 97 now, and likes to come to the Center and tell about some of the critters. One story I really liked was about a baby skunk he raised until it died of old age; he mounted it, and it’s part of the Center.

These are a couple examples of the work.

There are some fine examples of habitat as well. I think these were the best exhibits.

The Center also has some collections of minerals.

The Center is on the east side of downtown. Admission is $1 each, and it is a dollar well spent!

E-4B 35th Anniversary Celebration

25 July 2010

I just got back from a dinner and social event celebrating 35 years of the E-4 aircraft (A and B models) performing the National Emergency Airborne Command Post (NEACP) and National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) missions. The mission actually goes all the way back to 1962, when it was performed by EC-135 aircraft.

The celebration was organized by the Nightwatch Association, which I shall be joining soon. The main activities for this event are the dinner and social, and tours of the aircraft for family. I brought Raegan and the kids all the way to Omaha specifically for the tour. They have not been on the aircraft since the 25th, and so I’m looking forward to them being able see the the changes in the aircraft since then.

The dinner and social were outstanding. These were held at the Embassy Suites in La Vista (a suburb of Omaha), and the food and service were really good. Even better was the social. I saw people that I have not seen in 20 years, and met a couple people that I had indirect interactions with as far back as 1986. The speaker (who kept it short), was an EC-135 battlestaff member in Eur and helped define the E-4 aircraft, and he did a good job as well.

I’ve been working with the E-4B since 1984 (26+ years), I’m proud of what I have been able to contribute, and it’s easy to get a big head from that. But being able to talk to, and hear the stories of, the (mostly) men and women that sat the alerts that were 24/7 for weeks at a time, for the rest of us as Americans, really puts contribution into perspective.

So the tour tomorrow is the last of the events, and I hope to be still working to support the E-4B for the 45th anniversary.

30 July 2010 update:

The tour was a lot of fun for the family to see the airplane that takes me away so many times. We had one of the 1ACCS ROs as a tour guide, and she and I had the usual banter about while was more important, radio or data (it’s DATA, of course!).

Aksarben Aquarium, Omaha, NE

25 July 2010

This is a neat exhibit in the Omaha area. It’s in Schramm State Park, about 20 miles from downtown Omaha. The last time we were there was about three years ago. We went this afternoon simply because we had an hour of free time, and we were on the west side of Omaha. It’s about a 10-min drive from our hotel at Giles and I-80.

The admission is $1 for adults and $0.50 for kids. You can’t beat that! The Aquarium is in a circular building. It is all Nebraska-native fish. There are frogs and salamanders also. They have some HUGE bullfrogs in the outer area.

I like aquariums, and I like those that have central-US fish best. Bass, crappie, bluegill, all very nice. This aquarium has them all.

Another part is the bird watching area. When we were there a couple bluebirds were in the area, along with the usual assortment of robins and such. A couple pair of binoculars are provided as well.

Finally, they have a large exhibit of Nebraska animals, or rather, parts of them. There are a lot of mounted animals like bobcats, deer, and the like. They also have a bunch of different furs, skunk, mink, beaver, coyote, etc. It’s nice to feel the differences in the fur and hair.

Lastly, the state park as a number of hiking trails. The kids and I walked most of them when we were here the last time. I seem to think that it is a $2 fee for this, but I may be off (I know there is a fee, though). If I can find them, I will post the photos from that adventure.

So kudos to the Nebraska Parks and Recreation people. They have a winner of a nice park here, lots of trees, and the aquarium and nature center is really, really nice.

Brother Sebastion’s, Omaha, NE

23 April 2010

Brother Sebastian's Steak House on Urbanspoon

I ate at this place maybe 10 years or more ago. I think I was not impressed one way or the other.

We got here with a group of co-workers around 2000. The place was largely empty.

I ordered some fried mushrooms for the table. The breading was kind of thick and tasteless, while the shrooms were OK.

I ordered a T-Bone. Overall, it was good. The beef had good flavor, and was cooked medium like I asked. The strip side was not as tender as it could have been, borderline chewy in a number of places. The filet side was very good, tender and flavorful.

The meal came with two sides. I chose a double order of pasta, which was fettucine alfredo. It was not good. The noodles were decent enough, but the alfredo was not good at all. It has some odd taste, almost like seafood, and I did not like it.

The meal came with a salad bar that was kind of small, but what was there was good. The ranch dressing was excellent.

The iced tea was good and kept refilled.

We left about 2200. My check was $57.75, which included an $8.85 (~15%) forced tip. My views on these are already discussed, so I will likely not be back to this place ever again. The server would have had a bigger tip from me if it were not for the extorted tip.

Pizza Gourmet, La Vista, NE

23 April 2010

The Pizza Gourmet Co. on Urbanspoon

I decided to eat at this place during a conference I was at in the Omaha area. It’s a very utilitarian area, with a lunch buffet, and a menu as well.

The buffet had a number of smallish pizzas, an OK-looking salad bar, and four kinds of chicken wings. I got a number of slices of hamburger and pepperoni pizza, and a number of honey BBQ wings. They were all very good, especially the pizza. I had iced tea. It was kept pretty full, so the service was decent.

The place was about 40% full when I got there about 1130 on a Wednesday, and about 90% full at 1215 when I left.

I don’t know that the pizza is “gourmet”, but it is very good. My check was $9.57.

La Mesa, Papillion, NE

21 April 2010

La Mesa Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

This place was recommended by a former long-time Omaha resident. It turns out that there is another location in Bellevue, and I have eaten in that one a couple years ago.

I ordered fajitas, mixed beef and chicken, without green peppers. The meal came with peppers, so I returned it and it was fixed. The fajitas were excellent – they may very well be the best I have ever had. The beef and chicken had great flavor and were not greasy.

The meal comes with a decent salsa and chips. I got iced tea – it was excellent.

We got there about 2000 and were immediately seated; the place was not even 10% full. We left at 2045, and it was about the same occupancy. My check was $12.82. Service was excellent.

Culver’s, Bellevue, NE

13 April 2010

Culver’s is a chainlet that has a decent variety of food. They are best known, I guess, for their “Butter Burgers”, and those are pretty good.

On this visit, a group of work fiends and I went for lunch to the Culver’s in Bellevue, NE, since we were at a meeting at a nearby Large Defense Contractor.

They had a sign out front: “Return Of BBQ Brisket”. How could I resist that? So I ordered it. It came with a decent amount of sliced beef with some sort of hickory/BBQ sauce slathered on top. Smoked – no way. Roasted, somewhat. Brisket? Nope. It tasted good, but it should be labeled “Sliced Roast Beef With BBQ Sauce”. It came with fries (pretty good), and I got iced tea (not so good, it had a strong coffee flavor contamination, so I switched to Dr. Pepper). I also got a cup of chili. Not that much meat, but the spice heat was nice for the chilly day out.

We got there around 1300, and the place was pretty much empty. My check was $10.63. We left close to 1400, and the place was pretty much empty.

One thing I like about this location is the airplane models and drawings used for decor, including an E-4A and an EC-135.

Lansky’s, Bellevue, NE

8 April 2010

Lansky's Pizza Pasta Philly on Urbanspoon

This place is just off NE 370 in Bellevue. I’ve eaten here a couple times over the past couple years. I suggested it to a group of work friends this evening, mainly because it is close to the hotel a number of us were staying in.

We got there around 1915, and the place was mostly empty.

I had tea (good) and Alfredo Chicken. The tea (and salad bar) are self serve. The chicken alfredo was good. The alfredo had a certain taste to it, the same taste as the alfredo as Johnny Corrino’s serves. It’s not bad, it’s just different. The meal was noodle-heavy, but had enough alfredo and chicken to make it a good meal.

In the past, I have had pepperoni pizza and cheesesteak. They were good.

We left around 2100. The place was actually a bit more full than when we arrived. My check was $10.14.

Petrow’s Restaurant, Omaha, NE

13 February 2010

Petrow's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I saw an ad on one of the local Omaha stations for this place, and it kicked off a vague memory of someone recommending the place to me a couple years ago. So Friday afternoon when work was finsihed, and I was headed to the airport, I decided to give it a try. I got there around 1325.

I was seated immediately, but it was a couple minutes before I was noticed. The place was about 1/3 full. Service was great once I was noticed.

They bill themselves as an old fashioned soda fountain. There is one good way to test this – I ordered a vanilla milkshake. It was a lot of milkshake for $3.29. A big glass, with another half of the glass in the milkshake maker that came with it. Perfect consistency, not too thick, and a spoon was the best way to eat it.

I ordered a chili cheeseburger. It was a 1/3 lb burger. The meat was really good. The burger was served sort of open faced, so I ate it with a fork. The chili was a sort of Cincinnati style, with a lot of pinto beans and some kidney beans, and some chunks of green peppers in it. Not bad, buy not my favorite, it still was good on the cheeseburger. You have a choice of all fries, or all onion rings, or a combination. I got rings. They were excellent! Prefect breading, the onions were cooked all the way through, and just a bit sweet. I might get a full order of them next time I’m there.

I also got tea. It was good, and got refilled constantly.

Petrow’s has wifi. They turn it off 1100 – 1400 and during dinner hour. It came right up at 1400 (I was scanning with my BlackBerry).

My check was $13.24, not unreasonable considering the amount of food I got. The place was still about 1/3 full when I left around 1410. I wouldn’t mind going here again – the CFS is supposedly made right there on-site, and that has to be checked out.

Yet Some More Cool Things From The Air

13 February 2010

On my most recent trip to Omaha, there were a couple neat things I saw.

Omaha is on the Missouri River. The Missouri flows in a very well-defined flood plain along a lot of the Nebraska-Iowa border. The snow really helps bring out the terrain differences.

This shot has Nebraska City in the center of the picture; the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) (another shot related to this plant farther down) coal-fired power plant is making steam. The flood plain is at roughly 920 ft (above mean sea level); the higher ground in Iowa is up to about 1200 ft, and the higher ground on the Nebraska side is about 1000 ft.

Not much to see in Omaha, but on the way home…

As we left Eppley (OMA), we left to the NW, and looped around over west Omaha. There was a broken layer of low stratus across the region almost all the way down to the NE-KS border. I was on the left side, and say a really cool thing. The MidAmerican coal-fired power plant is right across the Missouri River from Omaha. It’s plume was punching through the low cloud layer.

A little farther south, the OPPD plant at Nebraska City was doing the same thng.

Farther south, we flew west of El Dorado Lake in KS. I thought it was pretty cool how the arms of the lake had frozen over.

On this trip, we ended up flying much farther east than usual. At this point, we are usually west of I-35, but since we were east of I-35 we saw several cities we don’t usually get to.

This is Winfield, KS.

And this is Arkansas City, KS.

This is one of the weirdest shaped lakes in Oklahoma, Kaw Lake. I have never been to this lake, but it’s on the list.

And a bit farther on, Ponca City, OK.

The dam at the upper left is for Kaw Lake. Ponca clearly does a lot of oil-related business.

Next, we flew near my home for six years, and where I later met my very cute roommate, Stillwater, OK.

As we flew over eastern Oklahoma County, it occurred to me that we might be near Girl Scout Camp Cookieland, where our Girl Scout troop has camped several times, and Erin attended Summer Camp. I remembered it was along 29th and east of Peebly Road, so I started shooting pictures along what I thought was Peebly. Turns out I just got Cookieland in the first frame.

Finally, as we broke through the clouds on approach to DFW, the snow from the storm the day before was amazing. My seatmate made the observation that it looked like we were landing back at Omaha.

That’s it!

Johnny’s Cafe, Omaha, NE

12 February 2010

Johnny's Cafe on Urbanspoon

I have eaten at Johnny’s a number of times over the years. The last time was more than ten years ago, the night of the Lap Steak Incident. About which no more needs to be said.

Tonight I wanted to get steak. I had driven past Johnny’s on my last trip to Omaha a couple weeks ago around 2000, and it smelled really good, so I made a mental note to try it again soon. This evening we got out of meetings at a decent time so I headed that way. I got there around 1745. There were only a couple other tables occupied.

Johnny’s is one of the Omaha area restaurants that have been around forever; I think it’s been kept up better than some of the others.

I got a T-Bone. This thing was huge, 22+ ozs. The tenderloin part was a perfect medium, and was fork tender. Lots of flavor, it was good eating, and almost a meal in itself. The strip side was just a hair on the medium rare side, and not quite as tender. It also had some gristle in the meat, which was easy to cut out. I left that bone denuded of meat.

They have seven kinds of potato to go with the meal. I got potato au gratin. It was OK. There was real cheddar in with the potato. The only gripe was that the potato was not terribly hot.

So that’s a very basic meal. Meat, cheese, potato.

The meal also came with a salad, just lettuce, some grated carrot, half a cherry tomato, and a pepper (I fished the last two out). I got ranch dressing. It was not bad, but was unique in that it was very thick. You also got a couple rolls, they would have been nice warmed up.

I decided to get dessert since I skipped lunch. I got a Choco Cobbler, which is a warm brownie with a scoop of ice cream, drizzled with chocolate. It was excellent.

The tea was good. The only problem is that it is served in tiny glasses. I might bring my own tankard next time.

Service was perfect, the tiny tea glass never ran out. The steak got to me before I was done with the salad, but it sat and finished cooking while I finished the salad. I was given a mushroom reduction with the steak, but only dipped a couple pieces in it; the meat didn’t need the sauce. It was real mushroom, a lot of rich, earthly mushroom flavor in it.

I left around 1840. My check was $33.92. I think that the huge steak was a good value. I will not wait ten more years to eat at Johnny’s again.

Varsity Sports Grill, or Roman Coin Pizza, Bellevue, NE

11 February 2010

Varsity Sports Cafe and Roman Coin Pizza on Urbanspoon

Two names, take your pick. I have no idea why. I will use Varsity to refer to them here.

This place is about a block away from my favorite hotel in Bellevue, the Hampton Inn. I have had several recommendations for the Varsity over the past year or so. I’ve looked at the menu online before, and it seemed OK. Tonight, I was not terribly hungry, and I wanted to walk to clear my head, so I headed over there on foot.

It was not a good start. I sat at a table and was roundly ignored for about 15 min. I read my Omaha World Herald and waited. Eventually, a very busy server that moved fast and frequently dropped a menu and took my drink order, my usual, iced tea.

The tea sucked. Later, I looked at my bill, and the bill said “Nestea” (which at first I misread as “Nasty”). I personally think that the Nestea corporation should be disallowed by law to say they make tea. That stuff sux. I had the server change it to Coke, and she even said it wasn’t very good.

I ordered a double bacon cheeseburger. It came without bacon. I didn’t complain. The burger had potential. It had some good beef flavor, but the two patties were just a bit scorched on one side.

I got onion rings. They were an extra charge, but the extra charge didn’t show on my bill, so I took that as fair trade for the lack of bacon on my cheeseburger. They were OK. The onion was pretty tough. I had to gnaw through it. The breading was clearly machine-made. A bright spot – the onion ring dip was a combination of mayonnaise and chipotle sauce, and it was pretty good.

Since it’s a sports grill/bar, there are a lot of TVs playing sports. The place has WiFi. It is lit enough to be able to read a paper or work a puzzle. The music started out as rock, but changed to rap. It wasn’t too loud to totally overwhelm.

The service, which started out pretty bad, got better over time. When I got there at 1820, about a third of the tables were occupied. When I left around 1940, it was about 60% full. My check was $12.26.

Would I go back? Maybe, especially if I was just looking for appetizers (except for the onion rings). This place supposedly has killer pizza; I would try it next time.

Piccolo’s, Omaha, NE

10 January 2010

Piccolo Pete's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Somebody in Omaha told me about this place a couple years ago, and I have eaten there several times since then. It’s a kind of boundary between the industrial area south of downtown Omaha, and the residential area that starts from there.

Piccolo’s is named Piccolo Pete’s on their website, and also on their Google Maps listing, but the sign out front is just “Piccolo’s”.

Piccolo’s is in a class of restaurants in Omaha that have a very “old” feeling to them. This includes places like Anthony’s , Casio’s, and Johnny’s.

Last Thursday, after a successful day of meetings, I decided to have a steak and headed to Piccolo’s. I had a bit of a hard time getting there, as Omaha had a ton of snow and some ice on the roads, and the area that Piccolo’s is in is quite hilly. I got there around 1745 and was seated immeidiately; there were only three other tables with people.

They had a 16 oz T-Bone on special, so that’s what I got. Now, I got a T-Bone at Piccolo’s about a year ago that I think was the single finest T-Bone I had ever had. That steak was fork tender all the way, and a perfect medium. This steak was about 95% of that that perfect steak – it had just a bit of char on the tip, I scarfed that steak down and left a very much denuded bone. The steak was perfectly cooked and well marbled, and was just full of beef flavor. It was just great.

The meal comes with a potato. I usually get hash browns, but in this case, I got a second serving of the spaghetti. You also get to start with soup (beef vegitable) and a salad. I skipped the salad, but the soup was just right given that I had just walked in from 0F temps. It was thick and hot, the soup was about as thick as gravy, and it had big pieces of roast and veggies. I got a bowl of cottage cheese instead of the salad.

I got a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.

When I left, there were about seven occupied tables. My check was $22.95. Service was excellent.

I have had steak several times at Piccolo’s. I have also had the beef stroganoff; it was really, really good. The other thing I have had is the fried chicken, also excellent.

China Buffet, Bellevue, NE

18 December 2009

China Buffet on Urbanspoon

I have eaten at this place several times in the past year or so. It’s on Highway 370, just to the east of 36th street.

This particular evening, the air temp was about 8F. When I got to the place, I had three cups of egg drop soup to warm up a bit. It’s a thick soup with lots of egg white floating around, and hotter than heck. Just want was needed for the cold temps outside.

China Buffet has a standard super buffet of food. I usually get a lot of fried rice, and sweet and sour chicken (or pork, sometimes). It’s good, hot, and plentiful.

China Buffet also has (included) a Mongolian Grill. You go through a line and pick out one or more meats (I like beef and chicken, but they also have pork, shrimp, and other seafood), then load up on veggies and sauces. Then whole lot of it is dumped on a huge flat-top stove and essentially sauteed until everything is cooked.

I’ve gone through the line twice here a couple times. The iced tea is good, although the servers are sometimes a little slow in refilling.

My check this time was $11.98. I think that the value provided here is outstanding. The place was about 70% full when I got there at 1900 on a cold Nebraska night (did I hear Michael Murphy in the distance?), and about 90% full when I left around 2030. Really good.

Lil Burro, Bellevue, NE

18 December 2009

Lil' Burro on Urbanspoon

This little place is on Capehart Road about a mile west of Offutt AFB, NE. It’s been there for years.

I ate there this week during my latest trip to the Omaha area. This time I got a two-enchilada dinner, with one ground beef and one shredded chicken enchilada. The whole thing is covered with cheese and enchilada sauce, and comes with rice and refried beans. There was something off about the meal; the enchilada sauce seemed a bit sharp. The meal was Tuesday and I haven’t died, so it must have been OK. The rice seemed a bit different also, the orange coloration was really vivid. The enchiladas were excellent.

I got a cup of the gringo chili (chile con carne), and it was pretty good. Not hardly spicy at all.

I have had a number of things here over the years. In particular, they make a really, really good half-pound cheeseburger.

They have good tea. One caveat – they do not take American Express. Visa and MC, and cash, OK. My check was $10.97.

Grandmothers, Ralston/Omaha, NE

23 October 2009

Grandmother's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I was really looking for some comfort food this evening. The hotel had some less-than-appetizing lasagna, so I decided to find someplace else to eat. I fired up Google Maps, centered it on Omaha, and started looking…

I chose Grandmothers. It’s in Ralston, a small town adjacent to Omaha, just east of 84th on L. I got there and was immediately seated.

The place was really, really good. My server said she liked the chicken fried steak best, so I got it. I was not terribly hungry, so the size of the CFS was a pleasant surprise. It was probably about 7″x3″. It was absolutely fork tender, and tasty. The gravy was clearly not out of a carton, you could taste the flour. It had a good consistency.

The meal came wth mashed potatoes and corn. The potatoes were covered in the same gravy, and were clearly mashed right there on site, since they had a couple lumps in them (this is not a bad thing!). The corn had been soaked in just a bit of melted butter, and were great!

I usually don’t get dessert, but I did this time. A warm brownie, with a scoop of ice cream, with some whipped cream and a drizzle of hot fudge. It was really good.

The iced tea was perfect. The service was also just what I wanted. I was left alone to work my USA Today puzzle section. My check was $15.16. A big part of that was the dessert, which probably could be eaten by two or three normal people (that’s people with a normal appetite, not MINE).

The place had large windows to the north side, which would have had a very nice view of part of Omaha if it hadn’t been dark and pouring rain.

I liked this place. It’s kind of out of the way from the parts of the Omaha metro area I usually hang out in, but it’s worth a drive.