Steaks might be the first food that comes to mind when you think of Omaha, but the culinary offerings in Nebraska's biggest city are surprisingly diverse, not to mention entirely worthwhile. From gourmet burgers to bento boxes and sushi, get ready to taste your way through the “Big O” at these 10 amazing eateries.
At the forefront of Omaha's local and sustainable food movement, The Grey Plume serves up contemporary American cuisine that is seasonally-driven and delicious. There are artisan cheese plates and charcuterie boards to share, entrees highlighting roasted pheasant and Morgan Ranch wagyu beef, and even a four, six, or eight course chef's tasting menu — all dished out in an airy space. The restaurant also hosts classes in everything from pasta making to craft cocktail creations, but they fill up quickly so book ahead!
In a city filled with steakhouses, The Drover remains a (pardon the pun) true cut above the rest. This landmark eatery — temporarily closed due to a fire, but reopening in mid-2019 — wins accolades for its whiskey-marinated steaks, most notably their famous 8-ounce filet mignon, as well as massive cuts of NY strip and prime rib. Cozy fireplaces and a scattering of wagon wheels provide a rustic cowboy-inspired setting.
Located in Omaha's buzzing Blackstone District, the Early Bird attracts crowds with its big, almost-retro circular booths and a diverse brunch menu that includes various "jack stacks," "bennies," and "sandies" and plenty of cocktails for imbibing. The eatery's chicken fried steak is a perennial favorite, as is “The Bob,” a giant glazed donut made for sharing. Self-serve coffee is available while you wait, or belly up to the bar to order one of a handful of Bloody Mary variations.
As the first (and possibly only) conveyor belt sushi restaurant in the Midwest, Yamato delights with its color-coded nigiri platters — think red snapper, salmon, and uni — and a pan-Asian menu of offerings like Mongolian beef and fried rice. The restaurant's décor is bright and modern, with a series of fish-adorned ceiling tapestries and a covered “sushi train” that runs throughout much of the dining room. For lunch, don't miss Yamato's selection of bento boxes, each one packed with a main item such as sesame chicken or shrimp tempura and accompanied with a California roll, miso soup, and rice.
Multiple James Beard Awards' semifinalist and Omaha native Chef Tim Nicholson runs The Boiler Room kitchen, transforming farm fresh foods into an all-out culinary experience. Dishes might include baked Alaskan halibut, Moulard duck breast from New York's La Belle Farm, or wagyu flank steak, each incorporating locally grown and foraged artisan ingredients — a perk that extends to the restaurant's bar menu as well. For oenophiles, The Boiler Room is home to more than 500 different labels of Old World domaines. It occupies a refurbished brick and steel space in the city's Old Market neighborhood.
A Blackstone District newcomer, Butterfish is both a modern sushi bar and a tapas-style Asian-fusion eatery. Enjoy creative rolls like the Rocky Balboa — a mix of smoked salmon, avocado, cucumber, cream cheese, white and black sesame seeds with a bit of crispy garlic — or the spicy crab and albacore tuna Ralph Macchio roll in a sleek and stylish setting that includes a central sushi bar and private, tucked away booths for larger parties. There's even a bit of outdoor seating, as well as sake carafes and wine on tap.
Kith & Kin fully embraces the regional hospitality that its name — a southern phrase meaning friends and family — with a menu full of mouthwatering comfort cuisine. Dishes — such as Southern fried chicken, crispy cajun catfish, and seafood pot pie — are served alongside plates of hushpuppies and corn bread in a spacious Dundee neighborhood setting complete with signature sparkling chandeliers left over from the restaurant's previous incarnation. It's a mix of Southern eats and Midwestern hospitality all rolled into one.
Known for its unique selection of gourmet burgers, Leadbelly also attracts a local following with its casual pub-style atmosphere and TVs perfect for game days. The eatery first got its start in nearby Lincoln, though its outpost in Omaha's Midtown Crossing is just as popular. Expect the same legendary burger offerings — including the Raspberry Beret — a patty (choose from ground chuck, chicken, veggie, or portobello mushroom) topped with candied bacon, jerk-ginger peanut butter, and raspberry jalapeno jelly, and the Full Leaded Jacket, served on a fresh baked cinnamon roll with chili, white cheddar, and queso — along with poutine, fish & chips, and local brews on tap.
Tucked away in a late 19th century brick building in the city's Old Market district, Le Bouillon showcases the best in French cuisine while utilizing local Nebraska ingredients. The restaurant's décor includes colorful artwork, whitewashed brick, and a mix of hardwood floors and carpeting — all in a spacious and airy setting that's often buzzing during lunch and dinner, not to mention Sunday brunch. Menu items include a classic French onion soup, Croque Monsieur, and white bean cassoulet, as well as an ever-changing raw oyster selection.
It's dark and divey and undoubtedly caters to imbibing, but Omaha's Crescent Moon also serves up one of the best reuben sandwiches in the city. Located right across the street from the Blackstone Hotel, where Reuben Kulakofsky is said to have invented the beloved sandwich (though New Yorkers beg to differ), this wood-paneled ale house has perfected the reuben recipe, with just the right proportions of corned beef, sauerkraut, and dressing cooked old-school-style using a conveyor-belt pizza oven. It comes out perfect every time, and tastes especially satisfying with one of Crescent's 60+ tap beers wash it down.