Local music, food, and people, you should know
Coneflower Creamery – Brave the line, the Ice Cream Gods demand it
Many times I have driven past Coneflower and seen that line that stretches down the street, it’s impressive in it’s consistency, you may wonder what kind of time people have these days, but yesterday was the day I was one of those crazy people.
Let me just say if the line stretched for hours, and you had to bring chairs and a 6-pack just to get through it – I’d say get a case of Bud Lite Limes and let’s make a day out of it. Because it’s that good.
I hesitate to say that Coneflower might be better than Ted & Wally’s but, Coneflower might be better than Ted & Wally’s. The flavors I got were Blackstone Butter Brickle (brittle?) which is like crack cocaine version of Butter Pecan, Ooey Gooey St. Louis Blues, which had blueberry’s with pie chunks in it, were incredible.
I sat there on a bench, eating my ice cream, as this glorious sunset came about. I dare say it was the Ice Cream God’s themselves shining down upon the Coneflower saying, “Yes, my child. You make the Ice Cream Gods happy on this day.” Probably saying that to the manager or supervisor there at Coneflower or something. That’s how I saw it going down, and it was glorious.
Check this place out as soon as you can because the Ice Cream Gods demand it of you.
A Big Beautiful Kid’s Jail – Welcome to Downtown Omaha
You heard that right, there’s a big friggin juvenile detention center going into Downtown Omaha. Right on 18th and Harney. First thing you are probably thinking is, “What a great goddamn idea!” The more parking lots and prisons we can squeeze into Downtown Omaha, the better our city becomes and the more attractive it becomes for great companies, people, and parking lot attendants. But that’s not all, it will also cost $120 million dollars, and we will pay for it with our tax dollars without a vote, because voting on it would not have gone well. Good stuff right?
In fairness, I will try and lay out the pros and cons so far :
Pros of the Kid’s Jail-
- It can provide efficiencies and better services to the kids in the system because the courts are also downtown, and they won’t have to drive back and forth to 41st st, where the Douglas County Kid’s Jail currently is.
- It will help create a “campus environment” between Attorneys, juveniles, and other court services
- Someone is probably making a lot of money from this deal and you don’t need to know anything about that.
Cons of the Kid’s Jail –
- It’s another friggin’ jail in downtown. Just 2-3 blocks away from Douglas County Corrections. Also a jail.
- It costs $120 million dollars, could that money be used in other ways to help the county’s youth?
- the Police Union opposes the jail saying it’s too small
- Plans by Jim Cavanaugh have been proposed to simply renovate and expand services in the current detention center, at half the cost.
Regardless of where you are on this one, Omaha, I think you should know that it’s happening. See news articles here, here, and here for a good rundown of the two sides of the issue. For me personally, fuck this jail. It feels unnecessary and it feels like a bloated project where the money could be used elsewhere. No more prisons, and no more parking lots. Fixing the potholes and helping the homelessness problem would be a good start if you ask me.
Ted & Wally’s – Ultra Premium Ice Cream
You know an Ice cream place is good when it stays open during the winter time, in Omaha. That’s Ted & Wallys! Serving it up since 1986 and providing ULTRA-PREMIUM ice cream, which means its super fatty, creamy, and delicious. The menu is updated daily, and typically you can find some wacky flavors, along with some classics, and then some classic flavors/combinations you wouldn’t expect to be “ice-creamed”. It’s the perfect variety in my opinion. Example in the photo above, yesterday they had avocado and sangria (wacky) vanilla bean and dutch chocolate (classic) and Red Velvet cookies and Snickerdoodle cookies ice creams (classic flavor ice-creamed) it’s just brilliant! Most of you have probably gone to Ted & Wallys, but if you haven’t, check out their Downtown spot and their Benson location. It’s some of the best ice cream I have ever had. I still need to try Coneflower Creamery! Is Coneflower better than Ted & Wally’s? Is Michael Jordan better than Kobe? Can we enjoy them both equally? Anyways, point is, Omaha has some awesome ice cream and you need to check it out if you haven’t already!
The Ephemeral Soul of Senator Ben Sasse – The Interview
Ben’s soul, thank you for stopping by for an interview. It is a pleasure to sit down with you.
BS: Thanks for having me.
Must be excited to have the convention in town this week. How do you and Ben feel about the YRNC?
BS: Oh we sure are. As a Senator one of Ben’s greatest joys is being able to speak with young people about our values as Americans, and as conservatives. To do my part in instilling those values in young people, and hopefully inspire them to office someday, like Reagan inspired me, it is something we value very much.
Hey that’s great. What are some of those values that you find most important? And what does it mean today to be an American conservative?
BS: Ya know off the top of my head – personal accountability, humility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, a free press, and our constitution – these, to me, are what I would call my foundational values as a conservative, growing up my whole life in the corn fields of Fremo…
I have to ask. And you say these things often Ben, and I agree with them, you have a way of…saying agreeable things – but then I also look at someone like Donald Trump. Do you feel that Trump represents these values you speak of?
BS: Well…Specifically…What I would just say…
At this point in the interview Ben’s soul began to fade. Until disappearing completely from my view. The apparition was gone.
Where did it go?
I frantically scanned the room. I had done so much to score this exclusive interview and to just have it fade away like that…I thought of something.
Ben’s soul…How do you feel about the Cornhuskers this season?
Suddenly, the apparition started to return…
BS: You look at what Scott Frost is doing with the team and you can’t help but be excited. Last season was painful. But I know we have the best fans in football, and that this year we are going to come back strong. You look at the running back pos…
Now you have been known as a sort of a rising star within the GOP…
BS: Yes, thank you.
As really an intellectual type, with midwest roots and values. And you have also been outspoken about President Trump. What are some of your disagreements with Trump?
BS: Well, I think the President has done some good things. But we have had our disagreements in the past and, I think a dialogue with the President has helped clear up some issues that…
You said in 2016, that “I don’t think that Donald Trump has any core principles” A damning statement about a man. That was candidate Trump. What has changed for you for now President Trump?
Again, the fading begins…The soul of Ben Sasse is hardly visible, I act fast.
Tell me about your book, “Them”?
BS: The book is about us as Americans. Today we live in such a combative political environment, where we see people as our political enemies, and not our fellow Americans. As a nation we need to get back to that sense of wholeness, and the good news is you can buy that sense of wholeness now on Amazon for 25% off if you use the promo co..
Right. I see what you mean. Has the President helped or hurt that cause?
BS: I think the President has a special way of communicating…
Trump said to 4 Congresswoman of color recently, I quote, “I think, in some cases, they hate our country” and they should, “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” 3/4 of those Congresswoman were of course born in the United States. Any comment on that?
The ghost looks like he has just seen one, perplexed, it mutters…
BS: Conservative values…Big Red…Fremont…My book…Amazon….
The soul fades away, confused, frustrated…
At this moment the REAL, HUMAN FORM, BEN SASSE* enters the room!
REAL BS: WHERE DID IT GO!? I need to get to the convention center!
We look at each other awkwardly. The soul has disappeared, I have no answers for Ben.
Will you run for President in 2020 or 2024, Ben?
The REAL Ben Sasse looks at me stunned, then saddened, by merely the question itself.
Then…The apparition returns.
BS: …I wanted to…
The Real Ben Sasse looks at his soul eye to eye, heartbroken at the comment – there is history here…
Real BS: LET’S…GO! Now!
The soul of Ben Sasse drifts across the room and merges with the actual human body of Ben Sasse. The fully formed Sasse leaves the room.
I am left in the room alone, holding a copy of Sasse’s book “Them” which Ben insisted you can find on Amazon now and that he actually wrote most of it.
Fully formed Ben Sasse will be speaking this Saturday at the Young Republican National Convention at the Marriott Downtown.
*Not actual Ben Sasse or his soul. This is political satire, and entirely fictional (duh).
M’s Pub – Since 1972
Whenever a place has been around forever, has been burned down AND rebuilt and reopened again, then you know it must be something special. That’s M’s pub. Truly an Omaha staple since 1972, serving up delicious fare and providing an exceptional atmosphere. Come here with friends and family and the place turns into home. Check this spot out if you haven’t already!
Dean Battiato – “The Rose Man”
You’ve seen him downtown, in Benson, at a bar, at a restaurant, selling his infamous roses. But do you know the man himself? Well I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dean for an interview on how he came to be “The Rose Man” of Omaha –
How about we start, introduce yourself –
DB – My name is Dean Battiato. Grew up in Fremont, Nebraska. Lived in Lincoln for 15 years, and I moved to Omaha in 1991.
How long have you sold roses?
DB – Since 2000, just about 19 years now.
What inspired you to start selling roses?
DB – Just answered an ad in the paper. I worked for a woman for the first 3 and a half years and then I went on my own. I needed a job.
I’ve always worked in sales pretty much. Before this I worked at AAA, I was a membership specialist, my job was to go through the list of AAA members and ask if they wished to renew their membership. It was hourly and commission based, and I made a 3$ per hour bonus. But eventually they eliminated my position.
Then you went to selling roses?
DB – I did some mobile marketing. Selling subscriptions, working out of kinkos basically. I was kind of half-way homeless, living out of my car, when I started selling this (roses). So I needed to do something.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
DB – Meeting people. What’s weird is I will see somebody that I haven’t seen for years, and other people I see all the time.
What areas do you typically frequent?
DB – Old Market, Benson, West Omaha, South Omaha. It runs in cycles. I went to the College World Series, under the beer tent.
One really good venue for me. If you could have your listeners do this for me, it would be a favor to me. Jazz On The Green. I did it for 3-4 years no problem, and then one year, some woman from Midtown Crossing complained and since then I haven’t been able to get back on.
What did she complain about?
DB – Don’t know, nobody ever told me. I asked the cops for her name and they wouldn’t give it to me. No one ever complains about me but now the only people that give me problems are the security at Jazz On The Green.
Jazz On The Green is one of the few times during the week where I can make money. Since it’s on Thursday, and they have a big crowd there. I even had the police chief of Omaha tell me it’s no problem, since it’s a public park. But the security people give me problems.
Well, I will see what we can do. I think what you do for the community is a noble thing, and a traditional sort of thing for Omaha.
Is Rose selling more of a traditional practice?
DB – It actually started in the 90s. Did you know Manuel Noriega? Of Panama. The problems with him, struggling with marijuana or whatever, they (USA) told him that if he imported roses instead of drugs, we would be his biggest customer. And that’s kind of how it started.
Wow. Interesting. Do you see any differences between the generations? Are the young people still buying roses?
DB – I think the better demographic is a bit older. But I still get sales. If I didn’t get sales from millennials then I would be out of business, because they are the ones in the bars.
I’ve had people say, “my mom used to buy roses from you” or “My husband bought me a rose on my first date from you”.
And it’s not always romantic, it’s just basically entertainment. Some guy might buy another guy a rose, as a joke or whatever.
Do people still buy roses today as much in the past?
DB – It’s about the same. I usually sell them all my roses. On a week night I will go out with 20, on the weekends it’s like 60. I usually sell out.
Are people nice about it? Or can they be mean?
DB – I have had some real jerks. One guy, I’ve seen this guy before a few times (…) one time at this bar, he was sitting, and it was him and his wife and another couple, so I went to the back of the bar, and some guy said, “see those two couples there, buy them a rose” I was a little hesitant, but I did so I gave the rose to the other woman, and then gave the rose to the wife of the guy. Well as soon as I gave her the rose, the guy got up, took my basket and threw it, grabbed me, went outside and put me up against the wall, this guy was probably 6’5″, and just started yelling at me. I didn’t know what for. Some people came out and got him away from me. Guy at the bar gave me 40$ for my roses, and said, “get the fuck out of here.”
Wow. Is that the wildest thing that has happened?
DB – I could write a book really. One guy said, “how much do you want for the rest of your roses and your sports coat? I’ll give you a 100 bucks.” Told him it probably wouldn’t fit, this guy was probably 6’2″, but he didn’t care. He put on the sports coat and ripped it. But he gave me the $100.
That’s pretty funny. I do feel like you are pretty misunderstood by some in Omaha, and if you don’t mind me asking, I did some research on your prior interviews, and is it correct that you have Asperger’s syndrome?
DB – Yup. It’s one of the reasons why I did what I did (sell roses). When I worked in jobs, I always performed well, but people took me the wrong way.
I was in sales myself, and it’s a hard thing to do, to walk up and sell people something. Must be even harder for someone with Asperger’s – It’s almost like a handicap right?
DB – It’s not necessarily easy for me to do. I read people different and they read me different. And sometimes it creates misunderstandings. A lot of people think I’m the biggest prick in Omaha.
Yea, well some people feel that you are upset with them if they don’t buy a rose from you, but that’s not the case at all?
No. I mean I get upset if they try to waste my time. Reeling me on, but don’t buy anything… and I don’t like being ignored. I mean, if you just want to say “No, thank you” that’s okay, but don’t just ignore me.
Is it also true you can remember the birthdays of anyone?
Yup… (I proceeded to name off a dozen celebrities, athletes, and such from Elvis to Micky Mantle, to Bette Midler, Ronald Reagan, etc. Dean knew all their birthdays. Impressive!)
Last question, what’s the significance of a rose to you? Why buy a rose?
DB – It’s just a token of appreciation for somebody. It can be husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, brother, sister. That’s all it is. Or just a friend. Same sex, opposite sex. It’s just a token of appreciation for somebody. Or respect even.
One time, a guy at Jazz On The Green, bought a rose from me, and got down on his knees and gave it to his daughter. And that’s what it can be too.
That is what it can be, Dean, that is what it can be… I got to tell you guys, I sat down with Dean for about an hour and a half and he couldn’t be a nicer guy, and who just wants to sell his roses and make an honest living. He’s an icon of the Omaha nightlife scene, and please treat the guy with respect the next time you see him out.
Also, I don’t know what happened at Jazz On The Green for someone to complain, but I do know Turner Park is a public park, and gosh darn it, Dean deserves to sell his roses there. Write your local public officials, call in Sasse, Buffet, or whomever, and let’s get this cleared up. Thank you, Dean for taking the time.
Krug Park – Beers & Bloody Marys
What makes a good beer pub? It is both an art and a science, and I am pretty sure Krug Park has it figured out. One of my favorite bars to go to in Omaha, and definitely my favorite in Benson, the whole vibe is laid back and the beer selection is phenomenal. I have not tried their bloody marys yet, but looking at the picture here I feel like I should. Some of the bars in Benson can get pretty wild at night with the college crowd (which is fine), but Krug Park is sort of deliberately reserved and is better for the classy happy hour crowd, which to me is the perfect time for a cold one. Because I’m 30. Anyways, go to Krug Park if you want a great place for good beer.
I am trying to get the Roses guy for the next installment of this segment, and I’d like to interview him in my own little way, so stay tuned for that. Happy 4th! 🙂
The Tavern – Everyone welcome. Everyone equal.
The Tavern has always been one of my favorite spots to grab a drink or five. First thing you notice when you walk in is how impeccably designed the interior is – they feature a 105 year old Brunswick Bar, which was apparently imported from an old hotel in Kansas City where many famous people sat, such as The Beatles, Presidents, Elvis, and the like. So you can sit where they sit, and get a little drunk where they got a little drunk. Its 25 feet of beautiful, historic, mahogany and it’s all just very warm and homey.
Add to that the awesome service you get from the bartenders here, and the excellent UK-inspired drinks (The Pimm’s Cup is amazing) and you come here and you literally can’t have a bad time. Check this place if you haven’t already.
Favorites to Order – Pimm’s Cup
Oasis Falafel – Falafel and Don’t Feel Awful
If you have been downtown for a while you know that this little location, right next to The Backline comedy venue, used to offer very little. Then the Oasis team along and basically made it a mediterranean paradise. Founded in 2004 in Iowa City by friends Naftaly Stramer and Ofer Sivan, delicious falafel balls quickly caught on, and in 2018 they teamed up with Mike and Kellie Osler to open the second location, Oasis Falafel Omaha.
Oasis offers a cuisine that is a unique treat compared to the rest of the downtown scene. Downtown has some great options, but something fresh, authentic, mostly-vegan, and Mediterranean was sorely needed. And also, I like when businesses move their way up to the 16th street and higher ends of downtown, everything always feels so concentrated in Old Market and it’s nice to have options throughout the area.
Try the freshly made hummus, (which you can also take home), the falafel pitas, and just about anything else Oasis’s offers. You won’t be disappointed!
Homy Inn – Champagne On Tap
One of the more unique bars in all of Omaha, the Homy Inn is something to behold. You walk in here and you are not sure if you are in your dad’s man-cave from the 70s, or a bar, but really what is the difference sometimes? When it’s been going since 1956, you just gotta go with it. Champagne on tap, beer by the bottle mostly, great service, and a uniquely comforting atmosphere. Homy Inn is one of those classic Omaha spots you need to check off your list.
Blue & Fly Asian Kitchen – Authentic Asian in Omaha
First of all, I fully appreciate the irony of saying “Authentic Asian” and then featuring crab rangoons and peanut butter chicken in the photos. But here is my philosophy on that: People will say, “well that’s not authentic Asian food it’s just pandering to Americans” and that’s true but in my view, I see peanut butter chicken, and I see a hardworking Asian-American restaurant owner or chef, perhaps an immigrant or the descendants of immigrants, saying to themselves, “Ok, the Americans don’t really like mapo-tofu and chicken-feet, but what could I make that they will like?” And BOOM, something like peanut-butter chicken, or crab rangoons, is born. Just a 1st – 3rd generation immigrant trying to make it in America – and really what is more American than that? What is a better representation of the American dream? So I don’t snub my nose at that food at all. The resolve, the creativity, the ingenuity, the resourcefulness of different people and cultures coming together to make it all work in the USA. I love it. End of rant. Order the peanut butter chicken, AND a side of chicken feet just for kicks.
With all that said, when you find a restaurant that does both things, the authentic stuff, and the “American” stuff, I tend to really enjoy the food. I think partly because it shows some real integrity in the culinary arts to say “NO, the chicken feet will stay on the menu (in Nebraska no less)” – and that tends to translate to better quality across the board. Blue & Fly is one of those places.
Like most Chinese restaurants they have two sections of the menu and a range of options. Everything I have had here is extremely good quality. The green beans are savory and spicy, the peanut butter chicken perfectly breaded, and the mapo-tofu is incredibly smokey and delicious. You can go halfway around the world and back in this restaurant and not be disappointed at all. On top of that, the service is warm and friendly, and you get the feeling its family owned and operated joint. In my opinion, Omaha is sorely lacking a really good Chinese food scene – but Blue & Fly is the king, and probably the best we have to offer here. And they are bringing the best of both worlds.
Favorites to Order – Mapo tofu, peanut butter chicken, and scallion pancakes.
The Jewell – The Class of the Capital District
I first went to the Jewell about 3 months ago. Usually my trips to The Capital District either involve some great live music at The Slowdown, or me feeling really old at Beer Can Alley. Increasingly I am trying to avoid that “feeling really old” feeling (I’m 30, I’m not old I know but it’s getting out of the college-club scene slowly but surely), and The Jewell satisfies that nicely. If you like intimate live music experiences, and anything from Jazz to folk rock, then you will love The Jewell. The venue itself, as you can see from the photos, is gorgeously designed. Wide-stage, beautifully-lit, and in a big open room, where you are level with the musicians. It strikes just the right balance of venue, bar, and jazz-club, and honestly, a nice modern jazz-club/acoustic venue had been sorely missing from downtown Omaha (looking at you Omaha Lounge). This is a welcomed new addition to the city-scene and I hope you try this place out to show your support. And if you want to get away from the kids and crowds this weekend, come to The Jewell and enjoy a nice relaxing evening, and feel whatever age you want to feel.
FullHouse Bar – The Diviest of Dives
Like I said, literally no good pictures can be found of this place. This showcase is a bit off the beaten path of past features, but I really see it as a staple of Omaha and particularly the Benson area. I love that Benson has become this delightful, punk-hippie paradise of delicious food, art, culture, Lime scooters, and everything trendy. But then Fullhouse Bar remains this old-school hill-billy Oasis of great karaoke, cheap drinks, and good vibes. It is a beautiful combination and I always enjoy going here when I’m in Benson.
Last weekend I went here in fact right after the Food Truck Rodeo (which was fun, despite the crowds) with my buddy Reid. We sat at a table, got a cold stein of Coors lite for 4 bucks, and started watching . The karaoke is truly the star of the show here, with its prominent stage, massive song collection, and the colorful cast of characters that get up on stage. Truly colorful. You will see everyone on stage from a 20 something bridesmaid dressed in pink ribbons singing Kelly Clarkson, to an 80 year old guy on his 9th Jack n Coke doing his best to stay lucid as he mumbles out a Deep Purple track. We even saw a married couple go on stage and do a duet. Then it was my turn.
I don’t particularly like public speaking, but I have gotten better at it over the years. But I do love music, and love singing, so karaoke is always a psychological dilemma for me. But something always inspires me to get up there, usually alcohol. This time around I did “All By Myself” by Eric Carmen, which is a classic 80s ballad. I couldn’t hear the music start, so I came in the middle of the first verse, and stumbled through, but I did a decent job on the chorus. Reid recorded it, and I pray that recording never sees the light of day.
That all being said, always do karaoke if given the chance. If you’re bad, its funny, if you’re good, it’s great. And if you are somewhere in the middle, no one remembers. No better place to do it than at the Fullhouse Bar!
Herbe Sainte – French Creole in Aksarben
Did you know that Aksarben is just Nebraska backwards? It took me a year and a half to figure that out. Less time than it took me to discover the French-creole paradise that is Herbe Sainte. Fantastic creole-inspired food, great drinks, and an even better atmosphere. It’s an intimate little spot with all glass walls around you, giving it this incredibly open feeling despite the smaller space. I thought that was quite unique. Did I mention the food is amazing? And the drinks? I mean just look at these photos. That bread appetizer, it’s clam dip – so yummy. Come here for Happy hour Mon-Thurs 3-6pm, or Friday-Saturday late night 10pm-midnight. You will not regret it!
Favorites to Order – Clam dip, and the gumbo
Omaha Bar Ticket – See Omaha, Save Money
So I just discovered this thing called Omaha Bar ticket and this service is incredible! You pay a small monthly fee and you get access to 50+ exclusive deals at all your favorite spots in Omaha. They literally have just about every bar or restaurant I go to. They send you a packet of tickets at the beginning of each month, and after using just a few of them, you already pay for that month’s fee. It’s such a simple and awesome service. NO they did not pay me to write this piece about them (wish someone did) but you guys know that I like to share the best that Omaha has to offer and Bar ticket is all about that as well. Please try these guys out and let me know what you think!
Taqueria Tijuana – The Best Taco in South O
You ever just take a bite of something at a restaurant and immediately KNOW that everything was scratch made? The hard work, love, care, and craft that goes into that glorious first bite that just takes you to another level…It’s why I’m 15lbs heavier than I want to be and that’s okay right now. Because these tacos are legit. And if you have been scanning Omaha for the perfect, authentic taco experience then you need to check out Taqueria Tijuana. The tortillas are fresh, the meats slowly marinated, the salsas – don’t get me started on the salsas. This is the perfect weekend to try the best tacos in Omaha, and this is probably where you want to start. Disfruta amigo.
Favoritos – Al Pastor tacos, Carne Asada
Kathmandu Momo Station – Because Momos
Remember my original Omafamous post? Well my guy Sagr is at it again and looking to capitalize on the Momo frenzy with the Kathmandu Momo Station. So these delicious little Nepalese dumplings started right in the Himalayan Java Cafe, then expanded into a pop-up shop, and now have their very own location in the Blackstone district. That is the power of the momo and honestly we should all embrace it. I remember when Momos first started to appear at Himalayan Java, I would usually be there on Saturdays, working on my things. Saturdays at a Coffee shop, usually pretty quiet, but then the Momos came. Suddenly the lines are extending out the door, the momo-word had gotten out, Sagr is running around trying to get everyone their momos – the momo frenzy had begun. And it’s only fitting that they now have their own location. Check them out!
Favorites to order – Usually with dumplings I am a pork dumpling guy, and they have good ones here, but I actually prefer the chicken dumplings! They are smaller, cuter, and very yummy. Order them with the spicy sauce!
Homer’s Music – Vinyl is best
I remember the first time I really actively listened to vinyl, I was in college, and taking a course called, “The History of Rock N Roll”. It was a humanities requirement, it was our first class. The teacher was a middle-aged man with long hair and the type of guy you would expect to be teaching a “History of Rock N Roll” class. In our first 20 minutes of class, Hippie teacher had a short survey he needed from the class. One song played through vinyl, and that same song played through a digital recording. We wouldn’t know which was which. In a class of 200 people, I’d say 80% of the class preferred the sweet, tender sounds of the vinyl record. It’s undeniable, folks. The pops, the crackles, the skips, and just the organic feel of vinyl is something to experience. It’s listening to music as its meant to be listened to.
And Homer’s is right there to deliver it to you. My brother got me a vinyl record player a couple years back, and Homer’s has been providing me with my collection ever since. They have an incredible collection of new and old vinyl records, and are constantly getting new stuff coming in. Personally, I like the oldies, and I like to only buy the best albums possible for my small vinyl collection. Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys, is my #1. It’s like having Brian Wilson hold you in his arms like a baby and sing to you very gently. And not feeling weird about that at all.
So this weekend is the perfect weekend to post up on the couch with some good friends, put on a vinyl record, perhaps light some exotic incense, and just get lost in the magic of… Easter. And vinyl. Go on down to Homer’s in the Old Market and get this incredible experience for yourself!
Kitchen Table – Scratch-made local love
The first thing I will say about Kitchen Table is, just look at these pictures above. I mean, come on! Are you drooling yet? Are you not entertained? This is one of my absolute favorites in Downtown Omaha, and one that you need to see if you haven’t already. Jessica and Colin, who own, run, and create Kitchen Table, do everything the hard way. Which means to say they do it all with love and patience – scratch making just about everything, updating and trying new things every week, locally sourcing from friends and farmers, and being all around great people and ambassadors for the local scene. Having met them they are truly genuine people, and honestly, I think Chef Colin lives in the kitchen. But you can know that just by trying their food. It’s fresh, delicious, and served to order. Come here for lunch, breakfast, brunch, or dinner! You can’t go wrong.
Favorites to order – Fried egg sandwich (ok so it’s with marinara and mozzarella, kinda weird but, INCREDIBLE. mind blown, please try) & The Whole Bird sandwich
Joslyn Art Museum – Fine Arts of Nebraska
Founded in 1931 by Sarah Joslyn, in memory of her husband, businessman George Joslyn – The Joslyn Art Museum is the only museum in the state with a comprehensive, permanent art collection. Its greatest strengths are the art collections of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries of American and European artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir and William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Bet you didn’t know that huh? This place is great for a day date with some pretty guy or gal, and it’s free, and you can talk about what various works mean to each other. Or you can go solo, and just talk to yourself and be kindly asked to leave after a while. Love this place!
La Buvette – Paris in the Old Market
La Buvette is a piece of the French countryside in the heart of Old Market. From the quality wine, to the charcuterie, and the atmosphere, this French restaurant and grocery store is an absolute gem. You come here with friends and drink a couple bottles of wine, a few plates of Charcuterie, and feel like French royalty in the heart of Downtown Omaha.
Favorites to Order – Charcuterie plate
First Responders – Thank you
My heart goes out to those who lost so much this past week. The flooding and devastation that Nebraska experienced was historic. It is always incredible however to see the courage, and call to action that comes from those first responders. Those who jump into the waters to save their neighbors. THAT is what the Nebraska/Iowa and midwestern spirit of hospitality is all about. A big thank you to those folks to answered the call and continue to volunteer. And the fight is just beginning for so many, as the flooding is expected to last for quite a while in many areas. Here are some more ways you can chip in, and volunteer –
- American Red Cross of Nebraska & Southwest Iowa
- Midlands United Way – NE Flood Relief
- Omaha Public Schools Foundation
Laka Lono Rum Club – Downtown’s Buried Treasure
Laka Lono has a very special place in my heart. When I first moved here in September of 2016, Laka Lono would open shortly thereafter in October, and it was one of the first places I walked into. I was blown away by the ambience, the service, and just the whole vibe. To think that at that time I had given up my east coast comforts of DC to land in Omaha, Nebraska, where presumably everyone is a corn farmer, was insane to me, and I didn’t know what to expect of the city. But then stumbling into a place like Laka Lono totally changed my perceptions of what was possible. I walked down those stairs and entered a Caribbean enclave, with Hawaiian shirts, mermaids, pirates, and most importantly – great service, and great rum. I have since learned of course that Omaha is a fun, funky, and freewheeling little city with a lot to offer. Laka Lono was my first experience with that fact. So by all means, if you don’t know already, you need to know Laka Lono, you will not be disappointed
Favorites to Order – The Zombie – a variety of rums finished with a blaze of glory!
Shucks Fish House & Oyster Bar – Absolutely Fresh
Growing up in Massachusetts, you learn to love seafood pretty early on. My Mom and Dad would always bring my brother and I over to my Grandpa’s house in a small, sleepy, coastal town called New Bedford. Known for its history of Whaling (terrible, I know) but what was now known for fishing and its seafood production from the rich, Atlantic waters. I remember my Dad had this obsession with fried clams, and we would run down to the harbor and grab a takeout box of those delicious clams. Briney, fresh, you could breathe in the Atlantic ocean as you ate it. My love of seafood was born there. We would also feed geese off the pier with stale bread crumbs. My fear of geese was also born there.
But I thought those quality seafood days were well behind me when I moved out to the middle of the country 2+ years ago. Until I stumbled upon Shucks. Quality, fresh, and delicious seafood; I didn’t think it was possible in Nebraska. They don’t over-fry it, like some places may do, its just that perfectly flaky fry that you want with fresh fish. Shucks has its humble beginnings with founder Greg Lindberg driving a refrigerated truck from Omaha to New Orleans and back in 1976, selling it on the corner of 70th and Dodge. Crazy as it may sound, customers caught on, and Greg expanded to the Fish House & Oyster bar by 2006. Today with 5 restaurants, 1 fish market, catering services, and a thriving wholesale operation, Shucks is a fresh seafood powerhouse in Omaha and is all about supporting the local scene. Turns out that fresh seafood is possible anywhere if you are willing to drive a cold truck for a couple thousand miles.
Favorites to order: Fried Shrimp Po’Boy
California Tacos & More – Out of bounds
If you haven’t already guessed, I am a big fan of Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives. While Guy Fieri looks laughably ridiculous, like some terrible combination of the Smash Mouth lead singer and a bag of cheetos, he has one of the most timeless documentary programs on television with triple D. Seriously, true documentary, (as a film major this gets me) he walks into a restaurant, he talks to the owner, he watches them make their food, he talks about the food. Done – on to the next one. No contrived plots, conflicts, or BS. A rare treat in today’s TV (rant over)…
On top of that, despite the hate, he’s an incredibly charming TV host with an eye for delicious gluttony, and great local spots across the country. So when he recommends a spot in my new hometown of Omaha, I got to check it out. California Tacos did not disappoint. Is it authentic Mexican? No. But it is the best of what I call Midwest Mexican, and the signature puffy taco is something you have to try. Everything they make is from scratch, and basically when you take fresh made tortillas and fry them, whether with tacos, chips and guac, or whatever, you cannot go wrong. Shut the front door and let Guy take you to Flavortown below –
Punch Clock Martyrs – Clock out, and rock out
The cool thing about local music specifically, is that one has the opportunity, just maybe, of seeing the beginning of something really special. The beginning of a band or individual reaching that rarified air of true musical accomplishment , and at the very least, a heartfelt attempt at it. The courage of the artist on full display, planting the seeds of some new thing they cooked up in their garage. I dig that.
And so this Friday, we have one of those opportunities. I first met Patrick at the Havana Garage downtown, his band at the time, Sweet Nothing, was playing some incredible classic rock covers. The Doors, Steve Miller, Stones, all the good stuff. I had to chime in and be that annoying guy that tries to talk to the band in between songs, and offer my praise, and my recognition that Pat nails Jim Morrison’s signature howl.
So when Pat told me that his new band was releasing their first album? Well I just have to be there. And in Pat’s words – “Progressive Gypsy Rock group with theme-based material. Our first album is a self-titled concept album about working-class life, with shades of dark humor and madness.” That description is nothing if not ambitious.
And so you can catch Punch Clock Martyrs this Friday at O’Leavers, where they will play along side Gongfermour, and The New Rosenbergs, in what is certain to be an entertaining display of something entirely new, and right in your backyard.
The Down Under Lounge – 3530 Leavenworth St. Omaha, NE 68105
For my first experience at Down Under Lounge, well, I probably had a little too much fun. All I remember is that I had 5-6 pints of some fantastic beer and was playing bongos off stage by the end of the night and left my debit card there. But I recall, I was allowed to play bongos off stage, at least for that night.
When I came back to get my debit card (they very graciously kept it secure for 3 weeks), I decided to have a beer as well, and started to learn a bit more about this place. This is a true, local, musicians bar. Not only will the Down Under have music playing on stage most nights, but in the crowd will be musicians themselves, and you will probably see them take turns with whoever is on stage. Then you can chat up the person who was just playing and tell them how you also play guitar but aren’t very good. Everyone here seems to know each other in the best way. It’s like that show Cheers! on acid, and with really good music and beer. And I mean, really good music.
The locals here can really play, and you should go and support them and enjoy the whole atmosphere. Leave the bongos to the professionals…
Best Nights To Go – Every Wednesday Open Mic Night
Himalayan Java Coffee – 329 S 16th st Omaha, Nebraska
A true sense of community and care is one of those rare things to find in a business these days, but that is just what the team at Himalayan Java whips up every day.
From the coffee, to the exceptional food, to the friendly and fast service – this is one of my personal favorites in Omaha. Go here on Wednesdays and Saturdays during select hours and get the MOMOs, which are delicious Nepalese dumplings which you can choose to drench in a creamy hot sauce – by far the best dumplings I’ve had in Omaha. Their sandwiches, pastries, soups, are abnormally good for a mere coffee shop.
The owner, Sagr, is there every day and seems to know every customer that comes in. That cozy, community atmosphere that other coffee shops try to manufacture, Himalayan creates naturally with their people and food. And did I mention free refills on coffee?
Favorites to order – Momos, Nepalese dumplings. Chai Tea Latte. Cinnamon Coffee cake.