Local music, food, and people, you should know
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.