This usually comes as a surprise to folks, but Omaha has an abundance of incredible dining spots. The city boasts at least ten James Beard semi-finalists who have significantly elevated its culinary culture and consciousness of this great foodie destination.

Here’s a short hit-list (working from east to west across the city) of some of the absolute best. Of course, there are plenty more notable places that are worthy of multiple visits, so consider this a starting point.

Old Market

Boiler Room, run by the luminary Tim Nicholson, is among Omaha’s most celebrated and favorite spots in, not only because the food is absolutely delicious, visually stunning, and prepared with such keen thoughtfulness, but the ambiance itself is one of the best the city has to offer. The menu changes daily based on fresh ingredients. It’s perfect for a special occasion, even if that occasion is heading downtown for one of the finest culinary experiences you may ever have. And don’t forget to order a Sazerac or any of cocktails from the bar, their craft cocktails and wine program are remarkable.

La Buvette Wine and Grocery is perfect for lunch or dinner—a cozy little French deli + wine bar with a hand-written menu updated daily. It’s probably the most “French-est” spot you’ll ever visit in the middle of America, almost as if it was plucked off a sleepy Parisian street and dropped in Omaha’s Old Market. Just about everything on the menu featuring duck, rabbit, or oxtail is well-worth exploring, but when duck eggs are in season and available you can’t miss the duck egg gratin. If the weather’s nice their patio is one of the best in city. Make sure to order a bottle of their house white Bordeaux for a great value and a super drinkable wine.

Laka Lono Rum Club If you’re not looking, you might miss this hip little underground spot—literally, down a staircase below a record store. As advertised, this tiki bar is pure “tropical escapism in the middle of it all,” and that’s no joke. Once you step inside you’ll be transported into a new reality. Laka Lono is part of Ethan Bondelid’s Maeven Social collection of lifestyle businesses including The Berry & Rye and Omaha’s finest speakeasy, Wicked Rabbit (both stumbling distance from the rum club). Among the impressive menu of sweet, boozy tiki drinks, Laka Lono is also famous for having originated the Baby Yoda cocktail (a.k.a. the Baby Yo-Daiq) that stormed the country back in the fall of 2019. And don’t sleep on their food menu, including their vegan options—all of it pure genius.

Le Bouillon a Basque-inspired French kitchen focusing on food from southwestern France and northeaster Spain, is a Paul Kulik creation. Their lunch service highlights the best bowl of French Onion Soup you can find anywhere. A bowl of soup and the Parisian Gnocchi with Lamb Sausage is MORE than enough for an unforgettable lunch, but don’t miss the Sunday brunch, or even a spontaneous dinner on the cozy patio in the heart of the Old Market. And while you’re there make sure to pop into Howard Street Wine Merchant, the adjacent store with the region’s best collection of Old World French, Italian, and Spanish wines. If you happen to be there on the weekend make sure to pop downstairs and visit their wine bar, Mon Càve, for an unforgettable experience.

No list of the Old Market’s finest spots would be complete without mentioning V. Mertz. Located in the Old Market Passageway, a charming alley with boutiques, art galleries, and cozy cafes—with its cobblestone path, ivy-covered walls, and lively street performers, it’s a must-visit spot for a magical, European village-like experience. V Mertz offers among the most exceptional dining experience in Omaha, with exquisite, thoughtfully prepared dishes and an intimate ambiance. The ever-changing menu, based on fresh ingredients, ensures every visit is unique and delightful. With Matt Brown, one of the best general managers and advanced sommeliers in the business, enhancing the experience, V Mertz is a must-visit for any food enthusiast.

North Downtown

Dolomiti Pizzeria and Enoteca in Omaha’s Millwork Common delights with its playful and imaginative crew crafting instant classic wood-fired pizzas. Each of their pizzas are a culinary adventure, showcasing a well delivered balance of flavors and textures that tantalize the taste buds. The restaurant’s focused and adventurous bar program perfectly complements the delicious pizzas, offering an array of expertly crafted cocktails and curated wine selections. With its inviting ambiance and exceptional attention to detail, Dolomiti Pizzeria and Enoteca promises a memorable dining experience that keeps patrons coming back for more. Its Northern Italian influence sets it apart from other wood-fired pizza places in town, adding a unique and delightful twist to every dish.

Kros Strain Brewing Company With only 2 dozen microbreweries or tap houses in the Omaha metro area, there’s still plenty of room for more innovation and imagination, but what Kros Strain Brewing Company has been doing these past few years has accelerated the standard for excellence in the city’s craft beer scene. Their award-winning, Fairy Nectar IPS is juicy, citrus-forward, light, but packed full of flavor and can’t be beat. Though the brewery is in La Vista, they’ve recently opened a bright and fun tap house in the Millwork Commons. So make sure you head over and order a flight of their newest offerings.

Petitt’s Pastry It seems that one of the most controversial foodie picks in every city is who bakes the top donuts. Sure, Omaha has plenty of decent options, but I’m going to have to double down on this one and say that the best you can find around here are at Pettit’s Pastry—and specifically, their original location downtown that’s been here since 1954. Of course everything is baked daily and even if you’re avoiding carbs or counting calories, just opening their front door is worth the donut hotbox their little lobby is. The staff is always friendly and on point and everything in their counter is fantastic. They are also dog lovers and if you bring your sweet puppy in with you they often offer a plain cake donut to your furry friend.

The Trap Room is a killer little bar run by the Saddle Creek Records crew. Everything about it is low-key, understated, and hip. That’s it. Super cozy spot. Great drinks. Low key. The perfect place to land for a chill evening with good friends. Always worth a visit.

South Downtown

CTRL Coffee and Cereal Bar is a uniquely delightful spot that combines the charm of a classic cereal bar with the sophistication of a specialty coffee shop. The eclectic menu features an impressive variety of cereals, mix-ins, and premium coffee blends, creating a fun and nostalgic experience. The vibrant atmosphere and stylish decor (including classic video games) make it an instant favorite for both locals and visitors. The friendly staff and creative offerings set CTRL apart as a must-visit destination. Whether you’re starting your day or looking for a midday treat, CTRL Coffee and Cereal Bar delivers an unforgettable experience.

La Sierra on South 10th Street in Omaha is an incredible gem offering a unique and authentic Durango cuisine Mexican menu. Because it’s a regional menu reflecting the rich culinary traditions of Durango, a lot of the dishes are new to diners, so make sure to try the deshebrada (shredded beef in spicy red sauce, seriously spicy!) and the picadillo verde (poblano pepper with ground beef). The warm and welcoming atmosphere, combined with exceptional service (seriously, every time I’m so impressed by their entire staff), makes every visit memorable. There are so many fabulous Mexican places in the city, but La Sierra’s innovative menu and fresh ingredients set it apart as a unique and standout destination—not to mention, everything on their menu is a screaming deal. Don’t forget to hit up their Mexican hotdogs food truck right across the street when you’re there.

Via Farina another Paul Kulik and Ethan Bondelid/Maeven Social concept, is a pretty little pizzeria located on the south side of Omaha’s Old Market/north side of Little Italy. Via Farina is downtown’s much-needed wood-fire oven pizza spot with thoughtfully crafted hand-pulled pastas. I’ve worked through most of the options off the spectacular antipasti menu (asparagus and farm egg, fried cauliflower, and the shaved Brussels sprouts salad), some of the fabulous pastas (egg yolk ravioli, corzetti, and the tajarin), as many of the stellar pizzas as I could try (their Fratello pizza with soppressata, mozzarella, pecorino, chili flakes, and a fresh local honey is the dreamiest ). There’s really not a weak link on the menu. The wine list is made up of hand-picked small batch options from boutique vineyards. Each of them compliment the menu with a deliberate sense of pairing. They also have a great happy hour menu worth checking out.


The Homy Inn I’ll keep this one super simple and to the point. The Homy Inn is an iconic dive bar filled with hometown locals whose hospitality to the occasional visitor is commendable. But don’t be surprised by the over-the-top divey vibe, the Homy Inn is famous for it’s champagne on tap. Yep. It’s amazing, so order a flight of all 4 offerings. And if you happen to be there on a Friday, then have a bowl of Sgt Peffer’s legendary chicken Florentine soup delivered to you at the bar as a courtesty between these two neighborhood establishments (but seriously and sadly, though everything on Sgt Peffer’s menu is great, the chicken Florentine soup is only available on Fridays).

Mama’s Pizza consistently delivers one of cheesiest, greasiest, comfort-food pizzas in town. I generally go all the way in and order their four-cheese classic pizza with red sauce and then add pepperoni and spicy sausage (as if four cheeses weren’t enough). It’s great for carry-out, but if you can find a table (the dining room is usually pretty packed out, especially during games) it’s a pretty standard local-Omaha experience.

Salween Thai has taken Omaha by storm and currently runs 5 locations. It’s honest, home food and run by a Karen immigrant family and focuses on northeastern Thai food. It’s the best Thai spot I’ve eaten at outside Bangkok or Chiang Mai. Everything on the menu is more than fairly priced, actually a super decent value. My favorites include: rice sausage balls (starter) + the salads are pretty legit: lag kai or the grilled beef salad or the papaya salad (the salads run spicy, so I usually get 3/10 on the heat level) + pad see yew (the wide flat noodles) or pad thai won sen (pad thai with thin glass noodles). I get 7/10 heat on the noodle dishes.

Blackstone District

Archetype Coffee is Isaiah Sheese’s love letter to Omaha. Now with three locations, it routinely hits all the “best coffee in every state” lists and its staff (roasters, brewers, and baristas) consistently place in the top 10 each year at the US Coffee Championships. It’s easily among the top 3 best coffee experiences I’ve had anywhere in the world (this includes some of the best spots in NYC, Berlin, Wellington, Saigon, Mexico City, Tokyo, and Seattle). Their fresh coffees of the day are great, but these folks pull a pretty amazing espresso too, AND their nitro-brew is magical.

Located in the Inner Rail Food Hall in Aksarben Village, Kathmandu Momo Station is a super fresh, innovative addition to the city’s vibrant food scene. Specializing in momos—delicious Tibetan dumplings—this place offers the best momos outside of Nepal. Each bite is a burst of authentic flavor, with perfectly seasoned fillings wrapped in tender dough. The menu is both adventurous and comforting, making it a must-visit for anyone craving something unique and satisfying. The warm, welcoming staff only add to the experience. Kathmandu Momo Station is an absolute gem, elevating Omaha’s culinary landscape with its unparalleled quality and taste.

Nite Owl is a dimly lit bar with a retro-vibe that serves solid bar food. The Korean wings are hearty and the Tot-Chos is a glorious riff on nachos, but instead of tortilla chips they use tater tots. And the powdered-sugar covered Fried Oreos are dreamy. Best of all, every night is movie night, and the good folks at Nite Owl only play the best-of-the-worst from the 80’s so you’re bound to be transported back to the glory days when film was hardly an art form. And if you love what they’ve created here, then head down to Lil’ Bohemia to their sister location, Fizzy’s Fountain and Liquors for an equally memorable evening. PS. both are 21+ establishments, so no minors allowed.


Avoli Osteria is run by one of the friendliest and most down-to-earth chefs in the city, the celebrated and beloved, Dario Schicke. Located in Dundee and focusing on traditional northern Italian cuisine, Avoli puts out some of the city’s very best pastas, each delicate and beautiful. It’s always a great idea to bring along a fellow diner to share as many of their fresh-made pastas as possible because you won’t find anything else like this anywhere in Omaha.


Au Courant Regional Kitchen Inspired new European cuisine by some of the finest kitchen staff out there. Au Courant’s a true Phoenix that emerged from the tragic ashes of the fire that closed the Market House. James Beard “best chef in America” semi-finalist Ben Maides “offers approachable New European influenced dishes with a focus on regional ingredients in a friendly and affordable atmosphere.” The tasting menus, the thoughtfully-curated wine lists, and the over-the-top culture of radical hospitality sets Au Courant above some of the city’s finest and most durable spots.

Ika Ramen and Izakaya offers the city’s finest ramen. It’s run by Lima native Jose Dionicio who originally opened a now-closed killer Peruvian seafood restaurant, Taita in the same location where Ika’s flagship ramen bar is now located. Since launching , Jose’s opened three additional Ika San locations trying to keep up with Omaha’s insatiable demand for ramen. And if you’re at the Benson location plan on slipping downstairs for a nightcap at Kaitei, a cocktail and sake speakeasy, sneakily located below the Ika’s original location and well-worth a visit.

Yoshitomo is branded as an intimate sushi bar located in the heart of Benson. Two-time James Beard semi-finalist, chef David Utterback is gem (recently celebrated in the Washington Post), elevating the standard of Asian eats in the region. This little spot is a much-welcomed addition to the respectable array of surprising sushi joints in town—surprising because Mid-America doesn’t immediately strike one as a sushi restaurant hotbed. The attention to detail, the innovative menu, and variety of non-typical yet traditional Japanese options available clearly sets Yoshimoto above other spots in town. Izakaya Koji and Omakase Ota, David’s other spots in town, offer equally exceptional and innovative Japanese cuisine, further enriching the city’s dining scene.

Central Omaha

China Garden might look like a typical Americanized Chinese take-out spot, and I guess if you ordered off the standard menu it might seem like that, but there happens to be an alternative menu that takes a wee bit of expertise to order from. I’ve actually heard that a friend was denied after asking to order from the Sichuan and Northern Chinese food menu, but keep at these folks because the Sichuan offerings are LEGIT. Luckily my first visit was with a couple from X’ian who routinely dine here and knew exactly what to order, starting with a few things off the specials of the day board (which it happens, was all written in Chinese). We continued to work through the menu ordering the husband and wife beef or couple’s beef (夫妻废片), the pickled cabbage soup with fish (酸菜鱼), stir fried greens (干煸豆角, whatever is fresh and in-season, usually either green beans or green bean sprouts or bok choy), the Pepper Chicken is on point (辣子鸡), the Water Boiled Fish (水煮鱼), the Pepper Tofu (麻婆豆腐), and the Stir Fried Yuxiang Egg Plant (鱼香茄子).

Hip Bao is one of the surprising places that catches you off guard. It’s interior and dining room presents as if they are a temporary location being renovated, but I’ve come to understand rather than focussing on aesthetics, the good people at Hip Bao have put all their attention in churning out stunning dumplings, bao buns, potstickers, noodles, and soups. Absolutely everything on the menu is fabulous.

In a city full of great Indian places, Saffron Urban Indian Kitchen truly stands out. The restaurant’s careful attention to detail and bold, innovative menu set it apart from the rest. Each dish is a flavorful masterpiece, showcasing the rich and diverse traditions of Indian cuisine. The hospitable staff adds to the exceptional dining experience, ensuring every visit is memorable. Saffron Urban Indian Kitchen is definitely worth a visit for anyone seeking an outstanding and authentic Indian culinary adventure.

West Omaha

Dante Ristorante Pizzeria has some of the ALL time the best wood-fire pizza oven pies I’ve eaten anywhere in the world—ALL of their pizzas are pretty amazing. And, to scientifically verify that in 2019 they won Pizza Today’sIndependent Pizzeria of the Year.” I usually order the Diabolo with sausage, soppressata, calabrian chili, and mozzarella, but their pastas are also incredible—my favorite is their Pappardelle Bolognese. Generally I don’t eat desserts, but I always save a wee bit of room for the butterscotch pudding with whipped cream and sea salt. Though it’s the spot furthest west on this list, what chef and owner Nick Strawhecker has gifted the city is a national treasure.

It’s incredibly difficult to narrow down a list of Omaha’s best food spots because the city maintains such a high standard for excellence and innovation. Most spots here in town continually up their game, consistently excelling and raising the bar. Even when it feels like there’s no more room for more fabulous dining options, Omaha keeps welcoming new and fresh establishments that bring tons of energy and receive overwhelming support. This dynamic food scene ensures that there’s always something exciting and delicious to discover, making Omaha a true culinary hotspot.

With so many options, I ask for forgiveness in advance for any overlooked entries that are more than worthy of being included on this list. To recognize these deserving spots, I offer a short “honorable mentions” list of a handful of other places that stand out as excellent: The Drover for an “Omaha famous” whiskey steak, Los Portales Mexican Restaurant for street tacos and everything else Mexican on south 13th street, Nice Rollz for Korean fusion and Korean hot dogs in the Kamp food all in the Blackstone, Phở Việt in a random strip mall near nothing you’d venture out for if visiting the city, Umami Asian in Bellevue for sushi, and Virtuoso Pizzeria in Benson for the best pizza by the slice in town.

[I originally posted a version of this in July 2016 but have been updated the post 3 times since and will continually be updated as Omaha expands it’s culinary horizons. In the meantime, we grieve all those treasures that have bowed to the inevitability of impermanence—RIP dears, you will are missed but not forgotten: the Beansmith, Canton House, Culprit Cafe & Bakery, Dario’s Brasserie, The Diner, Espana, Farine + Four, Forno, the French Bulldog, the Grey Plume, House of Loom, Indian Oven, J. Coco, Lot 2, Locomotive Food Truck, Mai Thai Lounge, Mother India, Taita, Ugly Duck Japanese Americana Street Food, and so many more it breaks my heart trying to remember…]