The problem with reflecting upon this year is that it makes me very, very hungry. Here in the Omaha area we were lucky to have such a huge, ready selection when it came to finding something to eat and I certainly don’t see that trend changing anytime soon. So when I think about all the places the Dish team visited and reviewed, my stomach starts to grumble.
At the end of last year, former Dish Contributing Editor Krista O’Malley made the prediction that in 2014, sourcing food locally would be less about trends and more about a real shift in thinking among Omaha restaurants. Her crystal ball was spot-on, because nowadays eateries have gone from using “locally-sourced” as a trendy tagline to drive in customers to just knowing that customers expect some locally-sourced foods. Customers expect everything to be fresh and they also expect restaurants to be able to tell them how they’re having a smaller impact on the environment.
Of course, all of the above pretty much just pertains to locally-owned establishments. I don’t think anyone’s rolling into a fast food drive-thru and asking about which farm the potatoes for their fries came from.
But locally-owned establishments continue to be a big deal around here. We follow chefs from place to place as though we’re following movie stars from one studio to another. We want to see what the chefs are going to do next.
Better Food Everywhere
Back in February I wrote a feature about movie theater food and how theaters were starting to up their food game. 2014 proved to be a year where everyone upped their food game. Whether it’s ordering a full meal while watching a film or knowing that a fleet of food trucks will be at street events, good food is everywhere.
I’m personally glad that food trucks boomed in 2014. Parking lots are no longer just parking lots – they’re spaces with the possibility of food truck action.
We said goodbye to some restaurants that we weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to. Bellevue Café and Taste Bistro come to mind, but the closing of Grandmother’s really jolted some folks who could remember eating there are kids. McFoster’s Natural Kind Cafe closing was a shocker for some.
When Caniglia’s Venice Inn closed this year, many Omaha folks loudly announced that it was the end of old-school eating as we knew it.
New places opened too, though. The opening of Modern Love made vegans in Omaha ecstatic. The Grey Plume’s expanded their offerings to add Provisions. Spielbound managed to marry board games with hot beverages, making many people very happy.
Kick the what?
One trend that was everywhere this year was the use of Kickstarter and other crowdsourcing platforms to ask for funds. Generous folks in Omaha and the surrounding areas helped with a bunch of food-related campaigns, from funding food documentaries to getting food trucks back on the road.
Local farms asked for help too, requesting funds to get going or to expand upon what they were already doing. So if there’s one thing we learned in 2014 about Omaha is that they love their food enough to give money away to make sure the food keeps coming.
My favorite moment from this year? I think it’s when Alton Brown took my advice to visit Block 16 and then declared their burger had a spot on his top five burger list. He then announced it at the Orpheum that night and thanked me on Twitter for the food suggestion.
It’s been an eventful year. I’m happy to report that there is still plenty of great food available all over Omaha and the surrounding areas. Bon apetit, Omaha.