The opportunities for an amazing meal in Omaha are endless, and the minute you think you’ve caught up with all of the new ventures the talented chefs and entrepreneurs in our city can conjure, you find that a whole new crop have opened. This year has been difficult to stay ahead of, with places opening and closing suddenly and with very little warning. The Reader has compiled a list of our favorite new offerings of 2017.
Lombardo’s Bistro and Bar – 13110 Birch Drive STE 100
While it’s billed as a casual neighborhood Italian spot, Lombardo’s exquisite dishes and beautiful presentation takes it from “just up the street” to “accessible upscale”. From fun flatbreads on the patio to white wine and mussels, Lombardo’s never takes itself too seriously, but never forgets the serious details. Try the Osso Bucco.
Early Bird – 3824 Farnam
It’s easy to be a cute brunch spot on a Sunday, but can that energy really be maintained every day of the week? Early Bird is here to prove that with some clever marketing, creative décor, and simply delicious dishes, every day can be a lazy Sunday. Break up your work week with a mid-week muffin and mimosa, or go a little more substantial with the Turkey Rueben.
Hook and Lime – 735 N 14th st
Specializing in American/Mexican fare, the menu is concise and consists of creative, chef-driven food. Fresh takes on classic cocktails make Hook and Lime a fun hangout, while the clever spin on the very American tacos and salsa flights make dining an unexpected adventure.
Della Costa – 220 S 31st Ave
With a well-executed, if somewhat confusing menu, and a prime location in the shops of midtown, it’s a bit of a wonder that Della Costa has failed to find footing. While owners never fail to impress with their many ventures, including Herbe Sainte and the upcoming Kith and Kin (in the former Paragon lot), Della Costa’s fine fare may not be enough to save it. A recent restructuring of the menu to better reflect the coastal Mediterranean vision may be enough to earn Della Costa the fans it deserves.
Stirnella Bar and Kitchen – 3814 Farnam
Owners Matt Moser and Matt Carper are no strangers to successful Omaha ventures. With a combined 22 years’ experience in the business of local food, the Matts launched Stirnella in the burgeoning Blackstone district. Try the oxtail spätzle. While there are many delicious options on the menu, this is the dish that I drive back for.
Tired Texan – 4702 S 108th (In the Former Perkins)
When I first set foot into Tired Texan to interview owners Chip and Christine Holland a few weeks before the grand opening, a neighbor had stopped by to help paint. A crackling radio played “I Wish You Well” somewhere in the background, and they were bribing friends with promises of caramel pie in exchange for help preparing. When I stepped in a month later, the establishment was clean and smelled like roasting meat, but hadn’t lost its lazy, friendly vibe. A board in the dining room features the “meat-er” and alerts you to how much of your favorite cut remains for the day, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. “I don’t serve leftovers. If we run out, I don’t have time to make more. It’s a slow process…” Chip explains, understanding this isn’t how everyone wants their bbq. It was bold to sandwich his new establishment between Hog Wild and Famous Dave’s, but the Hollands understand they aren’t really in competition with the chains. Famous Dave’s didn’t see it that way, and took an instant jab at the Mom and Pop. The Hollands didn’t feel the sting, but definitely felt the impact of being voted Best in Omaha.
Yamato – 7429 Pacific
Recognized in many metropolitan areas, Omaha wasn’t sure what a sushi train was exactly. The curious nature of our citizens have brought diners in droves, and Yamato serves a sweet sashimi. The Ota Omakase table serves plates with a side of trust in the chef, and the visual feast is just the appetizer Omaha was looking for.
Umami – 1504 Galvan Rd S
The unexpected is on the menu at Umami. The surprise darling of 2017, anticipate a wait, or make a reservation. Located in Bellevue, the establishment is owned by Keen Dheng, who studied sushi in New York for 13 years before bringing his vision home.
Virtuoso – 6056 Maple
When Amy Ryan announced that The Pizza Shoppe Collective would be closing, pizza lovers mourned openly. Enter Omaha royalty, David LoSole. Attention to detail, a handful of pint-sized LoSoles on site doing homework and playing together, and a walk-up window make the establishment a fun addition to Benson. The quality ingredients and clever pairings make Virtuoso a top contender in the “best pizza in Omaha” battle, and the competition is stiff!
The Pizza pie Guys – 5138 N 156th St
Doing their best to cater both to finicky children and health and environmentally conscious adults, The Pizza Pie Guys focus heavily on locally sourcing, from-scratch cooking with the best ingredients they can get their hands on. Parents will feel ok feeding their little ones pizza again this week, and with innovative options, adults won’t get sick of the same old routine.
Bruno’s Pasta Co.—3623 N 129th
When Salt88 Owner John Horvatinovich won his case against the state, patrons of Salt were hopeful it would be back to business as usual. Unfortunately, it was a difficult year and Salt couldn’t regain its footing. The closure was sudden, and the space was taken over by Bruno’s Pasta Co. Owners continued accepting Salt gift cards to ease the transition, and offering hand-made pizza and pasta solidified Bruno as a true Salt of the earth establishment. Quality ingredients, exceptional staff, and simply delicious dishes give Bruno legs to stand on its own.
Open – Again!
M’s Pub – 422 S 11th st
M’s triumphantly returned after a grueling rebuild, and Omaha has welcomed Ann Mellen back with open arms and empty bellies. The rebuild paid highest respect to the memories Omaha built at the establishment, and replicated most of the décor, maintained as much of the staff and menu as possible, and never for a moment lost the heart that made M’s home for decades.
O Asian Bistro – 1015 Farnam
To the disappointment of loyal patrons, on June 28, 2014, O Lounge served its last. After 2 and a half years, and a series of unfortunate set backs, owners re-launched as O Asian Bistro. The age of the building caused issues, water main breakages forced another temporary closure, and the establishment closed again this fall for renovation. So why is it on our list of places you’d love to eat? Once you’ve met the staff and tasted your meal, the inconveniences and annoyances magically become endearing.
Did you see your favorite new place on our list? Comment here, or email us at Crumbs@TheReader.Com to weigh in!