It’s one of those perfect Saturdays. You wake up, the temperature is in the high 70s, and there’s a light breeze that blows through at just the right moments. You’re hungry, but you want someplace where you can take advantage of the weather. Someplace where the food’s tasty, the booze is cheap, and you’re able to bask in the beauty of the glorious day at hand. Luckily for you, I’ve decided to put together the perfect list of restaurants and bars for just such a day, so you can stop scrolling through Yelp and get directly to the good stuff.
To start the day, you’re going to want a good foundation, a brunch that’s filling, but not gut punishing. The Kitchen Table offers a wonderful, three-course brunch for $15. Snag a table out front and start with the house-made bread and cinnamon butter to soak up last night’s bad decisions and get the metabolism going. Next, opt for the granola and yogurt. This on-the-go breakfast staple gets a vibrant upgrade by pairing it with roasted beets and mint, which means you’ll want to slow down and savor every bite of it. It’s so good you’ll almost forget that you’ve got a delicious bowl of grits with chicken sausage and a poached egg on the way. Once you take a bite though, you’ll wonder how.
Now that you’ve got a base, it’s time to start exploring Omaha’s burgeoning beer culture, and what better place to experience that than at Brickway Brewery and Distillery. Opened in 2013, it offers everything you could want from a day-drinking haven: a spacious main bar area, a huge tap list, and a patio complete with sturdy iron furniture and massive umbrellas. More importantly, they offer an $11.50 beer flight. The expert staff is more than happy to help you craft a flight that lets you sample their wide, ever-changing selection. Be sure to try the hefeweizen with notes of banana and clove, unexpected I know, but extremely drinkable. Brickway also makes a number of great spirits that can also be sampled in a flight (remember, pace yourself) or in one of their house-made cocktails.
Now that you’ve got a bit of booze in your system, you’re going to want a spot for lunch. La Bouvette, just around the corner from Brickway, has become an Omaha institution over the last decade and with good reason. This small eatery offers an ever-changing list of French classics like coq au vin, sweetbreads, and boeuf bourguignon to go along with menu staples like paté and charcuterie plates. Be on the lookout for their scallops too. Perfectly tender and served with a mix of root vegetables and a bright sauce, you’re hard-pressed to find a better plate of food for $14. The fact that all this is being cranked out of a kitchen the size of a small walk-in closet is nothing short of a miracle. It’s not just the food that’ll make you want to spend the day here either. The wall-to-wall wine selection offers interesting pours from Hungary to Oregon. Even with the five-dollar corkage fee, there’s plenty to drink for less than $30. When you mix in the Bouvette’s shaded patio, open storefront, and charmingly rickety wooden chairs, you might be tempted to spend your whole day there, but there’s more to see.
Benson bar 1912 offers the best rooftop hangout in Omaha. Most places with a view skimp on drink offerings and patrons usually end up with a Bud Light in their hand (God help them). You might think sunny weather like this calls for a citrusy IPA or wheat beer. While no one could fault you for opting for one, you’d be missing out on 1912’s wonderfully eclectic selection of cellared beers or bombers. Madhouse’s El Jefe whiskey barrel-aged stout offers the chocolaty, spicy notes akin to a great mole and Deschutes Abyss offers surprising notes of licorice and molasses. However, if you’re in need something a bit more refreshing Lagunitas Fusion XXXIX should do trick.
By this point, you’ll probably want something sweet. ECreamery may not be the most inventive choice, but there’s no doubting it’s not the best one. The Omaha institution offers everything from shakes to splits but you’re hard-pressed to do better than a cup of their classic chocolate. If it’s good enough for a Beatle and the Oracle of Omaha, it’s good enough for you.
After your day in the sun, head over to Nite Owl in the Blackstone area to grab a bite and a little time out of the sun. Pull up one of their funky swivel chairs at the bar, order up a refreshing gin and tonic on tap and some of their fiendishly salty fries, and enjoy whichever endearingly terrible movie they’ve got going on the projector. Or, if you’re feeling especially Rust Cohle-like, order yourself a classic Lone Star and a burger, and start philosophizing on what your day meant. After it’s all said and done it’s time to go home, make a snack, have a glass (or salad bowl) of water, and reflect on just how awesome Omaha’s food scene really is.