It is a great time to be a foodie in Omaha. Whether you are looking for contemporary Americana cuisine or southern soul food – the newest restaurants here in Omaha have something for everyone. Oysters, pasta, sushi, fusion, wine pairings and soul food – Omaha is becoming the place to be for eclectic and diverse dining.
Opened in early February, Shuck’s Fish House and Oyster Bar’s newest location is in downtown Omaha. Located on 1911 Leavenworth Avenue, where the restaurant Dixie Quicks Magnolia Room was previously located, Shuck’s offers diners what it has become famous for – fresh seafood in a casual setting. Don’t worry, this location has a fresh oyster bar too so you won’t have to travel out west just to get your fix of fresh oysters. Entrees and sandwiches range from $8 to $18 and the restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. Contact at (402) 614-5544, http://www.absolutelyfresh.com/
Opened in late February, Italian Gardens is described by owner and chef Jeff Camp as, “a small restaurant specializing in authentic classical Italian cuisine using recipes passed down for several generations. You won’t find any ‘fusion’ type items on our menu. We provide a dining atmosphere that is slightly upscale, but not stuffy. Diners can be in and out in under an hour or they can linger for hours.” Entrees range from $9 – $20 and the restaurant is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Contact at (402) 715-4291, http://www.italiangardensomaha.com/
In March, four new restaurants opened as well. Ponzu Sushi and Grill, located in Aksarben Village next to the cinema, is owned by Jimi DiPrima of Jimi D’s Food and Spirits. Their culinary global interest can be seen in their Italian-influenced dishes, Midwest steaks, and even French offerings that are paired with corresponding wines. Lunches range from $10-15, and dinner offers entrees up to $30. The price of sushi varies. Ponzu Sushi and Grill is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Contact at (402) 614-7757, www.facebook.com/PonzuSushiAndGrill
J.Coco, the newest restaurant endeavor by Jennifer Coco, former chef at The Flat Iron Café for 14 years, is located in Wolner’s previous location on Leavenworth Avenue. Their “farm to plate” philosophy is evident in their use of local ingredients that incorporate an international and local approach to dining. Described as a “contemporary dining experience with a global influence,” J.Coco offers diners the opportunity to see Wolner’s transformed into an elegant, yet approachable restaurant. Prices range from $9 sandwiches to $28 entrees. J.Coco is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and for dinner Monday through Saturday from 5 p.m. until close. Contact at (402) 884-2626, http://jcocoomaha.com/
The newest restaurant to join the Benson community is Lot 2, located on Maple Street in the heart of the Benson downtown neighborhood. Opened in March, owners Brad and Johanna Marr are no strangers to the restaurant world. Between the two of them, they have worked at V.Mertz, Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops and M’s Pub. Both are certified Sommeliers and enjoy sharing their pairing suggestions with diners. Prices range from $8 sandwiches to $18 entrees. Lot 2 is open Monday through Thursday from 4 until 11 pm, Saturday from 4pm until Midnight, and Sunday from 10am until 2 pm for brunch. Contact at (402) 504-4200, http://www.lot2benson.com/
For those looking for a little soul food, Ethel Mae’s Cajun Café recently moved to its new location at Louis Grill and Bar, at 52nd and Northwest Radial Highway. Described as a combination of Cajun, Soul Food and typical American cuisine, Ethel Mae’s Cajun Café is already gathering a following. With prices as low as $4 for a sandwich, and only as high as $10 for entrees, diners get an opportunity to eat flavorful food at an affordable price. Hours are 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. On Sunday, the restaurant is open from Noon – 6 p.m. Contact at (402) 215-4366.