Summer Time, And The Dining Is Easy

Patio Dining Done Right


Lux lunches

Tucked away in the Eagle Run shopping center is Salt 88. From the moment you walk in, you immediately notice how open and inviting the restaurant feels. You can see everything from the other diners to the kitchen, though it never feels like you’re so close that you can’t enjoy a quiet meal with friends.

The patio is airy and serene, furnished with beautiful blue chairs and wood tables with a view of a golf course. This lends to a Caribbean feel that makes you think that at any moment a steel drum player might start a calypso tune while you enjoy a frosty drink with an exotic name.

One of the most amazing things about this particular patio is that you know it’s sitting right next to a parking lot, yet you can’t see it and really can’t hear it either.

On my most recent visit for lunch I enjoyed an artisan turkey sandwich. The baguette was lightly toasted and crispy while the turkey was lean and had the perfect amount of seasoning. Since I don’t get to Salt 88 as often as I might like, I decided to partake of the rosemary frites. They come in a guilt-free portion and are deliciously seasoned with just the right amount of satisfying crunch.

My friend decided to try the veggie coastal burger and pronounced it to be tasty.

The most fun part of this meal though, besides enjoying time with a friend, was the cotton candy that came at the end of the meal. Having been there before, I knew this was coming but admit I was a little concerned when the server asked if we wanted dessert and we said “no.” I thought, hmmm I wonder if she will bring us cotton candy anyway even though we said we didn’t want dessert.

I needn’t have worried. She brought a light purple funnel of grape cotton candy on a paper stick and handed it to me. You could smell the grape from a mile away and it instantly brought back memories of Hubba Bubba chewing gum and that made me smile.

My friend and I began by daintily plucking little pieces off the paper cone but quickly gave in to our inner children and giddily started grabbing tufts off the fluffy, sweet spun sugar off the paper and laughed as we licked our fingers.

Salt 88, 3623 N. 129th Street, Omaha, 402.991.9088

Brunch outdoors

Nebraska has an abundance of beautiful views, delicious menus, and summer temperatures that don’t mind soaring into the upper 90s and triple digits. A day that begins beautiful and balmy can turn sweltering with little notice. Heading out the door early will help you beat the heat as you enjoy brunch out on the patio! This is one of my favorite things to do, and one of my favorite places to dine is Lot 2 in Benson.

Try the waffles if you have a bit of sweet tooth. At Lot 2 your waffles come with syrup already on them. I know what you’re thinking, ‘there couldn’t be enough syrup on the waffles to last me through the whole meal. I definitely need a jar of syrup.’ Nope, you don’t. I am still not sure how they get the ratio just right, but I ate my entire order of waffles without needing an extra drop of sweet and sticky goodness. In addition to my waffle, I enjoyed a mocha latte, which was delicious and had just the right amount of chocolate and foam to coffee.

Lot 2 is one of the few restaurants I have found that offers pineapple juice on their morning menu. There’s no better way to feel like you’re on vacation than eating on a fun and funky patio with a tropical juice drink. If you want to get your brunch drink on, try the blackberry Bellini. It’s a refreshing and light alternative to the mimosa.

If you tend more to the lunch side of brunch, Lot 2 offers a ramen dish that smelled heavenly and looked hearty as it passed my table. And they have the all-American favorite, the cheeseburger which you can order with a PBR if you are so inclined.

The patio gives the impression of a remodeled parking lot, but the tables are elegant and the atmosphere leaves nothing to be desired. It’s definitely a relaxing respite in the middle of bustling Benson. Adding to the vibe, the staff plays 70’s and 80’s music to help you jam over your bagel and cream cheese.

Lot 2, 6207 Maple Street, Omaha, 402.504.4200

Cocktails al fresco

Another great time to take advantage of the beautiful weather without getting overheated is happy hour. The sun starts to sink lower in the sky and that’s when Mark’s Bistro really begins to heat up! The beautiful patio gives off a hip, French garden vibe.

When you’re sitting out there it feels as if you are in an oasis of tranquility. Greenery accentuates the tables and umbrellas, while creating a calm, cooling feel. The outside world is shut out and you’re left feeling relaxed.

On a recent visit, I took advantage of the Mojito. It was refreshing with its bright, mint flavor and tang of the tequila. It really is like drinking a party in a glass. For an appetizer, my friend and I sampled the bread spread trio which features sun-dried tomato pesto, herbed feta spread and Kalamata tapenade. By far, my favorite was the pesto. It was tart and salty combining the best of the tomato, basil and pine nuts.

I have had this a lot at Marks and have often considered eating it as a dinner all on its own. But since I was sharing, we decided to order the bistro tots to try as well. It was my first time tasting this particular dish. The tots were savory with a light, crisp crust and soft inside. Personally, I felt the texture lacked balance. The inside of the tots could’ve been a little firmer, or the outside needed a bit more crunch. In spite of this, the tots are still a delicious new addition to the appetizer menu.

What I really like about Mark’s patio is that while it’s right next to the front of the restaurant, you cannot see the diners inside and they can’t see you. It almost feels like you’re in a whole different restaurant. I’m already planning to go back.

Marks Bistro, 4916 Underwood Avenue, Omaha, 402.502.2203

We all know the temperatures might be perfect one day and way too hot or cold the next. This is Nebraska after all. But when you get the opportunity, try dining outside. The fresh air will make your food and drinks taste that much better. And isn’t that what dining is all about?


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