When you’re a member of Omaha’s culinary elite, your dining options are endless. That doesn’t mean you don’t pick favorites. This month, The Reader asked a few of our foodie friends where they go for their favorite Omaha dishes. Some of the answers may surprise you.
Kane Adkisson, Chef/Owner of Kano
As a member of the dynastic Adkisson family, Kane has high standards for finding fine dining. As such, it may surprise you to learn that given the option, he’ll dig into slightly more humble fare.
”I would say the No. 13 or the No. 22 at Vietnamese and Asian Restaurant. The chef’s name is Vu. I’ve been going there with my family since we were kids and after all these years, both dishes have remained exactly the same. Pro tip: order fried egg rolls and a Thai tea.
Vietnamese Asian Restaurant
7212 Jones St.
Bryan Baumgart, Owner of Burrito Envy
It comes as little surprise that, having taken and elevated the ultimate dude food of burritos and tequila, Baumgart holds a high regard for those who can bring the best out of a burger.
“You can’t go wrong with a slider flight of various Wagyu burgers at Charred.”
1150 Sterling Ridge Drive
Nick Bartholomew, Owner of Bartholomew Group of Restaurants, including Over Easy and Olive and Ash
Bartholomew keeps his many area eateries as locally sourced and seasonal as possible, so his respect for the in-season game is strong.
“Au Courant, Chovies egg. It’s always a super seasonal play on an egg, but in so many cool ways.”
Isaiah Renner, Owner/Operator of The Dire Lion
Much like his Fish and Chips food truck, Isaiah Renner’s heart wanders.
“This is probably a cop-out, but this is tough. I don’t know that I have a favorite dish in Omaha. I more have favorite restaurants and enjoy trying whatever the chefs have new each time I go. Mix it up, if you will.”
Brian O’Malley, Director of Culinary Arts at Metropolitan Community College
Having dedicated his life to teaching technical perfection and spirited creativity to Omaha’s culinary elite, O’Malley knows there’s room for nostalgia.
“Big Fred’s pepperoni pizza. There are a lot of memories on that pizza.”
Big Fred’s Pizza Garden & Lounge
1101 S 119th St.
Tim Maides, Chef/Founder of TREAM
Recently returned from extensive world travels, Maides found a home for his international tastes in the Old Market.
“Tricky, since most places switch up menus a lot, but I think my solid go-to is the meat and cheese plate at La Buvette.”
511 S 11th St.
Joel Mahr, Chef/Owner of Primrose Restaurant
After leaving his friends and colleagues behind to pursue his establishment in Corning, Iowa, chef Mahr turns most trips back home into a tour of exceptional chefs.
“We have a couple places we like to go when we come into town. We miss all of our Omaha friends in the industry, and it’s nice to be able to see them once in a while. It makes it very special to us. The tasting menu at Au Courant ties with any pizza at Virtuoso for an Omaha favorite!”
Edward Lazaro, Chef/Owner of Tayo
Having become the Omaha authority on sensory dining, community and sharable meals, Lazaro knows how to find an experience anywhere he goes.
“I have to say Umami, the Sushi and Sashimi Lover for two. Probably one of the highest-quality sushi at the best price point. My wife and I have to get it at least once a week.”
1504 Galvan Road S
Josh Foo, Omaha Food Photographer
Foo’s exposure to Omaha food has included the best that each chef has to offer, as each hopes he’ll capture only the best from the menu. This gives Foo an exclusive view of what can, and has, been done to each dish.
”I’m really torn between so many dishes because Omaha has such an amazing selection of great food choices … from Block 16’s Poutine Burrito, Fauxmaha’s Banh Mi Hot Dog, to Kathmandu Momo Station’s juicy momos, that it’s hard for me to pick just one. But I have to admit there is one dish I always crave and that is the MaPo Tofu (I order without meat) from China Garden. The mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns and the strong flavors of chili and garlic create an addictive combination while the tofu acts as the perfect vehicle to carry these pungent flavors. Paired with steamed rice, for me, is the perfect comfort food that has me coming back. I would also like to add that another favorite is the nachos molo at Modern Love … I LOVE them, and they are the best nachos I have ever had.”
Shelley Elson-Roza, Founder/Co-Owner of MJER Help
Girl Power is the recipe for Elson-Roza’s success, and women supporting women is her favorite Omaha flavor.
“I can easily work 12-15 hours a day when we have events in the evening, and I have been known to subsist on the Brown Butter Tosca from Farine + Four that I pick up with our bread orders. We love working with Ellie and supporting other women-owned small businesses. When we go out to dinner, I try to be mindful about choosing entrées that are both delicious and on the healthier side.”
Farine + Four
Glenn Wheeler, Executive Chef of Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops
For the past nine years, Wheeler has helmed Spencer’s with the deftness and creativity he honed at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, but nothing can beat the taste of home.
“The Mole Poblano Enchiladas from Rivera’s Restaurant. It reminds me of my mom cooking my childhood favorite.”
Mathew Carper, Director of Operations/Co-Owner of Stirnella and Butterfish
“One of my personal favorites is the coal-fired, long-stemmed artichokes at Pitch. My wife and I love those and it is always our go-to appetizer and sometimes just our meal. I have tried to replicate them at home, but they never turn out as good.”
5021 Underwood Ave.
Durga Jai, Founder of Attack a Taco Truck
When Jai opened Attack a Taco, the idea was that if Omaha wasn’t going to come to veganism, the family could put wheels on its ideals and bring veganism to Omaha.
“We love Modern Love’s vegan buffalo wings! Yum!”
We loved learning more about our most admired chefs’ favorite dishes, and we want to hear from you next. Drop us a comment or email Sara@TheReader.Com and tell us your favorite Omaha dish for a chance to appear in The Reader.