As Omahans, we are pretty lucky to live in an area that has an ample amount of great dining options. From The Surfside Club to Lot 2, Omaha has a variety of restaurants to suit any budget or desire. But what happens when we head out on summer vacation? Where do we eat? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was someone who could do some food research for you before you left?  

How often do you check Urbanspoon or Yelp for dining spots when you are travelling to Colorado with the kids? Or when you are driving to Kansas City for a Royals game? Or how about someplace worth driving to where you can explore the area and have a good meal? If you are like me – someone who appreciates good food at reasonable prices – then wanting to know where to find the best food options is a high travel priority. With the many activities among us, here are a few dining spots that will help give you a heads up while traveling this summer.

Parker’s Smokehouse

Let’s start with Parker’s Smokehouse, BBQ with soul. Parker’s Smokehouse had three locations in Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska City and Ashland. If you are traveling in and about the state or just looking for a destination to drive and dine, Parker’s Smokehouse has put their barbecue joint in some great locations. And the barbecue is pretty delicious.

The menu reads like a barbecue restaurant should with ribs, brisket, pulled pork and all the fixings. They have a full bar and are open on Sundays. After I finished licking my sticky barbecue rib fingers, I spoke with a regular customer Darcy Calson from Omaha and she said, “We have been coming to Parker’s for a long time. It’s a nice drive and sometimes we just like getting out of the city. And we love their bacon cheese fries dipped in their original barbecue sauce.”  So I would say that Ashland is not too far for recommended bacon cheese fries.  

Parker’s Smokehouse

Hwy 6 and 63,  Ashland, NE

64th and O Street, Lincoln, NE

1st Corso Street, Nebraska City, NE

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge

Since Colorado is a popular summer destination for many, I thought about the route to CO and what dining spots are a must. Of course, Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge, located in the small town of Paxton Nebraska, off I-80 exit 145, is always the first place that comes to mind. Since I-80 can get long and boring, Ole’s is the perfect spot mostly because of the word game in its title.

A little history tells us that Rosser O. Herstedt, affectionately referred to as “Ole”, opened his tavern at 12:01 am on August 9th 1933, the minute after prohibition ended. It remained a popular gathering spot for Ole and his friends who talked and dreamed of hunting expeditions, catching wild and exotic game. Ole followed those dreams and found himself with over 200 trophies from every continent which are now proudly displayed on the walls of Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse. In addition, the food is always good and the folks of Paxton are kind and friendly. And what could be better than being greeted by a overly large stuffed polar bear?

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge

1-80 Exit 145, Main Street, Paxton, NE

Justus Drugstore

On your way to Kansas City? There is a very special place called Justus Drugstore in the town of Smithville Kansas, located north of KC of Hwy 169. Justus Drugstore is a hidden gem. Its namesake comes from its location which was previously a family-owned drugstore. But it is indeed a restaurant and a lovely one at that.

They are open for dinner only and reservation are recommended. However, you will be rewarded for your thoughtful planning if Justus was included in your trip. Believing in a menu created with all local food, Justus is for the food lover who is searching out artisan food and drink. It’s a little bit more upscale in nature but definitely a great place to dine.

Another word of advice is to plan enough time. Justus is not about shortcuts and dinner can get wonderfully long. Also, if you have too many craft cocktails, they have great hotels in the area before you head out to explore the rest of Smithville or KC.

Justus Drugstore

106 W. Main St. Smithville, Mo


Happy trails, friends

Road trips don’t have to mean fast food and indigestion. Plan ahead to get some good eats the next time you leave town since, you know, Omaha has spoiled you into becoming accustomed to excellent restaurant choices.

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