Menu of Menus 2014

Readers Select the Best Dishes in Omaha

Best Soup

WINNER
Broccoli Cheese at J.Coco:
One must be diligent to find themselves lucky enough to encounter the famous J.Coco broccoli cheese soup. A rare soup special, it draws a crowd with its creamy, yet light texture. There will be no hiding your veggies once you taste the still-bright broccoli in this fresh take on a soup standard! Follow J.Coco on Facebook to stay on top of the ever-changing specials.

Tomato Cashew  at McFoster’s:
Surprisingly smoky, this pleasant soup will leave you wanting for nothing.

French Onion at Marks Bistro:
Presented in a rustic crock with a crust of rich gruyere, this perfectly seasoned soup will warm you through even on Omaha’s coldest of winter days.

Duck Noodle Soup at Saigon
Surface:
The Duck Noodle Soup, or Mi Vit Tiem, is elegantly prepared with roasted duck breast, egg noodle, bok choy, pickled papaya, and shiitake mushrooms.

Tom-Kah at Bangkok Cuisine:
Take a spicy coconut milk base and add mushrooms, tomatoes, lemon grass and a host of other ingredients and you have the best tom-kah in town.

Chicken Florentine at Sgt Peffers:
You have to visit on a Friday if you want to order this hearty, award-winning soup.

Clam Chowder at Shuck’s:
The freshest of seafood becomes a hearty meal in this rich and creamy dish, which would please even your most skeptical of East Coast critics!

Best Salad

WINNER
Lobster Wedge Salad at Plank Seafood Provisions:
The ever-humble iceberg gets a much needed makeover with this brilliantly bright salad! Applewood smoked bacon adds depth to the one-dimensional greenery while avocado, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers contribute lightness and fun. Blue cheese crumbles and creamy dressing create a rich finish to the succulent lobster’s canvas. Salad is no longer for the finicky fork pusher, but a hearty meal for a sophisticated palate.

Wilted Red Kale Salad at Blatt Beer & Table:
You might not think that “shaved fennel” sounds all that appetizing, but when you add it to a delicious mix of apples, raisins, almonds, coriander and vinaigrette, you’re going to change your mind.    

Squid Salad at Hiro 88:
An elegant Japanese vinaigrette finishes off this signature salad that still manages to taste fresh even though it’s made of squid.

Farm Greens at Dante Pizzeria:
If you think this delicious salad tastes fresh, it’s because all of these crisp, fragrant, and only lightly dressed greens had a short trip from farm to fork, as they are all locally sourced.

Coconut Chicken Salad at Jams:
Perfectly cooked chicken complimented by ripe avocado, artichoke hearts, fresh made croutons, red onions, raspberry sauce, and a delicious, creamy herb dressing make this salad an unarguable local favorite!    

Warm Duck Salad at M’s Pub:
A truly satisfying salad, your fresh spinach meets flavor and texture with blue cheese, walnuts, red onions, ripe roma tomatoes, bacon dressing, and warm, delicious pulled duck.

Mo’ Rockin’ Salad at McFoster’s:
Treating each ingredient with the same respect they give their clients, McFoster’s hits the nail on the head with a salad containing well-seasoned falafel croquettes, hummus, marinated artichokes, Kalamata olives, pickled onions, and sprouts.

Best Appetizer

WINNER
Ricotta Bread and Jam at Dante Pizzeria:
The perfect start to any dish and the perfect end to any day- the ricotta and peach jam is both sweet enough to send you for a second bite and tangy enough to keep it firmly out of the dessert category. This appetizer is just the right size to get your appetite really revved up for the main course.

The Deviled Eggs at Kitchen Table:
These are nothing like the warm deviled eggs you’ve endured at family picnics – these beauties feature dill and smoked paprika and are served at the perfect temperature.     

Gnocchi Bites at Jimi D’s:
You get to choose from three dipping sauces when you order these seared potato dumplings, or you can be a rebel and use all three sauces at once.
Edamame at Hiro 88:
Salty, warm, and simple, you always know you’ve made an excellent start to your meal as you crunch through your crisp and fresh appetizer.

Potstickers at Jams:
A generous portion of ginger pork potstickers served with hoisin barbeque sauce is perfectly complimented by a side of spicy coleslaw.

Salt & Pepper Calamari at Salt88:
Sometimes the simplest approach is the best- lightly breaded and minimally seasoned, served with marinara and lacking absolutely nothing.    

Steak and Lobster Duo at J’s on Jackson:
There is absolutely no reason to not order this amazing appetizer, especially considering it features Havarti and a basil pesto that will haunt your dreams.

Dario’s Mussel Platter at Dario’s:
A decadent treatment of the classic, served in ale & leek cream sauce, prosciutto, sorrel, and parmesan.

Sampler Platter at Marakech:
No need to be fluent in Morrocan/Mediterranean fusion, Marakech offers a generous sampling of each of their signature dishes.

Fresh Spring Rolls at Laos Thai:
Referred to as “fresh” for a reason, these light rolls hit every high note, right down to the sweet chili sauce and peanuts.

Best Sandwich

WINNER
The Whole Bird at Kitchen Table:
A culinary adventure on toasted wild yeast bread! Start with a moist seared chicken breast, followed by an unctuous confit of leg salad. Crispy skin adds more texture and dimension before going nearly overboard with a sticky, delicious, fried egg. Take your time with the first bite to appreciate the artistry of putting these beautiful, locally sourced ingredients all in one dish, and then just go for it!
The Lux at Block 16:
This sandwich features duck –and lots of it- along with ham, cheese and other fixings, and since it comes from Block 16 you know it’s fresh and from locally-sourced ingredients.    

French Dip at Danny’s:
No longer offered at Danny’s, the meaty au jus and generous serving of shaved beef made this your ultimate French Dip.

Turkey Sandwich at Jams:
Not your standard post-Thanksgiving nosh, this classic is dressed to the nines with melted swiss, avocado, bacon, a tangy tarragon mustard sauce, and sweet balsamic onion marmalade.

Brisket BBQ Sandwich at Hartland Bar-B-Que:
Loved for more than the generous portion, this sweet and smoky sandwich is a classic for a reason.

Veggie Melt at McFoster’s:
An entire garden, sliced up and rubbed with garlic before being charbroiled to smoky perfection and piled 4 inches high, topped with fresh basil and your choice of dairy or vegan cheddar.

Cold Fried Chicken Sandwich at Big Mama’s Sandwich Shop:
Knowing that chicken makes a better sandwich on day two, Big Mama serves it up cold with lettuce, tomato, onion, and her secret sauce.

Falafel at El Basha:
Served over mixed greens and topped with tahini, the unique blend of beans and spices is balanced perfectly with cooling hint of mint, parsley, and scallions.

Dundee Melt at Dundee Dell:
Hot turkey and ham with grilled onions would be enough to entice you into a second bite, but The Dell maintains their cult following by always going one step further than delicious, adding 3 cheeses and a secret sauce to their toasted garlic sourdough.
Best Burger

WINNER
Lamb Burger at Mantra:
When it came time to reinvent the burger, the brilliant minds at Mantra decided that they would throw out the rule book and start from scratch. Lettuce, tomato, and onion are all that’s left of the standard in this creative retelling. The base is a house blend of both lamb and pork, seasoned and grilled before being served on a pretzel bun. Instead of the basic ketchup and mustard, a garlic lemon aioli dresses this sophisticated take on Americana. Perfection.

Block Burger at Block 16:
If you’re going to indulge in a burger, you can take comfort in knowing that this 1/4 lb. patty with swiss cheese and all the fixings is made with natural, locally sourced ingredients.    

Beet Burger at Wilson and Washburn:
This is a delightfully unusual burger featuring a seasoned beet patty, smoked peanut butter and pickled jalapeno.    
Cheeseburger at Louie M’s:
Burger Lust becomes the 8th deadly sin in this intensely crave-able classic.

Swiss Mushroom Burger at Dinkers:
Fresh (not canned, not pickled) mushrooms are sautéed to sticky deliciousness and set atop melting swiss cheese and your cooked-to-order burger on a Kaiser bun.

Portobello Burger at Ingredient:
As meaty as vegetarian gets, this hearty burger will satisfy even your most carnivorous craving and is served with eggplant, roasted red peppers, and brie topped with cabernet vinaigrette, and spicy sprouts on grilled ciabatta.
    
Sinful Burger at Sinful Burger:
If you’re looking for an indulgence, this signature burger will do nicely as it comes stuffed with cheese inside a 1/2 lb. patty.


Best Taco

WINNER
Al Pastor at Maria Bonita:
There’s a reason why the Maria Bonita food truck is consistently sought-after by Omahans – the flavors are vibrant and the ingredients are fresh. The al pastor taco is made from marinated pork and served on either a corn or flour tortilla. It’s one of the most popular items on Maria Bonita’s menu, and rightfully so.
 
Chicken Taco at California Taco:
Offered in soft flour, hard crunchy, or ‘puffy’ California shells with an array of condiments to choose from including fresh cilantro, lime juice, and Pico de Gallo.
Bean and Queso Fresco Taqueria at La Mesa:
The authority on Tex-Mex in Omaha brings you slightly further south with their Taqueria menu, adding a touch of authenticity to the fresh bean and cheese taco.

Taco Pastor at El Taqueria El Rey Food Truck:
It’s the fresh-tasting meat and flavorful spices that makes this taco one of the favorites in the Omaha area.

Taco Pastor at Ixtapa Mexican Grill:
Known for their distinctive spices, Ixtapa’s Taco Pastor is substantial and fresh.

Avocado Taco at Voodoo Taco:
Deep fried avocado makes for a fun, vegetarian option that is both fresh and flavorful.

Soft Taco at Sam’s Leon:
These soft tacos are so good that this eatery limits how many tacos a person can order to go on Taco Wednesdays.

Best Casual/
Comfort Dish

WINNER
Macaroni & Cheese at Mark’s Bistro:
Okay, so maybe it’s made with Cavatappi pasta instead of by-the-book macaroni, but blue boxes don’t win awards, do they? The corkscrew shape of this al-dente pasta is the perfect vehicle for transporting creamy cheese sauce and crunchy panko to your eager taste buds. Feeling adventurous? Opt for one of the clever add-ins, including bacon, red peppers, scallions, and spinach and see what keeps them at the top of Omaha’s comfort food pyramid.

Chicken & Waffles at Blatt Beer & Table:
This isn’t your typical chicken & waffles; the waffles are made from jalapeno cornbread and the chicken is Dixie-fried, and it’s all served with honey-orange butter and cracked black pepper gravy.     

Biscuits and Gravy at Over Easy:
Top two herbed biscuits smothered in veggie gravy and accompanied by two sunny-side up eggs combine to make one of the ultimate comfort foods in the Omaha area.

Enchilada Float at Julio’s Tex Mex Grill:
Julio’s is already known as making some of the best enchiladas in town, but when you really want to have an enchilada flavor explosion experience, order the Enchilada Float. Choose between chicken or beef, and you’ll get a plate filled to the brim with two impressively large enchiladas smothered in cheese, onion, Tex Mex sauce and queso. If you’ve ever dreamed of swimming in a sea of enchiladas, this is probably the closest you’ll ever get. .    

Hot Turkey at Summer Kitchen Café:
Just like homemade, without the lumpy gravy!

Bean and Cheese Burrito at Abelardo’s:
A portion large enough to share, but a taste so good you won’t be able to.

Johnny’s Big Plate at Stokes:
Take a chicken and cheese relleno, add to that a steak and mushroom enchilada, and add to that the signature Sharon’s enchilada, and you have some bona fide comfort food.    

Meatloaf at Jams:
The quintessential comfort food is upgraded in flavor as well as atmosphere.

Best Pizza

WINNER
The Special at Frank’s Pizzeria:
Known as one of the very few true New York style pizzerias in the Omaha area, Frank’s is generous with the toppings and even more generous with the portions. The Special has sausage, peppers, onions, pepperoni, meatballs, black olives, anchovies and a smattering of extra cheese. Order it as a “Big Joe” and you can feed a small army.
 
Fungi at Dante Pizzeria:
So much more than a mushroom pizza, the meatiness of cremini mushrooms is brightened up with the burst of bell pepper and the richness of gorgonzola.

The Cubana at The Pizza Shoppe:
When you want pizza, but you’re feeling adventurous, try this inspired concoction consisting of an alfredo and mustard base, topped with peperoni, Canadian bacon, diced pickle, and pepperjack cheese.

The Mia at Pitch:
A Pitch mainstay, the fennel sausage sets this slice apart and keeps it an Omaha favorite.

100% Natural Cheese Pizza at Zio’s Pizza:
If you’re looking for the best cheese pizza in town, here it is – unbleached dough topped with sauce and gobs of real cheese.    

Hamburger at La Casa Food Truck:
This Omaha staple doesn’t miss a beat, bringing its signature Neapolitan pizza into the Food Truck Revolution.    
Sausage Trio at Mama’s:
When one type of sausage just isn’t enough, head to Mama’s and enjoy this pizza made with pork sausage, Italian sausage and spicy sausage.


Best Pasta Dish

WINNER
Ravioli con Gamberi at Avoli Osteria:
The definition of opulence, you’ll spend the rest of your evening reliving the experience. A black squid ink ravioli, rich with shrimp. Instead of a basic marinara or alfredo, your pasta is allowed to speak for itself, served only in hint of fennel and tomato broth. Cooked to a perfect al dente, you are able to choose a portion fitting your appetite with both small and full meals.

Lobster Mac & Cheese at Plank Seafood Provisions:
Bringing a touch of decadence to your childhood favorite, this rich dish manages to be sophisticated without a hint of pretention.

Portobello Ravioli at Nicola’s:
Served in a lavish garlic cream sauce and finished with asiago cheese and parsley.

Shrimp Diabolo at Louie’s Wine Dive:
Garlic shrimp in Sriracha gives a real kick to penne pasta with a fresh lime cream sauce.

Spaghetti and Meatballs at Pasta Amore:
A classic dish done right, al dente pasta and Italian seasoned meatballs topped with the restaurant’s flawless sauce.

Carbonara at Vivace:
Grilled chicken breast joins black pepper conchiglie, pancetta, red onion, peas and egg yolk to create a delicious and indulgent dish that you can order for either a half or full portion.    

Best Entrée

WINNER
Heritage Pork at Grey Plume:
You’ll notice the words “Heritage” and “Heirloom” all over the Grey Plume menu. With a new generation drawing more and more attention to the importance of knowing where your food comes from, Grey Plume embraces local sourcing and ethical practices, while coaxing out maximum essence and quality from each dish. The flavor of the Heritage Pork (Niche Farms) is enhanced by the apple finish, kale, carrot, and a surprising burst of orange.

Chicken Franco at Vincenzo’s:
Available at lunch, the chicken Franco boasts a boneless chicken breast with a light parmigiana crust served with a white wine lemon butter sauce.

Southern Chicken at Thai Spice:
The Southern Chicken (or Guey Tiew-Kalee) is an easy favorite, simply prepared with chicken, bean sprouts, green onions, and potato all served on stir fried flat noodles with a yellow curry sauce.

Chicken Piccata at Jimi D’s:
Tender chicken is sautéed in a bright, citrusy lemon caper butter sauce and served with linguine.

Halibut    at Boiler Room:
Alaskan Halibut is served tender and flaky in a fun and inviting atmosphere.

Chicken at Jack & Mary’s Restaurant:
The fried chicken here has been an Omaha favorite for more than 30 years and is served with mashed potatoes and an additional side.

A.A.C Roll at Okinawa Sushi:
Avocado, Asparagus, and Cucumber- simplicity at its finest!

Molcajete Stone Dish at Ixtapa Mexican grill:
If the kitchen sink could be grilled and seasoned, it’s likely you would find it in this enticing dish of steak, chicken, shrimp, chorizo, and grilled cactus.


Best Dessert

WINNER
Cappuccino Bombe at Delice:
Making a decision on a pastry can be difficult when you visit Delice because they so expertly display their impressive array of options, but if you’re a fan of coffee flavor then there’s no question as to what you should order. This big-enough-for-two-or-three-people serving of cake features chocolate cappuccino mousse on the inside and a delicious, rich chocolate cake outer layer. It’s a chocolate coffee lover’s dream.

Tiramisu at Spezia:
Leave room for this extravagant dessert, which will end your always-excellent meal on a truly elegant note.
Chocolate Malt at Ted and Wally’s:
Create a cool memory on a warm day with this timeless classic!

Carrot Cake at Jams:
Ginger, macadamia nuts, and a rich crème anglais add texture and fun, making this carrot cake just like (you wish) your mama made.

Red Velvet Cupcake at Jones Bros Cupcakes:
Unable to find an unlikeable cupcake in the entire building makes it difficult to settle on just one, but when you do, make it this moist, decadent, creamy confection!

Pecan Rolls at Summer Kitchen Café:
Sweet and just the right amount of messy, the soft roll is never stingy with the crunch of pecan.

Coconut Sorbet at eCreamery:
Dairy free and flavorful, every spoonful tastes like vacation.
Best Steak

WINNER
Pepper Steak at Dixie Quicks:
Texas Chile Pepper Steak is more than a step outside the Tex-Mex box, it’s a step above! With chiles that are smokier than spicy and perfectly complimentary bell peppers, Dixie Quicks could have stopped there for an excellent score. Does excellent sound good enough? Apparently not, as they continued to delight with a thick, and truly delectable, cream sauce. Served with mashed potatoes, satisfaction is inevitable.

Filet at Farmer Browns:
Choose either large or petite and decide if you want this U.S.D.A top choice cut wrapped in bacon or not.   

Steak for Two at Le Bouillon:
A tender ribeye served in a sumptuous anchovy butter on watercress, this dish is for lovers, friends, or you and your alter ego to share (as long as they’re at least as hungry as you are).

Omaha Strip Steak at Johnny’s:
Known as Omaha’s Steakhouse since 1922, Johnny’s strip steak finds itself regularly on favorite lists without pretention or fussiness.


Drunken Steak at Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse:
Spiked with Sam Adams, this is a steak mature enough to handle its lager.

Whiskey Steak at The Drover:
The smokiness of the secret whiskey sauce is coaxed out perfectly by the open flame on which your steak is cooked to your specification.

Filet at Piccolo’s:
This long established family favorite will remind you why Nebraska is known for its steak.
Best Craft Cocktail

WINNER
Dark & Stormy at Side Door Lounge:
Known for their utter lack of fear in putting together interesting and daring drink combinations, Side Door Lounge offers this drink that, as legend has it, is the strongest drink on their menu. Though traditionally made with ginger beer, Side Door makes it with ginger syrup made in-house and then adds Jamaican rum and bitters of your choice. The last step is pouring some soda water on top of it all and then it’s down the hatch.

North and South at J. Coco:
Sweet and just a little spicy, maple-infused rye is joined by a pear rosemary syrup, lemon and jalapenos.    

Blood Orange Martini at Mark’s Bistro:
The sophistication of a martini made fun and refreshing with a citrusy splash of Blood Orange.

Manhattan at Krug Park:
The Kerkhoff Manhattan features Templeton Rye, Carpano Antica Vermouth and Angostura Bitters, which all blend nicely to create a very sophisticated cocktail.     

Witch Doctor at Berry and Rye:
A spiced rub cocktail with just enough pineapple, this sinful sip will put a spell on you.

Hypnotiq at Hiro 88:
This house martini has pineapple vodka and pineapple juice expertly mixed to create a delicious cocktail.    

Martinis at Blue:
A fun atmosphere and affordable happy hour are only accents to the extensive and expertly concocted Martini menu.    

Bulldog Rye at French Bulldog:
A shaken favorite, this drink gets its distinctive taste from the old overholt rye, honey ginger syrup, lemon and bitters.    

Frenchman at I.O. Speak:
Heading to a place called Indian Oven to enjoy a drink called The Frenchman may seem a  little odd, but when you taste this expertly crafted drink it will all make sense.  

Margarita at La Mesa:
Top shelf tequila made of pure agave escalates cocktail hour in one refreshing sip.

Best Spicy Dish

WINNER
Enchiladas Diablo at Riveras:
You already know what you’re getting yourself into when you order something with “Diablo” in the title. Take steak, jack cheese, and green onions, wrap them in tortillas and then douse it all with habanero sauce, and you have one of the spiciest dishes around. It’s so tear-inducing that the menu clearly states that there will be no refunds for this dish, presumably because some people just can’t handle this kind of heat.

Vegetable Curry at Mother India:
A hint of spice and rich sauce keep this high on every Omahan’s “best-of” list.

Hot Wings at Crescent Moon:
There’s a reason why they call these Inferno Wings – the accompanying dill ranch or blue cheese help cool them off a bit, but not much.

Camarones al Diablo at Ixtapa Mexican Grill:
Let’s face it; if you’re going to order something that loosely translates into “Shrimp of the Devil,” you know it’s going to be a really, really spicy dish.

Spicy Turkey Melt at DJ’s Dugout:
Order the turkey melt off the menu and ask them to “make it spicy,” which means they’ll add pepperjack, onions, jalapenos and chipotle sauce.

Exotic Dish

WINNER
Lalibela Exclusive at Lalibela Ethiopian:
A delicious crash course in Ethiopian cuisine, this dish has it all, including a glossary at the bottom of the menu so you know what you’re ordering. The hard part is deciding which dish is your favorite, but Lalibela removes that obstacle with a generous portion of each of their top dishes.  A sampling of several kinds of beef and chicken stews, lentils, vegetables, and potatoes are all served on an authentic, spongy injera.
Fessen Jun at Ahmad’s Persian Cuisine:
Fesenjan, or chicken cooked in a walnut pomegranate sauce, keeps you on your toes with hints of turmeric and cinnamon, maintaining warmth and heartiness in a playfully sweet dish.

Paella at Espana:
A (delicious) taste of Spain, you will not find an argument that Espana is the authority on Paella in Omaha, offering a choice between the Paella Sacramento and the Paella Vegetal served for two.


Beef Cheek at El Taqueria El Rey Food Truck:
Served not only with the standard lettuce, tomato, avocado, and hot sauce, you’ll also find mayo on your tender and flavorful beef cheek torta.

Lamb Kasmiri at Mother India:
The flavors will leave you feeling satisfied, the generous portion will leave you stuffed, and the unique blend of spices will keep you coming back for more!

Ploughman’s Sandwich at French Bulldog:
Granny Smith apples and white cheddar cheese make for a sophisticated pairing when they sit atop sourdough bread accompanied by piccalilli and candied walnuts.

Chicken Curry at Mai Tai:
With five choices of curry, Red, Yellow, Panang, Hassaman, and Pineapple, your take out go-to becomes a culinary adventure with every visit.

posted at 11:14 am
on Thursday, August 07th, 2014

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