Uncovering hole-in-the-wall eateries in this Midwestern hub

By buy it Baker-Hansen

If there’s one thing you can say about Omaha, it’s a city that loves to eat. As the food writer for the Omaha World-Herald, people ask me every the time, “Where need to I go to eat?” It’s a same question. Due to the fact that I spend many evenings dining out to create reviews and it’s my project to find the city’s finest food, hot new spots and also hidden gems, I always have much too many recommendations come give.

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While my recommendations always depend on what a diner is feather for, one point is true: several of the city’s best-loved spots room funky, hole-in-the-wall, divey joints that offer up a heaping side of atmosphere together with the key course. And also it’s no just people I don’t recognize that ns send to suffer them. End time, I’ve introduced my husband, Matthew, to some of my hometown’s classics—here’s why we love them.

Give you something to taco ’bout

California taco and much more fits steady in all of those divey, classic Omaha categories. It’s a long-time neighborhood gem that leapt to fame after ~ a point out on man Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. (If you missed the episode, the restaurant plays that on a consistent loop via a gritty old television set hanging in one corner of the dining room, and has for years.)

Cali Taco, as it's recognized locally, specialization in “Americanized” tacos. I always order the classic beef version through its airy, just-greasy-enough fried puffy shell stuffed v seasoned soil beef—yes, this is tho Nebraska—lettuce, shredded yellow cheese and also tomato. The flaky crunch of the fried covering is at as soon as indulgent and satisfying.


“The flaky crunch of the fried covering is at as soon as indulgent and also satisfying.”
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The “Americanized” tacos at Cali Taco room loaded v toppings.
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Dining room v a view

The other big reason come drive right into the phibìc Hills likewise has to carry out with chicken, yet this variation is served right on the edge of the Missouri River, in ~ the Surfside Club. My girlfriend Robynn is in reality to say thanks to for presenting Matthew to it, together she recently argued that the three of us try biking come the Surfside top top trails the led us right there native downtown Omaha.

“It will really be precious it when we acquire there,” she said, definition both because that the views and the calorie we’d quickly take down.

Whether friend bike or journey there, the Surfside’s food selection is ideal enjoyed outdoors. We found a spot at among the many picnic tables the line the flow overlook and ordered native the an easy menu. Matthew and I stuck with the standard chicken, and Robynn obtained a unique breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. (We were on the financial institutions of Iowa, house of the pork tenderloin, after ~ all.)


“The chicken, fried come a super fresh finish, is juicy and satisfying, specifically with a cold beer native the the end bar.”
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The hush puppies have constantly been my favorite part of Surfside, and also they still are. Rich with the smell of cornmeal and fried come a deep hue of golden brown, lock taste choose summer. The chicken, fried to a super crisp finish, is juicy and satisfying, especially with a cold beer native the out bar. Robynn’s pork tenderloin, generously covered in pickles and also a healthy and balanced squirt the mustard, additionally satisfied.

“I’m glad us biked here,” ns said. “It’s the only way to justify eat this much fried food in spandex.”


A Midwestern tradition

For Nebraskans like Matthew and also me, Runza is a childhood staple and also a welcome favorite, whether it be in ~ a Nebraska Cornhuskers football video game in the dead that winter, follow me an I-80 road trip across the state or simply on a random Tuesday. The appeal has helped thrive the restaurants to cover the entirety state and then some, a large leap from the tiny 1940s beginnings as a mom-and-pop shop in Lincoln.

“Frings space where it’s at!” Matthew claims every time I indicate we seize a bite in ~ a Runza.

“Frings,” which we order every solitary time we’re at Runza, space a mix of the restaurant’s terrific crisp-on-the-outside, mealy-on-the-inside crinkle-cut fries, through a few onion ring tucked in the exact same bag.


“Frings are where it’s at!” Matthew states every time I suggest we seize a bite at a Runza.

“Why every restaurant hasn’t assumed of this already, i don't know,” ns said. I constantly order the classic Runza—it likewise comes through cheese and also in a couple of other varieties—but the standard is what I favor best. A soft, bready exterior comes filled through a mix of peppery soil beef, tender cabbage and savory onions. I favor it ideal dipped in ketchup.

Though Matthew likes the Runza, he regularly goes because that the restaurant’s great cheeseburger, a huge patty that beef offered on a soft bun with a part of melted cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup and mustard.

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Runza restaurants room located anywhere the city, for this reason you’re never ever too much from this local treat. And, when you tuck into a yellow-and-green booth and unwrap your Midwestern delicacy, trust me, you’ll understand why the locals love this place.