Universal Allah figured out the focus of his restaurant after a traveler asked him one simple question: “Where can I find the best burger in Omaha?”
He set out to make it.
At Best Burger, in Florence, Allah and his partner, Ashlei Spivey, serve grass-fed black angus beef patties on brioche buns topped with all the fixings, all homemade. Think a from-scratch sweet Thai slaw, garlic aioli and barbecue sauce, among other toppings. There’s also hand-cut baked sweet potato fries with a secret seasoning blend.
All this comes for around $10 a pop.
“We wanted to open a restaurant that provided high-quality food in an area that experiences food insecurity,” Spivey said. “We wanted to create and build something for our community.”
It’s clear their community is catching on, if the line of cars waiting outside for takeout orders on a recent weeknight is any indication.
It’s also possible that the whole city of Omaha, or at least its wisest diners, are catching on, too. You heard it here first: Don’t sleep on Best Burger.
Aside from being new restaurant owners (Best Burger opened during the COVID-19 pandemic, and hasn’t had a chance to open its full dining room yet), Allah and Spivey are community minded, too. Spivey founded both I Be Black Girl, a collective for black women and girls; and Young Black & Influential Omaha, an Omaha network of influencers and leaders. She also works with Connect Black Omaha, a website devoted to helping black businesses thrive. Allah has a talk show called The Voices of Reason on KPAO TV.
They also know how to make good food.
I’m honestly still thinking about the tender, baked sweet potato fries. Spivey told me later that Allah (who was in on our phone conversation, too) doesn’t even like sweet potato fries (he laughed at that.)
The restaurant serves Zapp’s bagged chips, but Spivey said, correctly, I think, that most diners are programmed to think a burger should come with fries. The restaurant also wanted to offer the neighborhood a healthier option.
So the kitchen slices fresh, skin-on sweet potatoes, seasons them with a special spice blend, then roasts them. The spice blend enhances the vegetable’s natural sweetness and the roasting crisps the edges. They’re just great.
The couple recently expanded the succinct menu to include a few new items: a 5 pack of sliders sized for families to share; the spicy bold and blazin’ burger; and the cheddar over Swiss burger, one we tried. It comes, as the name suggests, loaded with cheese, a nice textural offset to sauteed onions and mushrooms. If you’re a burger lover, you’ll be able to note the differences in earthy flavor and texture that come with grass fed beef, differences I personally like quite a bit.
Word is spreading about Best Burger, thanks in part to a great photograph of Allah eating a burger in front of the Florence mural, right down the street from the restaurant.
“We live two minutes away (from the restaurant),” Spivey said. “Being community minded, we want to work, live and play in our neighborhood. It’s good to see other people are interested in that, too.”