There’s an old statistic that bounces around in Nebraska: Omaha has the most restaurants per capita of any city of comparable size (around 1 million people in the metro area). The factoid is repeated over and over, and its accuracy has ceased to matter. It persists as a point of pride, a rallying call for the state’s largest city, where locals love eating out.
Above all, Omahans love steak, medium rare, few exceptions. The city’s elderly purveyor, Johnny’s Café, is a century-old south Omaha staple, though it gracefully shares the limelight with some of the city’s newer hotspots, like Committee Chophouse, where classics like the Delmonico and the chateaubriand have found new traction. But Omaha isn’t all about meat. In 2023, the city celebrated its first James Beard Award finalist, David Utterback, who is making some of the most notable sushi in the Midwest at Yoshitomo and Ota, as well as yakitori at Koji.
Like many cities, Omaha lost restaurants during the pandemic, and restaurateurs still face a lot of challenges, especially staffing. Prices are higher too. But owners and chefs have persisted, and dining remains a central focus in the city, where you can find blue crab maltagliati, Burmese ramen, fast food-style seitan burgers, farm-to-cone ice cream, and of course, plenty of beef.
This article originally appeared on Eater.com.
The 38 Best Restaurants in Omaha
16901 Wright Plaza #173, Omaha, NE 68130, (402) 932-3078
Dante is known for its wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, but the restaurant also serves some of the best modern Italian cuisine in Omaha. The menu features seasonal specials, house-made pastas, an all Italian wine list, a succinct lineup of original craft cocktails, and a butterscotch budino that’s one of the city’s most notable desserts. Dante also serves as a hopping west Omaha nightlife spot, where the crowd keeps things fun.
120 Regency Pkwy #124, Omaha, NE 68114, (402) 932-3078
Kinaara is serving some of the most luxe Indian in Omaha, now in a new, much larger dining room. Co-owners Ashish Sathyan and Kimberly Harris have expanded the menu, adding a popular wagyu beef coconut fry that features locally raised Morgan Ranch beef chuck cubes, sliced coconut, ginger, garlic, red onion, garam masala, and black pepper. Sathyan plans to add a tasting menu, available by reservation only.
The Bagel Bin
1215 S 119th St, Omaha, NE 68144, (402) 334-2744
For more than 40 years, the Bagel Bin — Omaha’s premier kosher bakery — has been serving up New York-style bagels using the Brezack family’s Polish recipes. You’ll find a range of flavors from standard to niche, including everything, onion, blueberry, egg, cinnamon apple, and salt. At lunch, the egg and tuna salad bagel melt is especially popular, as is the pizza bagel. Savory and sweet kugels are available, too.
8718 Pacific St, Omaha, NE 68114, (531) 721-2626
David Utterback has earned recognition for his sushi work, but at Koji he concentrates on a small but solid list of yakitori. The menu features various cuts of chicken, octopus, and an ever-rotating list of specialty cuts that sell out quickly each night. There are fun shareable appetizers too, like a twist on Korean cheese corn, as well as several made-to-order hand rolls.
El Basha Mediterranean Grill
7503 Pacific St, Omaha, NE 68114, (402) 934-6266
Fresh chopped herbs add bright flavor to almost every dish at El Basha, a homey Mediterranean spot. A falafel wrap with dill pickle and tahini is a standout, as are the house-made dips, including baba ganoush and hummus. Warming lentil soup is wonderful in the winter, and meat lovers will enjoy the kebabs and gyros.
2121 S 73rd St, Omaha, NE 68124, (402) 391-7440
The Drover exemplifies the Nebraska cowboy vibe more than any other old-school steakhouse in Omaha. Come for the Western-themed artwork and whiskey-marinated beef, including a well-known bone-in rib-eye, which is enormous. If you’re not looking to splurge on steak, the kitchen also serves a great burger and fries. Either way, opt for the salad bar, with its cold metal plates and thousand island dressing.
Blue & Fly Asian Kitchen
721 S 72nd St suite 111, Omaha, NE 68114, (402) 504-6545
Blue and Fly remains one of the best casual Chinese spots in Omaha. The restaurant doesn’t look like much, but it boasts a two-part menu of traditional Chinese selections next to more Americanized options. Among the fan favorites are sauteed bok choy, mapo tofu, and scrambled egg and tomato. A white board on the wall features a rotating list of specials, and it’s worth inquiring what the kitchen has going on. The restaurant also offers delivery and curbside pickup.
6205 Maple St, Omaha, NE 68104, (402) 932-0038
Krug Park, a once uber-trendy beer bar in Benson, has settled comfortably into middle age. Warm wood and flattering lighting pair well with a solid, well-curated list of taps and an interesting list of mostly original cocktails — though the bartenders at Krug can also serve up a well-executed classic. It’s a neighborhood staple for a reason.
6109 Maple St, Omaha, NE 68104, (402) 558-2482
Ika was one of the city’s first ramen spots, and it has grown now to four locations spread around the city and its suburbs, even expanding during the pandemic. It’s known for dishes like rich pork tonkotsu, a bright green Mary Jane ramen served with chicken, a bowl of super spicy “hot noods,” and killer poke and donburi bowls served with rice, raw or cooked protein, and sauces. Don’t sleep on the cocktail list, either; two of the locations have underground speakeasies attached.
Au Courant Regional Kitchen
6064 Maple St, Omaha, NE 68104, (402) 505-9917
Au Courant offers diners the choice of two experiences: a $75 chef-driven tasting menu created by chef de cuisine Anthony “Chovy” Caniglia or an a la carte menu that rotates seasonally. To truly experience the kitchen’s cabilities, go for the tasting menu, which features greatest hits like Chovy’s Egg — a rotating, egg-centric dish that’s always on the docket — nicely prepared proteins, and innovative preparations of in-season vegetables.
6009 Maple St, Omaha, NE 68104, (402) 916-5872
Omaha’s first James Beard finalist in the Best Chef: Midwest category, David Utterback is preparing some of the city’s most exciting fish, getting the best he can fresh before aging it, pickling it, smoking it, and searing it. Yoshitomo’s regular menu offers several experiences, including nigiri and sashimi, a small chef’s choice selection, and rolls. It’s at Ota, next door, where Utterback now exclusively does his reservation-only omakase service, and it’s popular enough to have gained a sizable waiting list.
5013 Underwood Ave, Omaha, NE 68132, (402) 933-7400
Chef and restaurateur Dario Schicke decided to close his namesake Dario’s Brasserie in 2022 to focus solely on his neighborhood Northern Italian spot, Avoli Osteria, a choice that has benefited the latter restaurant a lot. Avoli was one of Omaha’s first restaurants to focus on house-made pasta, and it still does, with regular rotating pasta specials like eggy tajarin and rich carbonara. The dry-aged rib-eye is also worth trying.
4952 Dodge St, Omaha, NE 68132, (402) 850-7585
Salad doesn’t get discussed much in a town so focused on meat, but the kale salad at Lola’s is and should be a draw; it’s studded with spiced almonds and raw jalapenos, and dashed with a lemon-forward Caesar dressing. Though Lola’s is located inside a locally owned movie theater, it draws a crowd of its own for a brunch of eggs, great pastries, and tasty coffee, and there’s a remarkably good roast chicken in the evening.
Saddle Creek Breakfast Club
1540 N Saddle Creek Rd, Omaha, NE 68104, (402) 932-5970
Saddle Creek Breakfast Club serves higher end and vegan versions of diner breakfast classics, including banana pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and a handful of Mexican-inspired dishes. The restaurant is more popular than ever, with plans for a second location further west to open later this year.
1102 NW Radial Hwy, Omaha, NE 68132, (402) 884-5375
Salween started as a favorite of Midtowners for takeout pad thai after work, but it has slowly expanded into the largest Thai chain in the city, now with four locations. Along with the pad thai, the most popular dishes include Panang curry and drunken noodles, though there are some hidden gems on the menu, including a warming coconut chicken noodle soup and meaty, spicy larb.
La Casa Pizzaria
4432 Leavenworth St, Omaha, NE 68105, (402) 556-6464
La Casa inspires two emotions in most residents: devotion or abhorrence, and nothing in between. The pizza’s thin, biscuity crust has a flaky edge and the restaurant offers the option to add pungent Romano cheese; those two elements together bring out strong opinions. The restaurant also serves other Italian American classics, like fried ravioli, cannoli, meaty lasagna, and calzones.
Kathmandu Momo Station
3924 1/2 Farnam St, Omaha, NE 68131, (402) 594-6004
Since it opened, Kathmandu Momo Station has kept its menu and its focus refreshingly small: three types of momos (vegetarian, chicken, and pork), a small selection of sauces, and a few other dishes, like tea leaf salad and coconut shrimp. Don’t miss co-owner Aagya Subedi’s Burmese ramen.The original Blackstone location shares space with Scriptown Brewing, and there’s a second inside Inner Rail Food Hall.
3921 Farnam St, Omaha, NE 68131, (402) 913-2399
Everything at Coneflower is made in-house down to the sprinkles and the warm chocolate chip cookies that hug the ice cream sandwiches. Flavors include classics like vanilla and chocolate, of course, but also more exciting options like halva and honeycomb. The original location in Blackstone remains popular, but there’s also a second downtown.
3902 Farnam St, Omaha, NE 68131, (402) 991-6767
Nite Owl, a restaurant and bar designed to look like a cooler version of your grandparents’ basement, is a new-school dive. The bar serves a great namesake burger and house-cut fries, meaty and vegan sliders, and an endlessly creative lineup of drinks. Look out for cocktails like the Tijuana Brass, made with mezcal, tequila reposado, serrano, ginger, lime, cilantro, and allspice. Or go for the on-tap Suffering Bastard, made with dry gin, apple brandy, ginger, lime, and bitters.
The Committee Chophouse
302 S 36th St, Omaha, NE 68131, (402) 810-9500
Omaha’s historic Blackstone Hotel — the purported origin of the Reuben sandwich — has been reinvented in the past few years, complete with a popular pool club and a cocktail bar, the Cottonwood Room. In the Committee Chophouse, diners find vintage cuts like the Delmonico and the chateaubriand next to reimagined old-school side dishes like potatoes Lyonnaise and creamed spinach. The restaurant’s take on the classic Reuben, served at the more casual Orleans Room in the lobby, has a hint of vinegary mustard that cuts right through the rich sauerkraut and Russian dressing.
3578 Farnam St, Omaha, NE 68131, (402) 345-1708
The Crescent Moon is known locally for its excellent Reuben sandwich. (Legend has it the Reuben was invented across the street at the former Blackstone Hotel, now the Cottonwood.) In recent years, the restaurant has expanded on the classic sandwich with items like Reuben egg rolls, a product of the restaurant’s annual Reuben Fest. The Moon is part of Beer Corner USA, a quartet of connected, beer-focused businesses that also includes Huber Haus (which serves Bavarian snacks and German beer in boots), Max & Joe’s (which focuses on Belgian beer), and beer store Beertopia.
The Mill on Leavenworth
3105 Leavenworth St, Omaha, NE 68105, (402) 252-5588
Lots of Omahans went to college at the University of Nebraska’s Lincoln campus, where they fell in love with the Mill, a cafe with several locations around Lincoln. Old Mill fans and new ones are making their way to the first location in Omaha, which roasts its own beans and makes some of the brand’s signature favorites, including a granita, which is, essentially, a sweet coffee Icee. The Omaha location also has the chain’s first drive-thru.
3157 Farnam St Suite 7113, Omaha, NE 68131, (402) 614-6481
Chef and cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s vegan comfort food includes staples like mac and shews (made with cashew cheese), seitan and cauliflower versions of Buffalo wings, and a house-made seitan burger that’s a dupe for a fast food classic. Her decadent desserts, including cheesecake, thick milkshakes, and pie, are favorites among vegans and omnivores.
Big Mama’s Kitchen and Catering
2112 North 30th Street, Accelerator Suite 201, Omaha, NE 68111, (402) 455-6262
Originally opened by the late Patricia “Big Mama” Barron, Big Mama’s is now run by Barron’s daughter, Gladys Harrison, who saw the business into a new, busy location in 2020. The restaurant maintains Barron’s home-style cooking centered around family recipes, including a century-old skillet cornbread recipe, along with mac and cheese, fried catfish, sweet potato pie ice cream, and a signature oven-fried chicken tossed in a secret spice blend.
Dinker’s Bar and Grill
2368 S 29th St, Omaha, NE 68105, (402) 342-9742
Dinker’s is a neighborhood bar devoted to two things: good burgers and the Creighton Bluejays. One flattop grill is entirely devoted to crisping buns for burgers, including several well-known variations, like the haystack burger topped with ham, cheese, and a fried egg, or the Bluejay burger, made with melted Swiss, smoked bacon, and a thick blue cheese dressing. Bring cash.
4702 S 27th St, Omaha, NE 68107, (402) 731-4774
Frank Kawa, a Polish immigrant, opened Johnny’s Café in south Omaha a century ago, and today, his family still runs the state’s most iconic steakhouse. Located in the Union Stockyards area, once the home of the largest livestock market in the country, the restaurant greets diners with a lobby full of memorabilia and menus from the past. The kitchen is known for prime rib, soups, and the house salad dressing. Go for a classic cocktail in the cowboy-themed bar, and stay for the Midwestern hospitality.
5134 S 24th St, Omaha, NE 68107, (402) 734-1555
Nestled on South 24th Street, El Dorado is known for its parrilladas, extensive grilled platters. Go for the seafood option, stacked with fresh fish, shellfish, assorted seafood, sauces, garnishes, and house-made tortillas. The restaurant also serves seafood a la carte, including fresh oysters, ceviche, and seafood stews, along with a full menu of breakfast options, fajitas, and tacos. On weekends, catch a boisterous live mariachi band in the evening.
1611 Farnam St, Omaha, NE 68106, (402) 342-1220
Chef-owners Paul and Jessica Urban, both trained in fine dining, produce some of the most creative daily lunch specials anywhere in Omaha. Options range from standard, like a killer Nashville hot chicken sandwich, to creative, like a Xi’an Famous Foods-inspired burrito filled with spicy cumin wagyu beef, local cheese curds, cilantro slaw, fried jalapeno, griddled local duck egg, house Fresno hot sauce, and fried potatoes in a giant tortilla.
329 S 16th St #3, Omaha, NE 68102, (402) 999-7448
You wouldn’t necessarily think of a craft cocktail bar as the spot to get a plate of house-made pasta or a solid burger, but Mercury manages to turn out excellent versions of both. A convenient pre- or post-show option for folks headed to the historic Orpheum Theater, Mercury offers an exciting menu of pappardelle with red wine, pork and beef bolognese, and maltagliati with rough-cut pasta, blue crab, beurre blanc, dill, and Calabrian chile. Drink menus, like a recent one with a Kama Sutra theme, are playful but well-executed.
Fizzy’s Fountain & Liquors
1408 S 13th St, Omaha, NE 68108, (402) 916-4144
Fizzy’s was one of the last Omaha restaurants to open in spring 2020 before the pandemic hit. After a few years finding its footing, it has become a popular, adults-only retro diner. The experience comes complete with TV dinner-style entrees, boozy shakes and retro cocktails, and a regular lineup of fun menus like Emo Brunch or the Pulp Fiction-themed Pulp Fizzys.
Tiny House Bar
1411 S 13th St, Omaha, NE 68105, (402) 715-5115
Co-owner Megan Malone churns out inventive cocktails at this Little Bohemia bar, which is actually located inside a tiny old house turned funky hangout space. Her oft politically titled cocktails (the Obama Sex Dream is now a classic of its time) join seasonal rotating drinks, like the recent Flaming Cottontail Martini, made with dragon fruit, jalapeno gin, and raspberry. In the summer, the patio is especially welcoming; in the winter, an outdoor heated igloo is the way to go. The bar also regularly hosts comedy shows, movie nights, and drag performances.
1419 S 13th St #101, Omaha, NE 68108
Now expanded into a trio of coffee shops in Little Bohemia, Blackstone, and Millwork Commons, Archetype Coffee continues to up the city’s coffee game. Under the guidance of owner and head barista Isaiah Sheese, who has competed in the U.S. Coffee Championships several times, the cafe teams produce reliable staples like cappuccinos, lattes, and pour overs in an inviting atmosphere perfect for daytime meetings and remote workers. House-roasted beans are a popular takeaway item, especially the signature Home blend.
The Boiler Room
1110 Jones St, Omaha, NE 68102, (402) 916-9274
Like so many spots in Nebraska, the Boiler Room is about meat, though it’s not quite your usual steakhouse. Chef Tim Nicholson and his crew turn out cured charcuterie, house-made sausages, pork belly, and a lot of wagyu, all paired with second-to-none wines and cocktails. And if you’re a seafood lover, don’t sleep on the crudo. The industrial dining room is cut from the actual boiler room of a downtown warehouse, and sitting in the unusual, art-filled space is always a pleasure.
422 S 11th St, Omaha, NE 68102, (402) 342-2550
Long-time M’s Pub staffer Marta Keller purchased the restaurant from its original owner, Ann Mellen, who retired in 2022. Keller and head chef Jared Combs have kept things mostly the same. Fan favorites include staple sandwiches made with beef and pork, lavash cracker pizzas, and baked shrimp coated in sizzling, melted Havarti. Regularly rotating specials keep diners coming back, including duck and smoked pork, along with an ever-changing selection of house-made soups.
La Buvette Wine & Grocery
511 S 11th St, Omaha, NE 68102, (402) 344-8627
La Buvette is, in a word, thriving. The restaurant started as a deli counter in the mid-1990s before transitioning into a Parisian-inspired restaurant, but it returned to its deli roots during the pandemic. The owners followed that up with a sister business, Mercer and Sons, where they sell sandwiches, meats and cheeses, house-made bread, and bagels in an adjacent space. The restaurant’s once-temporary patio has become permanent and available year-round. The daily rotating menu of specials focuses on everyday French fare: mussels, roasted chicken, cheese plates, house-made sausage, and well-priced wine.
1017 Howard St, Omaha, NE 68102, (402) 502-6816
With an artistic, new French atmosphere and an ever-changing selection of interesting natural wines, this spot in the heart of the Old Market has become a downtown staple. Highlights include the Bouillon burger, a juicy roast chicken, and a revamped version of the French onion soup that was served years ago at the French Cafe, the long-running business that formerly inhabited the same location. Le Bouillon’s sister wine shop next door is a popular choice for afternoon tastings.
1022 Howard St, Omaha, NE 68102, (402) 345-8980
V. Mertz is the grandmother of Old Market dining, and it has been a popular choice for romantic nights out and special occasions since 1977. Under head chef Jonathan Miller, a Nebraska native, the kitchen focuses on seasonal and local flavors with interesting twists. A recent tasting menu featured halibut served with grilled Chinese broccoli, black garlic, and marinated cauliflower. All this happens in one of the most beautiful dining rooms anywhere in the city.
Umami Asian Cuisine
1504 Galvin Rd S, Bellevue, NE 68005, (402) 991-8822
Umami is one of only a few spots in Omaha to offer an omakase experience. Sit at the sushi bar and New York transplant Keen Zheng, who left Manhattan and the Michelin-starred Sushi Nakazawa for a suburb of Omaha, may be the one making your food. The restaurant also serves a reliable menu of cooked Chinese and Thai dishes, as well as sushi rolls, nigiri, and sashimi for both dine in and takeout.