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A Newcomer's Eating Tour of Omaha

There's so much more to Omaha than just great steaks. Here are Food Network's essential restaurants.

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Welcome to Omaha

Once overlooked as a vast landscape of chain restaurants and Old Italian steakhouses, Omaha, Neb., is now a culinary haven in the Midwest, with a growing number of locally owned restaurants relying on quality produce, meat and cheese from small-production farmers, and a strong craft-brewery scene. We put together our list of must-hit spots in this flourishing food city with the help of some culinary experts: Wendy Bredensteiner of the Omaha Farmers Market, Pastry Chef Kyle Shoemaker of Le Petit Paris Bakery and Roxanne Williams from City Sprouts, a community garden and education center in northern Omaha. 

 

By Kelsey Vala

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Kitchen Table

Think three-course Sunday brunch sounds too lavish? Kitchen Table in downtown Omaha will change that. Run by husband-and-wife team Jessica and Colin Duggan, the seasonally focused restaurant serves modern comfort food made almost entirely in-house with local ingredients, from the levain bread they use for their sandwiches to the house ricotta and pickled produce. Take, for example, the Meatloaf Sandwich: an extra-thick slice of meatloaf on toasted housemade levain bread piled with melting white cheddar, a slick of steak sauce and aioli, and house-pickled carrots and celery. As for that brunch, morning options include hot brown-rice cereal with nut butter and maple syrup, savory granola with yogurt, and fluffy ricotta pancakes.

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The Grey Plume

This sleek, fine-dining establishment in Omaha’s Midtown Crossing has helped put Omaha on the national culinary map with its warm hospitality and artfully imaginative contemporary cuisine. Chef-owner Clayton Chapman brings a seasonal community-driven approach to food by working with local farmers to source ingredients and collaborating with local artists to make dishware and glasses. Though the menu changes frequently, one excellent mainstay is the Whole Roasted Blue Valley Steelhead Trout, served with creme fraiche spatzle. The charcuterie board is a mosaic of house-cured meats, including duck prosciutto, 'nduja and pork heart pastrami, as well as local cheeses. Nebraska takes its beef seriously, and The Grey Plume doesn’t disappoint: The beef tartare and the Davey Road Ranch organic beef prepared four ways (short rib, brisket, sausage and collared steak) are exceptional ways to experience the state’s best meat. 

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Block 16

For a small sandwich shop, Block 16 has had a huge impact on the city’s culinary growth, luring hungry crowds from throughout town for their sandwiches, burgers, international street food and fries. Creativity pays off here: Gangsta Fries with chipotle drizzle, green onions and crisp pork rinds are a meal in themselves, and the Croque Garcon Burger reinvents the classic croque madam sandwich, with cheese, ham, a fried farm egg, mustard and truffle mayonnaise on ciabatta. Just don’t overlook the sandwich special, which changes daily and is always tantalizing.

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