Omaha is home to a fantastic culinary scene. The vast number of authentic restaurants with inventive menus might surprise you. If you think Omaha is a sleepy little town on the prairie, you’ll be shocked (in a good way) when you discover all the mouthwatering eateries there. There’s something for everyone on the Omaha food scene.
These days, many of the local restaurants either have patios or are figuring out how to get patios because so many people love outdoor dining. Especially with the big outdoor heaters, it’s quite possible to dine al fresco most months of the year, even in Omaha. Once spring hits, Omaha outdoor dining really heats up, so my advice is to try to get a reservation for the patio or to go early and get on the waitlist.
Here are some of my favorite Omaha spots for outdoor dining.
Jams has been an Omaha favorite for years. Billing itself as an American grill, Jams has three different locations in town. The original is located in central Omaha, but there’s also one out west in the Legacy shopping area and one downtown in the Old Market. I usually go to the central Omaha location because it’s closest to my home, but there is no outdoor seating there. However, the Legacy location and the Old Market location both have good outdoor spaces. Legacy has a large patio with quite a few tables (complete with umbrellas, so there’s no need to worry about the sun). And at night, it’s really pretty with all the string lights. The Old Market location’s outdoor area is a cozy patio.
I’ve been to all three Jams locations multiple times — it’s one of my favorite chains in Omaha — and the food is scrumptious. I almost always get the coconut chicken salad. It’s incredible! The onion ring appetizer is fantastic, too, as are the Midtown Meatloaf and the Skyscraper Sandwich. There’s a great happy hour during the week complete with $7 martinis. And on Saturday and Sunday mornings, you can enjoy bottomless mimosas.
La Buvette, a small French grocery store and wine bar located in the historic Old Market area, tops the list of best outdoor dining spots in Omaha. It’s absolutely overflowing with charm and is a favorite of almost everyone in town. While there is indoor seating, the best way to experience La Buvette is to grab a table on the patio and settle in.
We’ve been here countless times and always love the ambience — it’s just a great patio! We were recently at La Buvette for coffee on a Saturday morning, and the simple coffee was some of the best I’ve ever had. Food service starts at 11:30 a.m., and tables fill up fast! Feel free to browse around inside and grab a bottle of wine to enjoy with your meal or take home.
Pro Tip: Make sure to check out the fresh-baked bread. I grabbed an olive-and-garlic-stuffed loaf the last time I was there, and it was incredible.
Inner Rail Food Hall
Inner Rail Food Hall is a newer Omaha spot that I really like. It’s an indoor/outdoor food court-type place situated on the grounds of the old Aksarben racetrack (yes — that’s Nebraska spelled backward!). You walk in and order at the counter at the restaurant of your choice. You’re then given a pager that lights up when your order is ready. So there’s no waiting around for any servers and no tipping!
What I really like about the hall is that there’s a lot of variety. So if you and your dinner partner are craving different things, you can each grab whatever grub you’re feeling and still have dinner together.
I especially like Noli’s Pizzeria. It’s nice because you can order a slice or two of different kinds of pizza. The crust is thin and crispy — just the way I like it. Recently, we tried the Kathmandu Momo Station for ramen and momos. Momos are traditional Nepalese dumplings. We split an order of pork ramen and 10 momos and had plenty to eat. I am always down for trying new foods, and both dishes had good flavor. I will say that the momo dipping sauce was heavy on the curry, so if you’re not a curry fan, keep this in mind. I’m looking forward to going back and trying something else.
In addition, there are quite a few other restaurants to choose from, including Maharani Indian Kitchen, which serves excellent chicken tikka masala, and a really popular burger restaurant, B Squared Burger. There’s also an awesome bakery, Culprit Cafe, where you can grab a sandwich on fresh-baked bread. You can definitely bring the whole crew to Inner Rail, and everyone will find something they like.
Inner Rail also has a full bar. As far as seating, you can opt to sit inside or outside on the huge patio. We sat outside near one of the fire pits, which kept us perfectly warm.
M’s Pub is another favorite located in Omaha’s Old Market. It has been at its present location since the 1970s and has a very loyal following. In fact, people were heartbroken when M’s was hit with a devastating fire a few years ago and had to shut its doors to rebuild. Thankfully, with the rebuild, they were able to replicate almost every detail, so it’s still the same perfect spot.
I love M’s inside and out, but the small, very pretty patio out front is my favorite. You can dine while listening to the street musicians nearby. All types of people come here, from college students to retirees. If you can’t get a table on the patio, you’ll love the warm and inviting space inside the historic building. It’s got a really European feel.
For starters, have a glass of wine and one of their baked dishes. I usually go for the baked shrimp scampi, sometimes followed by an order of lahvosh. Their Thai lahvosh is especially spicy and good. If you’re feeling adventurous, go for the most unusual thing on the menu — the carrot dog! It’s an actual carrot, grilled and marinated and served in a bun. I’ve never had it, but it’s been on the menu forever, so people must love it!
Situated in a historic building in the Benson neighborhood, 1912 Benson is one of my favorite summer dining spots. Inside, on the first level, you’ll find plenty of seating and a large bar. A cool feature of this level is the front wall. It’s built like a garage door, so it actually opens up. When the weather is nice and the door is open, a breeze blows through the restaurant. The inside of the place is just fine, but in my opinion, you really need to grab a table and park yourself on the rooftop deck. It overlooks Maple Street and is amazing! It’s a super fun atmosphere, especially when the sun goes down. Order a drink at the rooftop bar and relax outside.
They do offer a full menu as well. We’ve tried numerous items and especially like their sweet potato poutine and delicious pulled-pork nachos. On weekends from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., they offer a full brunch menu, including lemon pound cake French toast, homemade beignets, and mimosa flights!
Saddle Creek Breakfast Club
Saddle Creek Breakfast Club is an award-winning spot that serves up creative breakfast and lunch dishes in a modern atmosphere. This is a small restaurant with a small outdoor dining area, so chances are you’ll have to wait for a table, but it’s worth it. Everything here is darn good, and I just love their take on breakfast. They do different dishes, not just the same old bacon and eggs. I like the Crab Cake Benny, which is their take on eggs Benedict. But their famous banana pancakes are the best of all. I was craving some sugar the last time I went to Saddle Creek. I went for those decadent banana pancakes, and I was not disappointed!
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