What To Eat in Nebraska
The word “runza” has been trademarked by a fast food chain out of Lincoln, but the German/Russian meat-filled pastry pocket from which the name was derived is found throughout eastern Nebraska, where it is called bierock, Go Cart, or, simply, cabbage burger. A must-eat! Omaha is home not only to impressive steak dinners, but to a unique specialty known as the cheese frenchie, which is a cornflake-crusted, deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich. Up in the northwest, look for extraordinarily good Mexican food – a legacy of farm workers who migrated here generations ago.
The bierock is a gift of Volga Germans, a group of immigrants who originally fled Germany for Russia, but then came here from Russia to escape communism. They brought with them recipes for a baked yeast-dough bread pocket filled with beef, cabbage or sauerkraut, and onions. These portable meals, which are similar to the Upper Midwest's pasties, were a favorite lunch among farm workers; and today they are served at Church suppers and fund-raisers throughout Nebraska and Kansas.
Cheese frenchees are an Omaha specialty: grilled cheese sandwiches dipped in batter, crusted with cornflakes, and deep-fried. Some include mayo, some don’t; many are made on extra-thick Texas toast. The contrast of crunchy exterior and creamy cheese inside makes this a sandwich that is as good for texture as it is for taste.
Scottsbluff, Nebraska, has been home to immigrants from Texas and Mexico for nearly a century; and it boasts restaurants that reflect that southwestern flavor. The custom in many of them is to flash-fry corn chips and tortillas so they puff up in the oil and become as three-dimensional as a sopaipilla – airy breadstuffs with fragile skin. As simple chips, they're great, and as shells for tacos, their pillowy character adds crispy-chewy pleasure to every bite.
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Crystal Cafe is a 24/7 truck stop restaurant at the Iowa-Nebraska border serving hearty meals and high-rise cream pies.
Stylish interpretations of traditional cafe fare made with seasonal & local ingredients make SCBC a coveted destination among food-savvy Omahans.
Omaha's Lithuanian Bakery is famous for a spectacular Napoleon torte; it's also a source of kolaches, cookies, breads, and cakes.
11-Worth is a spacious vintage Omaha coffee shop known for especially giant breakfasts and hot sandwiches -- all with plenty of gravy.
Breads, pastries, rolls, and cakes are at their best in Omaha's Olsen Bake Shop. Must-eats include strudels, turnovers, kolaches, and all-American donuts.
An Omaha coffee house with masterful espresso and drip brews, Amateur Coffee is strictly vegan, including gluten-free waffles and oat milk for coffee.
A big, efficient bakery and three-meal-a-day restaurant, Wheatfields has a broad menu with something for everyone. We like the savory meat loaf sundae.
Harold's is a bright, happy, mid-20th century urban coffee shop with great pies, donuts, and hot breakfast as well as heartland square meals for lunch.
Johnny’s has been Omaha’s steak house since 1922, a grand-scale restaurant where beef rules: steaks, chops, ribs, liver, even sweetbreads and chicken-fried steak.