Nebraska

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.

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  • 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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