When Cliff Strutz (Roadfood’s “Buffetbuster”) learned I was going to Omaha, he recommended I visit Harold’s Koffee House for its “great Roadfood atmosphere” as well as for cinnamon rolls, donuts, and pies. Bingo! This big, friendly booth-and-counter cafe is an urban Roadfood gem.
Atmosphere? Open since 1958, Harold’s maintains the polite, efficient mien of a vintage urban coffee shop. It’s a big, airy space, full of chatter and good cheer among long-time regulars as well as first-time visitors who are made to feel right at home.
The cinnamon roll is a big heartland beauty demanding knife and fork and mighty appetite. Cake donuts are unmistakably house-made: irregularly shaped, relatively small, so easy to eat by twos and threes with a bottomless cup of coffee. (Donut sundaes add ice cream and chocolate syrup.) One day’s breakfast special is listed on the blackboard as a Whoa-Nut. What a brilliant idea: donut batter dotted with bits of ham poured into a waffle iron. Please pass the syrup!
Like so many coffee shops, Harold’s is known, rightfully, as a breakfast place. Lunch is no slouch. Consider, for example, the hot beef sandwich: a bountiful pile-up of tender beef, stout mashed potatoes, and plenty of gravy atop white bread that turns to savory mush underneath the pile of beefy goodness.
Whatever you eat, do side it with Harold’s potato crisps, which are curls of crisp-fried skin. A few are freighted with a bit of interior potato, while most bites are nothing but salty, spuddy crispness.
I’ve sampled only one pie, and it is a dazzler: coconut meringue. Late morning, my tall slice was still slightly warm, indescribably fragile, crowned with a meringue so light that it wanted to float up into the air.