Joe Tess Place

Review by: Michael Stern


Roadfood warriors Bruce Bilmes and Sue Boyle pointed us to Joe Tess place (no possessive apostrophe), which bills itself as “Home of the Famous Fish Sandwich.” It is a restaurant, tavern, and fresh seafood market on the south side of Omaha that serves a fish little-known on dining tables outside the region: carp. Like the herring that swim upriver in North Carolina, carp are fish-flavored fish that get deep fried long enough that their fine bones become part of the soft, juicy flesh underneath the crunchy batter crust.

Fried pieces of carp are available on rye in the famous sandwich or doubled up in the double fish sandwich. (The connoisseur’s condiment is hot pepper sauce.) Or you can have a dinner-size portion bedded on rye on a plate with cole slaw and discs of cottage-fried potatoes, the latter known here as jacket fries. Catfish is another specialty. Like the carp, mudpuppies are trucked in live from Minnesota and you can see them swim in the tanks of the live fish market. For those with a less adventurous palate, the Joe Tess menu offers chicken (white or dark), grilled salmon, and fried shrimp.

There is a full bar’s worth of beverages to drink, plus the western working man’s version of a bloody Mary, known as red beer: beer and tomato juice. Beside pineapple upside down cake larded with pecans, the dessert menu includes a swell cream cheese bundt cake.

Ambiance is all-fish, all the time and everywhere. The bar is shaped like a boat and walls are decked with taxidermized fish of every size and shape as well as pictures, posters, and nautical memorabilia celebrating underwater life.

What To Eat

Fried Carp


Pineapple Upside Down Cake


Joe Tess Place Recipes


What do you think of Joe Tess Place?

2 Responses to “Joe Tess Place”

John McCaw

July 24th, 2022

Joe Tess Place is listed as “Permanently Closed” on Google, though the restaurant’s webpage and menu are still online. Best to call ahead and verify.


Amy Brock

December 11th, 2008

We recently made our first visit to Joe Tess Place in South Omaha. The food was very good; no complaints there. However, we were given a waitress who, although friendly enough, didn’t wait on us in a timely manner. She was very pleasant though and we tipped her well.

On our second visit we were placed in the upper level of the restaurant, and were given an older waitress who, although efficient enough, was about as pleasant and friendly as a pinecone, but because she was efficient and did her job we left her a decent tip.

We recently made our third and last visit to Joe Tess. We were once again placed in the upper part of the restaurant, and were given a young waitress who had to be asked not once, not twice, but three or more times for simple items and they were NEVER received. She took 15 minutes to acknowledge our existence in her area and then we waited brutally long times for refills. Finally one of us refilled our own drinks at the soda station, because she was obviously never coming back.

It was a horrible experience. Yes, the food was great (it always is) but if they expect to keep good customers they better step up their service because other places with better service have good food as well. I left no tip. I didn’t feel bad about that and I won’t be returning to Joe Tess again. I expect service to gradually IMPROVE when I frequent a place, not steadily DECLINE. Time to move on.


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