Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Manhattan Deli

222 South 19th Street (between Farnam and Douglas)
Omaha, NE 68102
(402) 346-9764
Breakfast 7-10, lunch 10-3, Monday thru Friday
Manhattan Deli on Urbanspoon

Manhattan Deli, under fairly new ownership

Do I like stuff simply because they reference New York? Um, maybe. But who cares. Manhattan Deli has an admirable offering of soups and sandwiches, and cashiers named "Baby Face," according to the receipt. Inside, the wooden details and high ceilings made me feel like I was dining at some bank clerk's desk in 1929. The sandwiches arrived in three minutes flat; here's an alternative for those in love with that despicable Jimmy John's. And that sums it up: Simple, fast, inexpensive, fun. Try it. Next time I roll out of bed in time to catch their breakfast, I'm so there.

The Stork Club:
Turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, ranch (on the side), on marble rye

The Rockefeller:
Roast beef, cream cheese, cucumber, tomato, on marble rye

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wohlner's Neighborhood Grocery & Deli

2289 South 67th Street (in the heart of the developer's dream, Aksarben Village)
Omaha, NE 68106
(402) 551-6875
Breakfast 'til 11am, lunch 'til 3:30, dinner 'til 7:30 or so, see website for details

Wholner's French Dip--
Roast beef, sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, toasted hoagie roll, au jus,
side of tomato bisque soup that was tasty but served room temp,
and if I was over age 65 I totally would have sent it back. 
"Noddle" Special (a "tribute" to the company who owns Aksarben Village?)--
Penne tossed with olive and artichoke tapenade, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, parmesan, grilled salmon filet,
looks great, tastes like nothing.

I'm a Whole Foods loving dork. Yeah, make your jokes about how expensive it is and how it's stuff white people like, but if Omaha didn't have a Whole Foods, I wouldn't live here. A supermarket where you don't have to read the labels to make sure you're not poisoning yourself is truly great. To suggest the steep prices aren't worth it is like telling me you know a friend who could have done my tattoos for way less than I paid--a comment I regularly encounter, by the way. Point is, cheaper is not better when it comes to your body, and I am a fan of Wohlner's not because it's "Omaha's oldest grocery store," but because they carry some decent stuff, their inventory representing a sort of Whole Foods/Baker's hybrid. The food at their restaurant is also half good, half bad. Check out their presentation of the French Dip. It's on a chic square plate, but with the soup and au jus in styrofoam bowls, a curious combo of classy and wasteful. The meat was half flavorful brisket, half inedible fat that should have been trimmed off to avoid the spitting after every bite. The "Noddle Special" had a fancy description but turned up with minced ingredients and zero seasoning. At Wohlner's they've got high prices and long waits (over ten bucks per person and more than a twenty minute wait), with food prepared by someone who doesn't eat food, perhaps an alien or something. That's all I can think about a piece of grilled salmon that hasn't been salt and peppered, and beef that is so tough and fatty your average old person would totally choke on it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lithuanian Bakery & Kafe

7427 Pacific Street
Omaha, NE 68114
(402) 391-3503
Open Monday thru Friday 8am to 6pm, Saturday 8am to 4pm, closed Sundays

Get your spätzle, your Black Forest cake mix, your mustard. And no old European ladies butting in front of you in line, it's fantastic.  
Giant loaves of fresh and day-old rye available for purchase. 
Bread N Butter

Lunch time comes, and many Omahans flock to their burger and barbecue joints. The Lithuanian Bakery & Kafe, nestled in a parking lot eclipsed by McKenna's BBQ and with the bustling BrewBurgers nearby, holds its own during this hour. Nearly every table was full with an assortment of families, business dudes and hausfraus by the time the clock struck one. And then there was us. Service was slow and dishes were served in a curiously staggered manner, but it allowed us a chance to sample each other's grub. Unlike the plates served by L B & K's neighbors, expect portions you can actually finish. The pastrami and Swiss sandwich was not of the towering NYC deli variety, and the cup of soup may have actually been a proper eight ounces of liquid. $7.50 will get you a Kielbasa, a Bratwurst or a Knackwurst, a scoop of potato salad and a serving of sauerkraut, which may seem like a hefty price, but guess what guys: This is the real deal. My complaints are trivial; I wished I didn't have to settle for Gulden's mustard when there was perfectly good Löwensenf on the supermarket shelf across the room. The famous Napoleonas Torte was just a tad dry, and the sauce (an extra 50 cents) was extremely sweet, but what the heck, it's chocolate raspberry sauce after all. Overall this is a Must Try for anyone wanting an authentic taste of Eastern Europe, which is obviously everyone, right?

P.S. I did some research and found that about 1% of Lithuanians are vegetarian. This is represented on the menu with the veggie sandwich. Just FYI.

Meet Borscht. It's better than it looks. You might expect it to taste like chalk and be good for upset stomachs and diarrhea. But in fact, this chilled beet soup is perfect for Omaha summer, in all its dill-y creamy glory. 
Big fan of Split Pea, y'all. This one is pretty good.
Kielbasa, Kraut, and Potato Salad. 
Boiled Bratwurst with Chips, cuz, why not? Best Brat around. 
Pastrami and Swiss on Rye with that creamy potato salad with hints of vinegar and slivers of boiled egg.
Legit as sh*t. 
Chocolate Raspberry Napoleonas Torte with Chocolate Raspberry Sauce--
Just woke up from the sugar coma. 
Napoleonas Torte with Apricot Amaretto Sauce--
"I'm not a cake person," says one of us as he shovels this in his mouth.
The Pastry Case with a rare view of... Me. 
Ritter Sport chocolates. Take me back to D-land. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kurry Xpress

10841 Q Street (Southwest corner of 108th and Q, tucked inside a strip mall)
Omaha, NE 68137
(402) 934-5054
Open for lunch and dinner, closes in between, closed Mondays

Navratan Korma--
"Mixed vegetables cooked in a kurry sauce and topped with cream," kutting too many korners with the frozen veg.

Chicken Vindaloo. Or something like that.

I'm not afraid of so-called "hole-in-the-wall" places. Bare bones, no frills and inexpensive, sometimes with questionable cleanliness and suspicious service. It's no secret that these kinds of locations often serve up the best-tasting, most authentic and interesting cuisine. That said, it wasn't the lack of music or unexciting atmosphere at Kurry Xpress that bothered me. It wasn't the disposable plates and cutlery, though I do wonder if they are properly equipped to wash their cooking utensils somewhere in the depths of the curtained kitchen. It wasn't the 20 minute wait for my food at this "Xpress," or the extra charge for charging it to your credit card, or the curt counter guy. The problem with this place is the sucky food. There, I said it. This place has fans, and I don't know why. The frozen vegetables in the Navratan Korma were drowning in the extremely thick cream sauce, so much so that it took me a while to figure out which vegetables I was actually eating. The sauce was bland to my taste buds, just a hot and heavy mess of calories I ultimately couldn't justify ingesting. The Chicken Vindaloo was marginally better, though it did remind me of cheap Chinese food, as if the salty sauce came from a packet full of MSG. For a dish known for its spice, it had my tongue tingling about as much as a packet of Taco Bell Fire sauce. The basmati rice was remarkably dry. The star of the meal, and the only thing I finished, was the portion of fried onion strings that came on my styrofoam plate.

The Indian hot bar at Whole Foods blows the socks off this place. And so, the search for the best Indian cuisine in Omaha continues... Please don't make me stock my freezer with Tandoor Chef and Ethnic Gourmet!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Stoysich House of Sausage

2532 South 24th Street
Omaha, NE 68108
(402) 341-7260
Open Monday thru Saturday, 9am to 5:30pm

We got a Bratwurst and a Danish Apple sausage.

As demonstrated recently by my trip to Baker's, it can be difficult to find high quality interesting foods at the local supermarket chain. Unless your preferred bread is Wonder and you like your food in thick packaging, you might want to branch out here and there and shop for food at other vendors. Stoysich House of Sausage--not to be confused with Frank Stoysich Meats at 51st and Q--has been churning out a variety of sausages and other products for a very long time. Family owned, using locally raised meats, with imported spices, from recipes handed down through generations, by a very large man in a white blood smeared smock. Sounds swell, dudnit? Unfortunately, the three sausages we sampled were consistently quite gross. Thick and packed so full you could barely sink your teeth into them. These were Brats on steroids, the bigger badder American version. Not good.

So don't expect delectable sausage, but do expect a new grocery shopping experience. There was a fantastic selection of house-made salads, smoked jerkies, fresh cuts of meat, a whole shelf of pickled things, an admirable selection of microbrews and imported beers, and products like potato pancakes and spätzle. Just like in the Old Country.

Don't do it! I know you want to though...
"Cuban Reuben" Sausage with Onions, Peppers, Sauerkraut, and Mustard--
You may bite off more than you can chew.

Variety of legit-looking salads

Try a free sample. Or three. 

On that meaty note, let it be known I'll be exploring more vegetarian options in the coming weeks. I'm not really the carnivorous meat freak you might make me out to be. Blame it on the big ole pile of animal bones for sale at Stoysich.