Hot spots. Think Miami nightclub bottle service. Chicago’s best molecular gastronomy. The plight of getting a table at a Bushwick wood-fire pizza parlor.
Ok, the term “hot spot” might be used a little loosely, but here are some of the places trending in my little world right now in no particular order.
10: Via FarinaThe new concepty concept on everyone’s lips, Via Farina promises to deliver its oven-charred pizzas and house-made pastas to you on a fleet of cute branded vespas. This is the first time to my knowledge that an honest-to-goodness decent pie is available for delivery, and I woulda gladly taken some guy’s beat up Honda over a two-wheeler if this could have happened sooner, but whatever. The prices are way reasonable, the portions good, the flavors excellent—and they’re open ’til 11 on weeknights, which shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is. Pretty stoked on this one, I am.
What, you’re telling me you didn’t know about this sandwich shop and cafe hiding inside the U-Haul depot on the outskirts of the Old Market? The owners have done a fabulous job revamping the interior and shunning the ghosts of numerous unsuccessful eateries in this same location. The food—reminiscent of Parisian baguette street vendors—is deserving of more foot traffic, but what can you say besides c’est la vie.
1217 Leavenworth St
|Ask for a peek at the dim sum guide book at Grand Fortune.|
8: Grand FortuneYou’re greeted at the door by a large fish tank before being seated at a booth with paper placemats that remind you you were born in the Year of the Rat and then you order a pot of tea. But the similarities between this and most other Chinese eateries in Omaha end there. First, there’s the dim sum menu—ask for the book of illustrations if want a visual before you place your order for sesame buns and chicken feet. They’ve also got a wonton soup that will fix everything wrong with your life at that moment. Plus, you can heckle the freaks dining at Twin Peaks next door on your way out.
17330 W Center Rd
|They have reg Chinese, too.|
7: LeadBellyThe waify model-type inside me is grossed out by the name of this place, not to mention the menu that could stand to lose about six entire pages. But if you order right (I had a decent pork sandwich) and focus on the good stuff (ample craft selections on draft), might as well stop by for a patio dining sesh with your dog. Because this place loves dogs. And I in turn love it.
3201 Farnam St
6: La CasitaThe best tacos, sopes, and—dare I say—enchiladas in Omaha are not on South 24th Street. They’re right behind Hanscom Park. If you have not been, I feel sorry for the void of exquisite pinto bean dip in your life. The cafeteria vibe is not for date night, or serious conversations, or yadda yadda yadda. Just go and stuff yourself.
5: John’s Grecian DelightIf you can deal with the post-apocalyptic feels, head to the lower level of Southroads Technology Park in Bellevue (formerly Southroads Mall), where John has been serving gyros, souvlaki, and more for longer than you’ve been alive.
1001 Fort Crook Rd N #110, Bellevue
|My own creation: pork balls with pork ragu over risotto. It was one of those "panic when the server comes over for the fifth time and just spit out an order" things.|
|Blackstone Meatball also has good veg.|
4: Blackstone Meatball
3910 Harney St
|Combo Platter at Hiatt Family BBQ|
|I presume they smoke things in here.|
3: Hiatt Family BBQGet all the charm of a South O BBQ "shack" without any of the "shack" grit! In addition to keeping a spotless open kitchen (unlike some other barbecue places around), the owners radiate passion for their craft and super friendly service. I especially liked the oft-overlooked smoked chicken wings and the hot barbecue sauce—which is actually hot. Only open Thurs–Sat 11–7.
1921 Missouri Avefb.com/HiattFamilyBBQ
In the middle of a Millard-ian wasteland, step into this retro-themed dinerrific gem and order anything off the menu without being disappointed. (At least, I’ve been pleased with everything so far, including the fish sandwich, chili, pork tenderloin, french toast, eggs & bacon, and so on.) As a bonus, the tables include laminated family photos so you can eat right off someone’s wedding photo or some grandpa's portrait or whatever. Closes at 2 p.m. most days. Worth the drive. Line moves quickly.
5325 S 139th St (Millard Plaza II)
5325 S 139th St (Millard Plaza II)
The downtown Thai spot with the yellow door celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. That’s 20 years of this family-run biz. 20 years worth of wok seasoning. And their portions are very 1996 as well (back when bottles of soda were still 16 oz standard). Guys, I just love this place. They were on summer vacation and I missed them.
1905 Farnam Stfb.com/BangkokcuisineOMA