1: Block 16 – From the Crab Rangoon Hot Dog to the Poutine Burrito, this place is constantly blowing my mind with crazy flavor explosions and creativity. And if you haven’t been up to date on Alton Brown’s discoveries, his favorite burger in the country is their Croque Garcon. Personally, my favorite sandwich on the menu is the pulled pork roll, which is funny to me as I thought I didn’t like pulled pork. Since I made it a goal to try everything on the menu, the pulled pork roll has been my favorite find. This pork has a great smoky flavor and is super tender, it practically melts in your mouth. It also makes a great breakfast sandwich if you add a fried egg to it the next day.. just saying! I also love Block 16’s crazy assortment of special fries. Go for the Gangsta Fries OR the Dragon Fries if you are up to the challenge. The cheese curds smothered in dragon sauce might be the most delectable moment on the menu. I’m drooling now… Oh! And don’t forget to order the Secret Burger once in a while. This bacon topped goodness is not on the menu and feels so “cool” to order in front of your friends.
2: Kitchen Table – “Homey” is the simplest way to describe this adorable restaurant. Everything has a warms-the-belly feel and makes me want to take an afternoon nap, in a good way! Let’s give it the word “PEACEFUL” to be more practical. The staff is always friendly. The bacon is cut thick. Every sandwich can be turned into a bowl of the silkiest grits or a salad if you want to be healthy. And if that isn’t enough to make you visit, their rotating dinners are superb as well as their Sunday Brunch. (Seriously, those taco dinners and pasta is to-die-for!) For lunch though, I would always recommend the Whole Bird for your first sandwich as it is a great staple on their menu. It has the iconic “Kitchen Table flavors” and is a good first step in getting to know this place. If you are not a fan of fried eggs, then go with the original meatloaf sandwich that has an incredible savory sauce or my next choice would be the seasonal grilled cheese! My favorite seasonal sandwiches are the Hot Hamn (KT: PLEASE BRING THIS ONE BACK), Pork Meatball Sandwich, and the Pulled Pork Rueben. My absolute favorite lunch special would be the tamales.. If you see these on the menu, forget everything else I said and order them!
3: Culprit – Order EVERYTHING. Get a sandwich, add on the crispy potatoes or pesto potatoes, and get a dang good pastry to take home because your belly will be too full to actually enjoy it at its fullest. I actually vote on saving that pastry for exactly 2:00 p.m. during the work day as it will make you so happy. Seriously, you MUST try their baked goods because they are unlike any other pastries you will find in Omaha. Sometimes I imagine I am back in Europe when I eat the chocolate croissants, they are just that good! To get into more detail about the sandwiches, they are served on Culprit’s fresh baked bread. I would argue it is probably the freshest bread in town! I love it when they have their Fish Torta on the menu. My current favorite is the Chicken Salad Sandwich as it is made with a really bright cheerful pesto. One more note to blow-your-mind, you can still order off their breakfast menu during lunch!! Which reminds me, Culprit, please bring back the Galette as it was my favorite menu item!
4: Saigon Surface – Warm days or cold days, their noodle bowls always hit the spot. In the summer, I go with their Vermicelli bowls as it is a chilled dish that feels good to eat in the heat. I especially recommend the Grilled Combo Vermicelli as it has some flavorful grilled prawns and a crushed eggroll. So far, these are my favorite eggrolls in town! In the winter, I like to get the Oxtail Beef Pho or the Hu Tieu Mi, which is a soup specially garnished with pork and shrimp wontons. If you aren’t in the mood for noodles, the Pineapple Fried Rice and the Drunken Chicken are also fun dishes that taste fantastic!
My Honorable Mentions:
-Pressed (formerly Worker’s Takeout) has perfectly executed pressed sandwiches! I am sad to see they took my favorite sandwich off the menu when they did their name change, but if they ever have the Franco as a special, it is a MUST!
-DANDELION POP-UP!!! In the summer, Dandelion Pop-up hosts different chefs around Omaha for a one-time special lunch in the Greater Omaha Chamber Courtyard. This is something not to be missed!
-Zio’s is my go-to for a cheap lunch when I’m craving pizza. I totally love this place! Don’t forget to try their mini calzones too!
-Union Pacific’s cafeteria is also a great spot to go to that I would not have known about if I didn’t work downtown. They have a huge salad bar and I’m a big fan of their burgers and fries. (GOUDA BURGERS!)