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Spicy fried chicken ramen at Ika Ramen
Photo: Ika Ramen and Izakaya/Facebook

The 13 Hottest Restaurants in Omaha

Where to find matcha croissants, fried chicken ramen, and, of course, Omaha steaks

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Spicy fried chicken ramen at Ika Ramen
| Photo: Ika Ramen and Izakaya/Facebook

Today, Eater returns to Omaha, Nebraska, to focus on nine newish restaurants that have been garnering some serious buzz. Eater has once again asked Omaha World-Herald food critic Sarah Baker Hansen for her picks of the hottest openings of the past year or so.

“Omaha’s dining scene is rife with new openings, including at least two top-notch sushi offerings, a vegan coffee shop, high-end breakfast, and, as always, high-end red meat,” says Hansen.

Among her picks are a new branch of a local ramen favorite with a basement Tiki lounge (Ika Ramen and Izakaya and Kaitei), a bakery with a New York pedigree (Farine + Four), and the rebirth of a boozy 1960s haunt (Red Lion Lounge).

Here now, and in geographic order, the Eater Heatmap to Omaha.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Ika Ramen and Izakaya

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Chef and restaurateur Jose Dionicio’s Ika Ramen moved from the outskirts of Benson to the neighborhood’s heart and added a slate of new dishes to its menu of ramen, small bites, sushi, and shared plates, including a rotating list of creative bowls. A past special: a mashup of butternut squash soup and fried chicken ramen. Dionicio also partnered with bartender Alex Diimig, an alum of V. Mertz who also helped open the city’s first Tiki lounge, on a basement spot, Kaitei. It’s focused on sake, cocktails, and Japanese spirits. Both places are tiny, so expect a wait. To find Kaitei, look for the blue door inside the restaurant; there’s also an alley entrance.

Fried chicken ramen at Ika Ramen and Izakaya
Photo: Ika Ramen and Izakaya/Facebook

Au Courant Regional Kitchen

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Chef Benjamin Maides is behind the hottest ticket in Omaha at the moment with his European-influenced, locally focused, seasonal menu. The restaurant took over for a long-time Benson restaurant — Espana — cementing the neighborhood’s status as a new culinary destination. The six-course chef’s tasting menu is a reasonable $55.

Locally-raised Barramundi from Webster City, Iowa, served with butter beans & chorizo à la nage
Photo: An Courant / Facebook

Yoshitomo

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Chef David Utterback is best known for his work at Omaha’s Blue Sushi as well as his series of underground omakase events. Yoshitomo — his first effort in Benson — serves creative versions of nigiri, sashimi, and maki, along with beer, wine, and sake, just down the street from a string of new Benson spots. Monthly omakase events take place in a private room at the front of the restaurant, and Utterback prepares special fish just for the evening.

A spread of sushi at Yoshitomo
Photo: Yoshitomo / Facebook

Saddle Creek Breakfast Club

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SCBC is an old-fashioned diner meets trendy breakfast spot in one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods. It pours locally roasted coffee from upstart Amateur Coffee, which just opened its own shop, alongside upscale, seasonal diner classics like eggs Benedict and banana pancakes as well as a selection of vegan dishes. Look for the bright pink neon to know you’re in the right place.

Banana pancake at Saddle Creek
Photo: Saddle Creek Breakfast Club / Facebook

Coneflower Creamery

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“Farm to cone” is the theme at Coneflower, in the trendy Blackstone District. Brian Langbehn and Katie Arant make every single flavor, cone, and mix-in (including sprinkles) from scratch at the tiny shop. Additionally, Coneflower sources its milk from local dairies, its produce from local farms, and its coffee and beer infusions from local makers. Residents, in turn, line up even in the dead of winter for vegan or regular scoops and ice cream sandwiches made with house-baked cookies.  

Vegan golden milk at Coneflower Creamery
Photo: Coneflower Creamery / Facebook

Amateur Coffee

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Omaha’s only vegan coffee shop, Amateur makes the usual lineup of espresso-based coffee drinks with either oat milk or almond milk, and serves a wide array of vegan pastries from a few local bakeries with which it’s partnered. House-made vegan waffles come with or without chocolate chips, and the shop’s bags of beans, which change seasonally, are available in a small retail area. It also serves Omaha-made Artemis tea.

Vegan pastry and coffee at Amateur Coffee
Photo: Amateur Coffee / Facebook

Dante Blackstone

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West Omaha favorite Dante Ristorante has opened in the thriving Blackstone District with what it’s calling “fast fine.” Diners order at the counter and receive Neapolitan-style pizzas, house-made pastas, and a selection of meaty sandwiches delivered to the table. It’s a change in style from the original full-service location, but not in menu. A handful of dishes are exclusive to chef Nick Strawhecker’s second spot, such as a pizza topped with smoked caciocavallo, Calabrian chiles, soppressata, and mint; there’s also house-made gelato.

Pizza at Dante
Photo: Official

Red Lion Lounge

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The latest bar to open in Blackstone, the Red Lion Lounge takes its name from the 1960s bar that once occupied this spot in the basement of the former Colonial Hotel. The rest of the building was developed into apartments, and Matt Carper, who also manages Stirnella, a restaurant down the street, has created a ’60s vibe with a menu of midcentury-appropriate drinks. There’s also a shortlist of wine and bar snacks.

A cocktail at Red Lion Lounge
Photo: Red Lion Lounge / Facebook

Farine + Four

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Nebraska native Ellie Pegler spent time baking at New York’s Marea and Aquavit before returning to Omaha and opening Farine + Four, a new daytime restaurant and bakery just outside downtown. She serves scratch-made baguettes, muffins, croissants, cookies, and other baked goods, as well as bon bons, ice cream, espresso, and a daily sandwich special during lunch.

Matcha croissant at Farine + Four
Photo: Farine + Four / Facebook

Monarch Prime and Bar

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The latest take on the high-end Omaha steakhouse, Monarch Prime and Bar is part of a revamp of a classic downtown hotel. Situated in the lobby of Hotel Deco, the steakhouse serves craft cocktails and house-aged meats, including its signature 60-day aged wagyu tomahawk chop, the signature dish. The interior, sexy and dim in hues of purple and black, is punctuated by large floral murals decorated with dimensional butterflies, and a window where guests can see hanging beef aging.

A meat dish at Monarch
Photo: Monarch Prime and Bar / Facebook

M's Pub

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After a fire destroyed this Omaha icon in January 2016, it reopened in 2017 virtually unchanged. Architects worked off the original plans from 1972 to rebuild the space, and owner Ann Mellen devoted herself to recreating every detail of the Old Market spot, down to the brass candelabras and mirrored walls. The menu, complete with classics like the carrot dog, the crabcakes, and the signature baked Havarti and shrimp dish returned, too. Chef Bobby Mekiney, an M’s alum, is back with a reimagined list of rotating specials.

A dish at M’s Pub
Photo: M’s Pub / Facebook

Howard Street Wine Merchant

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Chef Paul Kulik, formerly of wine bar La Buvette and the wine-centric Boiler Room Restaurant, knows grapes and terroir. His new wine shop and bar, in the Old Market, focuses on his favorites, including more obscure offerings, along with select beer and liquors. Regular samplings take place in the tasting room, which is through a set of doors adjacent to the bar at his old market restaurant, Le Bouillon. He also hosts wine-focused pop-ups in the space, and a wine club lets oenophiles attend a release party each month.

Howard Street’s wine club pick-up party
Photo: Howard Street Wine / Instagram

Housed in a former Omaha Pizza Hut, Umami is the pet project of Keen Zheng, a 32-year-old New York transplant who worked his way through a stint of high-profile restaurants, including Manhattan’s four-star Sushi Nakazawa, before settling in Nebraska. Here, Zheng executes classic sushi with dramatic presentation to a regularly packed house. Omakase is coming soon, but for now, expect a unique selection of original rolls and hibachi grilled dishes.

A spread of sushi and sashimi at Umami
Photo: Umami / Facebook

Ika Ramen and Izakaya

Fried chicken ramen at Ika Ramen and Izakaya
Photo: Ika Ramen and Izakaya/Facebook

Chef and restaurateur Jose Dionicio’s Ika Ramen moved from the outskirts of Benson to the neighborhood’s heart and added a slate of new dishes to its menu of ramen, small bites, sushi, and shared plates, including a rotating list of creative bowls. A past special: a mashup of butternut squash soup and fried chicken ramen. Dionicio also partnered with bartender Alex Diimig, an alum of V. Mertz who also helped open the city’s first Tiki lounge, on a basement spot, Kaitei. It’s focused on sake, cocktails, and Japanese spirits. Both places are tiny, so expect a wait. To find Kaitei, look for the blue door inside the restaurant; there’s also an alley entrance.

Fried chicken ramen at Ika Ramen and Izakaya
Photo: Ika Ramen and Izakaya/Facebook

Au Courant Regional Kitchen

Locally-raised Barramundi from Webster City, Iowa, served with butter beans & chorizo à la nage
Photo: An Courant / Facebook

Chef Benjamin Maides is behind the hottest ticket in Omaha at the moment with his European-influenced, locally focused, seasonal menu. The restaurant took over for a long-time Benson restaurant — Espana — cementing the neighborhood’s status as a new culinary destination. The six-course chef’s tasting menu is a reasonable $55.

Locally-raised Barramundi from Webster City, Iowa, served with butter beans & chorizo à la nage
Photo: An Courant / Facebook

Yoshitomo

A spread of sushi at Yoshitomo
Photo: Yoshitomo / Facebook

Chef David Utterback is best known for his work at Omaha’s Blue Sushi as well as his series of underground omakase events. Yoshitomo — his first effort in Benson — serves creative versions of nigiri, sashimi, and maki, along with beer, wine, and sake, just down the street from a string of new Benson spots. Monthly omakase events take place in a private room at the front of the restaurant, and Utterback prepares special fish just for the evening.

A spread of sushi at Yoshitomo
Photo: Yoshitomo / Facebook

Saddle Creek Breakfast Club

Banana pancake at Saddle Creek
Photo: Saddle Creek Breakfast Club / Facebook

SCBC is an old-fashioned diner meets trendy breakfast spot in one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods. It pours locally roasted coffee from upstart Amateur Coffee, which just opened its own shop, alongside upscale, seasonal diner classics like eggs Benedict and banana pancakes as well as a selection of vegan dishes. Look for the bright pink neon to know you’re in the right place.

Banana pancake at Saddle Creek
Photo: Saddle Creek Breakfast Club / Facebook

Coneflower Creamery

Vegan golden milk at Coneflower Creamery
Photo: Coneflower Creamery / Facebook

“Farm to cone” is the theme at Coneflower, in the trendy Blackstone District. Brian Langbehn and Katie Arant make every single flavor, cone, and mix-in (including sprinkles) from scratch at the tiny shop. Additionally, Coneflower sources its milk from local dairies, its produce from local farms, and its coffee and beer infusions from local makers. Residents, in turn, line up even in the dead of winter for vegan or regular scoops and ice cream sandwiches made with house-baked cookies.  

Vegan golden milk at Coneflower Creamery
Photo: Coneflower Creamery / Facebook

Amateur Coffee

Vegan pastry and coffee at Amateur Coffee
Photo: Amateur Coffee / Facebook

Omaha’s only vegan coffee shop, Amateur makes the usual lineup of espresso-based coffee drinks with either oat milk or almond milk, and serves a wide array of vegan pastries from a few local bakeries with which it’s partnered. House-made vegan waffles come with or without chocolate chips, and the shop’s bags of beans, which change seasonally, are available in a small retail area. It also serves Omaha-made Artemis tea.

Vegan pastry and coffee at Amateur Coffee
Photo: Amateur Coffee / Facebook

Dante Blackstone

Pizza at Dante
Photo: Official

West Omaha favorite Dante Ristorante has opened in the thriving Blackstone District with what it’s calling “fast fine.” Diners order at the counter and receive Neapolitan-style pizzas, house-made pastas, and a selection of meaty sandwiches delivered to the table. It’s a change in style from the original full-service location, but not in menu. A handful of dishes are exclusive to chef Nick Strawhecker’s second spot, such as a pizza topped with smoked caciocavallo, Calabrian chiles, soppressata, and mint; there’s also house-made gelato.

Pizza at Dante
Photo: Official

Red Lion Lounge

A cocktail at Red Lion Lounge
Photo: Red Lion Lounge / Facebook

The latest bar to open in Blackstone, the Red Lion Lounge takes its name from the 1960s bar that once occupied this spot in the basement of the former Colonial Hotel. The rest of the building was developed into apartments, and Matt Carper, who also manages Stirnella, a restaurant down the street, has created a ’60s vibe with a menu of midcentury-appropriate drinks. There’s also a shortlist of wine and bar snacks.

A cocktail at Red Lion Lounge
Photo: Red Lion Lounge / Facebook

Farine + Four

Matcha croissant at Farine + Four
Photo: Farine + Four / Facebook

Nebraska native Ellie Pegler spent time baking at New York’s Marea and Aquavit before returning to Omaha and opening Farine + Four, a new daytime restaurant and bakery just outside downtown. She serves scratch-made baguettes, muffins, croissants, cookies, and other baked goods, as well as bon bons, ice cream, espresso, and a daily sandwich special during lunch.

Matcha croissant at Farine + Four
Photo: Farine + Four / Facebook

Monarch Prime and Bar

A meat dish at Monarch
Photo: Monarch Prime and Bar / Facebook

The latest take on the high-end Omaha steakhouse, Monarch Prime and Bar is part of a revamp of a classic downtown hotel. Situated in the lobby of Hotel Deco, the steakhouse serves craft cocktails and house-aged meats, including its signature 60-day aged wagyu tomahawk chop, the signature dish. The interior, sexy and dim in hues of purple and black, is punctuated by large floral murals decorated with dimensional butterflies, and a window where guests can see hanging beef aging.

A meat dish at Monarch
Photo: Monarch Prime and Bar / Facebook

M's Pub

A dish at M’s Pub
Photo: M’s Pub / Facebook

After a fire destroyed this Omaha icon in January 2016, it reopened in 2017 virtually unchanged. Architects worked off the original plans from 1972 to rebuild the space, and owner Ann Mellen devoted herself to recreating every detail of the Old Market spot, down to the brass candelabras and mirrored walls. The menu, complete with classics like the carrot dog, the crabcakes, and the signature baked Havarti and shrimp dish returned, too. Chef Bobby Mekiney, an M’s alum, is back with a reimagined list of rotating specials.

A dish at M’s Pub
Photo: M’s Pub / Facebook

Howard Street Wine Merchant

Howard Street’s wine club pick-up party
Photo: Howard Street Wine / Instagram

Chef Paul Kulik, formerly of wine bar La Buvette and the wine-centric Boiler Room Restaurant, knows grapes and terroir. His new wine shop and bar, in the Old Market, focuses on his favorites, including more obscure offerings, along with select beer and liquors. Regular samplings take place in the tasting room, which is through a set of doors adjacent to the bar at his old market restaurant, Le Bouillon. He also hosts wine-focused pop-ups in the space, and a wine club lets oenophiles attend a release party each month.

Howard Street’s wine club pick-up party
Photo: Howard Street Wine / Instagram

Umami

A spread of sushi and sashimi at Umami
Photo: Umami / Facebook

Housed in a former Omaha Pizza Hut, Umami is the pet project of Keen Zheng, a 32-year-old New York transplant who worked his way through a stint of high-profile restaurants, including Manhattan’s four-star Sushi Nakazawa, before settling in Nebraska. Here, Zheng executes classic sushi with dramatic presentation to a regularly packed house. Omakase is coming soon, but for now, expect a unique selection of original rolls and hibachi grilled dishes.

A spread of sushi and sashimi at Umami
Photo: Umami / Facebook

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