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omaha, nebraska city guide {UPDATE}

by Grace Bonney

today’s city guide update comes to us from photographer and D*S regular jen altman. jen has done a great job updating her original omaha guide, sharing some new design, music and book shops and a variety of eclectic dining spots that have sprouted in recent years.  thanks jen for a wonderful guide!–stephanie

Growing up and spending my summers in southern California, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I was asked if my family owned a cow when I divulged I spent my school year in the “Heartland” of Omaha, Nebraska. And while for the most part the “Heartland” is just that – a whole lot of land, you have little gems beckoning across the prairies and one of those jewels happens to be Omaha. While its amazing break out independent music scene is what people began to notice first, the last 10-15 years have reshaped the city, creating a pretty cool little place to live – and the secret is getting out.

If you find yourself passing through, there are some wonderful must-sees, locally owned eateries and shops to visit. The city is divided into sections – Downtown {whose Old Market area packs in residents and tourists alike year round}; NoDo {the newly dubbed art district just North of downtown where Urban Outfitters and American Apparel opened shop}; Mid-Town {home of the eclectic Dundee neighborhood}, North Omaha and South Omaha {home to some of the best family run restaurants in the city} and West O {where you will find your higher end retailers and suburban sprawl}.


While Omaha is just coming into it’s own as a metropolitan shopping destination, {our firstAnthropologie opened in October}, it is the eclectic boutiques that make the shopping scene here so much fun – some standouts include:

Adam Whitney Gallery – 87th & Pacific in Countryside Village: Filled with gorgeous glass, home wares and fine art, they also boast an enviable jewelry collection from designers like Alexis Bittar and Dogeared.

Antiquarium Records – 417 South 13th St.: What used to be an iconic book and record store still houses the best selection of vinyl in the city.

Blooms – 10923 Prairie Brook Rd.: One of Omaha’s premier floral shops featuring an extensive collection of beautiful and unique home décor.

Borsheims – 10923
Borsheims – 120 Regency Pkwy.: A list of Omaha’s shopping must’s would not be complete without mentioning this huge and incredibly elegant jewelry store. It is the largest in the Midwest and offers everything from swoon-worthy double digit carat diamonds to designers like Alex Woo. An eye candy feast.

Category One – 108th & Center St.: Absolutely everything you need for your kitchen under one roof. The collection of Le Crueset is especially wonderful.

Drastic-Plastic – 1209 Howard St.: Another must visit for music lovers. Growing up it was the place to go to purchase local music – it still is – but now they press their own vinyl as well.

Early to Bed – 8726 Pacific St.: Selling some of the most luxurious linens found in the Midwest, this shop is a go-to for those wishing to imbue their home with bliss.

Gadgeteer – 7317 Douglas St.: Didn’t think you could find a Philippe Starck Ghost Chair in Omaha? This shop is full of post-modern surprises.

Goldsmith Silversmith –1019 Howard St.: An Omaha establishment. An unrivaled selection of the most unique local fine jewelry as well as THE place to go in Omaha for custom work.

Jackson Street Booksellers – 1119 Jackson St.: It is easy to lose an afternoon among the stacks of this incredibly well stocked used bookstore. I bet you can not walk out with something magical.

Le Marche –87th & Pacific in Countryside Village: This mother and daughter team have a wonderful eye for French inspired home accessories, cards, gifts and jewelry – all at very reasonable prices.

The Linen Gallery –120 Regency Pkwy in Regency Court: Beautiful linens, table top accessories – features an array of intoxicating soaps and fragrances – you can also find Rosanna dinnerware in this perfect little space.

Niche – 1109 Howard St.: Contemporary furnishings with an amazing selection of light fixtures and unusual home accessories.

Nouvelle Eve – 1102 Howard St.: One of the first boutiques in Omaha to cater to the true fashionista – a great selection of hard to find labels and lust-worthy handbags.

Overland Sheepskin Co. – 1011 Howard St.: Gorgeous home decor in the way of sheepskin pelts and hand-woven blankets and throws – the collection of leather bags and jackets can not be missed.

The Post & Nickel – 132nd Center: an Omaha institution since 1966, this is a must stop for designers such as Rock & Republic and Theory.

Room – 421 S. 11th St.: One of our local go-to’s for modern home décor by the likes of Jonathan Adler, Eames and George Nelson.

Scout Dry Goods & Trade – 5008 Underwood St.: Gently used and new clothes, jewelry and shoes – this amazing space in the heart of Dundee also hosts art and fashion shows.

Second Chance Antiques – 1125 Jackson St.: The best vintage finds in Omaha – whether you are after vintage jewels, fabrics, empheria, handbags, clothes, dishes, milk glass, salvaged hardware – I could go on forever, I never walk out without something.

The Souq – 1018 Howard St.: This shop is an institution in the Old Market. Carrying gorgeous jewels from India and Africa, beautiful clothes, shoes and home accessories from abroad – it is a feast for the senses.

String of Purls – 87th and Pacific in Countryside Village: a gorgeous little piece of heaven for knitting lovers; the shop bursts with color and the sales women are exceptionally knowledgeable.

Trocadero – 1208 ½ Howard St.: New York transplant and former Accessories Director of InStyle magazine, Alice Kim opened Trocadero just over a year ago to the delight of many; stocks hard to find shoe and handbag labels as well as a carefully edited selection of fabulous home décor, jewelry, body products and books.

Voila – 4922 Dodge St.: A flower shop whose selection of hand chosen home and garden wares is the best in Omaha – I have a hard time walking out without a little something.


I was once told that Omaha had the most restaurants per capita in the US – I am unsure of the truth in this – but we sure have a lot of places to eat – you rarely have to wait long for a seat to indulge in a great meal. There is a 20-minute wait? Go next door – there is something equally fabulous. Here are a few of my favorites:

Ahmad’s – 1006 Howard St.: Newcomers are astonished to find how eclectic the cuisine is in Omaha – Ahmad’s serves delicious and authentic Persian dishes and matches them with some of the most incredible Middle Eastern wines and beers.

Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob – 620 N 50th St.: Opened by friends who missed the late night offerings in the European capitols, the menu simply consist of Falafels, Kabobs and Fries {I think there may be a salad now as well} – the portions are huge, the flavors are amazing and be sure to ask for extra curry on your fries – yum!

Boiler Room – 1102 Jones St.: My favorite fine dining experience in the city. The menu is ever changing; the atmosphere is elegant without being pretentious – and my favorite way to end a meal: variety of artisan cheeses, local honey, toasted almonds and brandied cherries.

California Taco – 3235 California St.: A favorite of the local college crowd offering huge tacos, nachos and chimichangas – the fish tacos are especially lust worthy!

Dario’s Brasserie – 4920 Underwood Ave.: One of my very favorite restaurants in the city – and in my neighborhood! Offering a French and Belgian inspired bistro menu, the pomme frittes and the mussels are addictive. As is the fact that the servers will help you match your chosen dinner with one of the brews from their seemingly endless list of special imports. And you must end the meal with a Nutella and Banana Crepe – you must.

Dixie Quicks – 1915 Leavenworth St.: This southern style inspired breakfast must was recently featured on the Food Network’s “Diner, Drive-in’s and Dive’s” – the grits are delicious.

Dundee Dell – 5007 Underwood Ave.: Known as “The Dell” by locals, this family pub offers up the usual pub fair. But it is their boastful list of single malt scotches that puts them on the map – they happen to serve the most of any bar or restaurant in the country – making them one of my husband’s favorite destinations. And if you like Mac n’ Cheese – the Dell’s is to die for.

Espana – 6064 Maple St.: Insanely good tapas and traditional paella – the sangria is down right addictive – beware.

Goldberg’s – 5008 Dodge St.: A neighborhood gem known for their amazingly thick and delicious hamburgers and their homemade bread puddings.

Jam’s Bar & Grill – 7814 Dodge, St.: An Omaha favorite, their eclectic menu will satisfy everyone – my favorite is the Saigon Salad with veggies, crushed peanuts, soba noodles – drizzled with green curry remoulade – try topped sesame seared salmon!

La Buvette – 511 S. 11th St.: Both a French grocery and deli, La Buvette’s ambience will not be the only thing to charm you. Daily menus feature French bistro classics such as roast chicken and mussels; the cabinet full of cheese and cut meats is a never ending source of temptation and the racks of wine in which rim the store will bring out the adventurer in anyone.

Louis M’s Burger Lust – 1718 Vinton St.: A South Omaha institution, Louis M’s is as much know for their gigantic burgers as for their satisfying breakfasts – their omelet offerings, such as crab and cream cheese, are especially delicious.

M’s Pub – 422 S. 11th St.: From the Warm Duck Salad to the Smoked Salmon Mousseline nothing disappoints in this Old Market institution with a cozy atmosphere – the Lahvosh is an absolute can not miss.

McFoster’s Natural Kind Café – 302 S. 38th St.: Omaha’s first and nationally recognized vegetarian restaurant – freshly squeezed juices and local organically grown veggies fill the eclectic menu – I love the friend tofu with a side of the homemade cucumber dressing.

Mark’s Bistro – 4916 Underwood Ave.: Another neighborhood favorite – the Fennel Dusted Salmon with Cauliflower puree is heaven – as is their Drinkable Chocolate dessert.

Nicola’s – 521 S. 13th St.: This tiny little gem boasts some of the biggest, and most authentic, Italian dishes in Omaha – everything is made to order, so be patient – it is so worth the wait.

Petrow’s – 5914 Center St.: A neighborhood soda fountain for over 50 years – their chicken fried steak and chocolate malts are favorites.

Pitch Pizzeria – 5021 Underwood St.: Coal-fired, Naples-inspired pizza at it’s best. It transports me back to Italy every. single. time.

Radial Café – 817 N. 40th St.: Another favorite – my family and I would walk to this little greasy spoon on snow days when I was growing up; the food is warm, filling and comfortingly traditional – the Radial Raft is a local favorite.

Spezia – 3125 S. 72nd St.: Having lived in Italy I am very particular about my Italian food – Spezia never disappoints. The Asiago Encrusted Walleye and their signature Salmon Spezia with wood plank grilled salmon are favorites.

The Surfside Club – 14445 River Dr.: Located on the Missouri River, the Surfside is an simple and satisfying as it gets. The menu consists of two choices – fried chicken and fried catfish – both coated with an old secret recipe {or so the owner will tell you}. The corn fritters are heaven on earth – especially drowned in honey. And if you are lucky, you will be flashed by one of the party boats zooming by.

Ted and Wally’s – 1120 Jackson St.: Before a Cold Stone Creamery or Maggie Moos even realized Omaha was on the map, this little ice cream shop located in an old service station had been turning out fresh homemade ice cream to locals – a must when you visit.

Trini’s – 1020 Howard St.: The romantic setting of this little Mexican restaurants keeps locals coming back – and the sopaipillas drizzled with honey are to die for.

Zios – 1213 Howard St.: A little bit of New York in Omaha – making their famous dough every morning from scratch it is hand’s down one the best places to find original, handmade, fresh pizzas in the city – three locations across town.

Cool Stuff:

When your shopping bags and belly are full, head in this direction for some extra entertainment:

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts – 724 South 12th St.: One of the most acclaimed and desirable artist residency programs in the country, the Bemis also hosts numerous exhibits and programs throughout the year – this is a must visit for anyone passionate about fine art.

Big Brain – 1123 Jackson St.: If you are visiting and get a crazy urge to update your ink, this is the place to go. Featuring nationally recognized tattoo artists, their work is by far the best in the Midwest.

Blue Barn Theater – 614 S. 11th St.: Nationally recognized, the Blue Barn is the ultimate theater experience in Omaha; producing “theater without boundaries” this company is in it’s 19th year and produces classics and works by up and coming playwrights alike.

Dundee Theatre – Dodge St.: Feel like doing the Time Warp Again? Locally owned and operated, the Dundee Theater was built in 1925 and is the last single screen theater in Omaha. It is home to our midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show as well as independent films and favorite classics on the weekends such as Bladerunner, Grease and Psycho.


Suggested For You


  • thanks for this guide – it’s a great reminder of many of the neat spots to see here (and some i’ve forgotten about!). a couple places i might add:

    another great spot get inked/pierced – Liquid Courage near 76th & Pacific. it’s all custom. amazing work.

    don’t forget Sweet Magnolia’s bakery, right next to the Radial Cafe! the red velvet cake is elegant.

    Blue sushi also now has an Old Market location – and the lounge upstairs feels ultra cosmopolitan!

    thanks for featuring my hometown, D*S!

  • I love this list and I love all the extra additions. Omaha is truly a fantastic city, I’m glad it has made it to Design*Sponge. I’m a proud Omahan!!

  • We’re heading to Omaha tomorrow just to check it out- We live in Kansas City, MO. I have a list of places to stop in at and I am very excited!

  • Love all those places. Also Glass Harmony Gallery has the best blown glass in the area by a local artist. A hidden gem in midtown!

  • I grew up in Omaha and come back every chance I get. Some of my favorite restaurants and shops are still there….and I never miss a dinner at La Casa for their hamburger and mushroom pizza. I think you have to grow up with it to appreciate it!

    Great job

  • I’m thrilled to see an Omaha guide. I grew up there – now live on the East Coast – and I love spreading the news about how fabulous it is! As a D.C. resident, it’s hard to believe shopping is one of the reasons I look forward to going back! One boutique I love that wasn’t mentioned is Togs, out at the Legacy Shoppes at 168th & Center. My favorite breakfast place is Farmhouse – amazing scrambles, cinnamon rolls and potato casseroles. Located off Mangelsen’s at 84th and Center. Now I’m homesick!

  • Another great place to eat is Wheatfields (near Westroads). The treats in their bakery are to die for!

  • My great grandparents were the first department store owners in Nebraska. There dept store was also the largest for years. Their home was a work of art. The paintings were amazing. They owned a house with a hidden room and closet, which was neat. The wood work is also divine.

  • For the VERY best pizza in town you really need to try Orsi’s Italian Bakery. They also serve an awesome goudarooni. This is Omaha’s BEST kept secret. (and you really do have to walk out the front door sideways to get the full sheet pizza out of there)

  • I live in Chicago – taking a road trip to Omaha with my husband to visit his grandmother — looking for any boutique hotels?? Can’t seem to find anything. Help!

  • Just came back from Omaha – hit Sweet Magnolia’s (amazing scones!) and had a lovely dinner at Dario’s brasserie. Please add Jaipur to the list! Brewpub and to-die-for chicken korma. Try the raspberry wheat – they brew it themselves!!! Oh – it’s on 105th and Center.

  • did someone already mention the Mai Tai lounge, the Drover, the awesome bike paths throughout the city, Gorat’s, and Louis’ bar? and i third the Bemis Center shoutout.

  • I work for Omaha-based online fashion magazine, La Vie Cherie (www.laviecherie.com) and I’m just so happy to see a plug for some of the best fashion has to offer for the area on this site!

    A special shout out to Post & Nickel who absolutely deserves to be on the list. Their ahead-of-the-curve fashion sense is impeccable and continually impressive to the entire La Vie Cherie staff. Kudos.

  • Wow – months later and still seeing posts of other d*s readers from Omaha. Man, we’re a proud bunch. The big O really does have a lot to offer.

    Thanks for putting us on the map!

  • Yea, Big O I was born inHoldrege, I come to Omaha to see my son and his family. This is a great tool for checking out things to do. Thanks for having it available.

  • really?! i moved here a year ago and find it to be really mediocre. the people here are amazingly nice. however, it is not an impressive city… lots of corporate chains and suburban sprawl. i shop online a lot now. i think it has potential, but it is really behind. the people impressed with omaha tend to be from omaha. here is what i do like about it: gorgeous old buildings (falling apart), everything is dirt cheap, great thrift stores, super nice and supportive people. here is what i dont: not particularly educated or sophisticated, you need a car to get anywhere, way too much sprawl and big box stores, horrible and unhealthy food, not much charm in general here, the older neighborhoods are divided by huge streets with way too much traffic, not much aesthetic consideration, and while it is much less competitive to get a job here- the pay is very low and as a result there is not a young, educated, progressive class.

  • I am thrilled to find this! We just relocated to Omaha this summer and have been exploring as much as possible. We’re already quick fans of the zoo, The Slowdown, the amazing Farmer’s Market, and Nicola’s Italian restaurant. Now I have a rejuvenated list to try! Thank you!! This will be a perfect addition to my purse for weekend adventures.

  • Boo-hoo, PULP moved to the Old Market and will be closing up shop. The owner will be working for the Bemis Art Center – another MUST on your tour, especially their art auction the third Saturday every November. ALSO, Delice closed shop after a fire. Rumor has it they are reopening at the newly built Midtown Crossing.

  • The Community of Christ Thrift Store and Food Pantry, 17 N. 2nd St., Council Bluffs, IA, invites you to shop with us. You will find unique clothing, furniture, housewares and decorative items. A feature film company recently found props in our store. We are just across the river from Omaha in the revitalized Downtown area. Store income supports the Food Pantry and other services.

  • the best place used furniture thrifting is hand me ups, between dodge and pacific off 920 N 118th Circle (not the one by Big Freds). It is enormous and has saved me hours of ducking around south o. without luck. great lamps, rehab finds, drexel dressers, etc. Also, if you don’t about the ricotta and cherry pancakes at Amattos on 68th and Pacific, you are missing out! -also featured on food network.

  • Suggestion: In Bloom- amazing flower bouquets. Located at 520 N Main Street in Fremont, NE. L-l-love them!

  • I recently visited some dear friends in Omaha, which was
    quite delightful. We visited some of these fine places, and all
    were wonderful. We also ate at the Daily Grub (1054 S 20th St.)
    which was the best meal we had there! The restaurant is new as of
    2010, and focuses on local and seasonal ingredients. I would
    recommend it to anyone traveling to Omaha.

  • What a great post! I love the antique-looking photographs, and you listed many of my favorite restaurants. I’ll be sure to check out the ones I haven’t visited yet.

  • Dear DS, as a person who uses your City Guides as religion when I visit places, I need to inform you several of these establishments are closed or have moved. An update is desperately needed! Thanks!

  • @DS – If you’re looking for someone to do an Omaha update, please let me know! I’d absolutely love to do one for you. There are a number of small shops, new local restaurants, activities, and restored neighborhoods worth highlighting. Like the last commenter, I use and love these whenever we travel. Thanks for keeping them going!

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