Omaha, with sisters

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Here’s a quick recap of a trip I took recently to Omaha. It’s a city I’ve visited often, and yet I found so many new things to explore!

I stayed with my two sisters from Kansas City in a charming historic bed and breakfast (above), the Cornerstone Mansion (140 North 39th St), located across the street from the Joslyn Castle. What a lovely neighborhood – the historic Gold Coast District – and what a cool home filled with fascinating stories! We stayed in Anna’s Suite, but our host, Mona, let us peek into the other six rooms (all with private baths), and we loved them all. Each is decorated uniquely; the Porch Suite was our favorite, with its huge adjoining second-floor sleeping porch.

Mona made such a huge breakfast the first morning that we barely made a dent in it: a generous yogurt/banana/granola parfait, an enormous portion of mushroom/hash brown/egg/cheese casserole, croissants, coffee (and sausage for the meat eaters). Holy buckets, that was breakfast AND lunch for us. The next morning, after we groaned that big breakfasts are not our thing, she served us peaches topped with yogurt and thick slices of strawberry French toast – a slightly lighter breakfast, but still a very filling way to start our day.

We were entertained the second morning by Mona’s mom, who came over to help with breakfast but ended up answering all our questions about the history of the house. We learned about the families who built the home and lived there – and who still may be knocking around, if you believe in such things. The 10,200-square-foot home, built in 1894, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built by Charles and Bertha Offutt; you’ll recognize the name because Omaha’s Offutt Air Force Base was named for their son, Jarvis.

Cornerstone Mansion was a terrific base for our exploration of Omaha. We spent hours at the Henry Doorly Zoo, poked around the fabulous antiques shops in the Old Market (bordered by S. 10th St., 13th St., Farnam St., and Jackson St.), and tried to dine our way through the list I’d made of interesting local eateries. (However, our big breakfasts added an unexpected challenge.)

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The zoo (located at 3701 S 10th St.) was wonderful as usual. We were pleased and surprised that the weather was nice (we were expecting rain and cool temps) and that the crowd was small for a Saturday. We took our time and made our way around the entire zoo, exploring each of the exhibits. We loved the Scott Aquarium, Desert Dome / Kingdoms of the Night, and of course, the Lied Jungle. We saw a baby gorilla, fed giraffes, and hung out with the tigers. It’s hard to believe that this zoo continues to improve and expand and offers new things every time I visit. Here are a few more photos:

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We started our Omaha foodie tour at lunch on Friday at The Kitchen Table, 1415 Farnam St. This farm-to-table eatery is small – many diners at this downtown location were coming in to grab food to take with them – with a fairly limited menu. I had a buttery, melty grilled cheese sandwich with a side of seasoned popcorn and a cup of coffee. My sisters both ordered the BLT. It’s a hip, urban location that seems to be a favorite with local business workers. The Kitchen Table also has a second location at 4952 Dodge.

That night we ate at La Casa Pizzaria (4432 Leavenworth St.), serving “legendary” pizza and pasta since 1953. We got there early and the place was basically empty, but soon it was buzzing with large, enthusiastic groups of families and friends enjoying their Friday night. The large, rectangular pizza we ordered, cut in small squares, was more than enough for the three of us. It was a fun, local place to dine.

The next day we discovered Coneflower Creamery (3921 Farnam St.) just down the block from our B&B in the hip Blackstone District. I’d read about this ice cream store online; people were gushing about the flavors, so we decided to give it a try. As it turns out, this was the highlight of the whole weekend. We could not stop talking about this ice cream! Coneflower is a “farm-to-cone” operation that uses the freshest, most local ingredients. The place is tiny, with maybe two tables inside and a couple of larger tables outside, and the line was out the door and down the block. My sisters and I got different flavors, so I was able to taste six different scoops. My Archetype Coffee and Blackstone Butter Brickle were both to die for. I tasted the birthday cake, toasted coconut, dark chocolate, and sweet corn (yes, sweet corn) flavors, and all were fantastic. Apparently the flavors rotate, so my goal is to stop here every time I’m in Omaha, or passing through Omaha on I-80, or, what the heck, even marginally CLOSE to Omaha. This is my new sweet obsession.

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With our tummies filled with late-afternoon ice cream, we decided to share one vegetarian platter (above) at Lalibela Ethiopian Cuisine (4422 Cass St.) for dinner on Saturday. I love Ethiopian food, and neither of my sisters had ever tried it. We liked this place, located in an old Pizza Hut, but I will say that our meal didn’t compare with some of the Ethiopian food I’ve had in Washington, D.C. and New York. Still, we got out of there for under $20 for three people and had a wonderful time trying something new. We especially loved the hot, spicy tea.

Here are a few other restaurants I would love to try next time I’m in Omaha:

  • Saddle Creek Breakfast Club, open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., 1540 N. Saddle Creek – banana pancakes, anyone?
  • Dante Ristorante (full service in West Omaha, 16901 Wright Plaza #173) or Dante Blackstone (counter service, 3852 Farnam St)) – for pizza and pasta
  • Modern Love, 1319 S. 50th – a vegan restaurant
  • Block 16, 1611 Farnam St.
  • Amateur Coffee at 3913 Cuming St. – a vegan coffee shop!

 

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2 comments so far

  1. Tim Coble on

    Janice and I are headed to Omaha in a few weeks. This is perfect timing.

  2. Mary on

    When in Omaha don’t miss the steamboat Bertrand exhibit at the DeSoto Wildlife Refuge outside of town, but actually in Iowa. The steamboat sunk in the mud and 100 years later it was found, cargo mostly intact. The cargo is displayed at the refuge and it is endlessly fascinating. Been there three times and always come away amazed.


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