by Sriyani Tidball
If you love to go out to eat, Lincoln is your city. Lincoln boasts of hundreds of restaurants serving up all kinds of great food. Wonderful restaurants serving delicious meals are scattered all across the city—from sports bars that serve scrumptious food, to small mom and pop cafés that make superb homemade grub, to local fast food locations that provide tasty meals. In this list of Lincoln restaurants—tradition, uniqueness, and atmosphere count nearly as much as the quality of the food. The list below includes some of the oldest, most loved and well-known restaurants in the Star City; but we have included some best-kept secret dining facilities too. I am sure we have missed some restaurants, but here are some we can vouch for.
Personally, I love Italian food, and we have great recommendations for you. For highly authentic and delicious Italian fare, Vincenzo’s Ristoranteat 808 P Street is definitely the place to get your Italian food fix. Situated in one of the Haymarket district’s historic buildings, Vincenzo’s pairs its savory Italian dishes with an excellent wine list and superior service in an atmosphere of understated elegance.
Your meal starts with your choice of a lightly dressed green salad or homemade soup, accompanied by tasty rolls. The house Chianti is a natural choice, but you really should explore your options on the wine list.
As for the entrées—Vincenzo’s has something for everyone, whether it’s a standard pasta dish prepared to perfection or a classic Italian dinner. It’s no wonder that Vincenzo’s has been named one of the best restaurants in Lincoln more than once.
Florio’s Italian Restaurant & Grilleat 7300 S. 13th Street is another quality Italian eatery. Everything is made from scratch and the wine list is impressive.
Momo Pizzeria and Ristorantelocated at 7701 Pioneers Boulevard is one of Lincoln’s best kept secrets. They offer wood fired Neapolitan pizzas, sandwiches, salads, delectable pastas and farm to table inspired entrées—and specialty wines and cocktails, too. Try the Piedmontese Steak and Olive Creek Oyster Mushroom entrée—either can’t be beat!
For a cozy and intimate atmosphere, try Billy’s. This unique restaurant is a refurbished older home at 13th and H streets. A favorite of our Nebraska State Senators during the day—and evenings. For wonderful food any time of the day, Billy’s offers an impressive menu that includes duck, lamb, steaks and seafood cooked to perfection by chef Nader. Known for some of the best steaks in town, Billy’s has received a five-star rating from opentable.com.
Another well-known venue for a good Nebraska steak cooked to perfection, is Misty’s. If you are not a meat eater, they also have many seafood and vegetarian dishes to choose from. The original Misty’s is still located in historic Havelock (6235 Havelock Avenue) and their downtown location (11th & P) is going strong. They are known for carrying a host of local micro-brews. so sample one of their Nebraska ales on tap while you’re there.
The Green Gateau, at 10th and L streets, is another favorite local restaurant that offers European and American cuisine in a Victorian setting. The food and wine are always excellent, and the desserts are hard to beat. You can find a fresh selection of beef, chicken and seafood, cooked to perfection. Their soups, appetizers and burghers are delicious, and they always have new items on their menu. Everything is made from scratch and you can count on it being wonderful.
Lazlo’sin the Haymarket at 710 P Street, and also at 5900 Old Cheney Road, combines a wonderful brewery with a traditional grill. Flavorful sandwiches, salads, burgers and entrées will keep you coming back for more. Each pair up magnificently with Lazlo’s own Empyrean Ales.
Owned by the same team that opened Lazlo’s, Fireworks, at Old Cheney & South 86th Drive, has a distinctive style. Homemade marinades and exceptional cooking techniques bring unique flavors to tried-and-true favorites. Empyrean Ales are also on the menu here.
A mile south of Yankee Hill Road on 27th Street, Wilderness Ridgereally does look like a lodge, but the food is reminiscent of fine dining establishments in Chicago or New York. Dine al fresco on their large terrace overlooking the rolling hills of the Wilderness Ridge golf course. There’s more casual dining in the bar area, or opt for the elegant great room.
The Dish, located downtown at 1100 O Street, is a very popular restaurant as they have a reputation for serving great and amazing meals. Exciting dishes matched with delectable sides make for a fabulous meal. Be sure to ask your waiter for a wine recommendation, and for desert lovers, they have a great selection. They are always adding new dishes on their menu and you can count on a great meal here.
The Venue, at 4111 Pioneer Woods Drive, features a diverse menu ranging from steak and seafood to some of the best pizzas in town. The atmosphere is comfortable for dressing up or dressing down. They also own the Piedmont Bistro, at the Piedmont Shopping area at Normal and A streets, a full-service restaurant, a great place to have lunch and dinner and a meal in between.
Sports fans might prefer The Athletic Clubin the Embassy Suites at 12th and P. Mammoth burgers, hearty sandwiches and more will fill your plate while large television screens let you enjoy all the action of your favorite teams. Or, if Lincoln’s favorite team, the Huskers, is playing you can watch the game while you enjoy the meal.
For mouthwatering Greek flavors and homemade pastries, a must-stop is The Parthenon. Located at 5500 South 56th Street, this restaurant shares the friendly atmosphere of Greece along with traditions of the Midwest.
Another well-known restaurant downtown where you can expect a spectacula burger is Honest Abe’s at 126 N. 14th Street. They now have another location on North 70th and and one on Cornhusker Highway.
Yia Yia’s is known as the home of Lincoln’s best pizza and largest beer selection. Their famous Around the World pizza is made to order with a huge variety of quality ingredients and served with freshly baked bread along with beer on tap or 375 different bottled beers. Right next-door is Amu Manu Ramen Bar, a delightful ramen noodle restaurant. Try some cucumber lemonade with a tasty noodle or dumpling dish.
Chef Karim’s Placeat 333 N. Cotner Boulevard features French and Moroccan cuisine. Chef Karim is a Moroccan chef who trained in France and the elegant atmosphere is very French-inspired. The menu features a delicious selection of Mediterranean and North African dishes. Don’t miss Moroccan Night every Friday or their monthly wine dinners—a four course meal paired with complementary wines.
Enjoy an excellent lunch or dinner at this new restaurant at 8800 O Street. The Course
Blue Orchid, 10th and P in the Grande Manse, is a popular Thai fusion eatery. Exceptional dishes are served with flair in an atmosphere that begs you to enjoy every bite at a leisurely pace. They offer a wonderful array of dishes with meat, seafood and tofu options. They have a great lunch menu with starters and main dishes very reasonably priced and extremely tasty.
At 17th and Pine Lake is an elegant Thai/Asian restaurant called Issarat hat has become a Lincoln favorite. From the same people who brought The Blue Orchid to Lincoln, Issara expands their menu beyond Thai to a fusion that includes Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Paired with a sophisticated cocktail list, an evening at Issara is memorable. My favorite Basil Duck is made at Issara.
An inexpensive but delicious option for Thai food is the Thai Gardenat 13th and Q streets.
If you’re a fan of Vietnamese food, you simply must try the Vietnamese Pho Factoryon North 27th Street in the Saigon Plaza. Top on the menu are soups, several different pho (beef noodle dishes), and Banh Mi (authentic Vietnamese sandwiches). Bahnwich, also located in the Saigon Plaza, serves a variety of fresh, spicy Vietnamese sandwiches, green waffles and bubble tea. These sandwiches are so good, that often there is a line out the door at lunchtime.
Japanese restaurants in the Haymarket include Hiro 88at 601 R Street and Blue Sushi Sake Grillat 808 R Street—always a quality choice for everyone who loves Japanese, my second favorite. The Grey Whale Sushi & Grillat 10th and P also serves sushi and other Japanese delights. And now Grey Whale Poke Bowlhas opened at 13th & Q with their signature poke bowls plus excellent vegetarian option.
For the tastes of India, try The Oven at 201 N. 8th Street and 4101 Pioneer Woods Drive. The heavenly aromas are like walking into northern India. You can count on the food being truly authentic, and delicious. The Oven offers a great variety of wines that make this an excellent dining experience. This is one of my favorites, and their Lamb Masuma curry is hard to beat. The Cellar, also located downstairs in the Haymarket location, offers great Indian food and wine in an intimate atmosphere.
Other Indian restaurants include: Tandoor Indian Cuisine, located in Williamsburg at 3530 Village Drive, and the Taj Mahal Cuisine of Indiaat 5500 Old Cheney Road—both offer great Indian food.
El Potrero, at 8th & Q, is another family-run Mexican eatery where you can savor some authentic and delicious dishes. The portions are large and the flavor incredible. Located in the Haymarket district, El Potrero serves some of the best Mexican food in the city plus great margaritas to accompany this south of the border experience.
La Paz Restaurant & Cantinaat 321 N. Cotner Boulevard features some of the best chips and salsa in town and their Enchiladas La Paz are a must try in this family owned cantina. It’s been a Lincoln favorite for the past 18 years.
El Toroat 48th and Van Dorn is a truly authentic Mexican restaurant. Family owned and operated, the food is delicious and the atmosphere enjoyable. With the same owners, the same great food can be found at Mazatlanwith 2 locations on 27th and Superior and on North 70th just past O Street.
Hacianda Real, located in at SouthPointe has become a very popular destination for Mexican cuisine. The offer genuine vegetarian options, but grill a delicious steak as well.
Tico’sat 317 S. 17th Street is known for its incredible guacamole, wide selection of entrées and blue margaritas.
For locals, Valentino’s Italian Restaurant, or just Val’s to those of us who grew up on their fare, is a wonderful tradition. They have an amazing Italian buffet that includes a huge salad bar, pizza, pasta, and yes, dessert pizza too, that will please everyone in your family. For those who want take-away or home delivery, Val’s is always ready to oblige with some of the best pizzas.
Originating in Lincoln and now found throughout the Midwest, Runzahas many locations across Lincoln. They offer their trademark ground beef, cabbage and seasoning baked in fresh bread.
When you are hungering for a burrito or taco or even a good burger, Amigosis another local tradition. Amigos is paired with Kings, which offers an equally delicious variety of hamburgers, chicken and Lincoln’s own Frenchee. They’re located throughout Lincoln. Besides feasting on crisp meat burritos and a variety of traditional Mexican dishes, Amigos offers their own fresh-brewed Kopeli espresso drinks and an impressive breakfast menu—all reasonably priced and so tasty.
Lincoln is full of wonderful coffee shops along with many Starbucks, and Scooters. Whether you’re in search for a quick cup of coffee or a cozy spot to rest for a few hours and get some work done, the capital city is speckled with spots to fuel your addiction.
This year the New Jersey-based chain Rock ’n’ Joe
The Mill, has four wonderful locations that are extremely popular. They are located in the Haymarket at 800 P Street, in College View at 4736 Prescott, at Nebraska Innovation Campus on 2021 Transformation Drive and the new Telegraph District at 330 S. 21st Street. They feature traditional coffee and espresso drinks, a large assortment of teas and snacks, all in a warm and comfortable atmosphere. The Mill is a hip space that offers indoor and outdoor seating plus free wi-fi. This Lincoln favorite is often busy throughout the day and into the night. The Mill was the first location to roast their own coffee and is still known for their special blends. Locally owned and run, it has become a place most locals and visitors love to visit.
The Coffee Houseat 1324 P Street is a very cool, locally owned coffee shop that prides itself on quick service, delicious homemade pastries and features many vegan and vegetarian options. You can always find great muffins and bacon and egg stuffed croissants to go with your cappuccinos. The Coffee House recently opened a new location inside the Wells Fargo Bank at 13th and O streets. The Coffee House is on the edge of the university campus, so young and old, all love to hang out at the Coffee House.
Cultiva Coffeeat South 11th Street, 2510 Randolph Street and 3535 Holdredge Street is a café and micro-roastery that serves a constantly changing selection of fine coffee. Along with world-class coffee and espresso, Cultiva whips up delicious freshly made crepes with variety of toppings and sauces. Cultiva coffee is also served at a wonderful bookstore, Indigo Bridge, which is also a café and non-profit located at 701 P St. in the Creamery Building in the Haymarket.
If you are near University Place and Wesleyan University, Mo Java Café and Roasting Co.,2649 N. 48th Street, is a great place to grab a cup of fair-trade organic coffee, surf the web or just listen to some local musicians on a Friday night. The pizza and sandwiches are worth mentioning, too.
Crescent Moon, 140 N. Eighth Street in the Haymarket, is a mom-and-daughter operation, and you will usually find Melinda (mom) or Amanda (the daughter) behind the counter to make your favorite gourmet beverage. They offer a variety of coffees and teas. They also serve beer and wine and, in the mornings, great crepes. Crescent Moon prides itself on providing live music including some great local performers during the weekends and evening.
Meadowlark Coffee & Espresso, at 1624 South Street, serves organic, fair-trade coffee and all their food is locally sourced. The pastries are delicious and their daily soup specials are to die for. They also host live music, poetry and art shows for their many loyal customers.
The Harbor, 1265 S. Cotner Boulevard, is a favorite in the Piedmont neighborhood. It’s ery popular for the coffee or tea as well as a great place to meet friends. They also offer a complete lunch menu of soups, salads and sandwiches. .
There are many more coffee houses that have sprung up all over the city, but this is a good start if you are looking to try and new spot.