Sweets in the City
by Tyler A. Thomas, author of Nebraska Beer Great Plains History by the Pint and founder/managing editor of NebraskaFoodie.com
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a sweet tooth. It never mattered if I had just eaten a four-course meal or if I was hungry. If there were sweets around, I was down to eat. “Eat dessert first” is one of my mantras, and I’ve realized that life is too short to not enjoy sugary confections. My sugar addiction is easily filled across the capital city. From handmade ice cream and alternative diet desserts to giant cookies and bite-sized desserts, Lincoln is not short on sweets spots to fill your cravings.
Ivanna Cone is one of the first places I visited when I moved to Lincoln, and it’s a must-try when friends visit town. For more than 20 years, Ivanna Cone has been mixing handmade ice cream in the Creamery Building at 701 P St. in the historic Haymarket. This ice cream shop hides nothing, making the ice cream and waffle cones in the front of the store. Customers are invited in by the smell of fresh batter and the sounds of the bustling old-school soda shop. While you wait, you can watch the creation process and sample the custom flavors, including two of my favorites, cinnamon and sweet cream vanilla. I often sample a few of the more seasonal flavors like macadamia marshmallow or stroopwafel, but usually end up with two scoops of my go-to in a dish. The menu varies day to day and includes, in addition to old-fashioned ice cream, sherbet, sorbet and gluten-free flavors. Ivanna Cone is a staple Lincoln experience no matter the time of year, but make sure you take cash or a check.
If you have any food allergies or limitations, or if you’re interested in trying custom pastries, Goldenrod Pastries has something for you. Founded in 2014 and located on the corner of 48th and Prescott streets near Union College, Goldenrod Pastries’ menu includes pastries designed for vegan, gluten-free and other alternative diets. The desserts are definitely Instagrammable — from yummy bars, French macaroons and desserts with edible flowers to gooey cinnamon rolls and fresh fruit cakes to their use of over-the-top sprinkles. My favorite items include the cookie sandwiches, two delicious cookies sandwiched together with fresh frosting and their seasonal strawberry cake. And if you need more than just a quick snack from the pastry case, their custom cakes are perfect for any occasion. Recent cakes featured on the shop’s Instagram feed included the text “RIP 20s” and “Good Luck Finding Better Coworkers.” Goldenrod’s pink pastry boxes are head turners in Lincoln and bring the same excitement as the little blue boxes from Tiffany & Co.
If you’re in downtown Lincoln and suffer from that dreaded 2 p.m. slump, The Cookie Company is there for you. Family-owned since 1981 at 12th and P streets (and in Gateway Mall), the Cookie Company features cookies the size of your hand — and they’re served in singles or by the dozen. I find myself swinging by the cookie case searching for my favorite staple, the E.T., at least once a week. This extra tasty chocolate cookie is studded with peanut butter chips, and paired with a 50-cent Coke, it’s my go-to to get through a case of the Mondays. Other fan favorites include the monster cookie, sugar frosted cookie, ginger and pumpkin with burned butter frosting. No matter if you’re looking for a personal pick-me-up or want to be the office hero, Cookie Company has your back six days a week.
Lewis Carroll is famous for writing The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, and while there are plenty of places in Lincoln to get lost in a good book, small-batch baking and top-quality sweets is a rabbit hole I often find myself going down. And tucked below Eighth and Q streets is Lincoln’s own The Rabbit Hole Bakery. Since 2016, this hidden gem has been serving up slices of scratch-made heaven in a whimsical space away from the hustle of downtown life. From cake by the slice and cake pops to assorted tarts and rich brownies and cream puffs, the confections of The Rabbit Hole change daily. In addition to delicious treats, specialty cocktails and other alcoholic beverages are on the menu, so if tea isn’t what you want in your cup, you can always order something with a few more bubbles.
Anyone can take wine or beer to a gathering. I prefer to take dessert. And to make it as easy as grabbing a box of Franzia or a six-pack of something, I swing by Butterfly Bakery at 4209 S. 33rd St. This full-service bakery is one of my favorites, and my admiration goes beyond beautiful occasion cakes. I’m in love with Butterfly’s “bite-size” take on dessert. From lemon curd tarts and mousse cups to truffles and petit fours to my absolute favorite dessert, chocolate cigars, you can’t go wrong. I prefer to mix and match a few dozen of my favorites with a few dozen of whatever is seasonally on special. Their selection never disappoints, and you’re sure to be the crowd favorite no matter what you choose.
Lincoln is a city of sweet treats, and the local entrepreneurs mixing up these delicious morsels are committed to doing it in a fun and unique way. So not only will your treats taste great, you’ll have the perfect post to make your Instagram followers jealous.