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 just had a four-course meal or if I was not hungry at all, if there were sweets around, I was down to eat. And to this day, that is still the case. The phrase “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 are visiting town. For more than 20 years, Ivanna Cone has been mixing handmade ice cream in the Creamery Building in the Historic Haymarket. This handmade ice cream shop hides nothing, making the ice cream and waffle cones directly in the front of their store. Customers are invited in by the smells of fresh batter and the sounds of this bustling old school soda shop. While you wait, you have the chance to watch the making process and sample the custom flavors, including my 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. While I usually stick to my regular order, the menu varies day-to-day and includes, in addition to old fashioned ice cream, sherbet, sorbet and gluten free flavors. Ivanna Cone is staple Lincoln experience no matter the time of year, but make sure you bring cash or check.
I’m lucky that I don’t have any food allergies or limitations when it comes to what I can eat. But if you do or 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 near Union College, Goldenrod Pastries is an inclusive bakery and their menu includes pastries designed for vegan, gluten-free and other alternative diets. Goldenrod’s desserts are definitely Instagramable from their yummy bars, French macaroons and desserts with edible flowers to ooey 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. My most recent favorite cakes I saw on their Instagram feed included the text “Happy Cake Day” and “Good Luck Finding Better Coworkers.” Goldenrod’s pink pastries 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 that trusted confidant. Family owned since 1981 and located at 12th & P (and Gateway Mall), the Cookie Company features cookies the size of your hand and they’re served in singles or by the dozen. I often 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 is out of this world. Paired with a 50-cent Coke, it’s my go-to to get me through the 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 the be the office hero, Cookie Company has your back 6-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 lucky for me, hidden below the Haymarket at 8th & 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 tucked 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, making it always a good idea to come back by. 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 bring wine or beer to a gathering, I prefer to bring dessert. And to make it as easy as grabbing a box of Franzia or a six pack of something, I swing by Butterfly Bakery in central Lincoln on 33rd Street. This full service bakery is one of my favorites in the city. But 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 with these bite sized concoctions. 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.
No matter if you’re looking for a pick me up or you need treats for a dinner party or for that special someone’s birthday, 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.