It’s not just vegans who are making Modern Love, the first restaurant opened by vegan chef and cookbook writer Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Omaha’s biggest hot spot. The restaurant is drawing in meat eaters from all over the city to try what Moskowitz calls “swanky comfort food” that just happens to be meat and dairy-free. House favorites include Mac & Shews (made with cashew cheese), pecan crusted tofu, barbecue cauliflower, braised kale, and any of the seasonal pies. Moskowitz has plans for a second location of Modern Love, this one in Brooklyn, aiming for a 2016 opening.
Beansmith opened a shop in downtown Omaha, and together with the Blackstone District’s Archetype Coffee, is elevating the city’s coffee offerings to new heights. Beansmith’s downtown location serves its house-roasted beans and all the of-the-moment coffees, including pour-over and on-tap nitro cold brew.
Pitch Pizzeria, long a midtown Omaha favorite, has gone west, opening a second location near 180th and West Dodge on the outskirts of the city. Diners will find the same vibrant atmosphere as they did at the Dundee original and the same popular coal-fired pizza. Plus, the west Pitch has a popular and sizable rooftop patio for outdoor seating.
With a crack kitchen team led by chef Matt Moser (Plank Seafood Provisions), the Market House opened this summer in a historic Old Market spot long-occupied by Italian mainstay Vivace. The space got a complete makeover and a small plates menu to match. Dishes range from a modern take on Sunday gravy with smoked pork sugo and a trout rillette with avocado, both spread on crusty grilled bread, to larger dishes like brick-grilled chicken and a burger complete with "secret sauce."
When a craft cocktail bar with a food menu of burgers and tater tots teams with a local ramen chef, a hot spot is born. During the week at Nite Owl, which is in the city’s recently redeveloped Blackstone District near 40th and Farnam Streets, there’s an ever evolving list of craft cocktails and a food menu including the popular tot-chos: tater tots topped with queso, cilantro, queso fresco, and crema. On Sundays, the bar partners with Ugly Duck Ramen, which stages Japanese pop-up restaurants all over town, and serves soup and sweets until the supply runs out, which it almost always does.
A wide selection of wine and an attractive indoor-outdoor patio area made the second location for Corkscrew a summertime Omaha favorite. The bar is smartly up-to-date on wine trends — this summer marked the first annual “rosé week” — and the menu is full of small bites like cheese, olives, and flatbreads that pair well with a glass or a bottle.
Another downtown staple that moved west, Blatt Beer & Table is now serving its popular burger, vegan currywurst sausage, and mac and cheese to diners on the other side of town. The restaurant, owned by the locally-based Flagship Restaurant Group, will soon get a third location inside the city’s first food hall, which the restaurateurs will open inside the Westroads Mall this fall.
Omaha’s craft beer scene is becoming as robust as its coffee scene, and where the city was once lacking in both areas, things have changed. Local, a new downtown tavern, is doing its part with a list of more than 100 beers, most of them brewed in Nebraska and Iowa —including from breweries that otherwise aren’t available in Omaha. Keep an eye out for small batch, special edition choices.