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Gastronomic Fight Club SM

Mischief. Mayhem. Soup.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chicago Dawg House - Omaha, NE

posted by snekse
I'm not from Chicago, so I can't vouch for the authenticity of the "dawgs" at Chicago Dawg House. I can, however, vouch that it's a tasty dog. And the fact that they ship in most of their product from the windy city has to account for something.

Given the name of the place, the main draw is probably the TRADITIONAL CHICAGO-STYLE HOT DAWG. I can't say it reminded me much of the Chicago dog I had when we visited several years ago. The Omaha version is better and from what I can tell, more authentic. The sport peppers add something really unique - almost like a hot pickle. Of course the bright green relish is another signature of the famous Midwest frankfurters.

Of the things I have tried so far, the traditional is my favorite. Everything else has been good, but nothing really unique that you couldn't find elsewhere. The traditional Chicago hot dog also seems to offer more value than the rest of the menu. I think $2.49 for a corn dog (CUBBY KID) or $4.99 for a polish sausage is a bit too pricey. Add $1.99 for fries and a drink and you're looking at a somewhat costly lunch for what is still just a hot dog. Though it is certainly cheaper than driving to Chicago.

And the prices haven't been keeping people away. Each time I've been there for lunch, the place was pretty packed. Granted the authentic "long bar" wall seating might make it feel more cozy than it really is. Or maybe not. The owner mentioned he'd like to expand if an adjoining bay opened up. Or maybe he'll just open another location since Omaha seems to enjoy the bit of Second City he has brought us.

Rating: 85

Chicago Dawg House
108th & Maple

3113 N. 108th St. (map)
Omaha, NE 68164
Phone: (402) 504-1234

Hours of Operation (Call first)
  Monday-Thursday: 10:30? AM - 9:00? PM
  Friday-Saturday: 11:00? AM - 1:00? AM
  Sunday: Noon - 7:00? PM

GFC in Chicago
Good Dawg: A taste of Chicago you won't soon forget by the Omaha World-Herald

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Taqueria Ramiro & Sons - Alameda, CA

posted by snekse
With the Cinco de Mayo celebrations come and gone, I thought I'd throw out a taqueria challenge. One of the things I hear most often from people who move to Omaha from California is the lack of a good taqueria or taco truck. Just the low key, Mexican street food that really hits the spot in a way restaurant food just never can.

One of our favorite spots to hit in the bay area is Taqueria Ramiro & Sons in Alameda. It's a small spot with a heavy lunch crowd. The decor is minimal, but the food is awesome. The principle differences I've found between the burritos in California versus the ones found in the Midwest are:
  1. The size. You got jipped if your burrito was less than 7" or 8" long. On the same token, it should also be thick. The combination of the two means it should also be heavy.
  2. The wetness. Burritos are not wraps. Steam that $@*|<#?. I should not be able to easily peel open my burrito because the tortilla should be glued to itself. If I find unmelted cheese in yet another Midwest burrito, so help me...
  3. The money shot. The meat should be tender and juicy. By the end, you should have juice dripping down your chin. This is usually the result of long, slow braising while listening to tracks by Barry White and Al Green.

And this mentions nothing about the low prices, the lack of cheddar cheese, and the hand-chopped-to-order carnitas found at Taqueria Ramiro & Sons. All of which I think add to an extra special taqueria.

So here's my challenge: Tell me I'm wrong. Tell me where I can find an outstanding taqueria in Omaha. Bonus points if it's west of 72nd. Double bonus points if it's west of 120th. If you can tell us of one west of 168th, give yourself as many bonus points as you want because you're a liar.

And keep in mind, this is the search for a great taqueria, not a Mexican restaurant. How can you tell the difference? Count the menu items. If you have to count, it's not a taqueria. It should basically just be tacos, burritos - pick your filling.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Omaha doesn't have great Mexican food or that Omaha doesn't have a great taqueria; I'm just saying I haven't found them yet. So clue me in and quit hoarding all of the chicharrones for yourself.

Taqueria's in Omaha
A Foodie's Week in San Francisco
Taqueria Ramiro & Sons on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dinker's Bar & Grill - Omaha, NE

posted by snekse

Dinker's: Omaha's Best Burger

Since Omaha is once again hosting the College World Series (CWS) at Rosenblatt Stadium, I thought I would offer a quick pick restaurant review for one of my favorite places near the stadium. A spot that happens to be perfect for locals and visitors alike who just want the best Omaha has to offer. And if you're able to keep it close to Rosenblatt (and our wonderful Henry Doorly Zoo), even better.

Hopefully our locals and habitual CWS fans are already familiar with Dinker's. It's hard to ignore when driving along I-480 towards Rosenblatt and you see a bright red sign claiming "Omaha's Best Burger". Them's big words in the land of corn-fed beef, Omaha Steaks, and a city that boasts about being "Rare" and "Well Done". Whether they live up to their own hype or not could probably be debated for hours, but I think it's hard to dispute that it's a pretty darn good burger.

So what makes the Dinker Burger such a good hamburger? Well, I think it's the balance. First let me say if you're all about gourmet burgers and would never think about eating a cheeseburger that turns a brown paper bag translucent, then Dinker's is not your thing. That's not to say that their burgers are greasy. This is actually where the balance comes in. I think they strike a good middle ground between a juicy burger and a greasy burger. Another key aspect is using a bun with substance. The slightly starchy thick cut bun stands up well to the equally thick cut patty and all of it's drippings. Other than that, I'd have to say it's the ingredients that really make this burger, so take a little tip here: skip most of the toppings and eat the burger with just a slice of cheese. A much more satisfying experience.

As for the rest of Dinker's, I wish I could say more positive things. The other food I've had is just alright, and the atmosphere would be perfect, except for the Keno = smoking thing. That last one is a real downer and limits my consideration when trying to decide where to eat lunch when we visit the zoo or go see a baseball game. Sad to think of how many burgers I'm missing out on between now and 2011. ***UPDATE*** With the recent law changes, Dinker's is now a non-smoking establishment as are all other restaurants in the Omaha city limits. Thanks to Frank who commented below for pointing that out. For that, they get an extra point on my ratings scale.

Rating: 87

Dinker's Bar & Grill
29th & Martha, just off of I-480

2368 S 29th St (map)
Omaha, NE 68105
Phone: (402) 342-9742

Hours of Operation
  Monday - Saturday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Dinkers Bar on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob - Omaha (Dundee)

posted by snekse
Welcome to our first "quick pick" restaurant review. These reviews are meant for restaurants the typically cost under $10 and are basically meant for quick meals. Nothing fancy, but still worth going out of your way for.

Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob

I looked for the plaque that said "Give us your hungry, your poor, your stumbling masses", but never did find it. Located in the heart of Dundee, Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob serves the late night crowd looking for fuel to get them on to their next destination (be it the next bar, bed, or someone else's bed). Dundee is the perfect location for such a place; downtown being the possible exception, I don't believe this place could survive anywhere else. With minimal seating, foot traffic is a necessity.

The space they do have is a cool mix of cozy and trendy. And the menu reflects the same feeling. There are just 3 items on the menu. Two sandwiches for under $6 and curry fries for about $2.

The Döner Kabob beats a gyro in my book. The slight gaminess of the lamb matched really well with the seasonings and garlic sauce, though I could probably do without the vegetables. The curry fries weren't addictive, but the last few were fought for (in a civilized manner). Both of these would be worth a trip back if I were anywhere East of 90th Street. I wish the same could be said for the Falafel. I'm not a falafel connoisseur by any means, but this was by far the driest I've ever had, rendering it almost inedible if it were not for the sauce and marinated vegetables.

Despite their limited menu, the place seems to be a hit. It was packed just after we arrived for lunch around 1pm, filled with us less insomniacal folks (or those just rolling out of bed at noon).

That's it. Quick pick. We're done. Score, contact info, and other info is at the bottom.

Rating: 85

Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob
Dundee at 50th & Underwood

620 N 50th St. (map)
Omaha, NE 68132
Phone: (402) 504-3223

Hours of Operation
  Monday - Wednesday: Noon - 11:00pm
  Thursday - Saturday: Noon - 2:00am
  Sunday: CLOSED

Okay, one last thing. To go with our first "quick pick" review, we have a picture slide show. These are just the pictures. If you're interested in reading the descriptions and/or comments, I suggest clicking the picture at the top of the post to take you to the corresponding Flickr photo set.

Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob is a hit
Paul Kulik opening 2 new restaurants
AFK on geeks.rate(food)

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