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Saturday, January 09, 2015

Best-ter-est of Omaha Restaurants Award Winners - 2014

posted by snekse

It had been 5 years since we conducted a Best-ter-est of Omaha reader poll. Looking at the old results, it's easy to see why it was time to do another one.

Though we'll never have the voter turnout that some other polls may have, I'm okay with that. Quality is what matters. I view this as a curated list. Curated by the die hard food fans that encourage restaurateurs to bring new ideas into Omaha. Curated by the people that aren't satisfied with good enough ― the passionate that will seek out the best, travel into the unknown, and support our favorites through fervent word of mouth praise.

Thank you for being part of our curation team and being part of our effort to praise the Best-ter-est of Omaha.

The Results

The results below are separated into 3 sections.

First we have our category results. We list the top 3 in each category. We may list more if we found the additional results interesting. There are some categories that we list less than 3. That means we just didn't get enough responses to be of interest. If a winner trumped the competition by a large margin, we list the ratio (e.g. 2:1). We also included some color commentary for many categories.

Next we have some favorites dishes. These are just the dishes that had multiple votes. Please take a chance to look at the raw data to see all the nominees in this category. It's pretty interesting.

Finally we have Omaha's Favorite Restaurants. It's what makes everything worthwhile.

UPDATE: We had a reader point out to us that Hiro and Hiro 88 are technically the same restaurant (same menu, management, etc). The revised results are below. The categories that were impacted are marked with a * [Best Sushi, Best Japanese, Favorite Restaurants]

And the winners are...

Best American Restaurant

Block 16

1st Place WINNER 2:1 - 18 Votes

Lot 2

2nd Place - 9 Votes

Boiler Room

3rd Place - 4 Votes

J Coco

4th Place TIE - 3 Votes

Jams

4th Place TIE - 3 Votes

Blatt Beer & Table

4th Place TIE - 3 Votes

Grey Plume

5th Place TIE - 2 Votes

Railcar

5th Place TIE - 2 Votes

Salt 88

5th Place TIE - 2 Votes

Best American Restaurant is confusing, because what is "American" cuisine?  I think most of the restaurants nominated fit the bill, but there is a long flat tail.

Best Bagel Shop

Bagel Bin

1st Place WINNER - 16 Votes

Bruegger's Bagels

2nd Place - 13 Votes

Panera

3rd Place - 7 Votes

Best Bagel will probably go away next time. Let's just call Bagel Bin the best and be done with it until a competitor arrives.

Best Bar-B-Que Restaurant

Hartland BBQ

1st Place WINNER 3:1 - 14 Votes

Parker's Smokehouse

2nd Place - 4 Votes

Famous Dave's

3rd Place - 3 Votes

Skeet's

4th Place - 2 Votes TIE

Ozarks

4th Place - 2 Votes TIE

Boxer BBQ

4th Place - 2 Votes TIE

BBQ is divisive and our results conflict greatly with the recent OWH food crawl.

Best Chinese Restaurant

Canton House

1st Place WINNER TIE - 5 Votes

JC Mandarin

1st Place WINNER TIE - 5 Votes

Rice Bowl

1st Place WINNER TIE - 5 Votes

New Gold Mountain

2nd Place TIE - 4 Votes

Golden Palace

2nd Place TIE - 4 Votes

Three Happiness

2nd Place TIE - 4 Votes

Omaha still lacks a sense for authentic Chinese food. If you've never been to Canton house, go check it out. And always ask to see the other menu at a Chinese restaurant. They may not have one, but chances are, they do and if you have round eyes, you didn't get it when you walked through the door.

Best Coffee Shop

Archetype Coffee

1st Place WINNER - 7 Votes

Scooter's

2nd Place - 6 Votes

Aromas

3rd Place - 5 Votes TIE

Caffeine Dreams

3rd Place - 5 Votes TIE

Blue Line

4th Place - 4 Votes TIE

Crane Coffee

4th Place - 4 Votes TIE

Best Coffee shop is probably dominated by shops that are close to where a voter lives. Not too many people are going to travel out of their way.

Best French Restaurant

Le Bouillon

1st Place WINNER - 21 Votes

Le Voltaire

2nd Place - 16 Votes

Dario's Brasserie

3rd Place - 6 Votes

It's funny to see the Best French Restaurant list now that there's an actual French restaurant in the French Cafe space.

Best Greek Restaurant

Greek Islands

1st Place WINNER 2:1 - 18 Votes

Jim and Jennie's Greek Village

2nd Place TIE - 7 Votes

Katie's

2nd Place TIE - 7 Votes

Feta's

3rd Place - 3 Votes

Best Indian Restaurant

Mother India

1st Place WINNER - 14 Votes

Jaipur

2nd Place - 11 Votes

Curri

3rd Place - 5 Votes TIE

Flavors

3rd Place - 5 Votes TIE

Kurry Xpress

3rd Place - 5 Votes TIE

Best Italian Restaurant

Avoli Osteria

1st Place WINNER 2:1 - 18 Votes

Lo Sole Mio

2nd Place - 9 Votes

Dante's Pizzeria

3rd Place - 7 Votes

Pasta Amore

4th Place - 5 Votes

Nicola's

5th Place - 3 Votes

Best Japanese Restaurant *

Hiro / Hiro 88

1st Place WINNER - 14 Votes

Sakura Bana

2nd Place - 13 Votes

Sushi Japan

3rd Place - 8 Votes

Best Korean Restaurant

Maru

1st Place WINNER - 10 Votes

Korea King

2nd Place - 4 Votes TIE

Korean Grill

2nd Place - 4 Votes TIE

Wongs Hunan Garden

3rd Place - 2 Votes

Omaha is still pretty weak in selection for Korean restaurants. It's too bad; I think a really good Korean Restaurant would walk away with a Good for Groups category. All those delicious banchan.

Best Mexican Restaurant

Rivera's

1st Place WINNER 2:1 - 10 Votes

Taqueria Tijuana

2nd Place - 5 Votes

Hector's

3rd Place TIE - 4 Votes

Cilantro's

3rd Place TIE - 4 Votes

Taqueria El Rey

4th Place TIE - 3 Votes

Mula

4th Place TIE - 3 Votes

Dos de Oros Taco Truck

4th Place TIE - 3 Votes

If I find the time, I'd like to put all of the Best Mexican restaurant nominees on a map. Overall I think the nominations were very solid. The problem is that there's actually too many good places, but none that really stand out as a level about the rest. It makes for very split results. I think Rivera's won because it's good, fairly  authentic, and it has the benefit of being out West. But hey, compared to 2009, this list is pretty good.

Best Seafood Restaurant

(Not sushi)

Taita

1st Place WINNER - 15 Votes

Shuck's

2nd Place - 12 Votes

Plank

3rd Place - 10 Votes

Remember when Charlie's on the Lake used to walk away with the Best Seafood category?

Best Soul Food

Big Mama's Kitchen

1st Place WINNER 4:1 - 12 Votes

Omaha needs a Soul Food Culinary Tour. There are many places other than Big Mama's. I didn't list any other results because I think the category was a wash (aka not useful). Check out the nominations if this is an area you're interested in.

Best Steak House

(Focus is steaks)

Drover

1st Place WINNER 4:1 - 24 Votes

Spencer's

2nd Place - 6 Votes

801 Chop House

3rd Place - 5 Votes

The Drover crushed it. If you look at the Best Steak, Best Classic Restaurant, Where to Take Guests, Favorite Dish and Favorite Restaurants - it did very well.

Best Sushi Restaurant *

Hiro / Hiro 88

1st Place WINNER 2:1 - 22 Votes

Taita

2nd Place - 8 Votes

Blue Sushi

3rd Place - 7 Votes TIE

Sakura Bana

3rd Place - 7 Votes TIE

Sushi Japan

3rd Place - 7 Votes TIE

It's funny how personal favorite sushi restaurants are. But Hiro really broke away from the pack. Reverse Happy Hour? You can't say it's the multiple locations because that didn't help Blue very much.

Best Thai Restaurant

Salween Thai

1st Place WINNER - 16 Votes

Mai Thai

2nd Place - 9 Votes

Bangkok Cuisine

3rd Place - 5 Votes TIE

Laos Thai on 24th

3rd Place - 5 Votes TIE

Thai Spice

3rd Place - 5 Votes TIE

Best Burrito Spot

Qdoba

1st Place WINNER scattered- 4 Votes

Chipotle

2nd Place TIE - 3 Votes

De Leon's

2nd Place TIE - 3 Votes

Taqueria El Rey

2nd Place TIE - 3 Votes

Omaha is not a burrito town. Not sure why.

Best French Fries

Dario's Brasserie

1st Place WINNER 2:1 - 14 Votes

Block 16

2nd Place - 7 Votes

Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob

3rd Place - 4 Votes TIE

Runza

3rd Place - 4 Votes TIE

Omaha loves their Runza. Runza and Frings seems to be the thing.

Best Fried Chicken Spot

Block 16

1st Place WINNER - 9 Votes

Time Out Chicken

2nd Place - 5 Votes

Big Mama's Kitchen

3rd Place - 3 Votes TIE

Jack and Mary's

3rd Place - 3 Votes TIE

Popeye's

3rd Place - 3 Votes TIE

I'm fully expecting to see Heritage on this Best Fried Chicken list next time. I was surprised to see a lot of places from 2009 fall off the nominations list.

Best Hamburger Spot

Stella's

1st Place WINNER - 18 Votes

Block 16

2nd Place - 11 Votes

Dinkers

3rd Place - 3 Votes TIE

Goldberg's

3rd Place - 3 Votes TIE

Louie M's Burger Lust

3rd Place - 3 Votes TIE

Best Hot Wings Spot

Oscar's

1st Place WINNER 2:1 - 10 Votes

Crescent Moon

2nd Place - 4 Votes

Wing Stop

3rd Place - 3 Votes

Best Onion Rings

* low number of total votes

Big Fred's

1st Place WINNER TIE - 4 Votes

Runza

1st Place WINNER TIE - 4 Votes

Block 16

2nd Place - 3 Votes

I would love to do an Onion Ring Food Crawl. Heck, you could start an entire blog around the topic. Though it seems Omaha doesn't have the same fondness for rings as I do.

Best Restaurant for Pasta

Avoli Osteria

1st Place WINNER 2:1 - 18 Votes

Lo Sole Mio

2nd Place - 7 Votes

Dante's Pizzeria

3rd Place - 5 Votes

Pasta Amore

4th Place - 4 Votes

Best Restaurant for Pizza

Dante's Pizzeria

1st Place WINNER 3:1 - 22 Votes

Pitch

2nd Place - 7 Votes

La Casa

3rd Place TIE - 4 Votes

Mama's

3rd Place TIE - 4 Votes

I was surprised to see so much solidarity around Best Restaurant for Pizza. It's a topic with strong opinions - crust, sauce, toppings - but Dante's really seems to please the GFC crowd.

Best Sandwich Shop

Block 16

1st Place WINNER - 8 Votes

Worker's Takeout

2nd Place - 5 Votes

Gandolfo's

3rd Place - 4 Votes

Firehouse subs

4th Place - 3 Votes TIE

Kitchen Table

4th Place - 3 Votes TIE

Star Deli

4th Place - 3 Votes TIE

Best Breakfast Spot

Over Easy

1st Place WINNER - 9 Votes

Lisa's Radial Cafe

2nd Place - 6 Votes

Dixie Quicks

3rd Place TIE - 5 Votes

11-worth Cafe

3rd Place TIE - 5 Votes

Bailey's

4th Place - 4 Votes

Best Brunch

Lot 2

1st Place WINNER - 8 Votes

Dixie Quicks

2nd Place - 6 Votes

Le Bouillon

3rd Place - 5 Votes TIE

Taxi's

3rd Place - 5 Votes TIE

Best Buffet

Flavors

1st Place WINNER - 5 Votes

China Buffet

2nd Place - 4 Votes

There are rarely winners in Best Buffet.

Best Desserts

Delice

1st Place WINNER - 4 Votes

Grey Plume

2nd Place TIE - 3 Votes

Wheatfields

2nd Place TIE - 3 Votes

Le Bouillon

3rd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Mark's Bistro

3rd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Vivace

3rd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Omaha needs more dessert focused locations that aren't just Ice Cream.

Best Family Restaurant

Cheddar's

1st Place WINNER- 3 Votes

Over Easy

2nd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Upstream Brewery

2nd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Millard Road House

2nd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Omaha doesn't like family restaurants, or your favorite family restaurant is the one closest to you resulting in a very split vote.

Where You Take Out

of Town Guests

Drover

1st Place WINNER - 6 Votes

Grey Plume

2nd Place TIE - 4 Votes

Lot 2

2nd Place TIE - 4 Votes

Block 16

3rd Place TIE - 3 Votes

Boiler Room

3rd Place TIE - 3 Votes

Dante's Pizzeria

3rd Place TIE - 3 Votes

M's Pub

3rd Place TIE - 3 Votes

Best Restaurant for

a Business Lunch

Block 16

1st Place WINNER TIE - 3 Votes

J Coco

1st Place WINNER TIE - 3 Votes

M's Pub

1st Place WINNER TIE - 3 Votes

Charleston's

2nd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Sullivan's

2nd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Wilson & Washburn

2nd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Best "Theme" categories aren't very telling. When the winner of Best Restaurant for a Business Lunch has a 3 way tie for 1st place with 3 votes each - not very helpful. I'm thinking a Best Service category might be nice, but not if it gets such split results.

Best Restaurant

Happy Hour

Blue Sushi

1st Place WINNER - 5 Votes

Plank

2nd Place - 4 Votes

Best Beverage

Program

Boiler Room

1st Place WINNER 3:1 - 10 Votes

Grey Plume

2nd Place - 3 Votes

Krug Park

3 Votes - No food menu

Best Late Night

Food Spot

Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob

1st Place WINNER - 5 Votes

Localmotive

2nd Place - 4 Votes

Baxter's

3rd Place TIE - 3 Votes

Nite Owl

3rd Place TIE - 3 Votes

Best Food Truck

Localmotive

1st Place WINNER 3:1 - 20 Votes

Taqueria El Rey

2nd Place - 6 Votes

Dos de Oros Taco Truck

3rd Place - 4 Votes

Best Restaurant for

a First Date

Grey Plume

1st Place WINNER TIE - 3 Votes

Le Bouillon

1st Place WINNER TIE - 3 Votes

Boiler Room

2nd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Espana

2nd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Kona Grill

2nd Place TIE - 2 Votes

La Buvette

2nd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Lot 2

2nd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Most Romantic

Restaurant

V. Mertz

1st Place WINNER - 5 Votes

Boiler Room

2nd Place - 4 Votes

Dario's Brasserie

3rd Place TIE - 3 Votes

Mark's Bistro

3rd Place TIE - 3 Votes

Most Underrated

Restaurant

Taita

1st Place WINNER 2:1 Scattered - 4 Votes

Avoli Osteria

2nd Place TIE - 2 Votes

Tasty Pastry

2nd Place TIE - 2 Votes

It seems like Omaha has a lot of underrated restaurants. If you look at the raw votes, there were a lot of different places mentioned, just not a lot of consensus.

Most Overrated

Restaurant

* OR added to filter out from analysis

Grey Plume - OR

10 "Winner" 2:1

Blue Sushi - OR

2nd Place - 5 Votes

Gorat's - OR

3rd Place - 3 Votes

Mark's Bistro - OR

3rd Place - 3 Votes

Upstream Brewery - OR

3rd Place - 3 Votes

Omaha has a deep love/hate relationship with The Grey Plume. Most Overrated, but also Best Restaurant, Best Chef, Top 5 Favorite Restaurants, and numerous other top 3 finishes.

Best of the Classics

(Open more than 20 years)

M's Pub

1st Place WINNER - 6 Votes

Drover

2nd Place TIE - 5 Votes

V. Mertz

2nd Place TIE - 5 Votes

Lo Sole Mio

3rd Place TIE - 3 Votes

Piccolo's

3rd Place TIE - 3 Votes

Future Classic

(Open 20 years from now)

Block 16

1st Place WINNER - 6 Votes

Grey Plume

2nd Place - 5 Votes

Dario's Brasserie

3rd Place - 4 Votes

Best New Restaurant

Modern Love

1st Place WINNER - 9 Votes

Pig and Finch

2nd Place - 7 Votes

Le Bouillon

3rd Place - 5 Votes

Look! A Vegan restaurant won Best New Restaurant in Omaha!

Best Chef

Paul Kulik

1st Place WINNER TIE - 10 Votes

Clayton Chapman

1st Place WINNER TIE - 10 Votes

Dario Schicke

2nd Place - 3 Votes

Awesome to see a tie for Best Chef.

Best Restaurant

Grey Plume

1st Place WINNER - 9 Votes

Boiler Room

2nd Place - 6 Votes

Block 16

3rd Place - 5 Votes

Avoli Osteria

4th Place - 4 Votes

Dario's Brasserie

5th Place TIE - 3 Votes

Lot 2

5th Place TIE - 3 Votes

The Best Restaurant list makes me smile. Good job!

Best Dish

The Best [DISH] (Specific Item) categories are tricky and risky. I'm super happy to see we had duplicate submissions in every category meaning there are certain things that certain restaurants are known for. I highly encourage you to review all of the submissions for these. If you sort the category column, you can see which restaurants most frequently have a favorite dish. The Best Pasta Dish is interesting because Dante's Bolognese get the most votes (4), but Avoli had the most total mentions (10 vs 7)

Make sure to look at all of the nominees for Favorite Dish (under the More Best Dishes tab). Lots of good things in there.

Best Bowl of Soup

(Specific menu item)

Brazen Head: Creamy Baked Onion

Mentioned 2x

Sgt. Peffers: Chicken Florentine

Mentioned 2x

Best Dessert

(Specific menu item)

Goldberg's: Bread Pudding

Mentioned 2x

Ted & Wally's: Dutch chocolate ice cream

Mentioned 2x

Best Pasta Dish (Specific menu item)

Dante: Bolognese

Mentioned 4x

Avoli: Carbonara

Mentioned 3x

Avoli: Bolognese Bianco

Mentioned 2x

Avoli: Tajarin all'Uovo w truffles

Mentioned 2x

Dante: Carbonara

Mentioned 2x

Best Pizza

(Specific menu item)

Dante: Margherita

Mentioned 3x

La Casa: Hamburger w/ onions & Romano

Mentioned 3x

Pitch: Shroom Pizza

Mentioned 3x

Dante: Amore di Carne

Mentioned 2x

Dante: Funghi Bianco

Mentioned 2x

Sortino's: Johnny's Surprise

Mentioned 2x

Best Sandwich

(Specific menu item)

French Bulldog: Pork Belly Sandwich

Mentioned 3x

Block 16: Reuben

Mentioned 2x

Kitchen Table: Meatloaf sandwich

Mentioned 2x

Workers' Takeout: Cuban Pork Roast

Mentioned 2x

Best Steak

(Specific menu item)

Drover: Whiskey steak

Mentioned 5x

Best Vegan Dish

(Specific menu item)

Modern Love: Mac & Shews

Mentioned 4x

Favorite Dish

Grey Plume: Duck Fat French Fries

Mentioned 2x

Drover: Whiskey Ribeye

Mentioned 2x

Avoli: Truffle Tajarin all'Uovo

Mentioned 2x

Runza: Swiss Cheese Mushroom Runza

Mentioned 2x

For the Favorite Restaurants, we asked each voter to list their 5 favorite restaurants. I tallied up the number of total times a restaurant appeared, and I also tallied up a weighted amount.  I combined both for a final total.

Omaha's Favorite Restaurants *
Favorite-ter-est towards the top

The Boiler Room

Block 16 

Lot 2 

The Grey Plume

Dante Ristorante Pizzeria

Le Bouillon 

Dario's Brasserie

Avoli Osteria

Taita

Hiro / Hiro 88

Sushi Japan

Le Voltaire

Salween Thai

V. Mertz

The French Bulldog

J. Coco

That right there is a mighty Best-ter-est list.

Thank You Omaha.

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