Unique Restaurants in Omaha: 11 Off-Beat Dining Spots and Cafes in the Gateway to the West

by Jen
Unique Restaurants in Omaha
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Discover the charm of Omaha through its culinary wonders. Our guide showcases unique restaurants in Omaha, each offering a distinct flavor and experience. From mystery dinners to board game cafes, get ready to explore the city’s most intriguing dining spots.

In this journey through Omaha’s most distinctive eateries, we’ll explore places that offer more than just a meal. Each restaurant we visit tells a story, whether it’s through its quirky decor, fascinating history, or innovative cuisine. Imagine dining amidst an art museum, enjoying a meal in a place that’s been serving for over a century, or even solving a mystery while you eat. Omaha has it all!

Our exploration will take us to spots where the atmosphere is as captivating as the food. Think of a restaurant where you can dine alongside raccoons, or a café that doubles as a haven for board game enthusiasts. Omaha’s dining scene is a canvas of creativity and tradition, blending the old with the new in exciting ways.

So, buckle up for a culinary adventure that will tantalize your taste buds and ignite your imagination within these Nebraska gems. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, these unique dining experiences in Omaha are sure to leave you with lasting memories and a desire to explore more. Let’s dive into the world of Omaha’s most extraordinary restaurants!

The top restaurants to visit in Omaha right now

Unique Restaurants in Omaha: 11 Incredible Omaha Eateries

From quirky cafes to innovative eateries, Omaha surprises with its culinary creativity. Join us as we uncover the city’s most distinctive dining experiences.

1. Alpine Inn

In the heart of Omaha lies Alpine Inn, a place that redefines dining with a wild twist. This family-owned gem has been a part of Omaha’s dining scene since 1973. It’s not just the award-winning fried chicken that draws people here, it’s the unique dining companions – raccoons!

As you enjoy their famous chicken made from a family recipe, you can watch feral raccoons from the surrounding Ponca Hills. They come to snack on food scraps on the patio. This interaction has been a tradition for nearly 50 years, making it one of the most fun places to eat in Omaha.

The restaurant’s decor adds to its charm. You’ll find racing trophies and photographs of Glenn Robey, the founder, who was also a champion stock car driver. Velvet paintings and trinkets of mischievous raccoons adorn the walls, adding to the quirky atmosphere!

But it’s the raccoons that steal the show. As dusk falls, these nocturnal visitors put on a performance, munching on crispy chicken and potatoes. It’s a sight that captivates both adults and children alike. The Alpine Inn offers a unique blend of delicious food and unexpected entertainment, making it a must-visit among the unique restaurants in Omaha!

Alpine Inn is one of the unique restaurants in Omaha.
Alpine Inn, serving since 1973, offers award-winning fried chicken alongside unexpected dining partners: raccoons!

2. Brother Sebastian’s Steakhouse and Winery

Brother Sebastian’s Steakhouse and Winery stands out as one of the unique restaurants in Omaha for dinner, offering an experience that transcends the ordinary. Stepping into this restaurant is like entering a different world, one that echoes the tranquility and mystique of a monastery. With Gregorian chants filling the air and a building resembling a monastery, the ambiance is immediately captivating.

The restaurant’s theme is meticulously crafted. Servers dressed as Franciscan monks add to the authenticity, serving guests in dining rooms warmed by fireplaces. The decor, featuring casks, bottles, and books, complements the monastery theme perfectly. This attention to detail has made Brother Sebastian’s a top choice among the best places to eat in Omaha, especially for those seeking a romantic and upscale dining experience.

Founded in 1977 by Loren Koch, the restaurant has a rich history. It was rebuilt in 1997 after a devastating fire, a testament to Koch’s dedication to his vision and his staff. It’s rumored to be home to a friendly spectral patron, adding a touch of mystery to the dining experience. This spirit, known to playfully interact with guests and staff, contributes to the restaurant’s unique charm.

Brother Sebastian’s Steakhouse offers a monastery-like dining experience.
Brother Sebastian’s Steakhouse offers a monastery-like dining experience.

3. Edge of the Universe Cafe and Art Museum

Have you ever sipped coffee in a masterpiece? At Edge of the Universe Cafe and Art Museum, this fantasy becomes reality. Nestled in Omaha’s Benson neighborhood, this cafe is a haven for art lovers and coffee enthusiasts alike. It’s a standout among themed restaurants in Omaha, offering an immersive experience that changes every few months.

Co-owners Rachel Evans and Adam Van Osdel, with backgrounds in museum curation, opened Edge of the Universe in October 2020. Their vision was to create a space that constantly evolves, offering guests a new world to explore with each visit. The cafe has featured themes like ‘Happily Ever After’ and ‘Starry Starry Night’, each transforming the space into a living artwork.

Imagine stepping into Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, surrounded by a mural that mimics the iconic painting. This is the level of detail and creativity that makes Edge of the Universe one of the coolest restaurants in Omaha. The themes extend to their drinks too, with offerings like Vincent’s Vice and Celestial Cider, alongside unique creations like the Hannah Montana-inspired latte. The cafe collaborates with local artists to bring each theme to life, making it a dynamic space that celebrates creativity and community.

Edge of the Universe Cafe offers an ever-changing immersive experience for art and coffee enthusiasts.
Edge of the Universe Cafe offers an ever-changing immersive experience for art and coffee enthusiasts. | Source: https://nebraskanewsservice.net/multimedia/

4. Johnny’s Cafe

What does it take for a restaurant to become a legend? At Johnny’s Cafe, a century of serving prime rib and history has made it a cornerstone among unique Omaha restaurants. This iconic steakhouse, nestled in South Omaha, is a living archive of the city’s vibrant past.

Founded in 1922 by Polish immigrant Frank Kawa, Johnny’s Cafe has witnessed the ebb and flow of Omaha’s history. From the rise and fall of the stockyards to surviving Prohibition and a pandemic, this restaurant has stood as a testament to resilience and tradition.

The ambiance of Johnny’s Cafe transports you back in time. The dining room, with its backlit landscape mural, and the bar, adorned with cowboy memorabilia and saddle barstools, evoke a sense of nostalgia. It’s a setting that complements their famous prime rib, a dish that has been a staple on their menu for decades.

Each corner of the restaurant holds memories of the countless families, cattlemen, and locals who have passed through its doors. It’s a place where generations have gathered, making it one of Omaha’s best restaurants for those seeking a slice of history with their meal. Today, the Kawa family continues the legacy, maintaining the quality and charm that have defined Johnny’s Cafe for 100 years.

Johnny's Cafe is a century-old steakhouse that embodies the city's history with legendary prime rib.
Johnny’s Cafe is a century-old steakhouse that embodies the city’s history with legendary prime rib.

5. Surfside Club

The story of Surfside Club is a testament to resilience and charm. Situated near the Neale Woods Nature Center, this riverside eatery has been a staple in Omaha since 1952. A massive flood in 2011 threatened its existence, but the owners’ determination led to a remarkable rebirth in 2013. Surfside Club is a unique restaurant in Omaha where you can watch boats glide by on the river and enjoy local concerts.

Today, Surfside Club is one of the scenic places in Omaha to eat, offering diners a delightful experience by the Missouri River. The renovations brought much-needed upgrades, including shaded outdoor seating and indoor plumbing, enhancing the comfort of riverside dining. The charm of the old shack remains, but with a fresh, welcoming vibe.

The menu at Surfside Club is a fried food lover’s paradise. From fried catfish and chicken to pork tenderloin, the simplicity of the menu is part of its appeal. The catfish, lightly battered and crispy without being greasy, is a standout dish. It’s a place where you can enjoy the simplicity of good food in a beautiful setting.

Surfside Club offers a unique spot to enjoy river views and local concerts.
Surfside Club offers a unique spot to enjoy river views and local concerts.

6. The Dinner Detective

Ever wondered if the person dining next to you could be a part of a thrilling mystery? The Dinner Detective turns this curiosity into a reality. As one of the fun restaurants in Omaha, it offers a unique blend of suspense and dining, making every dinner an unpredictable adventure.

The Dinner Detective stands out as a unique restaurant in Omaha. It’s an interactive murder mystery dinner show where the actors are hidden among the diners. This setup means anyone, including you, could become part of the storyline. The experience begins with an interrogation reception, followed by a multi-course dinner, during which the mystery unfolds.

The show is set in the present day, making it relatable and engaging. Unlike traditional murder mystery dinners, there are no costumes or set time periods. The performers blend in with the guests, creating an immersive and interactive experience. The plot is full of twists and turns, with hidden clues and sudden developments keeping everyone on their toes.

What makes The Dinner Detective a standout experience is the integration of the meal with the show. The dinner is not just a backdrop but a part of the narrative. Guests enjoy a satisfying multi-course meal while engaging with the unfolding drama!

The Dinner Detective is one of the unique restaurants in Omaha.
The Dinner Detective blends dining with suspense, turning every meal into an unpredictable, thrilling adventure.

7. Gather in Omaha

Located in the historic Old Market district, Gather in Omaha has become a beacon of culinary diversity since its opening in fall 2021. It’s a place where the best food in Omaha is served with a twist of innovation and a dash of tradition.

Gather’s menu is a delightful mix of familiar and exotic. You can find a classic hamburger, but with a twist – it’s made with peppery wagyu beef. Then there’s the elk bolognese, a bold dish that combines elk, wagyu, and bison meat, showcasing Gather’s commitment to unique flavors. The restaurant’s focus on wild game, a nod to its original location in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, adds a distinctive flair to its offerings.

The ambiance of Gather complements its diverse menu. The dining room, transformed after a fire, now features art from local artists and a hydroponic garden downstairs. This setting, combined with the restaurant’s eclectic menu, makes Gather one of the best restaurants in Omaha for those seeking a culinary adventure.

Gather in Omaha serves innovative twists on the best of the city's culinary delights.
Gather in Omaha serves innovative twists on the best of the city’s culinary delights.

8. Amazing Pizza Machine

Imagine a place where pizza and play unite in a symphony of fun. Amazing Pizza Machine in Omaha is exactly that – a 60,000 square-foot wonderland where culinary delight meets entertainment. It’s one of the unique places to eat in Omaha, offering an experience that’s as much about fun as it is about food.

This family entertainment facility is a paradise for all ages. With over 100 items made fresh daily, their Amazing Buffet is a feast for the senses. Diners can enjoy their meal in themed dining rooms like Johnny Sprockets Cosmic Café or Luigi’s Italian Café, each adding a unique twist to the dining experience. But the fun doesn’t stop at the table. The Amazing Arcade, boasting over 170 video and arcade games, along with attractions like laser tag and go-karts, ensures a memorable visit.

The Amazing Pizza Machine is more than just a restaurant; it’s a destination. It’s the perfect spot for birthday parties or team-building events, where food and fun intertwine. Whether you’re indulging in the buffet or racing in the Grand Spree Raceway, it’s a place where family memories are made and the spirit of play is alive and well.

Amazing Pizza Machine combines food and fun in a 60,000 square-foot wonderland.
Amazing Pizza Machine combines food and fun in a 60,000 square-foot wonderland.

9. Spielbound Cafe

What if a cafe could turn every visit into a playful adventure? Spielbound Cafe does just that, blending the love for coffee with the passion for board games. It’s a fun place to eat in Omaha, where the aroma of coffee mingles with the excitement of gaming.

Located at the heart of Omaha, near Midtown Crossing, Spielbound Cafe boasts the largest playable collection of board games in the United States. With over 1500 games, from family classics like Monopoly to strategy games like Agricola, the cafe offers an experience that goes beyond just dining. It’s a place where you can challenge friends to a game, learn new ones at daily tutorials, or simply enjoy the lively atmosphere.

The cafe serves traditional coffee house items, craft beer, and wine, ensuring there’s something for every palate. Whether you’re sipping on a locally roasted coffee or trying one of the eight rotating craft beers, Spielbound Cafe offers a unique blend of culinary and gaming experiences.

Spielbound Cafe merges coffee and board games, creating a playful dining spot.
Spielbound Cafe merges coffee and board games, creating a playful dining spot.

10. CTRL Coffee and Cereal Bar

Welcome to the coffee shop where your childhood and adult pleasures merge seamlessly. CTRL Coffee and Cereal Bar is just that – a vibrant, retro-themed hub that combines the love for coffee with the nostalgia of classic video games. It’s a fun restaurant in Omaha that offers a unique twist to your typical coffee break.

Upon entering CTRL, customers are greeted by a lively interior adorned with a colorful line of blue, white, red, and yellow stretching across the front wall. The decor is a playful homage to retro gaming, complete with small TVs hooked up to classic Nintendo systems and Sega Genesis. It’s a place where parents can relive their childhood memories with their kids, all while enjoying a cup of coffee.

The coffee shop stands out with its innovative menu. Imagine starting your day with a ‘Prince’ – a vanilla cold brew with raspberry cold foam, or perhaps the ‘Betty White’ – a delightful mix of white mocha and strawberry rose. For cereal lovers, CTRL offers a unique experience. Customers can choose from 33 cereals, 18 toppings, and 5 types of milk, recreating the joy of a childhood Saturday morning. This creative approach to dining makes CTRL a must-visit spot in Omaha for those seeking a playful and delicious experience.

CTRL Coffee and Cereal Bar merges coffee and classic video games in a vibrant, retro setting.
CTRL Coffee and Cereal Bar merges coffee and classic video games in a vibrant, retro setting. | Source: https://www.ctrlcoffee.com/

11. Railcar Modern American Kitchen

Railcar Modern American Kitchen offers a culinary journey reminiscent of the golden age of rail travel. Nestled in a Metro strip mall, this hidden gem restaurant in Omaha brings a modern twist to classic dishes, creating a unique dining experience.

The restaurant’s interior evokes the cozy warmth of a railcar, with a menu that’s a fusion of various cultures. From Asiago Crusted Chicken Schnitzel, a crowd favorite, to the Railcar Burger topped with jalapeno jack cheese and apple-bacon jam, each dish is a nod to the diverse culinary heritage of America. The menu also features a delightful mix of Asian, Cajun, and Spanish influences, all with a Midwestern touch.

The dessert menu, featuring items like cinnamon-sugar coated cronuts served with ice cream and homemade whipped cream, is a testament to the restaurant’s commitment to indulgence. It’s a place where every bite tells a story, inviting diners to embark on a flavorful journey through time and culture.

Railcar Modern American Kitchen is one of the unique restaurants in Omaha.
Railcar Modern American Kitchen offers a unique dining experience inspired by the golden age of rail travel. | Source: https://railcaromaha.com/

Frequently Asked Questions About the Unique Places to Eat in Omaha

Our Omaha restaurant guide answers your top questions about the city’s diverse and exciting food scene.

What food is Omaha famous for?

Omaha is renowned for its steaks. Known as the ‘Steak Capital of the World,’ the city has a rich history in the meatpacking industry. This legacy is reflected in the high-quality beef served in many local restaurants. Omaha steaks are known for their tenderness and flavor, making them a must-try for meat lovers. Besides steaks, Omaha also offers a diverse culinary scene with everything from farm-to-table eateries to innovative fusion cuisine.

Does Omaha have a lot of restaurants?

Yes, Omaha boasts a vibrant and diverse dining scene with a plethora of restaurants. From cozy cafes to upscale dining establishments, the city caters to a wide range of tastes and preferences. Whether you’re in the mood for classic American fare, ethnic cuisine, or experimental dishes, Omaha’s restaurant scene has something to offer. The city’s growth in culinary offerings reflects its evolving cultural landscape.

Is Omaha a foodie city?

Absolutely, Omaha has emerged as a foodie city, offering a rich tapestry of culinary experiences. The city’s food scene is marked by a blend of traditional Midwestern fare and innovative cuisine. With a growing number of farm-to-table restaurants, ethnic eateries, and gourmet dining options, Omaha is attracting food enthusiasts from all over. The city’s annual events like Omaha Restaurant Week further highlight its status as a burgeoning culinary destination.

Kitchen Table showcases delectable farm-to-table dishes and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
Kitchen Table showcases delectable farm-to-table dishes and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

What are some unique restaurants in Omaha?

Omaha is home to several unique restaurants that offer more than just great food. For instance, The Dinner Detective provides an interactive murder mystery experience along with a delicious meal. Spielbound Cafe combines a love for board games with a cozy cafe atmosphere. These establishments, among others, offer unique dining experiences that go beyond the traditional restaurant setting, making Omaha’s culinary scene diverse and exciting.

Can I find international cuisine in Omaha?

Yes, Omaha’s culinary landscape includes a wide array of international cuisines. The city’s dining scene features restaurants serving authentic Mexican, Italian, Asian, Mediterranean, and African dishes, among others. This diversity is a testament to Omaha’s multicultural community and its influence on the local food scene. Whether you’re craving sushi, pasta, tacos, or curry, Omaha has a restaurant that will satisfy your taste buds.

Are there vegetarian and vegan options in Omaha?

Omaha caters well to vegetarian and vegan diners, with many restaurants offering plant-based menus. These establishments range from casual cafes to fine dining restaurants, ensuring that vegetarian and vegan options are accessible and varied. In addition to dedicated vegetarian and vegan eateries, many traditional restaurants include plant-based dishes on their menus.

What are some must-try dishes in Omaha?

When in Omaha, trying the famous Omaha steak is a must. For those looking for something different, the Reuben sandwich, which has roots in Omaha, is another local favorite. Ethnic restaurants offer a range of must-try dishes like authentic Mexican tacos, Italian pasta, and Asian stir-fries. For dessert, don’t miss out on the unique sweet treats like cronuts at Railcar Modern American Kitchen.

Are there any food tours available in Omaha?

Yes, food tours are available in Omaha and are a great way to explore the city’s culinary landscape. These tours often include visits to several restaurants and food establishments, giving participants a taste of Omaha’s diverse food scene. From historic districts to trendy neighborhoods, these tours provide insights into the local culture and cuisine.

Final Thoughts On Unique Omaha Restaurants

As we wrap up our exploration of Omaha’s dining scene, it’s clear that even as you fly from Omaha, the city remains a treasure trove of culinary delights. Each of the unique restaurants in Omaha we’ve visited offers not just a meal, but an experience that stays with you. From the interactive mystery at The Dinner Detective to the playful atmosphere of the Amazing Pizza Machine, these eateries are about more than just food; they’re about creating memories.

As you explore these restaurants, you’ll find that each one adds its own flavor to the city’s vibrant food culture. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, these dining spots are sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

The top restaurants in Omaha for all types of travelers
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