Cantina Bravo–Bethany, OK

Cantina Bravo (Closed)
7000 N.W. 23rd St.
Bethany, OK
Cantina Bravo

Cantina Bravo


Based on some of the reviews I had seen for this restaurant I had the idea that it might be something very special. It had been called a “New Mexican” restaurant by some (food from New Mexico), but I did not see any indication that this was the case. The food was described in terms that whether or not it was true New Mexico style, it was one of the best Mexican restaurants in Oklahoma City (this is subjective, but I did not think it really fell in this category either).

Focusing on the positive, though, is the fact that there is a large selection of authentic Mexican dishes. At one time this would have been a big deal for Oklahoma City, but thankfully there are now a number of restaurants which serve this style of food.

My initial visit was on a Friday night, and I think this is not the time when you get the best service. They have a bar, and it seemed that several of the employees were spending a great deal of time making margaritas and other drinks (probably at the expense of serving tables). There was a large party in the back with several tables pushed together, and I know this was not a normal circumstance even on the weekend. While the restaurant’s popularity makes a statement about the food, I would say I found quite a few drawbacks in coming here at one of their busiest times.

Setups

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

They start out with the usual chips and salsa. Both were better than at some restaurants, but the salsa was the first indication to me that this was not “New Mexican” food. The salsa had a moderate spice level, and was more characteristic of traditional Mexican flavors than of those from New Mexico (actually I would say it was fairly typical of the salsas in Oklahoma–not truly authentic but fairly good).

I did not have a particular reaction to the chips, either positive or negative.

They also have a spicy salsa available on request. I thought it was too spicy, though, full of seeds, and did not have a particularly good flavor (the regular salsa was actually better).

The waitress said they have queso dip but it costs extra.

Mole Poblano

Mole Poblano

Mole Poblano

It was a real treat to have Mole Poblano available on the menu, and naturally I had to take advantage of it. The flavor was a little bland, but it was still a treat to be able to order the dark mole (poblano style). The chicken was a little different than what I think is traditional–they served a whole chicken breast instead of the shredded chicken which I think goes best with the mole.

I was not terribly impressed with the flour tortillas served with the dinner, although I was glad that they were included (you can get tortillas with any meal, though, just by asking for them).

The Rice was good, but the Black Beans were just about the highlight of the meal (and were some of the best I have had anywhere).

Taco Salad

Taco salad

Taco salad

I did not try the taco salad, but I do have a photo of it. I was told it was “bland,” mainly because it had a lot of meat but very little lettuce and other vegetables (I can attest to the fact that under the toppings is mostly ground beef).

One of the attractions of Cantina Bravo is that it has four or five salads on the menu, but apparently some are a little lackluster.

Other Observations
The restaurant does not claim to be “New Mexican”–this is only a statement I saw in some reviews. I think this is because some of the enchiladas come with green sauce (although they apparently do not have a red sauce, as a true New Mexican restaurant would offer).

The menu seems to be a mixture of authentic and American style dishes, but the “gringo” dishes still keep a lot of the Mexican flavors rather than being traditional Tex-Mex food. They did not have horchata, but otherwise the menu was pretty much what I expected.

The staff was clearly struggling to keep up with the crowd that was there the night I went. The kitchen came through, and we got the food we ordered, but otherwise I thought this restaurant was even more problematic than the other Mexican places in town which are traditionally busy on weekends.

In the end the mole was a little disappointing, but I applaud the fact that they put it on the menu, and I do not think my like or dislike of this dish has much relevance to the quality of the other dishes served (enchiladas, etc.). Thus I am giving this review with a little bit of a disclaimer that I have not yet tried a good sample of the food.

Note: Cantina Bravo’s Facebook page says they moved and are now at Rio Grill & Cantina, 119 W. Central Ave., Andover KS 67002


RATING: 20

Cuisine: Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes, but I only found one marked parking space
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Full bar

Most Recent Visit: Jun. 16, 2017

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: Mole Poblano, Black Beans

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 3

 

Special Ratings
star 4 Mole Poblano
star 5 Black Beans
star 4 Rice
star 3 Chips
star 3 Salsa

Menu (Jun. 2017):

Caffe Pranzo–The Village, OK

Caffe Pranzo (Closed)
9622 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
Caffe Pranzo

Caffe Pranzo


I have been told by some owners of Italian restaurants that there is no such thing as “Italian food,” but rather that each region in Italy has developed its own cuisine with certain specialties that seem to set it apart from other parts of the country. Perhaps this is why each Italian restaurant in the U.S. seems to have its own special dishes, its own twist on the food it serves, and its own way of preparing sauces and other essential ingredients.

Caffé Pranzo does indeed have certain dishes that stand out, and this is what has made it one of my favorite Italian restaurants. The quality of the food indicates that there are probably several more outstanding dishes that I have yet to discover.

Prices are a little higher than at most restaurants, and it would probably be classified as one of the city’s “special occasion” restaurants (although not to the point that dressing up would be necessary, especially since a sign in the restaurant says that it is a “neighborhood restaurant”). While some Italian restaurants in town seem to cater more toward families with pizza for the bambini and entrées for the adults, Caffé Pranzo is a more quiet and intimate place geared for a leisurely meal.

Salads and Appetizers

Bread

Complimentary bread

It usually takes time for the meal to be prepared, with the employees keeping a watchful eye to ensure that everything is done correctly. The wait is made less burdensome by fresh bread and a tangy and quite unique olive oil mixture for dipping. Customers are not just given a slice or two of bread, but a whole loaf, and it is quite good.

House salad

House salad with raspberry vinaigrette

Several salads can be ordered, but I thought the House Salad that is available with entrées was just about perfect, with fresh salad greens, olives, and a tangy dressing. This is definitely one of the restaurant’s better features. It was even better, though, with the optional raspberry vinaigrette dressing, and in fact I think this is the best raspberry vinaigrette in OKC.

French onion soup

French onion soup

Several other appetizers are available, and the French onion soup is one of the most popular (and I think also quite good).

Pasta Dishes

Linguini with marinara sauce

“Choose Your Own Pasta” with linguini and marinara sauce

The first dish I tried that grabbed my attention was Linguini with Marinara Sauce. This not only had an excellent plum tomato sauce but also a pasta that was flavorful in its own right. The sauce was spicy almost to the point that I wanted to give it a “chile rating” (that I usually use for Mexican food). It was also on the sweet side, but the thing that made it special seemed to be the tomatoes. Other sauces are also available but I seldom try them, I like this one so much.

The Lasagna had a fairly high tomato sauce to pasta ratio, and some flavorful chunks of Italian sausage. As has been the case with several of Caffé Pranzo’s dishes, the pasta seemed to be of better than usual quality.

Pizza

Margherita pizza

Margherita pizza

I have had mixed results with the brick oven pizzas at Caffé Pranzo. At times I have found the Margherita Pizza to be outstanding, possibly the best in OKC. This was definitely a fresh tasting pizza with the crust tasting just right. On other occasions I ordered the same pizza but found the crust to be droopy, and not crispy enough. The fresh basil has always been one of the best features, but at times there is not enough tomato. Overall, though, this is one of my favorite versions of this type of pizza.

Parmigiana Dishes

Chicken parmigiana

Chicken parmigiana

The Chicken Parmigiana had a high quality cut of chicken with one of the best breadings anywhere, and was covered with cheese and marinara sauce. Having sampled several versions of this dish at different restaurants, I thought this was one of the better ones. Having stated that this is a restaurant where several items stand out as ones I particularly like, I would have to put the chicken parmigiana at the head of the list.

Eggplant parmigiana

Eggplant parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana is another inconsistent item, but at times it has been excellent. At times I have found the breading, sauce, and cheese to have the same excellent quality that I found with the chicken parmigiana. Other times the breading has been too oily. The eggplant itself has always been good.

Ravioli

Ravioli

Fried ravioli

The Ravioli was a rather unique dish because the shells are specially prepared by a lady in town who supplies them to Caffé Pranzo. This is a rather simple dish with the shells and sauce, but I thought the shells were very good (with cheese inside), and were the main reason to try them here as opposed to other restaurants. It is a simple dish with simple flavors, but the freshness and quality are very good.

Primavera Aglio Olio

Primavera aglio olio

Primavera aglio olio

In an attempt to try something different I ordered the Primavera Aglio Olio (actually this was the first time I had ever tried this dish). The good part of this dish was the vegetables and pasta, but I thought it was very strong on garlic and olive oil (perhaps too much so). This is a vegetarian dish and I would recommend it, but several other meatless dishes seemed to have a better flavor, such as the pizza, linguini, and ravioli.

Chicken Cannelloni

Chicken cannelloni

Chicken cannelloni (split in half)

This photo shows an order of Cannelloni split in half, so the full order is quite a bit more substantial. The wilted spinach salad makes an especially appetizing vegetable. The sauce on the cannelloni is also among the best I have tried.

Manicotti
The main disappointment I have had was with an order of Manicotti, and it also seems to have now been dropped from the menu. My dinner was not hot throughout, leading to the conclusion that it had been frozen or refrigerated, and not heated properly before serving. My dining companion did not want to send it back to the kitchen, and it was not cold to the point that it was inedible, but it was nevertheless strange that it would come out this way.

The manicotti came with a choice of sauces (marinara or alfredo) or a mixture of both. This provided a convenient way to test both sauces. As I suspected, I preferred the marinara sauce, but I did not care for the alfredo sauce as much as I thought I would. Maybe others have more of a taste for it than I do.

Closing Comments
Even Papa Dio’s, which is probably my favorite Italian restaurant in Oklahoma City, has certain dishes that I think are better than others, so it does not surprise me that the same would be the case at Caffé Pranzo. Caffé Pranzo has a surprising consistency in quality, though, compared to many other Italian restaurants. I say this because the few times I have had a bad experience here I did not tell the staff so they could make it right, which I assume they would have done. The fact that the salads, soups, and spaghetti are good here, though, tells me that this is a very good restaurant overall.

Caffe Pranzo's saltshaker collection

Each table has a different set of saltshakers, with others on display in the dining room

There is much on Caffé Pranzo’s menu I have not tried, so I do not think I have reached the point of having a conclusive list of recommended dishes. The ones I have listed as “best items,” though, are among the best in the city (as is the ravioli, even though it is not one of my favorite dishes).


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Italian
Cost: $$$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: No (a former handicapped space now has no sign)
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Wine

Most Recent Visit: Jun. 19, 2017
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Linguini Marinara, Chicken Parmigiana

Special Ratings
star 5 Linguini alla Marinara
star 5 Chicken Parmigiana
star 5 Cannelloni
star 5 Margherita Pizza
star 4 Eggplant Parmigiana
star 4 Lasagna
star 4 Ravioli
star 4 Primavera Aglia Olio
star 3 Manicotti
star 4 Tomato Bisque
star 4 House Salad

 

Tommy’s–Oklahoma City, OK

Tommy’s Italian-American Grill (Closed)
5516 W. Memorial Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 470-5577
Tommy's

Tommy’s


Update Apr. 2019: Tommy’s is planning to move to the Waterford Hotel at N.W. 63rd and Pennsylvania Ave. and take over the now closed Bellini’s Restaurant (the owner of Tommy’s was the original owner of Bellini’s, and will reopen under the Bellini’s name).

Writing restaurant reviews has been a good discipline for me, requiring me to analyze different food and to put them on some type of objective rating scale. Of course I know it is an inexact science, but I am very sure about the things I like.

Back in the days when my restaurant visits were for the sole purpose of enjoying the food, one of the places where this was most easily accomplished was at the old Tommy’s in Northpark Mall (at N.W. 122nd and May). The owner of Tommy’s also opened Bellini’s (which is now under different ownership), but the concept of Tommy’s was a little more downscale than Bellini’s. I enjoyed both restaurants, but somehow the food at Tommy’s was more appealing to my tastes, and I particularly thought the the pizza was unmatched in the city for flavor and quality.

The new Tommy’s on Memorial Road (just east of MacArthur) opened in May 2014. The outdoor patio was not yet open at this time, and it did seem as if they had been starting slow, with a “soft opening” taking place in advance of the official one. It is a somewhat casual restaurant where one would feel comfortable dressing up, and the service certainly seems to be on par with the city’s other upscale Italian restaurants. At first I was a little apprehensive that they were trying to be more upscale than the original Tommy’s, but it seems that they have struck the appropriate balance of having good food but not making it so expensive that I have few chances to enjoy it.

Tommy's wood fired oven

Tommy’s wood fired oven

Tommy’s has built a wood fired oven for the pizzas, and the large pizza menu leads me to believe that this is a large part of their business. Even though the pizzas are excellent, they are competitively priced and are a way you can come to the restaurant on a more modest budget.

The restaurant was not trying to sell me drinks, appetizers, or other items which frequently run up the cost of a meal; instead it just seemed that everything was good quality and you could pay a little more if you wanted to go that way.

Salads and Appetizers

Complimentary bread

Complimentary bread

The meal started out with complimentary Bread, and I thought it was about as good as I find in other upscale Italian restaurants. I do not know if they give free refills because I am never able to eat all of the original serving.

House salad

House salad

Salads cost extra, including the House Salad I ordered. The salad was fresh, but to me it seemed “busy” with so many ingredients it really did not have a distinguishing flavor. I do not remember the salads being particularly notable at the old Tommy’s, and probably the same is true here. It is a good filler, though, if you do not think the dinner will be enough for your appetite.

Santa Fe chicken soup

Santa Fe chicken soup

The Santa Fe Chicken Soup was a very good start to one of my meals, with a fresh flavor and large chunks of chicken. The soup contains green chile, although not very much and it is not particularly spicy.

Pizza

Margherita pizza

Margherita pizza

I was very anxious to try the Margherita Pizza, which I remember as being one of the best I have had at the old Tommy’s. This one was as good as I remembered, with excellent cheese and crust (the components of a pizza which I many times find lacking at restaurants). The toppings did not seem any better or worse than at most Italian restaurants, with the exception that it had a rather small amount of basil, but what was there was very aromatic and flavorful (thus the pizza overall still rates as one of my favorites).

Pizzas come in only one size (I believe they told me it was 14 inches), and the one I had was just about right for two people provided they both ordered salads (thus my instinct about ordering the salad was correct). The waiter told me that this pizza had a little different flavor that at the old Tommy’s because of the wood fired grill (considering how good the crust tasted, I would say this was a very good move to make at the new restaurant).

Tommy's New York pizza

Tommy’s New York pizza

Tommy’s New York Pizza is a good choice if you want meat toppings. I thought the pepperoni was best, though, and next time I would skip the sausage. For my taste I would say the Margherita pizza is better because while its toppings are on the sparse side, the New York pizza is a little over the top, particularly with the spicy sausage. The components of Tommy’s pizza I really appreciate are the crust, cheese, and sauce, and I like the pizzas that do not overwhelm these flavors with the toppings.

Lasagna

Lasagna

Lasagna

While I thought the sausage was a little much for the pizza, it is a good mix in the Lasagna (along with the beef). This was one of my favorite dishes at the old Tommy’s, and is less so now because I am not as much of a meat eater (otherwise, though, it is as good as I remembered).

Parmigiana Dishes

Chicken parmigiana

Chicken parmigiana

Chicken Parmigiana so far is my choice as the best meat item at Tommy’s. What I like most about this dish is not that it has a unique style that differentiates it from other restaurants such as Papa Dio’s or Vito’s, but that it is very much the same. The side dishes might be a little more interesting than at the other restaurants, though.

The Eggplant Parmigiana had what to me was a fatal flaw–the eggplant tasted like eggplant. This is somewhat of a joke, but I do think the eggplant is better at some other restaurants.

Chicken Picatta

Chicken picatta

Chicken picatta

The Chicken Picatta was somewhat of a surprise to me because of the fact that it was one of the best dishes I have experienced at Tommy’s (at most restaurants this would not be the case). For me the sauce had the right amount of lemon flavor and the chicken was very good as well. I always consider it a gamble when I order something that does not have red sauce, but in this case it definitely paid off.

Other Comments
I do not know the best dishes here because I mainly stick to the ones I used to order at the old Tommy’s. Having tried the chicken picatta, though, I know it is worth exploring the menu to try other items.

About fifty percent of the reason I like Tommy’s, though, is the pizza. I think it has the best crust in OKC, and the other components are good enough to make this overall one of the best in the city.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Italian
Cost: $$$ (but pizza is cheaper)
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Wine

Most Recent Visit: Jun. 14, 2017
Number of Visits: 6
Best Items: Margherita Pizza, Chicken Parmigiana, Lasagna, Chicken Picatta, Santa Fe Chicken Soup

Special Ratings
star 5 Margharita Pizza
star 5 New York Pizza
star 5 Chicken Parmigiana
star 5 Chicken Picatta
star 5 Lasagna
star 4 Eggplant Parmigiana
star 5 Santa Fe Chicken Soup
star 4 House Salad

Restaurant Guide–Nebraska

Restaurant Guide Main Index


  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

Bellevue

IPho #1–2403 Towne Center Dr. (Vietnamese) Open until 7 pm (closed Sun).  Some say it is excellent, and some say the quality and menu choices are excellent but some items are lacking in the Vietnamese herbs and flavoring they should have. Still, though, it is inexpensive and good. (Takeout only 7-18-20)

Korean Grill–1408 Harlan Dr. (Korean) Closed Sun.  Reviewers say it has a true Korean taste. (Takeout only 8-22-20)

Ono Pinay Kitchen–2221 Madison St. (Filipino & Hawaiian) Lunch only (open Tue-Fri).  Those who seem to know say the Filipino food is authentic. Also has a few Hawaiian dishes (Hawaiian plate lunch style). (Dining room is open 7-18-20)

Quick Bites Soul Food–105 W. Mission Ave. (Soul Food) Closed Sun.  Reviewers say the food has very good flavor and maintains a consistent quality. (Takeout and delivery only 8-22-20)

Columbus

El Mezcal–1012 23rd St. (Mexican) Open daily 11 am to 10 pm.  I am not sure if it authentic, but it serves plate dinners (not just tacos, etc.) and reviews are good. (6-12-19)

Restaurant Vallarta–1153 23rd Ave. (Mexican) Closed Mon & Tue.  This seems to be the most authentic Mexican restaurant in town, but it only serves tacos, tortas, etc. (not plate or combination dinners). (6-12-19)

Fremont

Huey’s Smokehouse BBQ–2204 N. Bell St. (BBQ) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.  One of the best barbecue restaurants in Nebraska–a good place to experience Nebraska style BBQ (which I think is close to Kansas City style). Brisket, turkey, ribs, and pulled pork all get excellent reviews. (6-12-19)

Tortilleria Anita Y Taqueria–207 S. Bell St. (El Salvadorian) Closed Sun.  Has food from El Salvador that reviewers like. (6-12-19)

Gering

Tea Garden–3485 N. 10th St. (Thai).  Reviewers say the Thai food is authentic, and the other food is very good (Chinese, Japanese, even an American breakfast with biscuits and gravy). (6-1-17)

Grand Island

Everest Fusion Indian and Nepalese Cuisine–5012 3rd Ave. (Indian & Nepali) Closed Mon (and closed from 2:30 to 4:30 pm).  People who try the Nepalese dishes say they are quite good and some are very much like Chinese food (but with subtle differences from both Chinese and Indian food). Indian food here is said to be good also. (1-16-20)

Farmer’s Daughter–105 N. Walnut St. (American).  Described as food that a person’s grandmother would have made. Popular for breakfast, but lunch is said to be equally good (I don’t know if it’s open for dinner). Hot beef sandwich is especially recommended. Reviews from 2019 and later, though, indicate that they frequently run out of the daily special and/or items that the reviewers wanted to try unless you get there at noon or shortly thereafter. (1-16-20)

Noodle House–2004 N. Broadwell Ave. (Vietnamese) Closed Mon.  Good reviews, but some indicate that the flavor might be adjusted slightly for American tastes (still very good, though). Has pho and vermicelli dishes. (1-16-20)

We Love Pupusas–1201 S. Locust St. (Salvadoran) Closed Tue.  The reviews seem to be unanimous that the food is delicious (and those who have been to El Salvador say it is authentic). (1-16-20)

Hastings

Odyssey–521 W. 2nd St. (American) Closed Sun.  Has the best reviews in Hastings on Yelp. Steaks and hamburgers seem to be the most popular items, but menu has a lot of other choices. (6-13-19)

The Back Alley Bakery & Restaurant–609 W. 2nd St. (American) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun).  The most notable item here is the cinnamon roll (definitely recommended). The regular menu changes daily and includes such items as quiche, panini, potato leek soup, Asian tuna salad sandwich, and a long list of desserts. (6-13-19)

Kearney

Dash Pizzaria a Flippin Sweet Joint–3905 2nd Ave. (Pizza) Open daily except Sun evening.  This seems to be the most popular restaurant in town with locals, because they say it actually has flavor (as opposed to what passes too often for good food in Nebraska). The Flippin’ Sweet Burger Joint is also very popular in town. (Dining room is open-web site says hours are variable 8-29-20)

Everest Indian and Nepalese–5012 3rd Ave. (Himalayan) Closed Mon.  People appreciate that you can get exotic food in Kearney that is good, and it seems to live up to the standards of being the real deal. However, I saw about 5 items that were reviewed, meaning either that the menu is not very diverse or that there are only a few things that most people order. This seems to be a popular stop for people from Colorado and other places who have a lot of Nepalese restaurants. (Dining room is open 8-30-20)

Suwannee Thai–1420 W. 24th St. (Thai) Closed Sun & Mon.  Good food with fresh vegetables. Most don’t seem to want food spicy or order it that way, so I don’t know if those who want it Thai spicy can get it. Many say, though, that this may be the best Thai in Nebraska. The problem here seems to be one person in the kitchen turning out orders when there are often more customers than the kitchen can handle. (Takeout only 8-30-20)

Lincoln

Amu Manu Ramen Bar–121 Centennial Mall S. (Japanese) Closed Sun evening.  I am not quoting the reviewers exactly, but what I understand is that this is probably not great ramen by west coast standards, but on a cold day on the Nebraska plains this soup makes an excellent meal. For me this would be a lower priority than the other Asian restaurants on this list, but is one I would try if I had the chance. (Temporarily closed 7-18-20)

Daffodil Mediterranean–5500 Old Cheney Rd. (Persian) Closed Sun evening & Mon.  Serves Persian food, and not just kabobs (the plate dinners look very good from the photos). (Dining room is open 7-18-20)

Hub Cafe–250 N. 21st St. (New American) Open 7:30 am to 2:30 pm; Dinner Thu-Sat (closed Mon & Tue).  This is a “Farm to Fork” restaurant with both higher prices and higher quality than most other places. Has some interesting items such as Moroccan mint tea, avocado and preserved lemon toast for breakfast, gyros, huevos rancheros. Breakfast is served all day; lunch available after 11 am; brunch on Sat & Sun. (Dining room is open 7-18-20)

Imperial Palace–701 N. 27th St. (Chinese) Open daily except Sat lunch.  Has a “secret” menu with authentic Chinese food (just ask for the Chinese menu). Seems to specialize in spicy food (northern Chinese and Sichuan style). (Dining room is open 7-18-20)

Lan House–1226 P St. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Home of authentic lanzhou (hand pulled) noodles. Noodle dish is served with a very overwhelming amount of chile oil, but it is not overwhelmingly spicy, just oily (much as I have found authentic Sichuanese food to be). A Journal-Star article recommends the soup instead of the noodle plate (it is not covered in chile oil). Has many other items besides its specialty noodle dishes, and these are said to be very good as well. (Takeout and delivery only 7-18-20)

Mr. Hui’s–3255 Cornhusker Hwy. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Said to be mostly real-deal Chinese and Taiwanese food (Chinese food is mostly spicy Sichuan style). (Takeout and delivery only 7-18-20)

Sebastian’s Table–8340 Glynoaks Dr. (Tapas) Dinner only (closed Mon).  The main theme here is Spanish style tapas, with upscale food on small plates. Albondigas (meatballs) seems to be the most popular dish. Also has regular dinners including steak (but the toppings and seasonings are Spanish style). Has paella. I think there are limited items here that would fit into my normal price range for being on this list. (Dining room is open 7-18-20)

Stur 22 Lounge–2110 Winthrop Rd. (African & Caribbean) Dinner only (closed Mon).  Doesn’t just offer some of the well known Caribbean dishes, but has a wide choice of Caribbean and African dishes (and people say they are glad they tried them). African stew is recommended. (Takeout and delivery only 7-18-20)

The Oven–201 N. 8th St. (Indian) Open daily except Sun lunch.  This is not a buffet restaurant–you order from the menu, and they emphasize quality over quantity. Has specialties from Bhutan as well as Indian food (Bhutanese food is said to be more milk or cream based than the regular Indian curry based food). Malai kofta has good reviews. Several reviewers recommend the vegetarian Thali (sampler plate). (Dining room is open 7-18-20)

Vung Tau–2708 Y St. (Vietnamese) Open 10 am to 7 pm (6 pm on Sun)–closed Mon.  Reviewers say the pho is better than in Omaha. Also serves vermicelli bowls, and apparently has other items (but I could not find a menu on line to verify this). (I think it is takeout only 7-18-20)

Norfolk

El Rodeo–107 W. Norfolk Ave. (Mexican) Open daily 10 am to 10 pm.  Serves authentic Mexican street tacos. This and burritos are the most popular items. (I don’t know whether the dining room is open 8-30-20)

North Platte

Merricks Ranch House–1220 E. 4th St. (American).  This is a diner with home cooked style food. Some of it is a hit with reviewers and some isn’t, but overall people like it. With items such as BLT getting good reviews, it indicates that it is the basic, simple items that they do the best. (3-13-19)

Tempura–221 E. 6th St. (Japanese) Closed Mon.  Sushi restaurant that also serves Bento boxes and Chinese food. All have good reviews, but the Chinese food is made to American tastes. (3-13-19)

Ogallala

Golden Village–105 E. 1st St. (Chinese) Open daily except Mon evening (and closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Probably Peking is the restaurant that serves off-the-menu authentic Chinese food, but I am not sure (so I’m including the name and address of this restaurant in case it is the right one). (1-16-20)

Peking–112 E. A St. (Chinese) Open daily (closed from 1:30 to 4 pm). A post on Chowhound indicated that there was a Chinese restaurant in town that served authentic Chinese food if you requested it (it may not be on the menu). There was no name given, but it is the one “on the east side of town” (both Chinese restaurants are actually on the east side of town). Reviews on Yelp seem to indicate it is Peking, but I’m not sure. (1-16-20)

Omaha

American GI Forum–2002 N St. (Mexican) Open daily except Sun evening & Mon. This is a non-profit veteran organization that serves either authentic Mexican food or very good Tex-Mex (according to different reviewers), but in any case they say it is very good, tastes homemade, and is cheap. (Dining room is open 7-18-20)

Blue & Fly Asian Kitchen–721 S. 72nd St. (Chinese) Closed Mon.  Authentic Chinese food (the authentic food is Sichuan style). I don’t see any comments about how spicy it is, so I imagine if you want it spicy you have to ask for it. Has daily specials written on a board. There is an Americanized menu if you want it, but Sichuanese food is what they do well. (Takeout and delivery only 8-22-20)

China Garden–8441 W. Center Rd. (Chinese) Open Daily.  One of the three supposedly authentic Chinese restaurants in the city. This one is Sichuan style (like Blue & Fly), but apparently you have to ask for the Sichuan menu or you will get Americanized food. For those who know the system, though, it gets good reviews. (Takeout and delivery only 8-22-20)

Crystal Jade–7255 Cedar St. (Malaysian) Open Daily.  Serves several Asian cuisines, but Malaysian food is the specialty. Good dishes include amazing chicken and lemak. Has pad thai which sounds different from the Thai version, but it does not have great reviews. Popular with vegetarians because it has quite a few menu choices. (Takeout and delivery only 8-22-20)

Laos Thai–4520 S. 24th St. (Lao) Closed Mon (and closes 7 pm on Sun).  Cash only, but has very low prices. Has several types of curry and has a few dishes not found in many Thai or Lao restaurants in the US. Reviewers say some of the curries are more like a thin soup (I think it is because they have different types of curry, and probably some without coconut milk). (Takeout only 7-18-20)

Lithuanian Bakery–7427 Pacific St. (Bakery) Open 11 am to 5 pm (4 pm on Sat); closed Sun.  Popular for their sweets, but also serves sandwiches and other lunch items. The Napoleonas torte is their specialty. (Not sure if dining room is open–has recently started taking on-line orders through Goldbelly 7-18-20)

Mercy Thai–4741 S. 96th St. (Thai) Closed Sun (and closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Reviewers say it is hard to find real Thai food in the Midwest, but this one is. Furthermore, it follows the real Thai spicy scale. Most popular dish seems to be the drunken noodles (some others may be just as good but I don’t see reviews for them). (Takeout and delivery only 8-22-20)

New Gold Mountain–6750 Mercy Rd. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Has authentic Cantonese style food, and apparently you are handed an authentic menu without having to ask for it. They have dim sum which is very popular at lunch time, but I cannot tell which days it is served (it looks as if it is only on Sunday). (Dining room is open 7-18-20)

The Drover–2121 S. 73rd St. (Steaks) Open daily except Sat lunch & Sun lunch.  This is a popular old-school Omaha steakhouse with good reviews. Whiskey steak is the specialty (most people say it is very good, and enhances the flavor). Down sides for some people are the service, prices, and side dishes. The salad bar somewhat makes up for the side dishes, though. Steaks run about $45 (filet is less expensive). (Dining room is open 7-18-20)

Upstream Brewing–514 S. 11th St. (American) Open daily (open until 11 pm Fri & Sat).  Some say that if there is such a thing as typical Nebraska food, this is the place to find it. Pot roast, meat loaf, beer cheese soup, burgers, and steak with mushroom sauce are popular. One reviewer, though, says they have too many things on the menu to do anything really well. (Dining room is open 7-18-20)

Scottsbluff

El Molcajete–1013 E. Overland (Mexican).  Reviewers say it has good food with red and green sauces (not Tex-Mex). I’m not sure it is completely authentic, but it certainly seems to be the closest you will find within a number of miles in NE and WY. Reviewers also say the food tastes home made. (3-13-19)

Wonderful House–829 Ferdinand Plaza (Chinese) Open Daily.  American style Chinese food that seems to have a few items that may have at least a few elements of being authentic (such as hot pot dishes). People like the freshness and flavor, and the fact that they serve hot tea seems to set them apart from other restaurants in this part of the country. (3-13-19)

South Sioux City

Mi Rancherita–1512 Dakota Ave. (Mexican) Open Daily.  Reviewers say it is authentic with dishes such as mole verde, pozole, etc. Drinks are excellent as well (horchata, fruit drinks, Mexican Coke). (I think the dining room is open 8-30-20)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

 

Sources:

Chowhound (Nebraska)

Google Maps

Lincoln Journal-Star (15 Best Asian, African, and South/Central American Restaurants)

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (Nebraska)

Zomato (Omaha)