My husband and I love food.
Burgers, sushi, oysters, and everything in between. Our tastes are eclectic, but like everyone, we get stuck in a rut sometimes.
We usually go out to eat every Friday night with Liv. We’re regulars at our haunt. The ambiance, food, and service are excellent, but we thought we would branch out a little last weekend.
Skipping the Friday night family outing, we opted for a morning walk in the Old Market. No Liv this time, but we did have great company.
J. and I took an Omaha Culinary Tour of the Old Market. One of many tours put on by the cultural and culinary guides, not only were our taste buds delighted, our minds were engaged as well!
Each tour features a variety of different restaurants. For the Old Market Tour, we were able to sample eats from six different downtown staples.
Our first stop was M’s Pub.
Co-owner Ron Samuelson delighted us with the history of M’s, which was originally owned by the Mercer family. Previously a fruit and vegetable warehouse, the building became a restaurant which served finger sandwiches and tea. The menu at M’s Pub has grown, but the train travel-sized kitchen still remains. All of the food preparation is completed in the basement room before the final cooking is done is the cozy kitchen.
Three different types of Lahvosh, which is like a thin-crusted pizza, were served. An Omaha Grill with beef and mushrooms, a Thai Lahvosh (featured on the Rachael Ray show), and a vegetarian version all delighted both J. and me. If I had to pick a favorite, I think the Thai would win out!
Our next stop was Plank, one of the newest Old Market restaurants.
Plank Seafood + Provisions made me feel like I was on a beach in Pensacola, FL. The oysters were fresh and delicious. The “main sail” drink and fresh lemonade were perfect compliments to the salmon crustini and cheese curds. Plank even has a happy hour so you can try out some seafood cuisine without breaking the bank. We will definitely be back!
Stop #3 was The Indian Oven. It was not our first visit to the Indian Oven, and I didn’t think I could love it more than I already did. It’d been years since I tasted the authentic Indian cuisine, and I was not disappointed!
Owner Binoy Fernandez grew up at the restaurant which opened in 1973. He is the second generation owner and still uses recipes that date back to the 1300s. The Indian Oven was the first Eastern Indian restaurant in the Midwest.
Fernandez presented us each with a plate of traditional Indian street food.
Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!
Next, we went to Vivace, where we met up with owner Ron Samuelson, who also owns M’s Pub. J. and I enjoyed this stop the most because we had a chance to talk with Samuelson about his restaurants and how the pizza we tried is made. Talking with Samuelson made me realize how much thought and research is put into the food that we eat in find Omaha restaurants. The price at Vivace is affordable, but is more than a chain restaurant, and there is a reason for that. Samuelson has traveled to find the best ingredients for his menu, and even does blind taste tests to make sure his research supports what he puts on our plates. It works. I loved the pizza!
After a hearty filling of thin crust pizza, we went to our 5th stop, V. Mertz. In all my years in Omaha, I had never tried this restaurant. A dinner only establishment, we were able to get some tastes of the menu before the dinner crowd came. Although I once thought of V. Mertz out of my culinary tastes and budget, I no longer think of it as intimidating. The food was fun and playful, which is what the chef John wants restaurant goers to experience.
We tried a purple potato ice cream with burnt walnuts, smoked cauliflower soup, an a macaroon. I loved it all! J. and I both realized that we liked macaroons. These are nothing like store bought. V. Mertz has a menu that changes daily. Each dining experience is unique day-to-day. It’s a perfect place to celebrate on a special occasion.
The Omaha Culinary Tour was a perfect Saturday date.
Right now, the Old Market Tour and Midtown Crossing Walking Tours are running! Omaha Culinary Tours also offers bus tours, including the Chocolate and Pastry Tour. We cannot wait to try all Omaha Culinary Tours has to offer, including upcoming tours in Benson, Dundee, and steakhouse and pizza bus tours in the works!
Sign up for a tour (from $45), and enjoy Omaha as a food tourist, whether you have just moved here or lived here your whole life, like I have.
As owner Suzanne says, “The sky’s the limit. It’s all about food!”
Disclosure: Omaha Culinary Tours provided complimentary tours in exchange for this post. All opinions, however, are my own.