Located at 501 N. 13th Street, just a block West of the Qwest Center and a block South of TD Ameritrade Park, is “The Matt”, the Old Mattress Factory Bar & Grill. Renovated from an 1883 grocery store, the Mattress Factory preserves and extends the rich history of Omaha’s North Downtown area. And, if you are looking for a high-energy sports bar, with good food and plenty of seating, the Matt is your kind of place. Even when the facility is full the noise level in the dining area is very reasonable permitting patrons to have conversations without yelling. On the menu you will find traditional fare, including hot wings, burgers, BBQ and pizza. But you’ll also find heart healthy choices such as soups and salads. The Matt is open daily for lunch and dinner. They also have a huge party room on the second floor that can be rented for special occasions. When you are downtown for an event, stop at the Mattress Factory. You won’t be disappointed! Happy Motoring!!
Located at 7902 Towne Center Parkway (Shadowlake) in Papillion, is Fatburger. The first Fatburger opened in 1952 in Los Angeles. Now the restaurant has franchises in 13 states. However, the Shadowlake location is the only one in Nebraska. As shown on their menu, Fatburger serves burgers as small (2.5 oz) or as large (24 oz) as you want. A photo collage of those patrons that have consumed a “Triple King”, Fatburger’s largest burger, covers the restaurant’s walls. The Fatburger menu is not complex; burgers (including veggie, chicken and turkey), hot dogs, fries, chili, onion rings, and drinks including shakes. Keeping it simple allows Fatburger to focus on speed and freshness. My wife and I enjoyed our meals at Fatburger and will return again. Open Sunday through Thursday from 11am to 9pm, and Friday and Saturday from 11am to 10pm. Give it a try and Happy Motoring!
Two months ago, I began a city-wide search to find the maker of Omaha’s best hamburger. The search led me to over 20 different hamburger joints, to a radio interview with Dan Arthur and Michelle Reill on Star 104 FM, and into a better understanding of the people and businesses in our community. These are my findings.
To begin, let me tell you that I am not a food critic. In fact, I am rarely “critical” of anything that resembles food that is placed in front of me. I eat anything and everything. In fact, my wife says that I am “tasteless.” Thanks, dear… I think!!?
However, I do enjoy a good hamburger. And, despite repeated warnings that beef contains growth hormones and antibiotics, I will continue to eat it. I ask you, “How can being all buff and full of bacteria-fighting substances be bad for you?”
My journey to burger joints in and around metro Omaha began in early November, 2009 with a posted message (i.e. a “tweet”) on the popular social media site, Twitter.com. I told folks on Twitter that I was looking for the best Omaha hamburger, and I asked for their ideas. Within 24 hours, I received 31 burger suggestions from helpful, friendly Omahans. Here is the list of restaurants and their locations: Omaha Driver Burger List. And, being full of bravado (and fluff), I promised to consume them all! In a month!! Naturally, I added the Twitter folks’ names to my prestigious “know-their-burgers” Twitter-list.
Before making my first burger stop, I composed my evaluation criteria; a 3 point rating scale (1 low, 2 medium, 3 high) in the following categories: Bun freshness, juicy goodness, food warmth, choice of condiments, choice of cheeses, taste, and presentation Wow-factor! I intentionally excluded cost and time service considerations; but wrote about those aspects in my blog posts on www.omahadriver.com.
Being familiar with several of the burger chain restaurants, and having had their products previously, I immediately assigned their ratings. This allowed me to narrow my attention to those that were the popular “repeat” suggestions – those included Stella’s, Dinkers, Petrows, Louie M’s Burger Lust, and a few others
And so, the consumption began. I had a burger daily for lunch or dinner during the month of November and well into December.
Omaha Driver Favorites
After more than a month of feasting, my favorite burgers were <drum roll>:
- Five Guys at 697 N. 132nd Street
- Stella’s at 106 Galvin Road S. (Bellevue) and
- Burger Star at 1222 S 71st Street (South of Pacific)
- The “Holy Cow” burger at Ace’s Diner (At Harrah’s in Council Bluffs served only on the weekend). It has 4 half-pound burgers, 10 slices of cheese, 8 slices of bacon.
- The “Haystacker” – Served at Dinkers, a great burger topped with an egg easy-over.
- McFoster’s Veggie Burger – Didn’t know you could do that with soy products!
- Wohlner’s Kobie Burger – A great grocery store and a great burger maker.
Located at 13615 California Street is Ted’s Nebraska Grill. A chain of restaurants founded in 2002 by media mogul, Ted Turner, Ted’s is a classic American grill serving beef, bison, chicken and seafood dishes from its extensive menu. My wife and I enjoyed the early American decor and the extensive use of wood inside the restaurant. The booths are spacious and permit private conversation, if that’s what you are seeking. I had a beef burger with jack cheese and bacon, and my wife had the grilled Caesar salad topped with cedar plank grilled salmon. The size of the burger was impressive, and the ingredients fresh. My wife also enjoyed her meal. Ted’s is open daily for lunch and dinner. Give it a try and Happy Motoring!
Located at 2368 S. 29th Street, just west of I-480 at the Martha Street exit, is Dinker’s Bar and Grill. The marquee out front says “Omaha’s Best Burger” and, in my view, the signage is spot on. The helpful, friendly wait staff immediately recognized I was a first time visitor and directed me past the bar area to the order counter. I ordered the “Haystack Burger” that had been recommended to me former Husker, Dave Rimington. The Haystack was delivered promptly. It is a giant burger on a kaiser bun topped with American cheese, honey smoked ham, and a fried egg over easy. The garnish was fresh and the burger delightfully greasy. I’d been trying to cut back on my calorie consumption and immediately found my brain and my stomach locked in a WrestleMania challenge match. Ultimately my brain “tapped out” and the entire Haystacker was consumed. Dinker’s is a terrific neighborhood bar and grill, and I am already planning my next visit. Dinker’s is open Monday through Saturday from 10:oo a.m. to 1:00 a.m. Happy Motoring!
Located at 5305 S 138th Street in Millard, is Millard Express – Burger Detour. A family owned burger joint, with drive-thru take out service only, Burger Detour serves breakfast and lunch daily. In my opinion, Burger Detour’s hamburgers are pretty middle of the road, but a cut above the well known fast food chains. The restaurant serves 1/4 lb., 1/2 lb., and 3/4 lb. burgers, your way. They also have pork tenderloins, onion rings, fries, chili, and other traditional fast food menu items. The restaurant serves french toast, ham & egg sandwiches, breakfast burritos, and eggs Benedict items on their breakfast menu. Open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Try it when you’re in Millard, and Happy Motoring!
Located in the L Street Marketplace, at 12330 K Plaza, is Smashburger® restaurant. One evening, my wife and I visited Smashburger because several of our friends had recommended it. We both ordered the 1/3 lb. “classic smashburger” from the menu. I had the applewood smoked bacon added to mine. My wife had regular fries with her meal, and I had a chocolate shake made with Häagen-Dazs ice cream (I just couldn’t resist). The smashburgers were really juicy. However, I wish I had ordered mine without the “mayo-like” smash sauce. The pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and onions were fresh. Overall our meal was good, but pricey. I’m told that the Smashdogs are really good; perhaps we’ll try those on our next visit. The search for Omaha’s best burger continues… Happy Motoring!
Located at 106 S. Galvin Road, at the top of the hill leading into Bellevue, is Stella’s Bar and Grill. Stella’s hamburgers are well-known and popular throughout the Omaha metro, having been voted the city’s best in 2008. Uniquely, the hamburgers are served on paper napkins. The diner, having undergone recent renovations, was cozy and clean. I ordered a cheeseburger with bacon and a side of french fries. Even though it was the lunch hour, and the place was packed, the service was prompt and friendly. My meal was a delight. The cheeseburger had a high “Wow” factor. I had to contort my mouth to take a bite. The bun was thicker than I like, and there was no choice of cheeses; otherwise, terrific! The french fries were made from fresh potatoes, just the way my mother used to make them; greasy and great. Our service men and women at Offutt are lucky to have a place like Stella’s so near to the base. Stop in and enjoy… Happy Motoring!
Located at 1718 Vinton Street, in South Omaha, Louie M’s Burger Lust is a popular breakfast and lunch destination, especially when you have a craving for a good hamburger. I took a group of people to Louie M’s for a luncheon, and each person was well-satisfied with their meal. I had the bacon cheeseburger. The bun was fresh and the burger portion large. Vegetable toppings were served on the side, permitting me and other diners to “build your own” burgers, with personally desired toppings. I’m told the mozzarella and black olive burger and french fries at Louie M’s are really good. I’ll place Louie M’s high in my “Best Omaha Burger” rankings. We enjoyed the rustic charm of the restaurant. Give it a try and Happy Motoring!
The Blue Planet Natural Grill is a healthy dining spot in the middle of Omaha. Located at 6307 Center Street, across the street from Aksarben Village, the Blue Planet restaurant serves meals with few, if any preservatives, and it makes extensive use of organic ingredients. A friend of mine recommended that I have a “Ratner’s Griller”, which the menu lists as “Omaha’s Best Veggie Burger.” I had “The Natural” version of the Ratner’s veggie burger with swiss cheese and a side salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I was pleased with the dining experience, and with the service that I received. I tried two of the four home made catsup’s that were available at the sandwich bar, and enjoyed them both. I’m told that the sun-fries and the sweet potato fries are also very good. Blue Planet is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Give it a try and Happy Motoring!