Omaha, Nebraska is known as a steak-and-potatoes town, but anyone who says that hasn’t really eaten in this city. The city is full of small ethnic enclaves with plenty of authentic culinary options, holes-in-the-wall joints that serve delicious food and enough ethnic food places that fit into mainstream hang-outs that you’re sure not to miss them. Change your perception of Omaha eating—read, it’s good beyond steak—and check out some of my favorite ethnic restaurants in Omaha:
Tacqueria Tijuana. I hadn’t been to South Omaha’s Tacqueria Tijuana before this week, but I’ll certainly be back. South Omaha, 24th Street to be exact, is an experience in itself, structured somewhere in between a Mexican border town and the wild west. Tacqueria Tijuana is a bright place with yellow walls and black-and-white photographs of Mexican soldiers. They have no paper menu, and only a board at the front of the restaurant. I had tacos—certainly the best I’ve had in the city—with crispy pork, guacamole and cilantro with the addition of salted jalapenos and red and green salsas.
Thai Spice. Thai Spice has been one of my favorite Thai restaurants for years. It’s not fancy by any means---it’s tucked in between a supermarket and a dollar store—but the food is well-executed and the menu is extensive. I always get the northern dinner, a barbecued chicken dish served with jasmine rice, a papaya salad with peanuts and a sweet-and-sour dipping sauce. I have yet to find anything exactly like it at any other Thai restaurant in the country. The tom kha, or chicken coconut soup, is sweeter than I’ve had it elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious and a necessary starter to any meal here.
Ahmad’s. Ahmad’s, a Persian restaurant, is one of the oldest establishments in the Old Market, and anyone who frequents the place knows one of the reason to go is to talk to the friendly owner, Ahmad. Ahmad’s is best enjoyed in the summertime when people watching on the patio is the best in the city, but the bright-blue-walled indoor dining room is a worthwhile experience, as well. Although a pricey option (as most Old Market dining is), the food is also delicious, combining rice, tomato, banana and lemon-spiced chicken kebab. The fessun jun is a delicious dish of chicken cooked in a walnut pomegranate sauce—try it for something completely different.
What are your favorite ethnic restaurants in Omaha?