10 Aug 2010 @ 5:40 PM 

It seems like all sorts of new restaurants are springing up around Omaha, which is a bittersweet development for the OC and myself. I love nothing more, when we have a chance to go out to eat, than saying “Let’s try somewhere new!.” Sadly, there are far more “new” places than our budget allows us to visit!

To that end, we stopped in to the new Buffalo Rings & Wings at 12240 L Street. We stopped in for a late lunch, so we missed the majority of the lunch rush. After a little confusion amongst the wait staff as to where to seat us, we were given a table, and immediately placed our drink orders. Our server, Luke, was awesome at making sure we had everything we needed, and that we never had to wait for a drink refill.

I ordered their lunch special boneless wings with lemon pepper sauce (5 boneless wings and a side for $5.99), as did our daughter with parmesan garlic sauce, and OC represented all of MANHOOD by ordering 10 mild roasted garlic wings, 15 Original Hot wings, and then an additional lunch special with 5 Original ATOMIC wings (Yes, about half of them went home for the rest of our troops to devour). For sides, we ordered saratoga chips and onion rings.

The wings? They’re good. They’re not spectacular – they don’t stand out as the BEST wings we’ve ever had, but they were good. They were flavorful. They had plenty of sauce and were cooked perfectly, for both the boneless wings and the traditional wings. Heat-wise – they just weren’t that hot. Even the atomic wings – while they did provide some longlasting burn – weren’t that hot. The Original Hot wings would be on par, for me, with a Buffalo Wild Wings Medium hot wing. The roasted garlic and lemon pepper sauces were good, but not spectacular. The parmesan garlic sauce was my favorite of the ones we tried.

The saratoga chips? Meh – they were good chips, I will say that, but they also weren’t anything to write home about. The onion rings, however? PHENOMENAL. They were easily the best onion rings we’ve had in a very long time, and when dipped in the garlic parmesan sauce from the wings? Outstanding. VERY VERY GOOD.

The only down side we felt was that there could be a little more flexibility in allowing customers to select more sauces. OC wanted 25 wings with 3 different sauces, but was told he could only have 2 (as an order of 10 and 15). He would have tried more sauces if he could have broken them out in 5’s – and then we’d be able to rate more of their sauces for you! Unfortunately, it is what it is. I understand it’s easier for them to manage this way, but as a customer, especially at a new place, you want to try all the sauces. More accomodation would be nice.

OH – the other thing that was absolutely fabulous – we had the Xango dessert, which was essentially cheesecake wrapped in a pastry shell and fried, and then dressed with cinnamon and sugar, strawberry sauce, and whipped cream. It was AWESOME.

The atomsphere was great – very uptown sportsbar-ish, with enough tv’s on the walls to make my husband’s ADD-addled head explode. Everything was clean and efficient, and aside from the small issue seating us, everything was perfect. It’s not overly pricey (on par with the other wing places in town), and everything was great.

I give it a solid 4 French Fries – it’d go up if the’d let you mix and match your sauces a little more.

~The Critical Wife

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 10 Aug 2010 @ 05:41 PM

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 10 Aug 2010 @ 5:15 PM 

Mexican food is by far one of my favorite “categories” of food. From time to time, we venture out to South O to check out some of the more “authentic” Mexican restaurants, and we have a couple of less authentic, more tex-mex-y type places around where we live. We are always looking for new places to try – and just happened to find one the other day that we hadn’t known about.

While we were out looking for a new/different place to eat yesterday, we stumbled on Salgado’s Mexican Grill, near 90th & Fort. (It’s in the shopping center where the Shopko is. Formerly Julios, Matt’s Grill, and possibly several other random things.)  Going into the restaurant, it reminded me of most of the other middle of the road Mexican restaurants around here.  Somewhere along the line of Julios or LaFondas, is what I expected. 

We arrived around 12:15, and were seated quickly in an empty section.  Upon perusing the menu, the OC and I were both stumped.  We wanted one of everything.  Salgado’s offers a mix of more traditional Mexican fare, along with Americanized versions of many dishes, and even burgers.   OC kind of twisted it up by having traditional Mexican tacos, but with ground beef and chicken fillings.  (This seriously bummed me out, as I was hoping he’d get asada and carnitas.  Darn him.) 

I went the white girl route with the Burrito Gringo.  People…what they didn’t say on the menu is it should be burrito gringoS.  Plural.  As in there is no way one person can finish that burrito in one sitting.  WOW.

Ok, the food – rather than the standard chips and salsa, Salgado’s serves chips with a selection of salsa, beans, and a spicy pico de gallo.  All of these were good – very spicy on the salsa and pico, but the beans were a little bland (fixed this with salt).  The tacos were great – all they were missing was a slice of lime, which was requested but never delivered.  The dish was two ground beef and two shredded chicken tacos in corn tortillas with onions, cilantro, and radish slices.  Flavorwise, they were awesome.  My burrito was also fantastic, and I ate about 1/3 of it before being completely miserably full.  It was filled with beans, rice, and ground beef, and smothered in melted cheese and sour cream.  TOTALLY wonderful. 

The best part – the burrito bigger than my head was $5.99.  OC’s tacos were 7 or 8 bucks total – can’t remember if he got them as a lunch special or a la carte.  Either way, still cheap.  The horchata they offer….wasn’t memorable.  It had a really perfumey taste I don’t love, but it wasn’t bad.  Service was decent, but a little flighty. 

We will definitely go back.

My rating?  3.5 Napkins, brought down only for service.   If I could give it a 3.75, I would.  Very tasty food, very affordable, decent service (not great).   All in all, good, authentic-ish, Mexican food!  Give it a shot.

Rated by: TheCriticalWife

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 10 Aug 2010 @ 05:15 PM

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 18 Jun 2010 @ 7:13 PM 

Okinawa sushi, at 124th & L. (I can’t find a website for them – sorry!)
As you may or may not have noticed, we’re big sushi fans. Omaha Critic is more about the sashimi/nigiri, while I am definitely more about the maki rolls. But when there’s a new sushi place opening, you can bet it’s on our radar. I hit up Okinawa early in the evening on their grand opening weekend. Now – I will admit, I expected there to possibly be some bumps, given that it was their opening weekend, but it wasn’t too bad. We tried the Gyoza appetizer, which was pretty good. We also tried the california roll (if a sushi place can’t do a cali roll, they need to close up!), a tempura shrimp and crab roll (I think it’s called a rocky roll), the shrimp naruto roll, and the “Golden Eagle”.

The sushi, overall, was good. It doesn’t compete with my favorite sushi place, but it was good, and better than some of the other places locally. The service was fairly good, if not really communicative. The cali, rocky roll, and naruto roll all came out together, and we had quite a while to finish them before the Golden Eagle came out. The Eagle, which we ordered on the recommendation of the server, is a tempura roll with tempura banana and a special sauce. Unfortunately, because that came out quite awhile after our other rolls, we were too full to really enjoy it, and took the majority of it home. (Cold – not so great.)

The restaurant, being brand new, was clean and nice, if a little small. The food was good, and the service fairly decent. My only complaint about this restuarant was that they charged us for refills on our drinks. Normally, this wouldn’t annoy me because most places tell you they charge – but Okinawa didn’t. Also, the server started asking if we wanted refills before we were even half way through the drinks, and did refill them far before they were empty. SO – it was just a minor annoyance, but it bugged me.

I’m feeling 3 stars on this one. Some room for improvement, but not bad overall. We’ll definitely give this one a try another time, and see if that moves up!

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 18 Jun 2010 @ 07:14 PM

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 18 Jun 2010 @ 7:12 PM 

Ok, so again we’re not updating quite as often as I would like, and I have the best of intentions. But you know how it is – life gets in the way.

LIFE, man.

Grand China Buffet – Roughly 112th & Chicago (by Parable book store).
Ok, people. Don’t roll your eyes. It’s a buffet. It’s a CHINESE buffet. Sounds a LOT like China Buffet right across Dodge street at 114th. But you know what? WOW. This place offers the standard Chinese buffet, Mongolian barbeque, and…wait for it…SUSHI! Not the premade sushi a lot of buffets have, but fresh, prepared on-site where you can see it, sushi. I’m not going to lie – it’s not on par with our favorite sushi, but you know what? It’s not half bad! Their buffet is expansive, with many, many selections including some non-Chinese options. My personal favorite? Their coconut shrimp. AWESOME. They also have the standard crab legs at dinner, and all the Blue Bunny ice cream you can handle for dessert! SO – as buffets go, it’s a win. The restaurant is clean, the staff has been very attentive on the several occasions we’ve gone. The food is buffet food quality – but not bad, and plentiful. I’m going to give this one a solid 4 napkin rating. It is definitely well worth it.

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 18 Jun 2010 @ 07:12 PM

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 23 Mar 2010 @ 6:33 PM 

Ok Omaha…

It’s coming up on Spring and it’s the time of year when we men-folk start craving that grilled/smoked/charred decadence that is Barbecue.   So… that being said, ladies and gentlemen, start casting your votes (Ok, suggestions really) for the best “Q” in the Big “O” so we can get some reviews.  GO MEAT!

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 23 Mar 2010 @ 06:33 PM

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 23 Jun 2009 @ 7:38 PM 

Ok, I will admit we are big Food Network watchers in this house.  The Omaha Critic and I both love to cook, and inevitably on the weekend we end up watching something that makes us drool with food lust.  Often, that comes from Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Guy was in Omaha at some point in the last year or two, and one of the places he covered was California Taco, on 30th and California.  After seeing it on tv, The Critic and I decided that one of these days we’d have to make it down there.  Well, we tried last weekend.  Sadly, we arrived right before 9 PM when the restaurant closed.  However, the guy at the door was nice enough to let us in to place a quick order to go – and thinking quickly on our feet, we ordered some beef puffy tacos – I think they’re referred to as california tacos on the menu.

The puffy taco itself is a piece of flatbread stuffed with taco meat and deep fried, after which they add lettuce and cheese.  In our to-go bag, they also included cups of red salsa and green salsa, to add a little extra flavor.

After waiting maybe 10 minutes, our order of 4 puffy tacos was handed off, and we headed out to the car, wishing we’d been there early enough to try the chimichangas and other treats on the menu.  Alas, we will have to visit again sometime in the future!

I will say, we both enjoyed the tacos.  Without the sauces, they were a little bland for our liking.  I liked the addition of the red salsa to the tacos, where The Omaha Critic preferred the heat of the green salsa.  The tacos were a good size and flavorful, and all in all, we both thought they were good.  The price?  It’s a little high perhaps for what it is and the location, but that’s based on The Omaha Critic’s Texas roots.

Pluses:  The food was good.  It didn’t take a long time, and thankfully, they still let us order as they were closing the doors.

Minuses:  It’s a little pricey for what it is, but it was still pretty good.

Overall Impression:  The puffy tacos weren’t enough to sell us on this being one of our favorites.  They were, however, enough to get us to want to go back and try more of the menu.  All in all?  I’m going to give it four french fries.  With salt and red salsa, Baby.

~~The Critical Wife

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 25 Jun 2009 @ 03:54 AM

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 23 Jun 2009 @ 7:28 PM 

This past weekend, The Omaha Critic and I duct taped the kiddos in the closet (har har…grandparents are wonderful things) and escaped for a long overdue date night.  Long overdue, especially since it was our anniversary!  (WOOHOO, go us!)  While our normal inclination is to head out to you know where for sushi, we instead decided we needed to do some work for the site here, and hit up a place we’ve never been before.

This time, that place happened to be LiT…the Contemporary Tapas Bar and Lounge on 180th and Center.  We arrived around 5 pm on Saturday, which obviously is a bit early for things to be happening at LiT.  Now, we’ll admit, we’re in our mid 30’s.  Our general impression was that LiT probably caters more to the 20-something set.  That said, the decore is very nice, upscale, and geared more toward a night out drinking than dining.

Alas, it is generally the food that we’re there for!  The Critic and I ordered four different tapas dishes:  crab fritters, shrimp cargot, candied coconut jumbo shrimp, and pepper encrusted beef tenderloin skewers.  I also partook of the drink menu, and ordered an ultimate chocolate martini and a dirty monkey martini.

Let’s tackle the food first.  The crab fritters?  Awesome.  The texture was fantastically light and the outside crispy.  The inside gave you a great taste of crab, witha sweet edge of corn.  The fritters were very enjoyable, especially when eaten with the creole remoulade and the chipotle honey.  Next was the shrimp cargot – or shrimp served in the fashion of escargot- fried in butter and garlic, and topped with melted havarti cheese.  The shrimp were cooked perfectly, and the dish was quite enjoyable.  The Omaha Critic preferred the shrimp, I preferred the crab fritters.

On to the “main course” dishes.  The Critic took the shrimp, and I had the tenderloin (although we shared quite a bit, as you should withtapas.)  I will admit?  I wanted his.  The shrimp was great, as was the orange marmalade dipping sauce.  Is it better than The Critic’s other place to get coconut shrimp (Outback Steakhouse)?  No.  About the same.  Probably about the same price as well.  The tenderloin was good as well – tender and juicy, and great withthe sauce it was served with.  Bothplates came witha small salad with vinaigrette dressing that was very tasty.  All in all, the food was very good.

The price for the food?  Not a bargain.  The price aren’t huge – $10 for the crab fritters and shrimp cargot, $17 for the coconut shrimp, and $22 for the beef tenderloin – but when you consider that these are basically the same prices you’d pay for similar dishes at other local restaurants and get more food – it’s just a consideration.

Our other main observation about LiT is that the service?  It’s not so great.  The Critic and I are big on good service, and definitely try to show the love to those servers who do a great job for us (Hi Rusty, Sammy, and John!).  When we don’t get great service, we try to determine if there’s a good reason (really busy night), or if the server is just inpet.  Sadly, we have to say the server we had at LiT was somewhat inept.

I’d like to tell you how the Dirty Monkey martini was – but she brought me a second Ultimate chocolate martini instead.  While I didn’t mind the chocolate martini, I wanted to try something different the second time.  I’d have complained…but our server never came back for me to tell her.  When it came time to pay, we waited for a considerable amount of time for our server, and finally went up to the bar to pay.  If that was the type of place LiT was, we’d understand, but it isn’t.  So, the food was good, but the service was not so great.

Pluses:  The food was very good, the decor is nice.  For this I would have given it a solid 4 napkins.

Minuses: The service wasn’t great, and the prices are a little high for what you get.  These things degraded my rating.

Overall Impression:  It is probably a fun 20-something lounge, but I wouldn’t plan on it for dinner.  I give it 3 napkins.

~The Critical Wife

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 25 Jun 2009 @ 03:54 AM

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 06 Jun 2009 @ 5:27 AM 

I know we’ve mentioned Hiro Sushi a time or two.  There’s a reason for that.  From the moment you walk through the door at Hiro, you are transported into a serene, beautiful world that delites the senses.  From the design of the restaurant itself, to the wonderful service, to the amazing food, there is no aspect of Hiro with which we can find fault.  Ok, that’s not entirely true.  They’ve become pretty popular, and it’s not as easy to pop in and get a table anymore!

One thing we have failed to mention here due to our pure love of their sushi is that Hiro DOES serve many other non-sushi items!  While we most frequently enjoy their sushi (Wasabi Stingers, Baby.  Wasabi Stingers.), The Critical Wife’s pregnancy, and occasional lunacy have driven us to order other things from Hiro’s Menu.  I can’t say that we’ve ever been sorry.

Over our five years of patronage, we have enjoyed both the Japanese and Chinese food served at Hiro.  This post, however, is specifically about the Chinese Menu.  The dishes we have most recently tried are Milton’s Chicken, Imperial Chicken, and the Peanut Butter Chicken.

The first thing you will notice about Hiro Sushi’s Chinese food is the extremely high quality ingredients.  Each dish is cooked to order, meaning that your food hasn’t been sitting around in a warmer, flash fried at the last minute, and served gooey or mushy after reheating.  The chicken is beautiful white meat – freshly cooked and not at all “ambiguous”.  There are no nasty bits or questionable pieces floating around in these dishes.  On top of that, the flavor overall will leave you amazed and impressed.  I challenge you to try Hiro’s Chinese food and tell me you’ve ever had better.

Price-wise, Hiro’s Chinese food may be a few dollars more than your average Chinese restaurant.  The thing is?  It is so worth it.  Every bite is fresh, hot, flavorful, and cooked just for you, when you ordered it.  The owners’ pride in their restaurant once again comes through in every dish.

Plusses:  Hiro’s Chinese food is by far the best we’ve had, and we have eaten A LOT of Chinese food, in a lot of cities, with a lot of “Ambiguous Chicken”.  The owners are also a big plus, as is the spectacular service we’ve come to expect at Hiro.

Minuses:  The only one we can force ourselves to come up with is that Hiro has gotten very busy.  Thankfully, the owners are opening a second restaurant in the Old Market area – so we expect this mini-minus to be resolved soon!

Overall Impression:   You will not find better Chinese food in all of Omaha than that served at Hiro Sushi.  The biggest problem is picking just one dish.  So we recommend choosing several.  Have we mentioned it’s also great cold the next morning?

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 25 Jun 2009 @ 03:56 AM

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 06 Jun 2009 @ 4:43 AM 

The Omaha Critic and I (his oh so critical wife!) are always on the lookout for good pizza.  I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned it in these parts, but we have a large brood.  While the youngest isn’t quite up to chowing down on a good slice of pie yet, the rest are highly appreciative of any place that will serve them tasty melted cheese and pepperoni. 

Sadly, I will admit we find most of the major pizza chains lacking.  Sure, they will do in a pinch, and some of them have some fairly cheap deals that allow us to feed our gang without going broke, but they just serve pizza with no character. 

In hopes of finding pizza WITH character, the Critic and I went AWOL and tried Pudgy’s Pizza near 168th and Harrison.  We showed up around 7:30 on a Friday night to find the place busy, but with a table or two open. 

We grabbed a table, and I went up to the counter to place our order, which was for a 14″ Chicago Deep Dish with Pepperoni, Beef, Olives, and Mushrooms.  Yeah, The Critic is a purist and would have probably preferred straight up pepperoni or “The Works”, but *I* was the one ordering!  Had he noticed they served them, The Critic would also have liked to try their Chicago style hot dogs, but we will have to save that for another time.

The restaurant itself is unassuming.  The decor is obviously meant to bring Chicago to mind.  The joint itself isn’t fancy.  You order at the counter and get your own drinks.  But really?  You don’t need fancy in a pizza joint.  In a word, it’s comfortable.  Honestly, that’s perfect for a neighborhood pizza joint.

After a bit of a wait (it was Friday night, and they had a steady stream of business) our pizza was delivered to our table by the owner, along with paper plates, napkins, and plastic flatware.  Again, it’s unassuming.  But the pizza itself?  It was good.  The Omaha Critic and I have both spent some time in Chicago, and tried various pizza joints, including the famous Lou Malnotti’s.  I will say, it is not quite as deep, nor as saucy.  But it was still VERY good.  The crust was thick, but not doughy.  The toppings were plentiful and high quality.  They sprinkled the top with garlic salt or powder, which added a nice tang to the pizza.  All in all, it was a great pie. 

That character we were in search of?  It came in the form of Pudgy’s Pizza owner Phil “Pudgy” Cerra.   While it was our first time eating in the restaurant, we felt like we were somewhere we’d been many times before.  Pudgy stopped at our table several times to check on how we were doing, how the food was, and to make some suggestions for future visits based on how The Critic doctored his pizza (lots of red pepper!).  While this could be annoying if done by the wrong personality, it certainly wasn’t.  Pudgy is a very personable guy, and obviously has the drive it takes to make a great pizza joint work.

I can definitely say we’ll be going back, and taking our band of devils cherubs with us next time!

Plusses: The food itself – hearty, tasty, and plentiful.  The service – all of the employees were smiling and appeared to be having a great time!  We have to say the owner, Phil “Pudgy” Cerra was a big plus.  His personality brings a lot to the overall atmosphere of the place.  Also, the kitchen, which is visible from the counter where you order, is clean and appears to run very well.

Minuses:  They need a bigger location with more tables.  A jukebox would be nice (or some sort of music).  And if the pizza was about a half inch deeper, it would overtake any Chicago Deep Dish we’ve ever tried.

Overall Impression:  The pizza “friggin’ rocked” (The Omaha Critic’s exact words).  We were greatly impressed not only with the food, but with the owner’s great care and concern for all of his customers, and the great attention he paid to making sure everyone had a great experience.  If you’re in West Omaha, it’s definitely worth your time to get a great pizza.  Even if you’re not in West O?  It’s well worth the trek.  Pudgy’s Pizza.  Get some!

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 06 Jun 2009 @ 04:48 AM

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 27 Mar 2009 @ 5:40 PM 

Ok, so much for the stupid title.  Bella’s is a little Greek fast food place serving up Gyros, Burgers, Salads, and Philly Sandwiches.  They have more than that too… Just check out their website. 

That being said, I have been in and out of Bella’s as well as through their drive through.   They have a very small dining room, with booths and a bar with stools at the window for those on the go.   Now I don’t have one specific experience that I’m writing about here, since my wife has lived off of Bella’s for the majority of her pregnancy.  She’s brought me home Gyro salad after salad and burgers galore.  I have never once had an item from Bella’s that left me feeling like I got a mediocre meal or not worth what I paid.  I love their cheese burgers I have to say.  Honestly though… I have been eating a ton of their gyro meat salads.  I’m doing the whole low-carb thing and meat and lettuce work for me.  I have about 1 or two of them a week.

One of the things that struck me though, when I go through the drive through and when I dine in, is the fact that their kitchen is always clean.  Not just tidy, but clean.  Aren’t all Greek places supposed to be nasty?  I have never been sick from eating at Bella’s and I hope that never changes.

Ok, I know this isn’t a worth-while review.. I didn’t describe the food, but c’mon.  I am in drive through 99% of the time.  I will say this about Bella’s.  They are generous with their coupons, and the food is always hot and fresh.  I think the anyone wanting a good Gyro at a reasonable price would do well with Bella’s.

Plusses: CLEAN!  Good Value! Nice staff!

Minuses: the double drive through, where you pay at one side and pick up your food on the other is a little confusing.

Overall Impression:  I like the place and I would recommend it to anyone.  The menu is limited, but if you do something well, do over extend yourself.  The staff is nice; they didn’t hire the normal fast food idiots and morons that seem to be multiplying around Omaha. Good job Bella’s.  Keep it up.

~The Omaha Critic


Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 27 Mar 2009 @ 05:40 PM

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