Lincoln Nebraska, the Big List of Eating

My son just graduated from UNL, and I very much enjoyed visiting Lincoln three times in the last four years. Here is a rundown on some of the eats, in order of importance (to me):

My favorite discovery is a diner that serves breakfast and lunch only: Woodee’s, west of downtown. Had breakfast here twice. When we first approached, the place looks deserted because the windows are blacked out, but once the doors open, you can find a really good crowd inside that looks like they never leave. “See you tomorrow” is a phrase we heard often between staff and customers. Major success with the “Woodee’s Special” omelet, which has hash browns and sausage patties stuffed inside. Hash browns were greaseless and the homemade patties delicious. A true 10 of 10. And the chicken fried steak is also divine, super crispy, fresh, and beefy. The monster pancakes here are thick and flufy with nice browning.

Casa Bovina was our splurge dinner graduation weekend. We went for the tasting menu, 6 courses plus a serious amuse that consisted of five items. This is as high end as it gets in Lincoln. Three of the first four courses were exceptional: oxtail scrapple (a galette), a pasta course of ricotta stuffed anolini with a wine grape sauce, and shredded duck over belgian waffle with tiny slivers of walnut and pate de foie gras, some dabs of tart cherry coulis, and a morel emulsion. All three of these dishes had gorgeous, complex flavors. The other dish was relatively simple tasting: tuna crudo topped with an American caviar, served in a tremendously thin pastry cup. Unfortunately, the final two course did not live up to the beginning of the meal, including a disastrous dessert of chocolate tortellini, which exists somewhere between bad pasta and bad chocolate. One of my favorite discoveries here were imported Italian amerena cherries (served alongside the duck) , easily one of the great culinary treats of the world. I am going to buy some online.

Rendang is a Malaysian restaurant with highlights of char kway teow (flat noodles), stuffed tofu that comes out so hot and fresh, and nasi lemak, a rice dish. Went here twice.

SW Pit BBQ: tiny spot, excellent baby back ribs and wings. Did not need a drop of sauce.

Parker’s Smokehouse: Went here twice, once for the smoked prime rib (a winner) and once for the pork sandwich served Georgia style. What is that, you ask? It is smoked and then wrapped in aluminum foil to get smoked some more, a process that makes the cubes of pork very crispy. Nice stuff.

Lila Mae’s Southern Kitchen: Although the menu looks large, many items are variations of hot fried chicken, can be ordered at different heat levels, but nothing too hot really. Very well done indeed. Truly excellent sides of greens, cheesy grits, mashed potatoes and gravy, and fried okra. High quality throughout. Avoid the smothered hamburger steak, though. That’s purely a midwest thing.

Corn ice cream at the UNL Dairy. A must.

Sunday Farmer’s Market at College View. Interesting collection of food choices, right across form Union College where, like UNL, the campus is an arboretum. The State of Nebraska has an impressive arboretum program, and Arbor Day was founded in Lincoln. Found some fine beef jerky and a guy who makes his own Jamaican hot sauces.

Honest Abe’s, a local burger chain, serious, but success will depend on what toppings you get.

Leadbelly and Buzzard Billy’s, both in the Haymarket area, the touristy and historic district. Both serve good not great food.

Copal, Mexican. Well executed, high quality food, though you won’t be floored. Had pork tamale and huarache with steak.

Licorice International, candy store featuring varieties of licorice, mostly from Europe. Many curiosities here, and they let you sample before purchase.

The Oven, went here twice. considered Lincoln’s best Indian, but could not find anything satisfying, despite our efforts.

Soulfull Cocina, in principle a place that offers some Mexican dishes as well as bbq, but only bbq on offer when we were there. As soon as I saw they have tri-tip, I figured out they were from California, and I was right. Very good if you want your bbq lean, but it’s not thrilling. Pulled pork was bone dry and too chewy.

Runza, a midwest fast food chain featuring bread stuffed with ground beef. Once is worth a try, but just once.


Authentic Cornhusker food!
No potato skins?

1 Like

There is a place that specializes in pizza and loaded potatoes, but the dearth of potato skins in general is a disturbing shortcoming in most of America.


Great rundown, thanks! And congratulations to the graduate!!

1 Like

My ex was from Omaha and went to UNL before graduating from UNO.
She booked for Tempe where her sister, who was attending ASU, the next day.
Great times and one of my favorite restaurants ever was in the big O- the Bohemian Cafe, sadly just closed a few years ago.

BTW- Runzas are the name of the regional chain besides being a general term, bierocks are the German American term for the cabbage and beef (usually) sandwiches.
One of those delicacies that’s better from a church bake sale or small cafe on the plains.
Wonderful recap.
Take care.

1 Like

Love to see write ups of places that get mostly over looked in the US! I’m convinced there’s great food everywhere, just that it gets harder to find in many places, especially if one is just passing through or staying for a limited amount of time.

1 Like

Two dear friends of mine (one in my wayback past, one in my very present) are from Neb. The former was Vietnamese and he would tell me about the ex-pat Vietnamese food scene around Lincoln. Perhaps that no longer exists?

1 Like

I saw a Vietnamese supermarket plus a couple of other small markets, so evidently there is enough of a community. But I did not find any Vietnamese restaurants.