Yup, you read that right. It is possible to get some tasty vegan eats in the heart of beef country. A few weeks ago Robert and I took a mini vacation to NE to see Alice in Chains in concert in Lincoln. We decided to extend our visit by a few days so we could go to the Omaha Zoo (the reasons for which I will explain later) and while planning the trip I had to find some veg-friendly places for us to eat at. Thank goodness for HappyCow.net. If you haven’t utilized this website you absolutely must the next time you plan on eating in a different city. Simply plug the city you are visiting into their search engine and you will get links to all the restaurants that feature veg-friendly food. Without it I would never have thought finding vegan, or even vegetarian food would be possible in a city known for their steaks.
The drive from Denver to Omaha is about 7 ½ hours so despite snacking on the way up there we were desperate for a solid meal by the time we finally rolled into the city. We immediately headed to Blue Planet Natural Grill. Their menu features plenty of vegan options, from burgers to bowls to pizza. Having browsed the menu several times prior to arrival, I knew I wanted to have the Ratner’s Vegan Griller burger with vegan cheese. The ingredients of the burger aren’t listed but I think it was a chickpea-based patty with veggies like corn, peppers, and onion mixed in. It was just what I needed after the long drive. Crispy on the outside, loaded with flavor, and topped with a creamy slice of what I assume was cheddar Teese on top. The whole-wheat bun was also fantastic. It reminded me of a ciabatta roll but it was softer on the inside and added just the right amount of texture to the whole thing. I had the regular fries but ever-adventurous Robert opted for the curry fries and I’ll admit that I should have had them as well. They were perfectly spiced and went well with the Grill’s homemade chipotle-lime ketchup.
After we checked into the hotel and had a quick nap we drove to the Benson Street neighborhood, an historic area of Omaha full of unique shopping and loads of bars. We made our way directly to Krug Park, an upscale bar that features over 50 beers on tap. Having lived in Colorado all my life I am fortunate to have a lot of options when it comes to local beers. We are tied with Portland as being the microbrewery capital of the US after all. However it is nice to discover brews from other cities and Krug Park had plenty of NE beers for us to try. I won’t lie at this point; I don’t remember which ones I tried but I do know that I liked them all. I wasn’t drunk mind you, but as much as I like beer one starts to taste just like the other after a while. We really went to Benson St. to try and find Shooter, the resident bar cat. According to the Omaha Visitor’s guide Shooter makes his rounds throughout the bars, cozying up to bartenders and making friends with patrons. We asked the bartender at Krug about Shooter and she became all smiles. She told us that he belongs to the man who basically owns all the property on Benson St. and will just saunter in and out of places at his leisure. She even showed us several pictures she’s taken of him relaxing on her bar’s back patio. He looks very much like a well-fed, content alley cat and the proprietors of the bars are very protective of him. Our bartender said that the only person who has ever been banned from Krug was banned because he tried kicking Shooter. Now that’s my kind of place! They don’t care about rowdy drunks, but don’t you dare try to hurt Shooter.
On a side note, Krug Park is located right next to Lot 2 Restaurant and Wine Bar. I only mention this because we glanced at the Lot 2 menu and I was shocked to see not one but two dishes that featured seitan! I don’t know if they were vegan but I do find it immensely cool that a fancy wine bar had seitan on their menu.
I originally planned this to be one post but once I got to typing I realized I wanted to share as much as possible about what we did without boring anyone so come back on Friday for Part 2 of Eating Vegan In Omaha featuring lots of animals, scrumptous seitan, and decadent desserts. To keep you interested, here’s an adorable picture of one of the rescued owls we saw at the Conservation Park and Safari.
Who’s the fool if they don’t come back for the rest? Huh, see what I did there? 🙂