OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Quick — imagine the perfect patio.
I’m guessing you’re picturing a sunny, sprawling space with comfortable seating, cold drinks and decor that transports you out of Nebraska into a more tropical locale.
That’s all great… but wouldn’t it be even better with a fantastic plate of food?
Not all restaurants with great patios serve top-of-the-line eats, just as many of Omaha’s finest eateries don’t have a patio. But when you find somewhere that offers both, it makes for an epic meal experience. Here are five awesome Omaha restaurant patios that supply sun, shade and scrumptious snacks.
Nite Owl’s interior is similar to that of a college bachelor’s house: it’s dark, quirky, and features one-of-a-kind artwork (not to mention the giant TV playing so-bad-they're-good '80s movies). But the patio offers a different vibe. It’s relatively small, giving it a cozy, exclusive feel.
And the food is better than you’ll find at any bar in the city. The burger, with two brilliant smashed patties, is among Omaha’s finest. The wings are plump, crispy, and coated with creative, delicious sauces. There are few better appetizers to share than a plate of Tot-chos (crispy tater tots smothered in gooey queso, cooling crema, and a fresh, vibrant salsa verde). And Nite Owl treats its craft cocktails like an art form — these offerings, which change with the seasons, are artfully composed and put most bars’ offerings to shame.
Want to spend an afternoon at a French cafe without jumping across the pond? Order a bottle of wine and some shareable plates at La Buvette, a wine bar and grocery that’s provided an intimate, inviting space for Omahans to dine, sip, and shop for more than 30 years.
The menu at this downtown locale changes every day, constantly giving guests something new to try. From pastas to salads, sandwiches, and meat and cheese boards, La Buvette has a French dish for any desire, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find tastier bread service. And the wine selection is downright ridiculous — patrons can pick a bottle off the racks inside, then savor it on the sunny patio outdoors.
To top it all off, you can’t beat the people watching downtown. Any meal on La Buvette’s patio doubles as dinner and a show.
If there were a picture of “Taco Tuesday” in the dictionary, it would be of Taco Co.’s patio. Located off the backside of the restaurant, the wooden fences and walls of other buildings give the space a secluded, intimate feeling. With both bench and high-top table seating, this patio simply screams summer.
The restaurant is known for its margaritas, group drinks served in fishbowls, and alcohol pouches (think a Capri Sun, but for adults), not to mention its strong selection of Mexican beers. They’re all great for washing down Taco Co.’s famous puffy tacos, which stuff various meats inside fried shells that have perfect crispiness on the outside, yet somehow maintain the soft, doughy texture of a flour tortilla on the interior. Whether you want to celebrate happy hour in style or chow down on some of Omaha’s best tacos (or both), the Taco Co. patio is your place.
Pacific Eating House
There’s absolutely nothing like eating a meal outdoors in Hawaii. The warm rays of the sun are cooled by a gentle breeze as you savor fish so fresh it tastes like it was swimming five minutes ago.
Given that it’s in the middle of the country, Pacific Eating House isn’t that. But it’s as close to that life-altering experience as I’ve found in the Midwest.
The owners are Seattle transplants, and they’re so committed to wild-caught (“farmed” is a dirty word here) fish that all their seafood is sourced from Hawaii or Seattle. It tastes so clean and fresh that you’ll swear you’re dining on a coast. The wine and beer menus are extensive and the “Tiki Libations” are fruity and clever. And while the patio doesn’t offer incredible ambiance, the fact that you can enjoy this level of fresh catch in Omaha in a shaded, spacious area is a dream.
La Casa Pizzaria (Pacific Springs location)
An Omaha institution since 1953, any Omahan worth their salt has had a taste of La Casa Pizzaria’s pizza. These rectangular, thin-crust pies are an important part of Omaha’s food history. From the cult-favorite hamburger pizza to the brilliant double-crust Cudduruni, La Casa’s pizzas have delighted Omahans for nearly 70 years.
But La Casa isn’t all about tradition, and its newest location (located off 168th and Pacific) embraces modern aesthetics. That includes an inviting outdoor patio, complete with two courts for bocce ball. For a casual summer gathering, La Casa offers pizza patio perfection.
BONUS: Fariner Bakery
So technically it’s in Ashland, not Omaha. But Fariner’satmosphere, especially on the new patio, is so charming, it’s absolutely worth the short trek outside the city.
Open in the morning for coffee and pastries or in the evening for wine, fresh breads, and small-batch cheeses, this patio is captivatingly rustic and beautiful. With some of the best-baked goods in the area (the cinnamon roll is a must-try), excellent coffee, and a quiet, intimate space, this is a great place to work remotely or meet an old friend for a coffee date. Though less than a year old, Fariner has quickly established itself as a go-to destination for a quiet atmosphere, good vibes, and incredible pastries.
Is your favorite patio missing from this list? Let me hear about it! I want to experience all the epic patios Omaha has to offer, so tweet at @danhoppen, message Restaurant Hoppenon Facebook, or DM @dan_hoppen on Instagram to let me know what patios you think are among Omaha’s best!