Will Forte, a star of the new film “Nebraska” had some interesting restaurant suggestions after shooting the film in Omaha. So for the record, he told the NYTimes he liked The Boiler Room in Omaha and Dixie Quicks for breakfast in Council Bluffs. He liked staying at the Magnolia Hotel in Omaha and also recommended the Occidental Hotel in buffalo, Wyoming which we also liked when we stayed there (it is supposedly where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid stayed when in town…Will didn’t mention another good place in Buffalo…Tom’s Main Street Diner on, you guessed it, Main Street.
The Slowdown venue in NoDo.
My son’s flight from Omaha to Lima (by way of Houston) was delayed two weeks ago so we had some time to kill on a Monday morning. We drove to the nearby “NoDo” neighborhood (aka north of downtown) but it was pretty sleepy at 10 a.m. We did peek into the windows of The Slowdown, an indie rock club, and neighboring Saddle Creek Records, an indie label whose artists include a band my son likes, Bright Eyes. The two are connected and both looked promising. About the only signs of life on the one block stretch of shops and restaurants was at the Blue Line Coffee shop. We also stopped at the Old Market area but that too was very sleepy – what shops are left (the district seems to have far more restaurants than I remembered in earlier years) weren’t open until 11 a.m. Oh well.
I was despairing over the inexplicably high price of a plane ticket from Des Moines to New Orleans – where I hope to meet up with old friends from London in the fall – when I discovered, thanks to a new friend, that I can fly for about half the cost by leaving from the Kansas City airport ($230 vs. $450 or so from Des Moines). There’s even a direct flight from Kansas City, although it’s more expensive. It’s been awhile since I’ve schlepped to Kansas City to fly – we used to fly Southwest to Albuquerque until Southwest was no longer such a great deal. But it may be worth the drive and expense to park my car to leave from K.C.
I also discovered that a two-flight trip to Lima via Houston costs about the same from Omaha as it does from Chicago (not from Des Moines alas) so we’re thinking seriously of opting for that since driving to Omaha takes about 1/3 the time it takes to drive to Chicago (2 vs. 6 hours.)
Bring it on! There will now be a Megabus from Des Moines to Omaha – and two additional D.M.-Chicago (via Iowa City) buses which is great news. My only concern is that Megabus can handle this expansion! Last time I took the Megabus, there were significant delays and disorganization.
The two new Chicago-bound buses will leave at 12:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. (12:30 a.m.? guess this is the red eye…means a very early arrival in Iowa City.) This is in addition to the 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Chicago-bound buses. Somewhat oddly, there will be four Chicago-bound buses from Des Moines – but only three Des Moines-bound buses from Chicago (leaving at 11:15 a.m., 5 p.m. and 11:15 p.m.) On second thought, maybe that’s not that odd. If you’re traveling to Iowa City, that 11:15 p.m. bus will get you there around the unpleasant hour of 3 a.m….
The Omaha buses leave DM at 5:35 a.m. (kinda early) and 5:35 p.m. One thing that might be good – taking the bus, if it’s reliable, to fly out of the Omaha airport which has had cheaper fares than Des Moines in the past. (Haven’t flown out of it in a few years.)
This time it’s the NYTimes travel section adding it’s voice to the “Omaha is cool” chorus. In last Sundays “surfacing” feature, the paper recommended The Slowdown (the indie rock club, much-lauded of late), The Ruth Sokolof Theater (an art film house), Birdhouse Collectible (1111 N. 13th street) a showroom/gallery, Blue Line Coffee 749 N. 14th Street.; Goodnights Pizza Bar and Piano. (1302 Mike Fahey Street. All are in the “north downtown/NoDo” neighborhood” which I do believe is en route to the airport.
A story on NPR last week praised The Slowdown in Omaha as one of the best indie clubs in the country …in the “surprisingly cool city of Omaha.” That Omaha is cool isn’t surprisingly to us here in flyover land – it’s been cool since at least the late 1980s when I first visited the city’s warehouse district. Now there’s a new area downtown I think near the new arena that has the club and also a cool art house movie theater, Film Streams.
I think we’ve passed this on the way to the Omaha airport (cool cheap flights!) but need to check out.
Found a copy of the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Midwest Living on the library’s sale rack – so scooped it up since there’s always good recommendations on things to do in this neck of the woods. Here’s some restaurant recommendations:
– In Indianapolis, Recess (soup!)
– In Chicago, Gilt Bar and Restaurant on Magnificent Mile.
– Woodbury, Minnesota (where we have friends!), Apertif (rotisserie chicken) and in neighboring St. Paul, Heartland (clever meat and potatoes) and Clearwater, Minn., Nelson Bros. Restaurant (yes, at a restaurant on I-94; fritter french toast w/wild rice sausage)
– Omaha, Hiro 88 (sushi and more in the Old Market district)
– Madison, Wisc. L’Etoile (longstanding haute green cuisine in new location)
– Kansas City, Glace Artisan Ice Cream (peanut butter ice cream with swirl of strawberry jam…) and Succotash
– Traverse City, MI, Soul Hole (southern food in Old Town)
– Iowa City, Blue Bird Diner (Sunday brunch)
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