Diner Dispute: Omaha, part 2- The 11-Worth Cafe

I decided to find the best diner in the greater Omaha area, a quest that will not be easy or simple to finish. I will begin with reviewing three restaurants I visited recently. So sit back, put on your Elvis record and tuck in your napkin. It’s time for a blast from the past. See my last post on the Hollywood Cafe here

Located in the downtown area of Omaha, Tony Caniglia’s 11-Worth Cafe is an oft-mentioned diner on Omaha foodie lists. However, if you were to drive by, it wouldn’t seem like much. A brick building with a rather plain interior, this restaurant isn’t noted for its decor.

The exterior of the 11-Worth cafe at night. Photo courtesy 11-worthcafe.com .

The inside of the cafe is surprisingly large, which is much needed, since it is always packed. It’s a good thing there is a parking lot across the street.

The booths are rather plain, with various shadowboxes containing history of Omaha businesses placed around tables.

The customers are generally veterans of the cafe, who appreciate the attentive service and quality food.

The 11-Worth Cafe has been open for over 34 years and is currently managed by Tony Caniglia, Jr. It is located on (surprise!) Leavenworth street.

The food is the big draw of this restaurant. The menu is large and offers a multitude of different foods from hamburgers and omelettes to sandwiches and their self-proclaimed famous sausage gravy. The portions are large and the average serving could be described as a ‘heart attack on a plate,’ not that anything is wrong with that. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Great deals are as easily found here as a happy server ready with a coffee refill.

When I visited the cafe, I got the Philly Sandwich. Served with french fries, the meal was entirely filling. It was obvious that the food was freshly prepared, as the steak on my plate was still sizzling. Other items ordered at my table were the ‘Robert E. Leebiscuits and gravy and the chicken tenderloin, which all smelled delicious.

What was left of my philly cheese steak sandwhich.

Drawbacks of the 11-Worth Cafe mainly have to do with its ambiance, which in my opinion doesn’t exist. Despite being in a part of town that is close to many interesting things, the interior of the restaurant isn’t even mildly interesting. If you are looking for an experience or a throwback to past times, this is not the place to go.

That being said, the cafe is always busy for a reason, namely the good food at cheap prices. The large portions make every meal feel like it could be two. The hours of the restaurant are another reason to stop by. It is open every day of the week from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., with various specials, such as the early bird special.

This restaurant is best for a group of people who want a good hearty meal and don’t want to be bothered. I found that despite the vast space inside and constant attention from the wait staff, each table or booth feels like it is tucked away from the rest of the hubbub. All types of people come to the 11-Worth— the old couples, the families with young children, the groups of college kids who want a cheap meal. The average entree is around six or seven dollars.  I also recommend it for people who are looking for a deal. I would not recommend bringing an out-of-towner here for their first meal in Omaha. While their meal will be good, the lack of ambiance and design might come off rather unimpressive.

Rating: 6 out of 10 stars. Recommend.

The 11-Worth Cafe is located at 2419 Leavenworth St., Omaha, Neb. Their website can be found here. Phone number: 402-346-6924. Open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Part two of a three part series. Stay tuned to see the other featured diner. 

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