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 post on the Hollywood Cafe here, and the one on the 11-Worth Cafe here.
The Old Market area in downtown Omaha is known for a plethora of restaurants, ranging from the fancy to the simple. Mexican, Indian, Pizzas— all sort of food is offered. Tucked in the corner across the street from Roja, The Diner is the place to go to get your pancakes in the Old Market.
Stepping into the simply named diner will provide a true blast from the past. Unlike the Hollywood Cafe, which is full of memorabilia, The Diner resembles what I can only image a true 1950s diner looked like. The red circular booths seem original, and the long counter and red bar stools look like any diner seen on television or in the movies. The most modern thing in the joint is a 1990s era television hung above the counter.
Small touches make this restaurant seem very homey. Fresh flowers on the table, an old jukebox in the corner and a clear view of the kitchen show that The Diner is not trying to be anything it isn’t. Simple pencil drawings of Marilyn Monroe hung on the wall are the only artistic element in the interior.
The restaurant is rather small, with a handful of booths and some counter seating. Cheaply laminated menus are available at the table, but the main draw of the inside is the large menu hanging above the counter. The little white letters, sometimes crooked, seem to spell out a long and yummy history.
When I went to The Diner, I had chocolate chip pancakes and a vanilla milkshake. The server told me that they just began putting chocolate chips in their pancakes, which goes to show how traditional this restaurant is. The pancakes were large and cooked to perfection, the right mixture of puffy and heavy. The milkshake was very runny, very milk-based. I prefer the thicker shakes, probably due to the higher ice cream content, but this one was okay.
I wish that I would have been given more syrup, due to the large size of the pancakes. I also sampled their onion rings. They were decent— thickly cut with smooth coating.
The prices were good, but the portions at the 11-Worth cafe were larger, and a better deal I believe.
Drawbacks of The Diner aren’t many. The size is small, and I can imagine that the wait on a Sunday morning gets pretty long. The food is good, but I wouldn’t wait a half an hour for it. While being one of the cheapest options in the Old Market, prices are slightly elevated over the other diners I visited, but that could just be because of the area it is located.
Despite the small space and slightly over-priced portions, this restaurant is awesome. It’s location and out-of-place look make it a true gem in the Old Market. The authentic, nothing-has-changed atmosphere will make any history buff or diner fanatic smile. It is not overdone, but a quaint reminder of a lost era of dining.
I would recommend this restaurant to old souls, who will love the interior and be moderately satisfied with the food. I also think visitors who are staying downtown and want a change from the fancier restaurants would really enjoy this diner. It would provide a nice, relaxing resting spot in between shopping or events in Omaha.
Rating: 7 out of 10 stars. Recommend.
The Diner is located at 409 S 12th Street, Omaha, Neb. They do not have a website. Phone number: 402-341-9870. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Part three of a three part series. I hope you enjoyed my reviews of Omaha-area diners.