12 Types of Gift Giving For Foodies in Omaha
It’s the end of the year and in Omaha that usually means cold temperatures, snow and holidays full of good cheer and good company. If you have foodies on your gift list and are struggling to find that perfect gift, or are just looking for a change of pace, something local, or something unique, I’ve created several local gift giving categories for you to choose from
1) Omaha Italian Kitchen Classics
For those on your list who may not be keen on cooking but enjoy entertaining, Lo Solo Mio’s catering menu is extraordinary. It’s diverse, flavorful, and oh so filling! Amato’s in Aksarben is famous for their ricotta pancakes, but they sell a bread crumb mixture and jars of peppers that are excellent additions to the pantry. As a stocking stuffer, Orsi’s Bakery at 6th and Pacific has a biscotti cookie that I will drive across the city just to grab a fresh baked bag, Get there early as they won’t be there late, and buy an extra bag for yourself.
One of my favorite holiday past times is for my Mom’s birthday. Since its right after Christmas, I make sure she doesn’t have to cook by taking my parents out to dinner, but I don’t tell them where we’re going until we get there. Have some fun with your friends/family that love New Orleans style food and offer to pick them up on a Friday after work and take them out to dinner, but you can’t tell them where. They still may be confused when you pull up at Mall of the Bluffs in Council Bluffs, but the smell of Simply Nola will make it feel like the French Quarter. Whether it be the gumbo, jambalaya, etouffee, or my favorite, the crawfish pasta, the flavors transport you instantly to New Orleans. Upon arriving back at their living quarters, hand them a gift basket with a gift certificate to Mouth of the South in Florence and a batch of homemade baked goods, canned goods, and even cornbread mix that you can find at Big Mama’s Travelling General Store.
3) Bakery Tour
I’ve got a sweet tooth weakness, especially one for fine pastries, and Omaha is full of terrific choices Gerda’s near 52nd and Leavenworth has the best peanut butter roll I’ve ever had. The Bagel Bin just south of 119th and Pacific has excellent bagels and cream cheese, but their pecan rolls are devastatingly good when warm. Any Wheatfields’ location can provide breakfast, dessert or a glorious afternoon snack. If your list has a classic donut lover, head to the Donut Stop on 1256 S. 13th Street. The best apple fritter in the city resides at any of the Donut Professor’s local locations, and if interesting and amazing is your preference, a stop at Sweet Magnolia’s at 813 N. 40th Street is necessary. You’re sure to see a big smile when an envelope full of gift certificates to these Omaha bakery Icons is opened.
4) Meat Lover’s Madness
The first step to satisfy the meat lover in your life is to buy an appropriate sized cooler for high quality local meats. Step two is to visit Just Good Meat at 4422 S. 84th Street and pick up some terrific steaks, pork chops or other meats of your choosing. Step three is to visit a Stoysich House of Sausage (2532 S. 24th St or 2502 S. 130th Ave) and choose any number of the best bratwursts or sausages around. Step four is to head to Harvest Valley Foods’ farm store at15303 S. 36th St. to pick up a couple packages of bacon and sausage for breakfast, and racks of ribs for the smoker.
For those who enjoy Mexican food, head to Jacobo’s at 4621 S. 24th St. to pick up a pound of carnitas pork, burritos, a jar of their fresh salsa and a bag of their freshly made tortillas and tortilla chips. If your gift list recipients can’t use their tidings in a timely manner, head north to Erick’s Enchilada’s storefront at 1702 N. 13th Street. Their enchiladas are easy to freeze and reheat for a quick weeknight meal. To add another layer to this Latin gift, grab a bottle of Gusto Cuban Café’s Mojo sauce at 7910 Harrison Street. It’s top notch on pork, sandwiches, rice, plantains and more.
Do you have someone on your list that loves all types of Asian cuisine, but has no idea what restaurant would be a good choice for them to purchase a gift card? Stop by the Asian Market on 321 N. 76th Street and pick up a basket full of Asian specialties that they can create in the kitchen. The market recently expanded and you can put together a kitchen cooking basket of different types of rice, noodles, sauces and other Asian specialties. You can find foods from China, Vietnam, Korea, the Philippines and other international locations.
The Asian basket of goodness works well in a wok for some, but you may have another person who prefers Mediterranean. To please this palate, shop at the Mediterranean & European Grocery on 8601 Blondo Street. It’s remarkably easy to put together a basket of dates, kalamata olives, and all the components for wonderful gyros. To give your Mediterranean basket a personal touch, pick up the ingredients for hummus and make a homemade batch.
8) Caffeine and Company
Do you have a coffee aficionado in your midst? If so, create a little IOU for a weekend morning coffee house tour of some of our best local coffeehouses. It’s the perfect way to incorporate conversation and caffeine, and Omaha has excellent choices throughout the city. Take them to one of the many Crane Coffee locations, Fox Hollow on 1919 Papillion Parkway, 13th Street Coffee in Downtown, Legends Comics and Coffee on 52nd and Leavenworth, Dundee Double Shot, and Aroma’s in Benson. All will offer ambience, a good cup and a nice place to talk.
9) Happy Hour
If you’ve got a group of friends that you’d like to do something nice for but can’t find the right surprise for them, try an afternoon happy hour where you pick up the check. I’m not much of a spirits man, so my happy hour choices focus on food. Roja (Downtown or Shops of Legacy), Blatt Beer and Table (North Downtown and Shops of Legacy), Plank in Downtown, and Jimi D’s in Aksarben are my favorites for food happy hours in the city. Their prices, portion sizes and choices can appeal to a cross section of palettes within your friendship group.
Clear a late afternoon or evening with the beer connoisseur on your list and take them on a Benson and Blackstone brewery tour. Start out in one of Omaha’s newest revitalized areas with Farnam House and Scriptown between 35th and 40th Streets on Farnam. It’s a short designated drive into Benson. With stops at the Benson Brewery and Infusion, you’ll taste the flavor and enthusiasm of a historic and now vibrant neighborhood. Both areas have several food options to keep the consumption reasonable and responsible. Farnam House’s pretzels are a show-stopping good appetizer and both Farnam House and Benson Brewery have excellent fare that can be a meal or a morsel to help you enjoy your evening.
11) Sports Fan Sampler
Sometimes people need a night out to watch a game and eat good food with good company. You can pick up an assortment of gift cards to any number of local establishments to watch a big game. If it’s one of the Varsity locations for their pizza, Barrett’s Barley Corn on Leavenworth for their Phillies or patty melt, Ice House on Maple Street for nachos, or DJ’s Dugout for big TVs and better hot wings, there’s an ample array of local sports establishments to share a sporting event with friends or family.
Lot 2 in Benson, Mark’s in Dundee, and J. Coco on 52nd and Leavenworth have terrific all-around menus. Their dessert selections are divine. Lot 2’s chocolate donut holes will leave you speechless, Mark’s Smores brownie is sitting by a campfire in the middle of the city, and J Coco’s tiramisu tastes even better than it looks, which is a tall task because it looks delicious Give a little change-of-pace gift certificate by going with a smaller amount and tell your recipient they can only use them for desserts. They can be used as the last course on a dining tour or for a little night out after an evening in.
Our metro is full of fantastic foodie gifts, gift certificates, and quality times in excellent establishments with those that make you the happiest. From a stocking stuffer to a seafood special, you’re sure to make those on your list happy with gifts that have the ability to keep on giving.
Kent Cisar searches the local and national scene for unique ingredients and flavors to bring to the table here in Omaha. He'll catch his own fish from Florida, ship farmer's market shrimp from Louisiana, stash jams from the Pacific Northwest, or find the best cut of meat from a Nebraska farmer. Kent believes that regardless of where the it comes from, good food is meant to be shared.
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