Where to Eat in Lincoln, NE | The Best Cultural Restaurants

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Helen Armitage

Lincoln, Nebraska’s state capital, is home to a vibrant and varied dining scene with options to tempt the most discerning of diners, including modern European cuisine, authentic Italian, contemporary American fare and casual, juicy burgers. Check out our update to a Foodie’s Guide to Lincoln to find the best dining hot-spots the city has to offer.

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Honest Abe’s Burgers and Freedom

The Greatest Burger Ever- Honest Abe’s Burgers and Freedom

For diners hankering after a hearty, juicy burger, a visit to Honest Abe’s Burgers and Freedom will certainly satisfy that craving. Opened in 2012 just a short walk from the pretty Bethany Park, Honest Abe’s offers a casual dining experience in a space that puts a contemporary spin on classic diner aesthetics. Operated by owner and chef Erik Hustad, Honest Abe’s menu will delight even the most discriminating of burger fans, with a number of original recipes available along with a side of freedom fries or parmesan truffle fries. A must-try is the Greatest Burger Ever – a patty topped with Applewood bacon, grilled onions, romaine, American cheese, ketchup and awesome sauce.

Bar, Restaurant, Italian, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$

Vincenzo’s Ristorante, Lincoln

A locally owned and operated Italian restaurant, Vincenzo’s first opened its doors in 1994 and prides itself on offering impeccable service and authentic, handmade Italian cuisine. Inside, Vincenzo’s is a classy affair that mixes traditional styles and contemporary design, with urban details like exposed brick and industrial-style lighting teamed with a classic wooden bar and walls adorned with vintage photographs. Named Lincoln’s Top Italian Restaurant by the Lincoln Journal Star, Vincenzo’s serves classic dishes like the lightly breaded calamari starter served with a zesty marinara sauce and the veal piccata main – veal medallions sautéed with mushrooms, white wine, capers and fresh lemon.

Dish

Restaurant, American, $$

A must-visit Lincoln restaurant for fans of upscale dining, Dish offers guests everything a discerning diner could want from an upmarket eatery – an eclectic menu of modern Americancuisine, friendly and professional service, a warm atmosphere and a fantastic downtown location. Operated by owner and chef Travis Green since 2009, a graduate of Oregon’s Western Culinary Institute, Dish allows guests to start with the tempting devils on horseback appetiser – dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with jalapenos and Boursin cheese – and follow up with a hearty entrée like the grilled New York strip steak served with mashed potatoes, sautéed green beans and a beurre blanc.

Engine House Café

Boasting a historic location in the Havelock neighbourhood’s original Fire Station, a building dating back to 1900, The Engine House Café took over and renovated the premises in 1995 though many of the original building’s features were retained such as its wood ceiling and covered entrance to its bell tower. The relaxed eatery is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and guests visiting early in the day can choose from dishes like pancakes, omelettes and waffles while diners visiting in the evening can chow down on a juicy burger like the signature Engine House, complete with a flame-broiled 1/3 pounder hamburger patty, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion.

Hiro 88

Restaurant, Asian, Vegetarian, Vegan, Sushi, $

Serving a mix of sushi and cooked Asian dishes, Lincoln’s Hiro 88 is the third restaurant from the successful Nebraska-based restaurant group. Located in the western reaches of downtown Lincoln in the city’s Historic Haymarket District, since it opened in autumn 2013 Hiro 88 has attracted a tonne of positive recognition, with its two Omaha locations winning the Best of Omaha’s Best Sushi award. Try a selection of sushi like the octopus sashimi, eel nigiri or California roll with crab mix, avocado and cucumber, or a heartier dish of pan-seared Scottish teriyaki salmon – perfect when paired with a sake from Lincoln’s largest sake list.

Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill

When it opened in 1991, Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill became the first brewpub in the whole of Nebraska, and over the years the establishment has expanded to include a second branch in the south of Lincoln and a sister restaurant, FireWorks – though its original location, in Lincoln’s Historic Haymarket District, is a must-visit for a slice of Nebraskan brewpub history. Lazlo’s cosy booths, fireplaces and pretty outdoor patio set the perfect scene in which to enjoy its hickory-grilled fare, which includes baby back ribs with BBQ sauce and New York strip steak – perfect washed down with one of Lazlo’s many house-brewed ales.

The Green Gateau

Restaurant, French, European, American, Vegetarian, Vegan, $

An upscale neighbourhood restaurant that has been feeding the diners of Lincoln exquisite and innovative contemporary American fare since it first opened its doors over 20 years ago in 1992, The Green Gateau gets its name from a recipe for green cakes found in artist Claude Monet’s cooking journals. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant’s interior is inspired by European country inns and features an eclectic design, including an antique Italian copper espresso machine and huge stained glass church window embedded in its ceiling. Guests can try appetisers like the fresh guacamole prepared tableside and served with tortilla chips and salsa, and the candied walnut-crusted salmon entrée.

Toast

Bar, Restaurant, American, $

A firm favourite in Lincoln, Toast has established an impressive reputation for its delicious light dinner options dished out in a unique, unusual setting – an interior decorated in many reclaimed materials and items including an antique cabinet from Omaha’s historic Burlington Train Station and brass foot rails salvaged from a now-closed Italian restaurant. Due to its hybrid nature of local watering hole, coffee house and neighbourhood deli, Toast attracts a wide ranging clientele, though its tempting menus are undoubtedly the venue’s main pull. Choose from the range of burgers, salads and sandwiches, available alongside dinner entrées like tomato ketchup and brown sugar glazed meatloaf with mashed potatoes and fresh seasonal vegetables.

Venue

Restaurant, American, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$
Founded by co-owners Scott Ritter and Jeff Barclay, Venue is a stylish, sophisticated restaurant serving traditional and contemporary American cuisine with global influences alongside an award-winning wine list. Executive chef John Benton, who has a degree in culinary arts and a passion for sustainable and locally sourced produce, implemented an on-site rooftop garden growing herbs and vegetables, some of which go into dishes like the roasted duck breast with snap peas, creamed fingerling potatoes, herbs and cedar-infused blackberry port jam. Don’t forget to try one of Venue’s seasonal or signature cocktails made by master mixologist Barrie Kuhn like the Barrie Blast – Bacardi black jazz rum, blueberries, fresh orange juice and house sour.

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