Vegan Treats Aplenty in Omaha, Nebraska

Saint Cecilia Cathedral - Omaha, NebraskaLast weekend David and I took a brief trip to Omaha for a friend’s wedding. Other than driving through while traveling across country or using their airport, I hadn’t spent much time in Omaha. We’d been hoping to make it more of an extended weekend, but with a kitty still under the weather, we had to make our trip brief. Nevertheless, we crammed a lot of fun into our time there!

The ceremony was at Saint Cecilia, a huge cathedral with high ceilings, stained glass, and lavish flower arrangements. It was a beautiful wedding, and the bride and groom were overflowing with happiness. It’s always such a boost to be around people who are at the beginning of a great adventure with optimism and excitement for what is ahead.

There was an hour and a half break between the ceremony and reception, and we knew there wouldn’t be much on the buffet line that was vegan-friendly. So we ventured downtown to Block 16.

Vegan options at Block 16 - Omaha, NebraskaVegan options - Block 16 - Omaha, Nebraska

After perusing their menu online, I had planned on getting the gyros, but then David spied a reuben on the menu. Obviously my choice was made. I read online that Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who lives in Omaha, helped them with their seitan recipe.

Vegan reuben at Block 16 - Omaha, NebraskaThe thick pieces of seitan had a nice, chewy bite to them, and you could tell it was made in house. The sandwich had slices of pickled beets, which I worried I wouldn’t like since I tend to be anti-beets. However, they didn’t have any of that telltale dirt beet flavor. They just tasted pickled with a faint sweetness.

Vegan reuben at Block 16 - Omaha, NebraskaThe messy sandwich, dripping with dressing and sauerkraut, was a risk while wearing a special occasion outfit, but I made it through unscathed!

Veggie burger at Block 16 - Omaha, NebraskaDavid ordered the veggie burger, which was topped with a choice of traditional burger fixings or pickles and peanut butter. David was intrigued by the peanut butter idea and chose that option. The sandwich was pressed until the peanut butter was warm and melty.

I had to have a bite of it, and it was really good. I was surprised that the peanut butter was chunky, but it was fun having a little crunch in the sandwich – kind of like when you added potato chips to sandwiches as a kid. It definitely got my wheels turning for other peanut butter burger ideas, like a Thai burger with a peanut satay sauce… I’ve got to make this happen!

Wedding receptionWith full bellies, we returned to the reception for drinks, toasts, and celebrating with the bride and groom.

Even though it was only an overnight trip, it wouldn’t be one of our vacations without a trip to a natural grocery store. We wanted to have provisions for a late night picnic back in the hotel room, along with a couple of episodes of Episodes. (Do you watch that show? It’s the series with Matt LeBlanc of Friends fame, playing a parodied version of himself in a comedy about two British writers who have their TV show produced in Hollywood. The show offers a hilarious take on the perils of the entertainment industry. Episodes’ third season was finally available on iTunes, and we just finished it. So good.)

Hotel picnicWe picked up some baked tofu, kale salad, and blackberries. We also grabbed chips and guac-kale-mole, which is guacamole made with kale! I’d never heard of such a thing, but for a person who madly loves both kale and avocados, it was a big hit. I’m definitely making my own version of that this weekend.  (Update:  I did it!  Check out my own version of guac-kale-mole here.)

Vegan options at Benson Brewery - Omaha, NebraskaThe next day before heading out of town, we visited Benson Brewery. We got there around 11 am, not realizing they have a different brunch menu on the weekends. We’d both really wanted to try their buffalo seitan strips, but they aren’t offered on the brunch menu. However, David asked the server about them, and they were able to make them for us anyway!

Benson Brewery vegan options - Omaha, NebraskaVeggie Brew Wing Basket (buffalo seitan) - Benson Brewery - Omaha, NebraskaWe split all of the dishes, so that we could try a bit of everything.  The Brew Veggie Wing Basket came with a choice of hot sauce, spicy mustard, or both. We chose both and I’m glad we did. Buffalo sauce is so crave-able and tasty, but the hot mustard might have been even better. It had undertones reminiscent of wine and a rich umami flavor that was really lovely.  We also split an order of french fries dusted with tarragon and sea salt.

Tofu sandwich at Benson Brewery - Omaha, NebraskaThen we shared the battered tofu sandwich, which was spread with a thick layer of tartar sauce and citrus coleslaw on top.  On the side was a green salad with dried cranberries and a mustard vinaigrette that was particularly good.

(I noticed as we were leaving that they also have malt vinegar for fries and tofu sandwiches! I always have malt vinegar with my fries at home, and so I was bummed I missed an opportunity to have it. Take note if you go to ask for the malt vinegar!)

Even though Omaha doesn’t have a vegetarian or vegan restaurant (yet!), they have lots of really interesting vegan-on-purpose (as opposed to accidentally vegan) options that were terrific. There were many more possibilities than we were able to try on our short trip. However, I’m sure we’ll be back later on in the summer when Omaha’s first vegan restaurant opens, Modern Love Omaha.

One more thing: On Fridays I post over at Feelgood Style, often with entries about natural beauty and style.  Yesterday I shared my thoughts on aging with a post called, How young were you when you became old?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic!  


  1. cookeasyvegan says

    I didn’t realize there were so many vegan options in Omaha, having only passed through it in the past, and I kind of wondered why Isa had chosen Omaha as the site of her upcoming restaurant. I’m impressed! I had to smile when I saw your night picnic lined up on the white bedspread. :)

    • says

      In the article that I linked to in the post, one of the restaurant owners said that after they added one or two vegan options, vegans flocked to their establishment. So they added more and have become something of a destination. It sounds like there’s a need in Omaha, and so it’s awesome that Isa is going to help fill it. I also subscribe to the Vegan Omaha page on Facebook, and they seem like a really vibrant community of vegans with lots of meet ups and cool events. There are so many awesome vegan restaurants in cities like LA and NYC, it’s nice to see Omaha, Nebraska getting some (Modern) Love! :)

    • says

      How interesting! I had no idea that was “a thing.” How much would I love to come visit you in Australia? The canned beetroot would be the icing on the cake! Wait… What? 😉

  2. says

    There’s so much good stuff in this post Cadry!! I find beetroot super hit and miss too, sometimes they do really just taste like dirt but I’d have ordered the reuben anyway because a good reuben is THE BEST! Your battered tofu sandwich looks amazing too, such perfect looking crisp batter. Also I’ll be checking out Episodes, how have I never heard of it? I loved Friends so I’ll give anything that has one of the actors in it a go!

    • says

      Let me know what you think of Episodes! If you loved Friends, I think you’ll get a kick out of seeing Matt LeBlanc poke fun at himself and his career. It was a brave move, because his self-titled character does not come out looking the best. However, that makes him as a person seem even more likable, because he’s not taking himself too seriously.

      Also did you ever watch Dirk Gently? It’s a British comedy from a few years ago that I also really enjoyed, and Stephen Mangan, who was the lead in that show, is also one of the leads in Episodes.

  3. says

    Very cool! I doubt Omaha is a place I’ll ever visit, but it’s nice to know there are growing options. I’m so jealous of Isa’s restaurant being out there!!
    Guackalemole does sound great.

    • says

      Yes, Omaha really lucked out getting Isa’s restaurant! I was so hoping it would be open by the time of the wedding, but it should be opening relatively soon.

  4. says

    Oh my, I think I’d have that battered tofu as my last meal on earth. Seriously.
    I’m also pretty enchanted by guakalemole. Put the recipe up when you make it, because I’m pretty sure I need some in my life. I thought that flower arrangement was a Chihuly sculpture when I saw it!

    • says

      I’ll be sure to put up the recipe when I make my own batch of guackalemole! That’s funny that you thought the flower arrangement was a Chihuly sculpture. That hadn’t occurred to me, but now that you say it, I can definitely see it!

  5. says

    That all looks so yummy! I used to make peanut butter and pickle sandwiches as a kid, and I’m pretty sure I need to try this on a burger now. Seriously.

    I’m sorry your kitty is still sick :(

    • says

      Now I’m kind of surprised that I never made peanut butter and pickle sandwiches as a kid since I have always loved both of those things. When I was a child my number one peanut butter pick was a Peanut Butter & Margarine slice. (I preferred to eat it as two open faced slices as opposed to a sandwich, so that none of the flavor was masked by bread.)

      Thanks for the kind thoughts for Spike, Hannah. It’s been really stressful, and we’re still not really sure what is wrong with him. He’s lost a lot of weight, and he’s not acting like himself. It’s been really hard, but we’re giving him lots of love and hoping that he comes around soon.

  6. says

    I keep hearing about all the vegan eats in Omaha lately, it seems I need to visit there sometime and get in on the action. I’m seriously intrigued by this peanut butter pickle combo on a burger, totally trying that the next time we BBQ.
    I love Episodes! It’s one of those shows that turned out to be much funnier then I thought it would be. I’m kind of sad the seasons are so short.
    I hope your kitty is doing better.

    • says

      Peanut butter on a burger never would have occurred to me, but it was surprisingly tasty! Plus, melty stuff in a sandwich is always fun.

      Yay! I’m glad you’re a fan of Episodes too! It is sad that the seasons are so short, but it probably keeps their quality high. They hook you, and then they’re gone! Although, I’m glad they’ve been picked up for a fourth season.

      Thanks for the thoughts for Spike. He’s been sick for nearly two months, and it’s been rough. However, it feels like he’s turned a corner and is acting more like his former self again. It’s really made me appreciate how much he sets the mood for the house, because when he’s not running around to greet us at the door and constantly beg for a cuddle, the house is a much less happy place.

  7. says

    You really should write a book one day titled “Reubens Across America” or some such. Your uncanny ability to sleuth out a vegan reuben in the most unlikely places is unparalleled! :-)

    • says

      I love that idea! How much fun would I have writing that book? I don’t know who would actually be interested in reading it, but writing it would be the best job ever! 😀

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