Avocado toast, nachos, and vegan donuts Omaha. How to not go hungry as a vegan in Nebraska. Donuts from Hello Sugar and Farine + Four, and nachos at Modern Love.
This past weekend David and I went to Omaha for a couple of days, because he was speaking at their local BritishFest about his work on Doctor Who: Shada. When we weren’t getting TARDIS flying lessons, we sampled the Omaha vegan food scene.
(For an extensive list of vegan options in Omaha, check out this post on vegan Omaha restaurants.)
Vegan donuts Omaha at Hello Sugar
Our first morning in Omaha while I was out getting coffee, Kayla, a person on Instagram who lives in the area, told me that I needed to pick up vegan donuts from Hello Sugar.
Hello Sugar sells doughnuts at a couple of different farmers markets. (Keep an eye on Hello Sugar’s Instagram for the menu, as well as locations & times.)
I happened to be fairly close to the farmers market at the time, and so I made a beeline there.
In addition to selling non-vegan doughnuts, Hello Sugar had several vegan doughnuts on offer including chocolate almond sea salt, raspberry jam filled, lemon pistachio, apple fritters, glazed with sprinkles, and triple berry.
David’s favorite doughnut is raspberry jam filled, and so that was a no brainer. I asked what the other big sellers were and was told that people always come back for the apple fritters and lemon pistachio. So I grabbed those as well.
The doughnuts were wonderfully fresh and full of bounce, light, and airy. For us, the big winner was the raspberry jam filled, but I’d happily eat any of them all over again.
Farine + Four
I visited the bakery Farine + Four for breakfast two mornings while we were there.
(The second day, we’d planned on going to Saddle Creek Breakfast Club, because they have an inviting vegan brunch menu, in addition to their standard menu. However, when we arrived, the area in front of the restaurant was positively packed with throngs of people waiting for a table. It looked like it would be a really long wait, so we skipped it. But I’d like to go another time!)
Farine + Four has a rotating menu. They handwrite the menu on the counter in front of the cash register. So if there’s a line, you can’t really see it until you place an order. It would be nice if they had a menu board higher up, where it could be seen from a distance.
I got a rosemary bagel with vegan cream cheese for me, and an everything bagel with vegan cream cheese to-go for David.
The bagels were wonderful – chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. As a rosemary fan, I was all over the plethora of dried rosemary on top.
But the cream cheese was a little perplexing. I’m still trying to figure it out. I wonder if they might have given me the wrong thing, because it looks like they actually ladled it on. Perhaps it was donut glaze by mistake? The flavor was sweet and pleasant, but it didn’t look like cream cheese in any way, and it made my bagel soggy.
Out of curiosity, I googled their vegan cream cheese after the fact, and in other pictures, it looks the way a person would expect cream cheese to look.
Inspired by this experience, I’ve decided to start a country band called Soggy Bagel Bottoms. Look for my record in stores.
The confusing cream cheese wasn’t enough to keep us from going again the next day, and I’m really glad we did.
This time they had vegan donut holes on the menu in three flavors – lemon & lavender, cardamom, and vanilla. (Because we hadn’t had enough donuts, right?) You can get just one flavor or a mixture of all three. I’m not really into lavender or cardamom, and so I went with vanilla alone.
They fry the donuts fresh when you order, and so they actually come hot to the table. They were coated in sugar and reminded me of churros in ball-form.
David ordered avocado toast, and it was topped with thinly sliced radishes & pea tendrils.
I ordered the zucchini avocado toast, which had loopy zucchini ribbons, marinated onions, and pea tendrils.
I have vegan avocado toast for breakfast probably 3 mornings a week, and it’s always delicious. But wow, they really took avocado toast to the next level.
First, instead of just toasting the bread in a toaster, it was oiled and toasted in a skillet. So it was really crunchy and crisp on the outside. Then the onions were pickled, and there was an extra savory richness to the toast that I couldn’t put my finger on. Some kind of flavored oil, perhaps?
Anyway, I can’t recommend their avocado toast highly enough. It might not seem like something a person needs to go out of their way for on a trip, but you really do.
While we were there, we also picked up a fresh loaf of sourdough bread to give the cat sitter (a.k.a. my parents) as a thank you gift, and it was exceptional.
Modern Love Omaha
Obviously, any trip to Omaha must involve at least one visit to Modern Love, if not more than that.
When we first rolled into town Friday night, we went straight to Modern Love for our 8 o’clock reservation. I’d seen on Facebook that they were offering their seitan reuben as a weekday-only special. So I knew this was my big chance to finally score my favorite sandwich from one of my favorite restaurants.
When we arrived, Isa, the owner of Modern Love & cookbook author extraordinaire, came out to say hi. She asked if I’d planned on ordering the reuben, and then gave me the bad news that they were out of them.
As luck would have it, though, they did have some stray ingredients laying around, and there was enough to put together a reuben amuse-bouche. So even though I was disappointed about missing the reuben, I was excited I’d get a taste at least.
We placed our orders, and I felt confident much deliciousness awaited us…
Once it was ready, Isa brought the reuben amuse-bouche to the table and laughed, “It’s not really an amuse-bouche.”
It was like a full-sized sandwich with two onion rings piled on top! The bread was nice and charred around the edges, and it was filled with seitan, sauerkraut, and thin slices of smoky beet. The cheesy layer had a nice pop of miso. So good!
David and I ordered a nacho platter appetizer as well.
This thing was positively massive with walnut chorizo, big dollops of guacamole, hot sauce, pico de gallo, and cashew-based queso. There wasn’t a dry chip in the bunch.
By the time my dinner order of mushroom stroganoff arrived, I immediately asked for a to-go box. That worked out well, though, because then lunch the next day was sorted.
For his main course, David had ordered the chickpea bacon ranch sandwich.
It was layered with chickpea cutlets, avocado, mushroom bacon, greens, tomato, and ranch dressing. On the side was purple potato salad.
The chickpea cutlets at the restaurant were a little different than the ones in Veganomicon. The chickpeas themselves aren’t as prominent. They’re more blended into the cutlet. The cutlets are thin and uniform in a way that reminded me of Milanese.
David also had his sandwich for lunch the next day. That hadn’t been our initial plan, but it was super convenient!
Even though there are other vegan options to be had in Omaha, we couldn’t resist the opportunity of going back to Modern Love another time while we were there.
For my main dish, I got the kale Caesar salad, which was dressed with a tahini caper dressing. This super nooch-y salad was topped with smoked mushrooms, capers, pepita parmesan, and croutons. I also added cornmeal-crusted tofu.
David ordered the mushroom stroganoff I’d ordered the night before with added chickpea cutlets.
The thing I really love about this stroganoff is that they don’t skimp on mushrooms.
Sometimes you’ll order a pasta dish with mushrooms, and there will only be a handful of cremini mushrooms. But with this one, even after finishing the noodles, there were still loads of wild mushrooms at the bottom, including oyster mushrooms.
(By the way, she has a similar mushroom stroganoff recipe in Isa Does It, one of my favorite cookbooks.)
Choosing dessert was a real dilemma with strawberry shortcake, cheesecake, and an old school sundae all in the line-up. But ultimately, I had to go with the one that I never see anywhere else – peanut butter Snickers pie.
Look at that.
It really tasted like a Snickers bar with a thick layer of chocolate ganache, whole peanuts, a gooey peanut butter custard interior, salted maple caramel, and a big dollop of coconut whip to finish it off. Incredible.
I imagine by the next time we get to Omaha, Modern Love will be in their new, larger location, where the seitan reuben will be on the regular menu! (They’re just waiting on furniture now. So it shouldn’t be too long!) I’m excited to get back again, whenever that happens.
And that ends our excursion to Omaha! For more vegan options in Nebraska and beyond, check out my vegan travel page.