Omaha tourism: Highlights from a weekend trip to Nebraska with a vegan reuben at Block 16, and seitan wings at Benson Brewery.
Last weekend David and I took a brief trip to Nebraska for a friend’s wedding and some Omaha tourism.
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!
(For a full rundown of options in Omaha, Nebraska & beyond, check out this post on vegan Omaha restaurants.)
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.
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.
The 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.
The messy sandwich, dripping with dressing and sauerkraut, was a risk while wearing a special occasion outfit, but I made it through unscathed!
(I put this sandwich on my list of vegan reubens you don’t want to miss. If you’re a reuben lover, be sure to check it out!)
David 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!
With full bellies, we returned to the reception for drinks, toasts, and celebrating with the bride and groom.
(For more ideas about what to do if you’re vegan and attending a non-vegan wedding, check out this post on vegan wedding meals.)
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.)
We 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 kale guacamole here.)
The next day before heading out of town, we squeaked in a little more Omaha tourism with a visit to 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. They were able to make them for us anyway!
We 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.
Then 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.
(Update: You can see Modern Love for yourself in this Modern Love Omaha road-trip video I made!)
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!