November 12, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Anyone who’s fallen for local cuisine when traveling to faraway lands knows the feeling. You return home, bereft of your new favorite foreign flavors and find yourself pining for an unforgettable empanada from that street vendor in Buenos Aires, the croissant you nibbled in a quaint Parisian sidewalk cafe, the perfect slice of Neapolitan pizza you devoured in Naples.

For Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob owner/operator Anne Cavanaugh and her business partner, Phil Anania, it was Amsterdam’s famous falafel.

The restaurant “was an idea we came up with while on a trip to Amsterdam with our great friend and former business partner, Paul Kulik,” says Cavanaugh.

After a trip “eating falafels at every turn,” the three imported the taste to Omaha, launching Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob in Dundee in 2007. From a petite, brick bay footsteps from 50th and Underwood, they offered a simple menu that invigorated the tastebuds. The neighborhood hungrily accepted
the trio’s gesture.

Amsterdam recently joined forces with Flagship Restaurant Group to open a second location across from Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln’s bustling Haymarket district—a coup for the after-concert crowd and Husker fans who can try a Spicy Red Falafel in the name of team spirit on game day. Amsterdam is also joining Westroads Mall’s Flagship Commons dining space.

A recent visit to the Dundee location showed Amsterdam tasting better than ever at the place whose late-night hours and cool vibe had originally set it apart.

Before you even round the corner, you’ll sense the savory aroma of curry fries wafting throughout the neighborhood. Follow your nose as the scent strengthens, and you’ll find falafel treasure at the end
of the line.

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The falafel that started it all is perfectly cooked on the restaurant’s trademark grilled flatbread and adorned with the tabouli, pickled red cabbage, and carrot-chickpea salad that graces all the main menu items. Meat lovers will enjoy the Döner Kabob, offered alongside the falafel as a protein choice for their sandwich, salad, or plate (the latter a newer offering with hummus). Sauce lovers can choose from four house-made options—garlic, herb, spicy red, and a newer spicy green—and will appreciate mixing and matching sauces as they like.

Curry fries are served European style with mayo (remember that famous fries/mayo scene in Pulp Fiction?) or with all-American ketchup. A newer masterpiece, Feta Fries, are an absolute inspiration—curry fries topped with all four sauces and chunks of fresh feta. A tomato-based Moroccan Peanut Soup with coconut milk, cumin, and cilantro is a special treat in colder months.

All types converge at the Dundee location throughout the day—a pair of suits for a business lunch, a well-heeled couple savoring an afternoon snack. Later, college kids abscond with curry-infused carry-out while young couples do date-night and families feed. The midcentury-modern-meets-fast-casual decor is illuminated by globe-shaped lights and sprinkled with bicycle prints, a nod to Amsterdam’s status as the two-wheeled capital of the world.

In warmer months, this hodgepodge of humanity spills out onto the sidewalk seating, blending seamlessly with the neighboring businesses as toasts are made at the Cork & Bottle on one side and ice cream cones are licked from eCreamery on the other. Much later still, the place is a must-stop for good eats at indecent hours.

It’s a long way from Amsterdam, but Cavanaugh and crew have successfully created their very own cultural destination.

Visit eatafk.com to learn more.

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