Tag Archives: Dairy Chef

We All Scream for Ice Cream

July 18, 2018 by
Photography by provided

Growing up in the second half of an earlier millennia, the lilting jingle-jangle chimes of an ice cream truck was my soundtrack to summer. The common Fudgsicle had the power to induce a Pavlovian response in any young child. Buying a red, white, and blue Bomb Pop was an act of patriotism. The chocolaty/nutty Drumstick was considered the pinnacle of atomic age engineering. But ice cream no longer comes right to our doorstep as much as it once did, so let’s point you to where you’ll find the most tempting opportunities for a hurts-so-good brain freeze treat. 

Zesto

– 610 N. 12th St. (inside Blatt Beer & Table)
– 8608 N. 30th St.
– 7130 N. 102nd Circle
– 1317 S. 204th St. (Elkhorn)

Generations of college baseball fans have made the pilgrimage to Omaha for the NCAA College World Series, and no sojourn to TD Ameritrade Park would be complete without a visit to the mecca that is Zesto. The seasonal location that operates from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the one so often name-dropped by ESPN announcers, is co-located with Beer Blatt & Table just a Texas League single from the ballpark, but be sure to also check out the other locations, especially the frozen-in-time, throwback shop on North 30th Street.

eCreamery

– 5001 Underwood Ave.

Zesto may get lots of love from ESPN, but Dundee’s eCreamery has been heralded by…well, just about everyone else. From all the big morning shows to the New York Times to Shark Tank to such celebrity clients as Oprah, Taylor Swift, and Sir Paul McCartney, eCreamery is a darling of the ice cream world. Think you have what it takes to design your own blend? Give it a shot, but just know you’ll be up against some pretty stiff competition, including flavors from their collaboration with celebrity chef  Emeril Lagasse.

Neveria y Paleteria La Michoacana

– 4002 S. 24th St.
– 4924 S. 24th St.

Do monarch butterflies like ice cream? If so, they’d flock to South Omaha’s Neveria y Paleteria La Michoacana. That’s where they’d find the same sweet nectar flavors as those of their winter grounds in the Mexican state of Michoacán, the shop’s namesake. In flavors from guava to passion fruit to piña colada—even exotic tamarind—only the freshest real fruits are used in these delicacies that are also distributed through Guerrero Grocery and about 20 convenience stores across a broad southern swath of the city.

Jones Bros. Cupcakes

– Aksarben Village, 2121 S. 67th St.
– Westroads Mall, 10000 California St.
– 2615 S. 180th St.

August’s Maha Music Festival will rattle the glass of the windows across the street at Jones Bros. Cupcakes in Aksarben Village, but all will be serene inside, thanks to the calming, Zen-like powers of a scoop of ice cream floating in a Bursting Boba Tea, a popular summer selection from the folks who have made three appearances—and taken home one win—on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Or try one of their couture shakes and malts. Maybe the Salted Caramel Explosion with its combination of chocolate-covered potato chips, sweet and salty cupcake, and salted caramel brownie?

 

Petrow’s

– 5914 Center St.

Petrow’s isn’t your granddad’s ice…no, wait…Petrow’s is, in fact, your grandad’s ice cream. And your great-grandad’s. While the iconic family restaurant has occupied the same plot of land on the corner of 60th and Center streets since 1950, the Petrow name is associated with a continuous stream of Nebraska ice cream history that can be traced all the way back to the Fremont Candy Kitchen, which was established in 1903. Not many places can boast a 115-year-old recipe, but maybe that’s why their famed, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink clown sundae remains popular to this day.

Eileen’s Colossal Cookies

– 1024 S. 74th Plaza
– 210 S. 16th St.
(inside Brandeis Building)

One of the few places on our list that does not make its own ice cream, Eileen’s is still worthy of a mention for their amazing ice cream sandwiches. With usually something like nine flavors of ice cream and about 13 flavors of cookies from which to choose, the possibilities for tasty combinations in building your own ice cream sandwich are almost endless. (Available only at the two locations listed above.)

Freezing

– Aksarben Village, 1918 S. 67th St.

Watching the crew work at Omaha’s newest ice cream place is part middle school science fair and part Japanese steakhouse acrobatics. To create their Thai rolled ice cream, a viscous glob of semi-liquid ingredients is plopped onto a frozen disc the size of a pizza pan. The mix sets up as it is chopped, kneaded, and otherwise manhandled before being smoothed out into a crepe-thin layer that freezes in a matter of moments. Using a deft hand and what looks to be a broad-bladed drywall knife, the ice cream is then gently scraped off the disc in a way that forms perfectly coiled spirals of Thai yumminess.

Dolci

– Old Market, 1003 Howard St.

Dolci gets a nod for sheer ingenuity. Check out their fanciful Spaghetti and Sweet Balls sundae, where vanilla soft serve is extruded through a ricer to form a bowl of ice cream noodles. Add a few oatmeal peanut butter meatballs and a marinara of strawberry sauce topped with a grated, white chocolate topping in lieu of Parmesan cheese. Surely one of the Old Market’s funkier concoctions.

Ted & Wally’s

– Old Market, 1120 Jackson St.
– Benson, 6023 Maple St.

With a recipe that includes 20 percent butterfat, Ted & Wally’s, a local pioneer in upscale ice cream, lays claim to being the area’s only “super premium” product as defined by industry standards. And it’s all churned out in century-old White Mountain freezing machines. Both businesses operate out of equally antique, converted filling stations. The original location is an Old Market fixture, and the newer shop in the beard-and-beer borough of Benson has served to expand the reach of one of the city’s favorite brands.

Helados Santa Fe

– 4807 S. 24th St.

The only thing more colorful than the annual Cinco de Mayo parade that passes its front door is the collection of popsicles in the huge freezer case that welcomes you to Helados Santa Fe in the heart of South Omaha. In an array of hues straight out of Andy Warhol’s color palette from his Marilyn Monroe series, you’ll find such ice cream curiosities as cheese, Mexican bread, and avocado. And ice cream infused with hot chili peppers? Yeah, it’s a thing.

Coneflower Creamery

– Blackstone District, 3921 Farnam St.

The “Farm to Cone” tagline says it all at the shop in the resurgent, hot-hot-hot Blackstone District. Using a network of local partners from fruit and vegetable growers to dairies, coffee roasters, and locally made root beer—even the sprinkles are made in-house—Coneflower Creamery is committed to supporting local producers while delivering only the freshest of ingredients in a menu that changes with the growing seasons. A chef-driven philosophy is behind the quest for flavors not normally associated with ice cream. Basil? Saffron? Ginger? Turmeric? Yes, please!

Additional Metro Area Shops

– Dairy Chef  (3223 N. 204th St., Elkhorn)
– Dairy Twist  (2211 Lincoln Road, Bellevue)
– 80’s Snack Shack  (4733 Giles Road, Bellevue)
– Tastee Treet  (13996 Wabash Ave., Council Bluffs)
– Christy Creme  (2853 N. Broadway, Council Bluffs)
– Doozies  (321 Comanche St., Council Bluffs)

Have we neglected any local ice cream shops? Let us know on social media at @omahamagazine. 


This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Olde Towne Elkhorn

December 4, 2014 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As with any small town in America, seasons change and visitors come and go. But one thing that remains the same is the locomotive’s plaintive whistle heard all up and down Main Street in Elkhorn. Just a stone’s throw from the tracks, Olde Towne, as some locals refer to it, has experienced a renewed vitality in the past eight years after a number of new businesses opened.

The town was just recovering from a 2005 annexation by the city of Omaha. The locals fought hard to remain independent but Omaha won out.

“The only thing they did was change the numbers on our street and changed the names of some of the streets,” says Leona Anderson, owner of Little Scandinavia specialty shop.

Across the tracks is a tidy, 3.6-mile stretch of bricks laid in 1920 as part of the Lincoln Highway connecting New York to San Francisco. The secluded and serene stretch was recognized as part of the National Register of Historic places in 2003. “You’ll see the markings on the poles. A lot of bike riders like to take that route,” Anderson says.

A regular at monthly merchant meetings, Anderson has played a revitalizing role in Olde Towne by writing TIF (Tax Increment Financing) grants for Mayor Jean Stothert’s Neighborhood Grants.

“We are the ones carrying the ball,” she says. Soon, they will be receiving more TIF money for streetscaping, planting, and parking. “We’re up for big changes here. It will be fun,” Anderson says. Other projects include funding for such public amenities as trash receptacles and park benches. The benches are certainly comfy, but some of the most prized perches are the bar stools at Boyd & Charlies BBQ, where locals flock for ribs and ribbing. At least a few of the tales told among the slabs and slaw are rumored to have at least an element of the truth to them.

Although much is changing, it’s clear the long-time residents prefer the quaintness of yesteryear. “People in Elkhorn don’t like to be considered part of Omaha, so we respect that. You learn that very early, especially with the oldtimers, ” says Andrea Ramsey, owner of Andrea’s Designs.

There is no shortage of special events to attend in Elkhorn. The Christmas Tree Lighting is a popular event, as well as the crowd-pleasing Elkhorn Days Parade held in June. The area merchants also hold a Ladies’ Day event every month to showcase various seasonal specials. There’s also a Farmer’s Market on Thursday nights throughout the summer.

Ramsey is a merchant who takes part in the ladies’ events and has also had a hand in grant-writing. The opening of her store happened rather organically about five years ago. “I knew I wanted to end up starting a shop somewhere.”  She spotted a building on Main Street that used to be welding business.

“We kept coming out and driving by, trying to get a feel for it.” She noticed tools in the window. After a few months, she realized those tools never moved. It was a challenge for her to find out who owned the building, because it still had the old Elkhorn number system on the window. “Before that, there was never a reason for me to come to Elkhorn, and I’m glad I did.”

Shelley Van Hoozer, a nurse and mother of three, has lived in Elkhorn since the early ’90s. “When we moved here,” she says, “it still had that country, small-town feel and everybody was really friendly.” She and her husband, Ross, chose the small-town vibe of Elkhorn after first checking out Gretna and then Millard.

Her favorite thing about living in Elkhorn is the schools, Elkhorn High School and Westridge Elementary School where her children attend. “The kids are getting a good education. The teachers are really good about staying in contact with the parents.”

Van Hoozer enjoys spending time with her family at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park (roughly translated as meaning an elk’s horn) along the river. “It’s pretty cool. There are soccer fields, baseball fields, and playground equipment.” She also frequents Common Ground Recreation Center for swimming and working out. She says that a visit to Elkhorn would not be complete with a trip to the Dairy Chef. “Everybody goes there. It’s a landmark, I guess you’d say. The Dairy Chef is a big deal.”

She says that Elkhorn feels safe and is a good area to raise her kids. “I think any of our neighbors would agree.”

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Dairy Chef

July 19, 2014 by

It’s not yet noon on a recent Tuesday morning, but the parking lot at Dairy Chef in Elkhorn is already packed. Decked out in Elkhorn High School’s colors, the humble red and white shack is more than meets the eye.

It’s here that malts, sundaes, and dipped cones reign supreme, not to mention their famous Storms—think here of a variation on a popular concoction with a similarly wintry name at Warren Buffett’s places that also have the word “Dairy” in the name. The Dairy Chef, under the hand of owner Mike Ozmun, is all about keeping customers happy. A self-proclaimed foodie, Ozmun enjoys traveling the country to find inspiration for what might be next for the menu at this homey little mainstay of the ice cream circuit.

“When I hear of someone that has something great,” says Ozmun, “I go find out about it. I’m infatuated with food.”

Though the ice cream menu stays true to the decades-long tradition of the Dairy Chef, the remaining food is all Ozmun. From French dips to pork tenderloin sandwiches, his grill selections ensure that nobody goes home hungry. All items are made fresh daily. One hundred pounds of potatoes are hand-cut into fries each morning, and meats are straight from Rick’s Meats a mere three blocks away.

Ozmun purchased the Dairy Chef in May of last year, but he’s no stranger to the ice cream joint. After moving to Elkhorn in 1991 with his wife, Cheryl, and children, Sarah and Michael, the family were familiar faces at the place they later bought, visiting anywhere between two and five (five!) times a week. Now Michael is both the general and kitchen manger. Sarah is also a manager. Cheryl handles the scheduling and ordering of provisions.

“When we decided to take it over,” says Sarah, “we all as a family agreed that if we were going to do it, we had to do it together.” Her favorite part of the job is seeing all the regular customers and being a part of their lives in the community that has maintained it’s quaint, small-town vibe even as Omaha grew to absorb the once-standalone city.

Good table manners can be, at times, optional. Just ask Larry Anderson.

The mechanic from Waterloo, brings his 14-month-old Great Dane, Harley, to Dairy Chef a couple times a week. “He’s too big for a puppy cone now,” says Anderson, “and he kept trying to drink my malts, so he gets his own large vanilla cone.” The scene that unfolded next had “viral video potential” written all over it as the humongous hound attacked the equally gargantuan treat.

It’s just one of the all-American, slice-of-life vignettes that play out every day at a little place that caters to a nation’s long love affair with ice cream.

“It’s friendly, and it’s great ice cream,” says Ozmun. “You’ll always get a smiling face…and it’s worth the wait!

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