Tag Archives: Dundee Dell

A Taste of Old Times and Reuben Tacos in Old Dundee

October 15, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When I first started coming into the cavernous Old Dundee Bar & Grill, the eatery and I were both much smaller. The eastern portion—the part accessible from the back entrance off of Capital Avenue—was called Main Street Movies, a movie rental place walled-off from the bar area.

My dad used to walk my sister and me there to rent VHS tapes, any movie we wanted for $2.50.  I remember the smell of popcorn from the Dundee Theatre at the top of the ramp in the southeast corner, the `70s-style pattern in the worn carpet. I remember the smell of fried fish coming from the Dundee Dell.

olddundee2Established in 1934, the year after Prohibition, the Dundee Dell went through various owners. A former owner of the Dundee Dell, Pat Goebel, relocated the bar to Underwood Avenue in 2000. So, the bar that next occupied the old Dodge Street location needed a different name. The new name held onto nostalgia for the space. Affectionately known as “The Old” or “ODBG,” it has been owned by Bellevue native Joe Goodman since 2009.

Goodman says that the old bar and the building surrounding it—including the shuttered Dundee Theatre, a bridal store, Merle Norman Cosmetics, and an antiques store—were built in the 1920s and operated as a speakeasy during Prohibition.

Goodman’s ODBG is known for its specials, expert staff, and reasonable food prices, as well as its deep-fried flour tacos, including the Reuben taco (which isn’t listed on the menu). It’s made of a deep-fried flour shell, Swiss cheese, corned beef, Thousand Island dressing, and of course, sauerkraut. They’re huge, so I only eat one. For the Wednesday night special, the price of the beef tacos drops to $2. The others stay at the usual $2.25.

I’ve never eaten a Reuben—I normally hate sauerkraut. But the combination of the meat, cheese, dressing, and crunchy taco shell was delicious. The taco’s crunchiness and tangy dressing distracted me from the sauerkraut. I would consider ordering it again, and this is the only restaurant where I’ve heard of reuben tacos for sale. Other items that Goodman will cook-to-order, but are not listed on the menu, include a Cuban sandwich and crab rangoons. While these favorites are not necessarily secret, in general, only Old Dundee regulars request them. 

Goodman, and the staff who worked at The Old prior to his ownership, transformed it from a struggling bar into a thriving neighborhood watering hole. The space has been renovated while retaining its speakeasy roots: a massive brick fireplace defines the southern wall, topped by a massive black-and-white painting of two guys having a drink. Goodman replaced the battered green carpet that covered the floor and the bar with wooden floors, new carpet, and a newly cut and painted original cement floor in the gaming area (complete with pool tables and darts). He also installed a gleaming wooden bar flanked with carved lions.

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“I think it’s the staff that keeps bringing people back,” Goodman says. “They make people feel welcome and encourage them to have a good time.” 

You’ll want to visit the Old Dundee soon: The bar’s lease will not be renewed. It will leave the building by the end of January 2017 to make way for Film Streams’ redevelopment of the Dundee Theatre next door. While Goodman says that the bar will remain open for New Year’s, he’s not sure when he’ll shut down for good.

“When we close depends on inventory, but we’re having fun,” Goodman says.

So while you can, come to the Old Dundee for the tacos, and stay for its vintage, comfortable vibe.

Now Serving Omaha

February 10, 2015 by

Ranked as a Top 10 Foodie City by Livability.com, Omaha’s reputation as a great dining destination continues to grow. In choosing Omaha, Livability.com raves, “Innovative chefs throughout the city are creating sensational menus that surprise many visitors.” The Grey Plume and Boiler Room are constantly receiving high praise from national food critics. Open Table’s “100 Hottest Restaurants in America” list includes Pitch Pizzeria in the Dundee neighborhood, and the Food Network has featured Big Mama’s Kitchen, California Taco, and Brewburgers on its national broadcasts.

To capitalize on the growing interest and to increase awareness about Omaha’s culinary landscape, the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) just started its own web series called “Now Serving Omaha.” Each month a new restaurant is featured in a short video webisode that is distributed to more than 165,000 people from all over the country via the CVB’s social media network. There is also a dedicated webpage featuring all of the videos at visitomaha.com/nowservingomaha.

In addition, the Omaha CVB partnered with Food and Travel magazine, a national publication with a readership of more than 81,000, to create a full-page editorial showcasing many of Omaha’s beloved restaurants such as The Drover, Piccolo Pete’s, Dundee Dell, Johnny’s Café, Crescent Moon, and Blue Sushi. Thanks to a Nebraska Tourism-sponsored media tour, Omaha restaurants have also received media coverage in magazines in Austin, Texas, Des Moines, Iowa, and Kansas City, Mo.

So is all the attention focused on promoting Omaha restaurants worth it? Consider this: Research shows out-of-town visitors spend more than $274 million a year dining out in Omaha restaurants. So the answer is a resounding yes—Omaha is serving up travel-worthy food and visitors are eating it up.

Dana Markel is Executive Director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau. Questions or comments? Email the Omaha CVB at info@visitomaha.com.

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Exploring Omaha on Valentine’s Day

February 7, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Valentine’s Day is all about sharing the love and letting your spouse, your children, your friends—even your dog—know that you care.

But when it comes to Valentine’s Day celebrations, it can be a little difficult to share the wealth when you find yourself stuck in the stereotypical rut of chocolate, flowers, and the same dinner at your favorite restaurant every year.

Home to dozens of distinct neighborhoods, Omaha offers hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered, as well as classic landmarks that might be overlooked on Valentine’s Day.

Meghan Francis and Kerry Jones, founders of the Omaha-based blog Wise Owl + Sly Fox, brainstormed some unique Omaha Valentine’s Day activities.

“I guess we’ve always been old souls with old styles, and that’s one great thing about Omaha: There’s just so much history here,” says Francis.

Together, Francis and Jones came up with a Valentine’s Day “tour of Omaha.” Pick and choose from different activities to show loved ones a small portion of all the intimacy, history, and romance that Omaha has to offer.

Get your heart rate up in the morning with a walk or run with your loved one through the Field Club neighborhood. Located along an old railroad bend, the Field Club trail offers visitors a brief glimpse into a bygone era. Although you’ll have to bundle up, the sights of this secluded area include gorgeous ravines, snow-capped trees, and abandoned railroad tracks.

If your partner is a history buff, make a quick stop by the Gerald R. Ford Preservation Center near Hanscomb Park. An exhibition on Ford, the only president to have lived in Omaha, is open by appointment by calling the center’s main phone line at 402-595-1180. The exhibit is available for private viewing Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., free of charge. The exhibit features photos of his birthplace, family memorabilia, and gifts given to Ford by world leaders and well-wishing locals.

For lunch, hop on over to Dundee, home to both casual and higher-end fare in an all-accessible setting. Stop by the French Bulldog for something on the trendier side or try Dundee Dell for classic comfort food from an Omaha staple. Both spaces offer comfortable opportunities to spend some time watching the eclectic crowd of Dundee.

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If you’re looking for an afternoon activity once the kids come home from school, Valentine’s Day crafts are an easy way to get the whole family involved. Francis and Jones suggest making homemade cards.

“We’re big fans of sending things through the mail. It’s just always a fun thing, and it’s something that we don’t do a lot in this day and age,” says Francis.

“Send them to your grandma, your single aunt, veterans at the VA hospital, whoever,” adds Jones.

For crafting supplies, head out to South-Central Omaha. David M. Mangelsen’s has been stocking Omaha’s crafting closets since 1961, and is an easy stop to find any Valentine’s Day-related arts and crafts supplies you could think of. A few hours coloring, gluing, and bedazzling might expose some hidden creativity among the family.

If you want to end your night with a more traditional Valentine’s Day celebration, spend the night in the Old Market, which is home to a host of restaurants that offer the quintessential romantic dinners by candlelight. Francis and Jones’ personal favorite is La Buvette, a French-style café and grocer.

For some after-dinner entertainment, look to the Omaha art scene. Many of the Old Market’s art galleries, including the Passageway Gallery and Anderson O’Brien Fine Art, are open until 9 p.m. on Fridays for some late-night shopping.

Although, after a whirlwind day around Omaha, you might want to hit the sack early.