Tag Archives: Wilson & Washburn

Reubenesque

October 29, 2018 by
Photography by provided

Of all the flavors of Omaha, one of our most famous is the Reuben. First served at the Blackstone Hotel in the 1920s (and named after local grocer Reuben Kulakofsky), the sandwich can now be found on restaurant menus worldwide. Omaha’s love for the sandwich is apparent in all the ways we recreate it. For decades, Omaha chefs have been pulling apart the historical combo of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and rye bread, and reassembling the ingredients to create new ways of celebrating the dish. The result is a range of fare, from those that closely resemble their breaded ancestor, to others more deserving of the title “Reubenesque.”

Here are just a few of the places you can grab a fresh taste of an Omaha classic remixed, right in the city where it all began.

REUBENFEST AT CRESCENT MOON
Located just across the street from the old Blackstone Hotel, Crescent Moon (3578 Farnam St.) dedicates an entire week every November to the Reuben sandwich and its many variations: Reubenfest. Last year, Reubenfest brought in an estimated 500-600 visitors per day, with more than 4,000 Reuben-themed dishes served by the end of the week. Reubenfest 2018 runs from Nov. 5-10 and will see the return of many crowd favorites, including Reuben pizzas, burritos, egg rolls, and calzones, as well as new Reubenesque offerings. If you hope to catch a bite of the action, plan your visit to avoid peak meal times when the restaurant is packed and tables are hard to come by.

Crescent Moon Reuben Sandwich

TEX-MEX
Ever in the mood for Tex-Mex and a Reuben, and you simply can’t decide? Omaha’s got your back—and your taste buds. You can head on over to Dundee’s Place (7024 Maple St.) for that Reuben flavor stuffed inside a shell with their tasty Reuben tacos. Or drop by Two Fine Irishmen (18101 R Plaza) and ask for a plate of their Reuben nachos.

Two Fine Irishmen Reuben Nachos

SAUSAGES / HOT DOGS
Is a hot dog a sandwich? What about a Reuben sandwich/hot dog mashup? Find out for yourself with this tribute to a tribute, the Kansas City Reuben at B&B Classic Dogs (1020 Lincoln Road in Bellevue). The Bellevue dog was inspired by a concessions item at Kauffman Stadium. Stoysich House of Sausage (multiple locations) offers the Round Reuben, a fully cooked sausage made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut for those looking to take the Reubenesque home. Chicago Dawg House’s food truck, the Weenie Wagon, also offers the Stoysich Round Reuben on St. Patrick’s Day.

DEEP-FRIED
Aside from Crescent Moon’s Reubenfest, you can find Reuben egg rolls at a variety of restaurants around town, including Paddy McGown’s Pub & Grill (4503 Center St.), Dundee Dell (5007 Underwood Ave.), or further west at Clancy’s Pub (2905 S. 168th St). For those reminiscing over Localmotive Food Truck’s famous Reuben rounders, stop by Over Easy (16859 Q St.) on a weekend night, where the food truck’s menu is served seasonally.

Dundee Dell Egg Roll Reuben

PIZZA
You might know that March is National Reuben Month, but did you know that Omaha declared a Reuben Sandwich Day? March 14, 2013, was the inaugural Reuben Day. If you missed the holiday this year, you can always join the fun in March at Mama’s Pizza, where they serve a Reuben pizza all month long at all of their three Omaha locations.

Mama’s Reuben Pizza

VEGGIES
Veggie lovers can celebrate Rueben pride, too. At Wilson & Washburn (1407 Harney St.), order a traditional-style Reuben sandwich with their original beet dressing added. For more animal-friendly takes on the Reuben, Modern Love (which recently moved to 3157 Farnam St.) has offered Reuben Mac & Shews (a variation of their vegan Mac & Shews) and recently added the Seitan Beet Reuben to their permanent menu.

Modern Love Veggie Reuben

ALTERNATIVES & VARIATIONS
Still want more Reuben? Try the gluten-free California Reuben at Big Green Q (6023 Maple St.), a sweeter take on the original recipe. If you’re looking for a slightly leaner version of the sandwich, try the Rachel, a variation made with turkey instead of corned beef. The Rachel can be found at a variety of restaurants around Omaha, including Brazen Head Irish Pub (319 N. 78th St.). Or if you’re looking for a little extra on your plate, head on over to Gorat’s Steakhouse (4917 Center St.), where you can order a triple-decker Reuben. 


This article was printed in the November/December 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Dundee’s Place Reuben Taco

Weekends are for Waffles

May 29, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article was originally published in May/June 2015 edition of The Encounter.

In a society were the graphic tee is king, it’s only natural to spot one reading Weekends are for Waffles. Even with the growing population of millennials living downtown in the Old Market, NoDo, Little Italy, and surrounding areas, it’s proving to be a lot more than just designer-tee-wearing hipsters and your typical waffles and syrup. If you’re looking for a way to spend your weekend morning, it’s clear downtown boasts some great mid-morning eateries that will excite even the crankiest morning person.

Waffles, yes. Bloody Marys and Mimosas, yes. Poached eggs on a bed of homemade corn beef hash, yes. And of course, a group of your closest friends for a good gossip session called ‘brunchin.’

This easy-to-follow route for your downtown brunchin’ crawl is not your typical Easter or Mother’s Day brunch, which the urban dictionary defines as a breakfast and lunch usually occurring around 11 a.m. for snobs who like tea and jam. Brunchin’ is just an excuse for anyone who wants a cocktail before noon when it’s not football season in Huskerland.

The queen of the world of brunchin’ is the Bloody Mary. Whether you are working through a hangover or just like to drink you vegetables, this cocktail is a sure-fire thirst quencher and hangover mitigation device. Almost any restaurant hosts their own version of this popular drink, but Stokes Grill & Bar at 11th and Howard allows you to build your own. The buffet line features a do-it-yourself Bloody Mary bar with different tomato juices, spices, vegetables, pickles, shrimp, and even bacon. Yes, we said bacon. Squeeze in a lime, head out to their patio and lounge in the sunshine on comfy couches, and wait for your order of the chocolatiest chipped pancakes this side of the Missouri River.

If fruit juices are more your thing, J’s on Jackson at 11th and Jackson runs a weekend special of $4 mimosas and Bloody Marys if you have a group. The special runs all day long. Bring your pooch because their patio is dog friendly. They will even bring your furry friend their own bowl of water!

A favorite of soccer fans is Wilson & Washburn at 14th and Harney. Opening at 10 a.m., the owners are aware of the time difference between

the United Kingdom and the central United States and will air almost all of the English Premier League soccer games with a newly developed brunch menu. (Yes, sure, Americans and fans of sports involving the arms are welcome, too). The smaller menu consists of a few traditional items, but with their own funky twist. It’s your choice if you want to pair the smoked peanut butter and berry-compote-topped French toast with a hot French press coffee, or, one of their brunch cocktails. We suggest the Dirty Wicked, a cold brew coffee with bourbon, simple syrup, and bitters that will have any brunchin’ patron cheering. If you’re not in the mood for something sweet, try the hangover-slaying, homemade corned beef hash topped with two soft poached eggs and horseradish aioli.

Wheatfield’s Eatery and Bakery at 12th and Howard is a natural stop for a brunchin’ crawl. They offer a large, basic brunch menu. Perk up with a creamy, whipped-topped, hot hazelnut latte. This is a great meeting place with early-bird specials starting as early as 6 a.m. on a Friday or Saturday morning. Pair your coffee with eggs, eggs, and more eggs. Not for the small stomach type, the Grandma’s Scrambler is ham, eggs, and potatoes scrambled with a drizzle of Hollandaise sauce. Did we mention it comes with a very large side—Ron’s Large Hot Cinnamon Roll?

If you’ve done the downtown brunchin’ crawl right, your stomach is about to burst, but your once-throbbing head isn’t. What better way to get a proper late start to a weekend day?

Brunch1

Wilson & Washburn

September 7, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
Anna Wilson’s brothel made her the “Queen of the Underworld” in Wild West Omaha before she bequeathed her fortune to charity. Josie Washburn—who would later write a book about her life between the sheets—was Anna’s top practitioner of the world’s oldest profession in the house of ill repute situated in what was then known as the city’s Sporting District—a festering cesspool of gambling, prostitution, and all manner of vice. Today their infamous names live on at Wilson & Washburn on Harney Street along the western edge of the Old Market.

“We’re a neighborhood bar,” explains Jeff Luby, who owns the business with his wife, Faith. “We just happen to be one with a great selection of specialty beers, craft cocktails, and elevated bar food.”

Because brothels once carried the euphemistic label of “comfort stations,” the owners incorporated that notion into the bar’s tagline, “A Serious Comfort Station.”

“We specialize in comfort food,” Faith adds, “but with a twist. Nothing too fancy. Nothing overly pricey.”

Wilson & Washburn’s signature Beet Chips are a case in point when it comes to simplicity at its best. Wafer-thin slices of the vegetable are prepared in the same way as their potato-based cousins, but a splash of malt vinegar and a sprinkle of flaked salt transforms this most humble of dishes into something wholly—and yummily—“other.”

Their not-your-grandma’s-Mac-and-Cheese boasts a carefully curated amalgam of Chevre, buffalo mozzarella, smoked Gouda, and bleu cheese in a truffle panko crust. The Rueben features brisket that is smoked on-site and is topped by house-cured sauerkraut and a beet horseradish sauce sandwiched between hearty Russian rye. Jeff says he’ll bet that diners will place his Fish & Chips against the best in town. And the Beet Burger (there’s that brightly hued orb again) is a favorite among vegans and meat-lovers alike.

“Everything is made from scratch,” Jeff says before Faith adds, “Our food services truck deliveries are pretty light in their load here. We’re an easy stop for them. We don’t need from them what a lot of other restaurants choose to source from them. We have to, for example, get our milk from somewhere, but most everything coming out of our kitchen is of our own making.”

Operating out of a 19th-century building that once housed a purveyor of rat poison, the mahogany-clad space uses subtle décor elements in a nod to whorehouse chic. A mezzanine-level private party space appropriately dubbed the Madam’s Lounge is demarcated by blood-red, damask curtains in a pattern that screams “bordello.” Vintage tintype photographs depict bygone bar patrons in frisky scenes that are naughty without being too risqué. The eerie bat motif once used to illustrate the cover of Washburn’s book, The Underworld Sewer: A Prostitute Reflects on Life in the Trade, is replicated in the upper reaches of the building’s towering, curbside windows.

The space, which opened a little over a year ago, has quickly become a favorite among the Orpheum Theater and Holland Performing Arts Center crowds. Whether as a place for a tastily accessible pre-show meal or for post-curtain noshing and conversation, Wilson & Washburn offers a vibe that is at once comfy and sophisticated—just like Anna Wilson’s legendary brothel.

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