Tag Archives: regulars

St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl

February 23, 2017 by
Photography by Provided

It’s not mere luck that Omaha was ranked third overall of the nation’s best cities for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations (according to wallethub.com in 2016). If there is one thing our city is known for, it is rallying together to celebrate with friends, both old and new. Omaha has rich Irish heritage, and Omahans are eager to boast their love of the local Irish population. So, of course, the city turns green with pride on St. Paddy’s Day—from east to west. Festivities range from live Irish entertainment and personal pub food tours to black-and-tans and parades of whisky shots. Head to any of these highlighted hot spots to celebrate in local Irish style.


Central Omaha

Clancy’s Pub (7120 Pacific St.)

Clancy’s Pub has a longstanding tradition as a must-stop visit for St. Paddy’s Day. While the Pacific Street location has undergone new ownership within the last few years, it has still proven itself to be full of that Irish spirit patrons have grown to love.

Brazen Head Irish Pub (319 N. 78th St.)

If you are determined to settle in at the most authentic Irish pub in Omaha, look no further than Brazen Head. Named after the oldest pub in Dublin, this Omaha gem will transport you to the Emerald Isle. The Brazen Head opens its doors at 6 a.m. for a traditional red flannel hash breakfast. The day continues with authentic Irish entertainment and food (including fish and chips as well as corned beef and cabbage).


Benson

You’d be remiss not to stop by Benson’s oldest, continuously running bar and only Irish Pub—Burke’s Pub—for drink specials and their famous apple pie shots. While a few bars along the Benson strip (on both sides of Maple Street from 59th to 62nd streets) serve up green pitchers and Jell-O shots, neighborhood staples like Jake’s, Beercade, and St. Andrews (which is Scottish) feature specials on authentic Irish beers, such as Kilkenny, and Irish whiskeys.


Leavenworth

The Leavenworth bar crawl has become somewhat of a year-round tradition, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. Locals call it a convenient way to pack in a handful of bars in one strip—beginning at 32nd Street at Bud Olson’s or Alderman’s and continuing on a tour down Leavenworth toward The Neighber’s on Saddle Creek.

Marylebone Tavern (3710 Leavenworth St.)

The Marylebone is one of two Irish bars on the tour, recognized by the giant shamrock painted out front on Leavenworth Street. The bar is known for its cheap prices and stiff drinks.

Barrett’s Barleycorn Pub & Grille (4322 Leavenworth St.)

Barrett’s Barleycorn, the second of the two Irish bars on the tour, opens its doors at 8 a.m., serving sandwiches in the morning followed by a hearty lunch next door at Castle Barrett, with beer and specials flowing all day long. Barrett’s closes the parking lot to create an outdoor beer garden, while inside tables are cleared for what usually turns into a packed wall-to-wall party.


Old Market

The Dubliner (1205 Harney St.)

Toting the tagline, “If you can’t get to Dublin to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, there’s a little piece of Ireland nestled underground at 1205 Harney Street in the Old Market,” on the front page of their website, The Dubliner is one of Omaha’s oldest Irish pubs. Pull up a bar stool at this Harney Street haunt for a breakfast of Lucky Charms and Guinness and be sure to stick around for the Irish stew, corned beef sandwiches, and live music.

Barry O’s Tavern (420 S. 10th St.)

Slip onto the patio at Barry O’s to mingle with the regulars and the O’Halloran clan themselves at this family-run bar. Enjoy drink specials and stories from some of the friendliest characters you’ll meet. St. Paddy’s Day usually brings an entertaining mashup of regular patrons and “Irish-for-the-day” amateurs.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Malara’s

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Two elderly gentlemen are just getting up from the table. “We don’t work here,” the one in the knit sweater says gallantly, “but we could probably seat you.”

They probably could at that, if they’re some of the regulars who have been gracing Malara’s Italian Restaurant since it opened on 22nd and Pierce streets in 1984. Caterina Malara, an American by way of Argentina by way of Italy, first put her name to a small carryout shop as a way of providing for her young family. “There weren’t any tables or anything,” says her daughter, Maria Szablowski. “We mostly served sandwiches then.”

Decades later, Malara’s has expanded in both size and menu, and Szablowski is now the restaurant’s manager. “We make pretty much everything ourselves,” she says. Her favorite is the fried cheese ravioli, though her niece, Ashley Gomez, is torn between her grandmother’s lasagna and the Italian cheesecake.20130204_bs_5079 copy

Malara’s serves strictly Italian comfort food, and the food is prepared accordingly. “We’re casual, you know, spaghetti and meatballs,” Szablowski says. Recipes are vague, if there are any at all. “It’s a pinch of this, a pinch of that.” Gomez adds that when Malara teaches her kitchen a new recipe, she’ll say, “No cups! You judge yourself.” With such a home-style method, dishes are surprisingly consistent.

Szablowski says that if Malara had her way, the menu would be constantly filled with new items. For the sake of the staff, they introduce one or two new dishes every so often while keeping on staples like the homemade cheesesticks, chicken parmesan, and ricotta cannoli.

Still, the matriarch is very much present in her restaurant. “She’s here everyday,” Szablowski says. “We can’t keep her away.” Malara still cooks a bit, but is less hands-on. “She watches you like a hawk,” Gomez says with a laugh, but adds that Malara is very patient, especially with her great-grandchildren, a few of whom work in the kitchen.

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The fact that the restaurant is family-run is inescapable, from the daughter waitressing on weekends to the photos of great-grandkids on the wall. Even if staff members aren’t family strictly speaking, they may as well be. Szablowski and Gomez compare notes on which employees have been with them the longest: “Maki, the bartender, has been here for 22 years. Then there’s Marilyn, the cashier, she’s been here for 20. And Amy and Kathy and…”

If all you need to enjoy the cozy ambience is a dessert and a drink, consider having a sour crème puff under the original tin ceiling at the bar. Though Malara’s serves a full bar, wines and beers carry the day. Especially for Malara herself. “Mom loves her glass of Lambrusco every night,” Szablowski says with a smile.

Malara’s Italian Kitchen
2123 Pierce St.
402-346-8001

 

Restaurant Review: Vidlak’s Brookside Cafe

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

On the corner of Bob Boozer Drive and West Center Road, you will find one of West Omaha’s favorite breakfast and lunch hot spots.This would be the family-owned Vidlak’s Brookside Cafe, which has been serving the happy masses since 1996. I recently rediscovered this busy, little cafe and thought I would share my thoughts on it with you.

Vidlak’s sits in a corner endcap of a strip mall with limited parking, but that does not seem to deter guests from circling around the parking lot until they can find a spot and going in to wait for a table. Inside, it’s obvious that Vidlak’s will not be the recipients of any design or decor awards; but the restaurant is well-maintained, clean, and brightly lit. One thing that I really like about the layout of Vidlak’s is that the tables are not too crammed together, and there’s room to spread out, as well as enough light to read your Sunday newspaper.20121129_bs_5813 copy

The weekend staff at Vidlak’s is mostly young and inexperienced, which can present some issues at times. What the young staff lacks in experience they make up for in friendliness, and they never seem fazed no matter how ‘deep in the weeds’ they may actually be. Every time I have eaten at Vidlak’s, I have waited for at least 15-25 minutes for the food to come. It’s hard to tell if this is a slow service issue, slow kitchen issue, or just bad luck on my part. My hunch is that it’s probably a little of each. That being said, the regulars do not seem to mind the delay and must just chalk it up to the cost of a good, fresh-cooked breakfast after church.

The food is the reason this restaurant is so popular. The breakfast and lunch dishes are cooked fresh to order and are quite good. The menu is fairly expansive and has pretty much everything you could want in a breakfast/lunch café, as well as several signature dishes that are actually quite creative. I should also note that the portions are generous and prices are on the inexpensive side, which are both good things in my book. On a recent visit, I tried the Omaha Omelette ($7.99). This fresh-cooked 3-egg omelette has diced chicken, diced tomatoes, and broccoli topped with melted mozzarella cheese. The omelette was made the proper way, using a pan instead of a flat grill, cooked perfectly, not greasy, and was very enjoyable. The accompanying hash browns were also delicious. My dining partner had the Eggs Benedict ($7.99). Anyone who regularly orders this dish at restaurants can tell you that it’s an easy one to screw up. Not at Vidlak’s, though, as it was executed perfectly and also recommended.20121129_bs_5819 copy

Lunch at Vidlak’s is very good as well. In the past, I have tried their burgers, sandwiches, and salads, and every time the food was excellent. So if you’re looking for an inexpensive, family-friendly, fresh breakfast or lunch, and you’re not in too much of a hurry, then Vidlak’s Brookside Cafe is a place that you really must try.

Cheers!

Vidlak’s Brookside Cafe
15668 W. Center Rd.
402-330-0914
vidlaksbrooksidecafe.com

RATING (5 Stars Possible)

Food & Beverage: ***
Service: *1/2
Ambiance: **1/2
Price: Inexpensive
Overall: **1/2