Victors in the epic battle of Omaha dining.


The Best Onion Rings

Winner: The Rustic

The gentle seasoning meant we didn't need to coat these rings in salt, and they seemed the perfect hybrid between a fully encased piece of onion and a flaky, Omaha-style onion string.


The Best BBQ

Winner: Swine Dining

Swine Dining impressed the team with more than its pulled pork. It was also the most reliable. It was the first brick-and-mortar place where we liked everything we tried.


The Best Pad Thai

Winner: Bangkok Cuisine

Balance and depth were the defining factors in our search for Omaha’s best pad thai, and Bangkok Cuisine had them.


The Best Ice Cream

Winner: eCreamery

The ice cream prowl led us in three directions: toward an international treat most of us might have never tasted, a gourmet version of the world's favorite flavor and an old-school classic that's passed the test of time.


The Best Beer

Winner: Zipline

We found beers that were tasty, creative and, above all, not intimidating. The beers we drank blew some of the team's closest-held ideas out of the water.


The Best Pizza

Winner: (Tie) Dante, Frank's Pizzeria and La Casa

It might be impossible — even for a food critic, a chef and a director who has traveled the world — to pick the one single best pizza in Omaha. There's too much to like.


The Best Coffee Shop

Winner: Beansmith

“Everyone should come out here. Just to see what coffee can be like.”


The Best Chicken-Fried Steak

Winner: Gorat's Steakhouse

With its chicken-fried steak, Gorat's hits all the right notes, from the beef to the crunch to the gravy, for folksy dish.


The Best Sweet and Sour Pork

Winner: (Tie) Canton House and P.F. Chang's

It's rare to have a chain restaurant, P.F. Chang's, and a local restaurant, Canton House, both elevate Chinese cuisine and introduce people to something authentic.


The Best Bloody Mary

Winner: The Trap Room

This bloody mary earns points for its pretty presentation, its salted rim, creative spice, and its pleasant, dark, rosy-red hue.


The Best French Fries

Winner: (Tie) Bronco's and Dario's Brasserie

The throwback fry that doesn't come out of a freezer bag. We found it twice, and our search ended in a tie, with choices on the opposite ends of the dining spectrum.


The Best Gourmet Burger

Winner: The Grey Plume

The experience of the Plume burger left me breathless. It elevated the lowly sandwich to something else: a real dish.


The Best French Toast

Winner: Louie M's Burger Lust

A spread of butter topped with powdered sugar made a sort of glaze on the toast. The texture was dense though not soggy and the edges were crunchy.


The Best Crab Cakes

Winner: M's Pub

It's spicy and sweet. It comes with flavorful pickled vegetables, and it's cooked to a soft outside crunch with a hot, not-too-smooth center.


The Best Buffalo Wings

Winner: Buffalo Company

In a close race, our team went with the wing they thought tasted most like the original — and the most like the ones they create in their Midwest kitchens.


The Best Mac and Cheese

Winner: Marks Bistro

Cavatappi is the pasta served at Marks Bistro in Dundee, which calls mac and cheese its "signature dish."


The Best Steak

Winner: Brother Sebastian's

Omaha is still a town where it's OK to eat a large piece of perfectly cooked corn-fed meat at noon.



The Best Eggs Benedict

Winner: Dixie Quicks Public House

A sauce with just three ingredients and a dish with just four resulted in the tightest race we've had.



The Best Chicken Tikka Korma

Winner: India Garden

This month's winning restaurant is a dimly lit, delicious dark horse that you've probably never heard of.



The Best Old-Fashioned

Winner: The Boiler Room

It's a delicate balance between booze and sweet, between fruity and bitter. It takes a bit of art to make a perfect version.



The Best Fried Chicken

Winner: Time Out Chicken

If there's one thing that makes good fried chicken, it's that crispy, savory skin.



The Best Burger

Winner: (Tie) Block 16 and Dinker's

It turns out cheeseburgers can be controversial.



The Best Taco

Winner: Tacos el Peligro

We named the South Omaha hole-in-the-wall our favorite taco shop.



The Best Cupcake

Winner: Bliss Old Market Bakery

Though the two components of a cupcake seem simple — just frosting and cake — it turns out they're much more complex. Complex enough, and so easy to mess up.



The Best Falafel

Winner: Amsterdam Falafel and Kabob

A cool slaw of minced garlic, bright purple cabbage, carrots, whole chickpeas, cucumber and tomato sits on top of the sandwich and below are three sauces: spicy, green herb and creamy garlic.



The Best Spaghetti

Winner: Dante Pizzeria Napoletana

And after eating boatloads of sauce and heaps of pasta in Italian restaurants old and new, the thing we ended up liking the best — the restaurant we're choosing as the best spot to eat spaghetti in Omaha — isn't what Omahans might expect.



The Best Pho

Winner: (Tie) Saigon Restaurant and New Gold Mountain

The second in the Food Prowl series ended in a tie between two diners who like the more modern interpretation of pho and two diners who prefer the classic interpretation.



The Best Reuben

Winner: Crescent Moon

It came to us neatly arranged in two halves on a plate next to a pile of French fries. The Blackstone Reuben, as it's called on the Moon's menu, is a feat of engineering. It doesn't fall apart when you eat it and it doesn't leak dressing or kraut.