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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hidden Treasures?

I was reading a thread on a local message board today and someone said Lincoln doesn't have any hidden treasure-type restaurants. I disagree to a point. Whether there are any hidden gems depends on your level of local restaurant knowledge. To the person who eat's lunch at TGI Friday's and goes to Misty's once a month just about anything is a find.

I thought hard and came up with a few places I'd consider to be fairly obscure. As I was thinking about this post I picked up the DN and found that JJ had outed all three of my picks. Go figure.

Sinbad's on north 27th is my favorite hidden treasure. Even I forget about it. It's in the little strip mall also occupied by the Vietnamese AmericanFamily Insurance agent a few blocks south of Holdrege. I was there once about three years ago and it was quite a hole-in-the-wall with about 6 items on the menu. Even then the food was good, and cheap. I had huge lamb shank, rice and soup for about $6.

I went back earlier this year and discovered they'd expanded both the space and the menu, put in carpet and matching furniture and given the place a little bit of atmosphere. It's high on my recommend list now. Some of the highlights are anything lamb, the shawarma sandwiches (a more flavorful and aromatic Middle Eastern version of gyros but made with real identifiable meat), the intense garlic dip they give you in little cups and the soup. If I wasn't making Italian meatballs and polenta for dinner tonight I'd be there now.

A couple of other hidden treasures for me are Paul's BBQ in the gas station at 40th & A and Pho Nguyen, the Vietnamese place in the strip mall on north 27th south of Imperial Palace.

What are your hidden gems on the Lincoln restaurant scene?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the Tastee Inn count? I love that place. Really one of my only regrets of my last visit to Lincoln was that I didn't make it to the Tastee. When I'm in town this Holiday season, I'll make a new visit and write a full report for you.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Swoof said...

Hmmm. I don't know that Tastee counts because you can't really miss the place when you drive down 48th St. Plus, law students brand new to Lincoln are drawn there like flies to a carcass.

OTOH, it might count because there's a good sized segment of the population afraid of it or who think, by looking at it, that it's been closed for 30 years.

I'll take that nomination and I'd love a tasty review.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Awesome Inc. said...

I gotta go with Duggan's Pub. This place has not only some of the best bar food in the city, but some of the best food period. Go with the Tuna Steak sandwich or any pasta dish. Great food and some really nice people too.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Awesome Inc. said...

Doesn't Tastee only have three things on their menu? And if anyone could explain why the drive-thru window is on the wrong side, I would appreciate it.


7:21 PM  
Blogger Swoof said...

Duggan's rules, Jamie. The Amazing Larry is even better than the name implies.

As far as Tastee's drive-thru, it's like the Taco Bell at 72nd & Dodge in Omaha, and that's dumb.

Social theory tells me that when Tastee opened men drove and women served food so it made sense for the woman to be the one by the window. Of course, it could just be they added the drive thru later and that was the only place it would work.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Duggan's has a great menu but I don't think the food is as good as it used to be. That said, if you have never been there, you've got to try the grilled albacore sandwich. It's a freakin' tuna steak on a bun! What a great deal! Order the red pepper mayo on the side, it's so good you'll want to slather it on yourself.

My hidden treasures are M&N Sandwich Shop at 27th and Randolph streets and the Thai House.

M&N's Chicago style sandwiches are awesome. Order them "wet" with a healthy dose of au jus. I prefer the Italian beef but the combo with Italian beef and pastrami is also very good.

The Thai House may be the best lunch deal in Lincoln. You get hot tea, soup, a chicken satay, rice and your entree for about $5. You will not go away hungry and the food is superb.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Swoof said...

Gary, I not only slather red pepper mayo all over myself whenever I go to Duggan's but I also dip my fries in it.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I prefer marinating in it myself, but if you want to dip your fries in it, more power to you.

I love Duggan's seasoned waffle fries, too.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lincoln's BBQ hidden treasure: Sigsby's. It used to be up in the Highlands off NW 1st St, but they moved it into the Ramada by the airport. Try the pulled pork dinner plate with their original sauce, you won't regret it. Watch out though, their ice machine backfires.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I was raised with my grandparents and they ran a restaurant in Ashland called the Frosty Treat. One of their trademarks was the Frosty Burger, something that must be similar to what is now known as a loose meat sandwich.

The Frosty Burger was made with hamburger, onions and seasonings and served (with cheese as an option) on a hamburger bun. It is very similar, although much less greasy, to the Tastee Inn and Out sandwich.

I spent many days at the Frosty Treat trying not to get in anyone's way and nurturing a deep appreciation for a good cheeseburger. Three observations: There's a fine line between a good patty and a brick of meat; Never underestimate the benefit of a toasted bun; For pity's sake, melt the cheese.

The Tastee Inn sandwich is too greasy for me, but it is worth a try if you are looking for something different.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Swoof said...

Hey, Gary. Email me at johncocktosen@gmail.com if you want to contribute any feature reviews or articles about long lost favorite restaurants.


2:58 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Had supper at Fireworks Friday night. We followed supper with a stroll around the Haymarket, listening to music and enjoying the atmosphere. Friday nights in December are a great time to stop by the Haymarket.

We started with the flatbread appetizer, served with a red pepper mayo dipping sauce. The bread, topped with garlic and parmesan cheese, is good enough to eat by itself but the red pepper mayo is awesome, so be sure to try it.

A friend ordered the Ceylon Chicken, a cinnamon-marinated chicken breast brushed with an orange-cherry bbq sauce.

The marinade/glaze was incredibly dynamic. The sweet glaze combined with the cinnamon marinade was a complex combination of tastes that worked surprisingly well together. It was a great combination that I never would have considered trying.

Served with sautéed vegetables and roasted potatoes, this looks like a meal I will try next time I'm there. It looked like the chicken breast was a little small, but it may be that my view is skewed by the usually-too-large portions most restaurants serve.

I had the Rotisserie Chicken, which I absolutely love. It's more food than most people should be able to eat but I was in a particularly gluttonous mood, so I polished off the whole thing myself.

I love the seasonings they put on the chicken, which combine with the wood fired rotisserie to make this a delectable dish. My sides included a baked potato, which was good – not overcooked and not too big – and macaroni and cheese, which was also good, possibly the most ordinary dish on the menu.

The rotisserie chicken is a “whole half-chicken.” I don’t know what that means, but it’s a breast, wing, leg and thigh. Two pieces if I remember correctly. The meat was tender and well cooked not dry, not underdone. I suspect a good rotisserie chicken starts with a good piece of meat, so Fireworks’ supplier should get a nod here, too.

The service at Fireworks is much like Lazlo’s, a team approach. We had excellent service from our waiter, who took our order and checked on us from time to time. We also had a variety of people checking on our beverages and bringing us our food.

Fireworks is a great restaurant that has an excellent atmosphere. And the Xcelerator hand dryers in the restrooms are worth checking out. These things are like jet engines to dry your hands – very cool.

I have tried a variety of menu items at Fireworks over the years and rotisserie chicken is by far the best I’ve found. I hear their steaks are very good but I have only had one and it was fine but the red wine sauce was a little too strong.

Someday when I’m feeling particularly flush with cash I will try another steak. New York Strip isn’t my favorite steak, but I like the sound of Fireworks’ NY Strip with Gorgonzola Butter.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The drive thru on Tastee's was made by the original owner. I'm assuming because back in the day when it opened, the servers came out that area. There was really no other way to make it into a drive-thru than how it was once drive-thru's starting dominating. In fact, I believe Tastee's was the first. They have more than 6 things on their menu but they must be doing something right to still be around. McDonald's only has about 10 things for lunch and 10 for breakfast.

10:27 AM  
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4:06 PM  
Anonymous Dee Jay said...

I know this is an old thread but HOW can anyone bust on a Tastee??? I grew up in Lincoln, been living in Maryland for the last 25 years, but EVERY time I go back home I have to have a Tastee and onion chips. The wrong-side drive-thru is just one of its many charms.

7:04 PM  

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