May 24, 2009
Due to dietary constraints, breakfast is one of the few meals that I can eat at restaurants. I usually order two eggs over easy and hash brown potatoes. I ask that nothing be seasoned, and don't order toast or pancakes. The best breakfasts of this type in the Omaha area can be found at the 11-Worth Cafe at 24th and Leavenworth in downtown Omaha and Shirley's Diner in the Millard Plaza.
The 11-Worth has the disadvantage of being a long drive from my far West Sarpy County digs. On the plus side, the place has big windows so you can watch the dope pushers work the corner. It is often crowded, as befits a place that serves good food.
Shirley's Diner only serves breakfast until 11:00 AM, so you can't wait until lunchtime to get your eggs and hash browns. It has the big advantage of being quite close to home. Heaven help you, however, should a fire break out in the kitchen when the place is packed. One exit requires patrons to pass the kitchen, the other has a cattle chute like approach. I feel safe; the cats that patronize Shirley's don't look like the panicky type.
A close third are the Vidlak's Cafes. There are several locations, all offering excellent service and great food. The only conceivable negative is the atmosphere; all of them that I visit are in strip malls and are sparsely decorated. The 11-Worth and Shirley's have atmosphere to spare, although the two places couldn't be more different if they tried.
One thing all these excellent eateries have in common is the presence of the owners or one of the owners' relatives. Restaurants that rely only on hired managers to keep things running right risk becoming unpleasant in one way or another.
Try a serrano pepper for breakfast! Just keep that tomato and a bowl of soothing oatmeal close at hand.