Some restaurants never get old. Though I don’t write about any of these places often, I visit them often. Two of them serve my favorite cheese plates in town, the third my favorite French fries and mussels, the last is my longest-running favorite in town.
Here’s my final favorites list for 2013: Restaurants I can’t stop visiting.
La Buvette is one of my favorites for many reasons, not just for the cheese plate, though it is my favorite in the city. I go to Buvette for the creaky wood floors, the reasonably priced glasses of red in the winter and rosé in the summer, the people watching and the patio. I go for the cheese plate, yes, but also for the salmon with saffron rice, the roast half chicken, the salad a-la buvette and specials like cassoulet or boeuf bourguignon. This time of year, their holiday decorations are enchanting. Service isn’t a problem for me at Buvette — I know some dislike the place because of it — but I go to linger over my wine and enjoy whomever I’m with or, if I’m alone, read my newspaper or watch the morning Farmers Market crowd. It’s never rushed, and I never want for something I don’t have. As long as I’m in Omaha, I’ll be at Buvette.
When The French Bulldog opened just more than a year ago, I was mad over it. I raved about it in the paper. And then I took a break from the place because it got incredibly crowded and I had a slew of other places that I had to try for work. Now I’m back at it in full force, because its just as good as it was when I first wrote about it — maybe better. There’s more to the menu now than there was when it first opened. There’s new cheese and charcuterie, including an amazing whiskey bacon that I had on my last visit. A new steak sandwich on the menu is out of this world and a plate of pesto roasted vegetables I’ve savored since day one are still a favorite. A cocktail list that used to include just four drinks has now grown to more than a dozen. If you haven’t visited Dundee in a while, get back and snag a seat at the bar to watch the action.
My list of top ten restaurants came out in the paper Sunday — find it here — and Avoli Osteria, the second effort from Dario Schicke, topped the list of my favorite places I reviewed in 2013. But I’m still a big fan of his first, Dario’s Brasserie. I never tire of their Sunday brunch offerings, including the evil but so delicious croque madame. (Just don’t think about the calories.) I love their big pots of mussels served with cones of angelic Belgian pommes frites, the steak frites and the sometimes-available 36-hour beef short ribs. We often wander in on Tuesday nights, especially this time of year, for a half price Belgian draft. The atmosphere at Dario’s is warm and welcoming, and like Avoli, its my favorite kind of neighborhood place.
You probably knew this was coming. What can I say? I have loved M’s Pub since I was a child (I wrote about it here) and I still love it. I love its vibrancy. I love its bartenders and its timeless style. And I love its reliable menu, full of lavosh and fish burgers and the carrot dog that my sister orders. In the summer I rely on the cucumber sandwich, in the winter, the warm duck salad. I rely on Smitty to serve me a glass of wine or a Number Nine and on pastry chef Tina Tweedy for a slew of creative mini desserts. M’s Pub branded matchbooks are scattered through my handbags and around my house — the kind of retro touch that makes this restaurant one of my most reliable and long-running standbys.
All images courtesy of the Omaha World-Herald