We Nebraskans tend not to be pretentious people. We like the simpler things in life, like a cold beer on a hot day. That’s very true where restaurants are concerned. The beautiful fancy restaurants have their place, but when it comes to hunting down some of the most delicious grub just like Mom used to make, we’ll usually find it in the tiny restaurants that sometimes don’t even look like restaurants.
Many of these restaurants are in small towns, and in fact several of them are so small and unassuming that I couldn’t even find pictures of their exteriors (thank you, Google Streetview), much less the food they serve. You’ll just have to visit them to see and taste what they offer.
The restaurants below are listed in no particular order.
1. HoneyCreek Restaurant, Waverly
The classic American comfort food model works well for this small-town restaurant and bakery. Enjoy standards like chicken fried steak, pork tenderloin, and pulled beef - and you can never go wrong with all-day breakfast.
13631 Energy Way
2. Neon Bar and Grill, Valentine
The Raine Motel seems an unlikely place to find a great restaurant, but the Neon keeps people coming back - and not just hotel guests, either. Do yourself a favor and try the smoked brisket sandwich.
618 W Hwy 20
Valentine NE 69201
3. Starr Street Diner, Broadwater
Located inside the old community hall in the itty-bitty village of Broadwater, this diner is something special. Get a complimentary bucket of peanuts to munch on while you peruse the menu, and don't be surprised when you end up having a conversation with the friendly owners.
179 Starr St, Broadwater, NE 69125
4. Dinker's, Omaha
Dinker's is a dinky neighborhood place that has been serving up delicious burgers since...I don't know, the beginning of time, probably. They've been called the best burger place in Omaha for many years. You'll have to visit to judge for yourself.
2368 S 29th St
Omaha, NE 68105
5. Jory Bob's Longhorn Saloon, Harrison
This may be the last of the true old-school saloons in Nebraska. They serve up the usual bar and grill fare like burgers and various fried things, but they also surprise visitors with treats like Reubens and Phillies. Consider leaving the kids at home - reviewers describe this as an adults-only type of place.
168 Main St., Harrison, NE
6. Fat Fox, Red Cloud
You've got a few dining options in Red Cloud, and the Fat Fox might be one of the less noticeable ones. But they serve the kind of pizza you'll be dreaming about for weeks after the meal is done.
326 North Webster Street, Red Cloud, NE 68970
7. Bubba's Anytime Strang Cafe, Strang
This is just the type of little greasy spoon place you remember fondly from your childhood. The single-page paper menu contains treats like burgers, gizzards, curly fries, and ribeye.
313 Main St, Strang, NE 68444
8. Sit N Bull Saloon, Giltner
Come by the Sit N Bull anytime for lunch, dinner, or a drink, but be sure to stop in on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night for Mama LaShara's Nebraska style pizza.
3007 N Commercial Ave, Giltner, Nebraska
9. Granny's Diner, Jackson
You might ordinarily just drive on by Granny's, but do yourself a favor and stop in for a hearty meal. Whether you go for the breakfast buffet or a hearty meal later in the day, you won't walk away hungry.
1480 US-20, Jackson, Nebraska
10. Green Top Diner, Friend
This sweet family-operated 50s style diner has been around for quite a while, but changed hands just a few years ago. It's earned a special place in the hearts of people in Friend and the surrounding areas. A retro-style menu and huge portions make the Green Top a memorable place to grab a delicious meal.
1515 1st St, Friend, NE 68359
11. PK's Restaurant, Benedict
Not far from York, you'll find the little town of Benedict, and in it, PK's Restaurant. They have a menu full of delicious treats, but most people opt for the delectable fried chicken - and if you're a fan of fried chicken, you should too.
304 Sherman St, Benedict, NE 68316
12. The Danish Baker, Dannebrog
This laid-back place serves breakfast and lunch all week, but you'll want to save your appetite for Thursday nights when they serve their famous pizza. People drive in from miles around to pick up a piping hot pie. Stop in at the right time and you might be lucky enough to hear the owner sing and play his guitar.
162 Mill St S
13. Rezac's Cafe, Weston
This little building doesn't look like much, but when you dig into your heaping plate of chicken fried steak, hot beef sandwich, roast pork dinner, or other homestyle meal, you won't care what the place looks like.
2346 Co Rd K, Weston, NE 68070
14. The Big Horn, Gresham
In tiny Gresham, this is the big place to meet up with friends and shoot the breeze. The bar's menu isn't overly complex, but it doesn't need to be because they do what they do very well. They're only open Thursday through Saturday, so it looks like you've got a place to be this weekend.
430 Elm St
15. Stella's, Bellevue
And, finally, one that I don't really think qualifies as "unassuming," but which appears here due to popular reader demand. The famed burger joint was once a sketchy kind of place. I remember visiting for the first time when I was a kid around 25 years ago; I was afraid this was the kind of place where a bar fight might break out. But the burgers were delicious then, and they're delicious now, even after the whole restaurant has been revamped and updated.
106 Galvin Rd S, Bellevue, NE 68005
You’ve got lots of solid options out there for locally-owned eateries, even in the tiniest of towns. If you didn’t see your favorite on this list, be sure to check out these
19 restaurants that don’t look like much (but serve great meals) and this list of 16 more hole-in-the-wall establishments with surprisingly spectacular food.