They say looks aren’t everything, and that’s especially true of Nebraska restaurants. The places most likely to have killer meals are the ones that focus more on the quality of the food than on the fanciness of the facade. While we could probably fill a book with all of the hole-in-the-wall establishments dotting the small towns in Nebraska, we picked a few favorites from all across the state. They’re presented here in alphabetical order.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Bella Italia, Cozad
If you judged this place by its facade, you would miss out on a truly amazing culinary experience. With a chef who is actually from Italy, this Italian eatery serves authentic cuisine that brings people in from miles away.
114 W 7th St, Cozad, NE 69130
2. Bulldog's Bar and Grill, Murdock
In the tiny village of Murdock, there aren't many choices when it comes to dining out. That doesn't mean that Bulldog's doesn't deliver, however. From their fresh ingredients to the friendly atmosphere, visitors love this small-town gem.
301 Nebraska St
Murdock, NE 68407
3. Chez Bubba, Goehner
Looking like a leftover from a wild west town on a dirt street, Chez Bubba's appearance certainly doesn't bring to mind fine dining. But the BBQ you'll stuff yourself with inside will make you think you've died and gone to heaven. Leave room for dessert, because Bubba's makes a mean smoked chocolate cake.
1234 May St
Goehner, NE 68364
4. Dave's Place, North Platte
Looking for good pizza and cold beer in North Platte? Dave's Place has you covered. It doesn't look like much from the street, but once you get inside you'll stay for the solid food and cozy atmosphere.
1510 E 4th St
North Platte, NE 69101
5. Great Plains Cafe, Genoa
Looking like any unassuming storefront on this small-town street, Great Plains Cafe is the perfect place to fill up on homestyle cooking.
408 Willard Ave
Genoa, NE 68640
6. Jay Bros. Truck Stop - Taste of India, Overton
Jay Bros. may be the oddest place on this list: it's a rehabbed old truck stop with an Indian restaurant inside. From the outside it almost looks as though it's permanently closed, but don't let that stop you from going inside to be charmed by the delightful aroma of authentic Indian food being prepared from scratch inside.
74975 Rd 444, I-80 Exit 248, Overton, NE 68863
7. John's Grecian Delight, Bellevue
It honestly doesn't get any more hole-in-the-wall than this place. Located in the basement of the almost-abandoned Southroads Mall, the very fact that John's is still in business is a testament to how good the food is. Try the fries with Greek seasoning - you'll be hooked for life.
1001 Fort Crook Rd N (Lower Level), Bellevue, NE 68005
8. Korean Grill, Bellevue
This place is a true diamond in the rough. Tucked away in the corner of a dying strip mall, the Korean Grill is one of those places you have to try before you'll believe how good it is - and then you'll want to keep going back.
1408 Harlan Dr,
Bellevue, NE 68005
9. Lippy's BBQ, Malcolm
Located in a low, plain building and announced with a vinyl banner, Lippy's is an unassuming place that you'd probably drive right by if you didn't know what was inside. And what's inside is some of the most mouth watering "naked" barbecue in the state.
125 W 2nd Street
Malcolm, NE 68402
10. Mother India, Omaha
Roughly the size of a shoebox, Mother India serves some of Omaha's favorite Indian food in the most unassuming building ever. Lunch lines often extend all the way out of the front door - it's that good.
3572 Leavenworth St
Omaha, NE 68105
11. Nebrask Inn, Gross
As the sole eatery in a town called Gross with a population of two, you might wonder what you're getting yourself into at the Nebrask Inn. But what you'll find is authentic Nebraskan cooking with the care and friendliness you'd get at a friend's house. For a restaurant located in an almost-abandoned town, the Nebrask Inn can get packed. That's definitely a testament to how good the food is.
49686 1st Ave., Gross, NE 68719
12. Phat Jack's BBQ, Lincoln
How good can a BBQ place be when it's in a strip mall next to an Ace Rent-To-Own? Really good, actually. People rave about the burnt ends and just about everything else on the menu.
2441 N 11th St, Ste 8A, Lincoln, NE 68521
13. The Quonset, Staplehurst
The Quonset's story is kind of heartwarming. The only restaurant in Staplehurst closed, leaving locals without a place to grab a bite and socialize. Two farmers decided to fill that void in the community, and the Quonset has been serving up solid bar food for about a year now. The restaurant was intended to look like the type of storage shed you might find on a typical Nebraska farm - a nod to the clientele in this agricultural community.
330 A St
Staplehurst, NE 68439
14. Six Mile Cafe, Dawson
The fact that this restaurant looks like a modular house is notable. The fact that this house actually used to be a gas station is kind of unbelievable. The Six Mile Cafe serves down home cooking with generous portions at reasonable prices. There's nothing not to love here - just be careful or you might drive right by it without noticing it.
71380 US-75, Dawson, NE 68337
15. Taco Town, Scottsbluff
Taco Town definitely has that dive bar feel to it, but it also has some of Scottsbluff's most beloved tacos.
1007 W 27th St, Scottsbluff, NE 69361
16. Terry's Steakhouse, Virginia
Terry's is actually inside a beautiful historic hotel, so it's not like it looks like a cruddy dive at all. But it also doesn't look much like a place where you can get an awesome steak and unforgettable homemade sides...and that's just what you'll get.
200 4th St, Virginia, NE 68458
17. Tub's Pub, Sumner
Locals and visitors alike rave about the chicken fried steak here at Tub's, and the prime rib is a close second. This place is big, but it's almost always crowded. That's how you know a great small-town joint when you see it.
107 5th Ave W, Sumner, NE 68878
18. Vung-Tau Vietnamese Food & Deli, Lincoln
There are other, bigger Vietnamese places in Lincoln. But for the most authentic, tasty Pho, you'll want to give this tiny hole-in-a-wall place a try.
2708 Y St, Lincoln, NE 68503
19. Wild's Bar & Grill, Chadron
Housed in a big brick building, Wild's isn't the flashiest place ever. But they've got killer burgers, awesome onion rings, and homemade chips that leave patrons wanting more.
216 W 2nd St, Chadron, NE 69337
These 19 barely scratch the surface of great restaurants hiding inside underwhelming exteriors in Nebraska. There’s not enough room to list every one of them, so don’t be sad if your favorite isn’t mentioned – add it in the comments to let other readers know where the best hidden gems are!