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Omaha

Going to Omaha? Then ditch the guidebook and follow these famous locals as they show you around their hometown — the eighth-largest city in the Midwest.
By Haley Shapley


ALEXIS GEIST
Miss Omaha 2008
“There are a couple of really great restaurants in Omaha. One is Stokes; it has a wonderful wine list, it’s kind of tucked away, and the food is amazing. There are a lot of boutiques in Old Market that [offer] fun, different clothes. And I love the Orpheum Theater. They do Broadway plays there, and it’s newly renovated. It’s very elaborate — a beautiful place to go for a night on the town.”

HOUSTON ALEXANDER
UFC fighter
“I’m a nostalgic guy, and I love history. Union Station [currently Durham Western Heritage Museum] is great; it sort of takes you back to when people were riding trains all the time. There’s a really good restaurant downtown called the Paxton. The waiters dress in clothing from the ’20s and ’30s — it reminds me of a time when everyone was classy.”

RUDY SMITH
Photojournalist, Omaha World-Herald
“I enjoy N.P. Dodge Park. You can go there in the morning and, especially in the springtime, see deer, raccoons, and other wildlife; boaters getting ready to motor down the Missouri River; and walkers. I also enjoy Loves Jazz & Arts Center. It’s a North Omaha museum with some of the state’s, city’s, and country’s greatest artists. It’s a [good spot] to have lunch with the masters.”

TOM BECKA
Radio talk-show host and author
“I like Dundee Dell; they’ve got more singlemalt scotches than any other place outside Scotland, and they also have one of the largest alcohol collections of any place in North America. At least twice a month, they do a scotch tasting, and periodically, they bring people in from Scotland to actually talk about their distillery and their scotch.”

VICTORIA ALEXANDER
Best-selling author
“I live in Dundee, an earlytwentieth- century neighborhood with a very eclectic downtown area. Marks Bistro [is] wonderful — it very much reminds me of someplace in New York. It’s on the second fl oor ... above the Dundee Gallery, which features local and regional artists. There’s a little wine bar called the Dundee Cork & Bottle, and the Dundee Theatre shows a lot of independent fi lms.”

REV. JOHN P. SCHLEGEL, S.J.
President, Creighton University
“I would recommend a stroll down the malls and pathways of Creighton University to savor the intimacy and beauty of the campus, especially its gardens and statuary. The landscaping rivals that of the Lauritzen Gardens, and the Jesuit Gardens offer the perfect spot on the university grounds for a picnic outing.”

MIKE FAHEY
Mayor
“There’s a special steak house called Gorat’s [that’s] a favorite of Warren Buffett. Hollywood Candy has all your old [sweet] favorites — and new as well. And at Tannenbaum [Christmas Shop], it is Christmas year-round. Every summer, we have the Omaha Farmers Market. They bring in all kinds of fresh produce, baked goods, and crafts.”

J. BROOKS JOYNER
Director, Joslyn Art Museum
“For Omaha’s most artful and delicious burgers, I recommend the eclectic Louie M’s Burger Lust, near downtown and the Joslyn Art Museum, in the historic Vinton Street district. I could grab a bite for lunch there every day for a month and not eat the same burger twice, and their breakfasts are incredible.”

CÉDRIC FICHEPAIN
Chef and owner, Le Voltaire
“The opera is really excellent quality in Omaha. We are season-ticket holders, and they have some absolutely gorgeous productions. The Institute for the Culinary Arts at Metropolitan Community College has a bistro, Sage, where all the young kids learn. It’s very nice; you have all this young talent trying to put up an absolutely gorgeous meal or you, and it’s very affordable.”

MICHAEL R. MCCARTHY
Chairman and cofounder, McCarthy Group
 “The neighborhood north of downtown is rapidly reemerging as the place to be in Omaha. Stop at the Old Mattress Factory for some soup, and then head to Slowdown for live music or to Film Streams’ [Ruth Sokolof Theater] for a classic movie.”



Dallas-based HALEY SHAPLEY is a former assistant editor for American Way. She kindly agreed to squeeze in a freelance assignment for us (plus, she really loves Omaha).