What to do in Lincoln?
May 23, 2007 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Stopping in Lincoln, NE tomorrow (Thursday) night. Where to eat, sleep, and be merry?

Four friends and I are going on a road trip to Minnesota to attend a wedding. We will be stopping in Lincoln, NE. We will get there sometime in the evening tomorrow. We would like to eat some good food, find a bar to hang out/drink/dance/ect., and stay in a hotel/motel. We would like to stay in a place where we can do all of these things without driving (if possible). I noticed that there was an earlier post about Lincoln where someone asked about moving from Portland to do a ph.d. My friends and I are mostly from the midwest so we have a general idea about the people and culture. We just want food, goodtimes, and sleep. Suggestions will be appreciated.
posted by catseatcheese to Travel & Transportation around Lincoln, NE (11 answers total)
When I went to Lincoln I stayed at the Embassy Suites which was very nice. They even have a free drinks happy hour every night. There is a great steakhouse across the street, but I can't remember the name of it. I had a great time in Lincoln, I hope you do too!
posted by thebrokenmuse at 4:52 PM on May 23, 2007

Grew up there but I don't get back more than a few days a year, so maybe others will have more to offer.

If you don't want to drink and drive, pretty much your only option is downtown. There are bars galore, but they're filled with the college kids, so if you're over 30 you'll feel over the hill at most of them. I'm over 30 myself, and I like Barrymore's, but when there's twenty bars in walking distance, finding the one you like is half the fun, so shop around.

When I google hotels in Lincoln, the first three listings are all downtown. The place to stay is The Cornhusker hotel, but that might be more than you want to spend. I can't vouch for the Embassy or the Holiday Inn, but Lincoln isn't really a skeezy town so I can't imagine them being bad at all.

Finally, if I'm downtown for only one night, a good little brewery and pub with good food is Lazlo's. Try all their beers and you'll enjoy your evening.
posted by etc. at 4:59 PM on May 23, 2007

Try Yia Yia's Pizza or Oso Burrito downtown (near 14th & O streets) if that's the kind of food that sounds good. There's some kind of club between them, but I've never been there. There are a lot of bars along "O" street from 11th to 15th.

For inexpensive asian, try Thai House or Nha Trang (vietnamese/chinese) but beware that the atmosphere is not great.

If you want something a little more upscale, try Vincenzo's (not Valentino's) for Italian, or Blue Orchid for thai.

My favorite local coffee shop is meadowlark , though The Mill and The Coffee House downtown are also good. Stay away from Scooters.
posted by jepler at 5:02 PM on May 23, 2007

Lincoln, NE is a college town, but there are few college students there this time of year. There are something like 20-30 bars in the downtown-Haymarket area so I'm assuming that's where you want to be. Since it isn't football season, there will be fewer people there than there regularly is. I'm not sure how old you are, but if you are not in the college age, your best bet is to go to the Haymarket.

There are several good restaurants in the Haymarket such as the Blue Orchid (Thai), The Oven (Indian), Buzzard Billy's (Cajun), Lazlo's Brewery & Grill (American), and El Potrero Restaurant (Mexican). The Oven has the largest collection of wine in Lincoln. Lazlo's has some good brews. The Blue Orchid is a personal favorite, but I like food hot.

In the downtown area there Misty's which have awesome (but expensive) steaks.

The downtown area has a lot of college bars. If you want to go to a college bar, Main Street is probably the best. $2 cover, but $1 for 20 oz domestics after that.

Zen's is a cool Martini bar/lounge.

Bricktop is the lone techno bar/club, but its only good Fridays or Saturdays after midnight. DJs kind of are mediocre though, although occasionally they have someone good.

Although I don't recommend it, there is also Club Opulence which just amuses me with the name.

Avoid: Brothers, The Downtown, or The Brass Rail. In The Haymarket, avoid Fireworks - Lazlo's is better.

*For food after the bars close (oh I forgot to mention bars close at 1am, so you have to get up early) but theres a few good places to eat such as The Gourmet Grill (delicious Gyros) and Lazzaris Pizza (Spicy Chicken).

Hope that helps. . .
posted by j-urb at 5:08 PM on May 23, 2007

I'm a Lincoln native, though I don't live there anymore.

The Oven is my favorite restaurant in town, by a wide margin. If you like Indian food, give it a try.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 5:13 PM on May 23, 2007

Downtown, the Cornhusker Marriott will suit most needs, and if you don't feel like getting in the car again to go to dinner, you can get a decent meal there, too. I've also stayed at the Chase Suites Hotel Lincoln, about a year and half ago, and it was good value for money. The Steak House on Adams Street has been around forever, and for a family place, it's pretty good. In terms of chain places, if you know the Brothers Bar & Grill chain of the mid-west, they have a Lincoln location.

You're a little early for the Lincoln Jazz Fest in June, but there are a number of bars and restaurants south of the University of Nebraska Lincoln that have live music several nights a week.
posted by paulsc at 5:29 PM on May 23, 2007

My advice is to drive on through.


Lincoln is a stuck-up, self-righteous conglomeration of fast-food joints, pan-handlers and empty bars. The recent smoking ban has driven a significant chunk of people to outlying cities or private parties.

Both the "Cornhusker Hotel" and "Embassey Suites" are insanely overpriced -- find a cheap motel.

Avoid the Haymarket area, unless you're fond of pretense -- Lazlo's being the only exception. Best meals at a sane cost are at "Tico's" and "The Green Gateau". I would (tepidly) recommend "The Zoo Bar", but you're coming in Thursday and your first exposure to their music probably shouldn't be the country act currently scheduled. (The Zoo was once a legendary stop on the Blues circuit, but it has deteriorated).

The Ross Film Theatre on campus is showing the French comedy "Avenue Montaigne" through Thursday, but your best bet for entertainment is to rent a DVD from Blockbusters.
posted by RavinDave at 8:49 PM on May 23, 2007

Response by poster: thanks for the help everyone! for your information we range in ages from 24 to 31. the biggest reason we needed to find places where we could stay/eat/drink in walking distance was that one of the girls has relatives in the area and is going to take the rental car to visit. we all live in utah but none of us are actually from utah (if you know what i mean)... so ANY bar that serves beer over 3.2% has to be better than what we have here.
posted by catseatcheese at 3:31 AM on May 24, 2007

Hey there catseatcheese. I currently live in Lincoln and I can promise you that despite the near non-stop criticism leveled against this small town, it isn't that awful, and you can certainly tolerate it for a night. No need to drive through.

For hotels, as mentioned, check out Embassy Suites and also the Cornhusker and Holiday Inn downtown. Any of those hotels will be within walking distance of pretty much everything you want to do.

You'll be in on a Saturday night, so if you do want to hit the bars it should be busy, though it looks like it's going to be raining. I'll give you a quick breakdown of the major bars in the downtown area (walking distance) from your hotel.

Starting with dive bars, you can always check out the hipster-friendly O'Rourke's, but there is also The Watering Hole with it's cheap, greasy food and even cheaper beer. Heading up 'O' street will lead you to Duffy's, the home of the fishbowl, as well as a smattering of frat/sorority style bars such as Iguana's, The Downtown and The Brass Rail. There is also the pleasant Harry's Wonder Bar just at the edge of downtown, with it's standard crowd of 40+ year old alcoholics. For a less segregated experience, check out Bodega's or Sandy's, bars that both seem to cater to the college/frat crowd, as well as the hippie and hipster crowds, too. For dancing at the end of the evening you can head to the international student's paradise, Bricktop, with its house music, or the dirtier but no less fun Dillingers, or even Brother's (the Wal*Mart of bars!). In the area is also Cliff's, which apparently serves the stiffest drinks in town. There is also, of course, The Zoo Bar (which I live above) and as mentioned, used to be one of the finest blues bars in the country... not so anymore, but still a great place to hang out and have a drink. And yes, all the bars described above are within 2 blocks of one another. My recommendation? O'Rourke's, Duffy's, Bodega's.

If you're looking for a more upscale bar experience, check out the 50s throwback bar The Starlight Lounge located in the Haymarket, or Zen's and Barrymore's. There's also Doc's Place which has a nice patio, or even the newest martini bar (located in the back of Iguana's) called Voda. These all have a more sophisticated, adult feel and serve real cocktails as opposed to draft beer. My recommendation? Barrymore's.

Food in the downtown area is also plentiful. I'm not going to run through every restaurant, but I'll give you my picks. If you're looking for Indian food, there is The Oven or Sher-E Punjab, both delicious, though the Oven has a nicer atmosphere. For Thai, there is Thai Garden and the newer Blue Orchid, one of my favorite places to eat. Steaks can be had at Misty's and there is also the local favorite Lazlo's Restaurant which brews it's own exceptionally tasty microbrews. For sandwiches, I highly recommend Bisonwitches and for pizza there is no contest with Yia Yia's. There are also some cajun restaurants Crawdaddy's and Buzzard Billy's as well as more straight up America sports bar type places with the locally owned Brewsky's and The N Zone. Best Mexican downtown can be found at Arturo's, not El Portrero. My recommendation? The Blue Orchid. Yum.

I hope that helps a bit. Lincoln isn't the most amazing place in the world, but believe me it can sustain you for an evening. Also, feel free to give me an e-mail (it's in the profile) if you have any other questions or are looking for company!
posted by dead_ at 6:42 AM on May 24, 2007

Oh yes, and Coffee Houses abound. I prefer The Coffee House but a lot of people seem to think The Mill has some of the best coffee in the region. Either way, those are the two downtown coffee houses you'll want to check out--the rest are just imitators.
posted by dead_ at 6:44 AM on May 24, 2007

You'll be in on a Saturday night

Whoops. Make that Friday night.

And to think, for the past hour of work I've been thinking it is already Friday, RIGHT NOW. Bummer.
posted by dead_ at 6:46 AM on May 24, 2007

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