I made my first trip to Omaha, Nebraska recently for a family wedding. Visiting a new city gets my adrenaline flowing, as it gives me an opportunity to expend countless hours of research exploring potential dining destinations.
It turns out that with all of the various wedding activities, our only opening for a restaurant visit is Sunday brunch. I want to find somewhere with good food (obviously) and local character. The pressure is on to satisfy a group of eight, which includes cousins from Chicago and my sister from Cleveland. My efforts lead me to a lot of dead-ends in terms of places that sound interesting and are actually open for Sunday brunch. (What’s up with that Omaha?)
Cousin J, who is right there with me on the food-lover scale, tells me about a restaurant called Dixie Quicks that he saw on an episode of the Food Network‘s “Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” I’m always up for a visit to a place featured on “The Triple D.” Research done. We’re off to Dixie Quicks.
It turns out that since the DDD episode aired, Dixie Quicks has moved from Omaha to Council Bluffs, Iowa. We are surprised to discover that this is actually only ten minutes away. In fact, it’s so close that the wonderfully amiable staff at the hotel offer their shuttle to take us there, nodding approvingly at our restaurant selection.
Dixie Quicks offers a blend of cuisines including Southern, Cajun, and Tex-Mex. So it’s not exactly a typical Nebraska restaurant. Who cares? They feature something on the brunch menu called “Sexual Chocolate” which is French toast with chocolate syrup, banana slices, nuts and whipped cream. Irresistible!
As soon as we enter Dixie Quicks, we recognize that it’s definitely not a dive. It’s actually a hip, urban diner, distinguished by concrete floors and antique doors suspended from the ceiling.
The brunch menu, displayed on a chalk board, has a variety of appealing options. My cousin has no hesitation about what she’s ordering. “I’ll have the sexual pleasure,” she exclaims as soon as the waiter arrives. Close enough. He knows exactly what she means. And he’s ready to satisfy her request.
Sexual chocolate is good but it’s not my favorite dish at the table. That honor goes to the cactus omelette with tomatillo sauce. This dish packs some great flavors, particularly the sauce made with jalapenos, pumpkin seeds, onions, garlic, and pepitas.
Rivaling the cactus scramble are chilequillas with tortillas and a chipotle kale chili sauce, and topped with a poached egg. This smoky, spicy dish is a perfect wake-up call for a Sunday morning.
My sister and I share a waiter-recommended red beans and rice omelette, along with French toast and mixed berries. The omelette is good but not exactly revelatory. We top it with the tomatillo sauce that accompanies the cactus scramble, and it is transformed into a delicious dish that’s bursting with flavor. The French toast is a perfect accompaniment, providing us a sweet respite to the now spicy eggs.
Dixie Quicks shares space with an art gallery, featuring the works of local artists and photographers, including restaurant co-owner Rob Gilmer. But the heart of Dixie Quicks is Rob’s husband and chef Rene Orduna. Rene engages us in conversation throughout the meal, enthralling us with life stories and an explanation of how he ended up in Council Bluffs (same sex marriage is legal in Iowa). The story behind Sexual Chocolate? Rene says it is based on a scene in the movie “Coming to America.”
Dixie Quicks is one of those delightful out-of-town finds that you wish you could visit again and again, even though you know the chances aren’t very likely. If I do get back I would go right for the Texas chile pepper steak featured on the DDD episode. The best I can do is encourage others in the area to give it a try, including my Omaha cousins who have never been.
We leave Dixie Quicks fulfilled (particularly those who had the Sexual Chocolate) and head back to Omaha and the famous Henry Doorly Zoo. My cousins boast that it is ranked the number one zoo in America, although I’m not sure what source they are quoting for this. Regardless, it really is a very nice zoo.
Dixie Quicks, the DoorlyZoo, and a Delightful family wedding. It all adds up to two kinds of Triple D’s rolled into one great weekend.
Dixie Quicks, 157 West Broadway, Council Bluffs, Iowa