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We always enjoy trying new establishments, especially those little-known gems. We are generally up for anything, so please let us know what you like.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Trifecta: Food, Beer, and Sports.

 It is not a secret that we love sports bars.  The food is usually pretty good, the beer is always cold and the atmosphere is comfortable.  There are so many sports bars around, it was hard to choose which to put on the top 5 this week.

Top 5 Nebraska Sports Bars

Dustin's List
  1. Sportscaster's, Lincoln:  I love the free fried food on Friday afternoons.
  2. Brewsky's, 27th and Cornhusker, Lincoln:  I love all the Brewsky's, but this is my favorite location.  The food is excellent and the service has always been great.
  3. Cappy's, Lincoln:  Our favorite place to stop for a brew after work.  They also have wonderful pizza and wings.
  4. Chicken Coop, Kearney:  This was one of my favorite places to hang out in college.  They have really great food and it's a fun place to watch any sporting event.
  5. The Cage, St. Paul:  My favorite thing about this bar, is the entrance.  It has two giant wooden doors which is just the beginning of the cool atmosphere. 
Note:  Dustin all-time favorite sports bar was Slapshots, which is now Fox Neighborhood Bar and Grill in Lincoln

    Autumn's List:
    1. Sportscaster's, Lincoln:  This place tops my list because I feel the most comfortable here.  I think we probably hang out here too much, but it is nice when you know your waitress by her first name and she knows you by your beer.
    2. Spikers, Gretna:  We stopped here on one of our "tour de Nebraska" trips.  It has a volleyball theme and seemed to be really popular.  I was surprisingly pleased with the pizza and the entire establishment.
    3. Brewsky's, 16th and South, Lincoln:  I remember going to this Brewsky's with my dad when I was younger.  I like how it seems almost hidden among the strip mall.
    4. Bullwinkle's, Grand Island:  We stop here about every other time we are in Grand Island.  The food is pretty good, but what I really like is the wooden floor, bar, and booths.
    5. Spikes, Lincoln:  Also a volleyball themed bar.  This place gets rocking on the weekends.  I can't get enough of their buffalo chicken pizza.  It's amazing!
    From the Lincoln Journal Star:  Jeff's Top Five Sports Bars

      Tuesday, September 21, 2010

      Jasper's Bar and Grill

      This weekend we had dinner with a couple of friends at Jasper's Bar and Grill east of Lincoln on highway 34.  Our friends have been raving about this place since it opened about a month ago.
      We were frequent patrons of this establishment when it was Ron's Pub and La Paloma.  The owner's of Jasper's have knocked down the wall between the two spaces to create a large dining area.  We were pleased to see the bar looked the same and the decor was similar to the previous establishment. However, it seems the clientele has changed to a more family-friendly crowd.
      For a place outside of the city, the menu was decent.  We started the meal with spinach and artichoke wontons.  Those are going to top the Top 5 Nebraska Appetizers list for sure!  They were perfectly crispy and unlike anything we have tried before.
      I had the special for the night which was the New York strip with baked sweet potato, salad, and garlic bread for $12.99!  I ordered the steak medium rare and it turned out to be a little more on the rare side, but was still pretty good.  The potato was done perfectly and made for an excellent side dish.
      Dustin had the patty melt with sweet potato fries and was very  happy with his order.
      The dining area filled up very fast shortly after we arrived and it seemed like we had to wait quite a bit longer than normal for our food to arrive.  However, the wait staff was working as quick as possible and did an excellent job handling the large crowd.
      If you are looking for a good meal not to far from Lincoln, check out Jasper's.
      On a side note, this would be a really fun place to watch a Husker game!

      Read the review from The Lincoln Journal Star

      Tuesday, September 14, 2010

      It was a Grand Affair!

      After a week of reflection, it's now time for a special state fair Top 5!   All in all we had an excellent time at the state fair.  The weather was perfect, the parking was free and the food was fried!

      Top 5 Nebraska State Fair Highlights

      Autumn's List
      1. The Kid's Zone:  It was nice to have a whole area full of fun stuff for kids.  The petting zoo was the highlight even though the zebra wasn't cooperating.
      2. The new buildings:  They were spectacular!  Beautiful on the outside and spacious on the inside.  The numerous bathrooms didn't hurt either.
      3. Fried PB & J:  Enough said.
      4. The Nebraska Wheat Exhibit:  Fun activities for the kids, free cinnamon roll samples, and interesting displays, this was my favorite exhibit at the fair.
      5. Free Parking:  Even though it took us nearly half an hour to find our car, at least we didn't have to pay to do it.

      Dustin's List
      1. Free Parking:  We had more money to spend on the important things, like foot-long Italian sausages.
      2. In-door plumbing:  Each building had a bathroom so there weren't those disgusting port-a-potties all over the place.
      3. The Shows:  The free concert line-up was outstanding this year.  The Heartland Event Center is pretty impressive as well.
      4. Very Nebraskan:  It was great to see a return to the strong agricultural environment a state fair in Nebraska should have.
      5. Vendors:  There was a great variety of food vendors this year.  Or maybe it was simply because they were all close together so there were plenty to choose from. 

      Now, this is not to say there aren't a few things that can't be changed for next year. 

      Top 5 Nebraska State Fair Mistakes
      1. The Annual Bill Seymour Marathon:  The marathon crossed Stolley Park Road, which is one of the main roads leading to the state fairgrounds.  We were stuck for nearly half an hour waiting for the runners to cross the road.  Perhaps picking a different weekend or route is something the planners of this marathon should consider next year.
      2. Need more signs:  A big sign saying "Turn Here" on South Locust would have saved us from driving around the entire park.
      3. Free Parking:  Yes this was one of the great things about the fair, but finding it was the tough part.  Several "Free Parking" signs pointing in the right direction would have been helpful.
      4. Open at 8 a.m.:  The park opens at 8 a.m., but the buildings and most vendors don't open until 10 a.m.  We spend several hours wandering around trying to find something to do because we got there early.  It wouldn't hurt if a few more vendors and the buildings opened at 8 a.m. as well.
      5. Little seating for eating:  It was great that the food vendors were all close, but there needed to be more picnic tables nearby.  There were plenty of benches, but it is difficult to eat a grater tater without a table to put it on.

      Sunday, September 5, 2010

      More fun than a PB and J!

      Just ate a deep fried PB and J at the state fair and decided it was time for the sandwich list.  We argued quite a while about the next list.  Do we just include cold sandwiches?  What constitutes a sandwich?  If we include reubens and phillies, can we still do each of those as their own top 5?
      Here's how these sandwiches made the list:  it is located on the "sandwich" section of the menu OR includes some kind of protein between two pieces of carbohydrate.  No burgers were allowed on this list (though we certainly don't discriminate against them).

      Top 5 Nebraska Sandwiches

      Dustin's List
      1. Reuben or Whoever - 9 South Char Grill, Lincoln:  There a lot of really great sandwiches at the Char Grill, but the reuben tops my list every time we go there.
      2. Philly  - 5th Quarter Tavern, Palmyra:  Made with chunks of real steak, not thin slices like most other phillies, this is hands-down the best philly around.
      3. Kielbasa and Kraut - Chicken Coop*, Grand Island or Kearney:  Kielbasa, kraut, beer . . .what more do you need?
      4. Pulled Chicken - Paul's BBQ, Lincoln:  Everything at Paul's is delicious, but if you only get to try one thing, get the Pulled Chicken Sandwich.
      5. Club -The Bar, Unadilla:  Made with is croissant, this is my favorite place to get a club.  Plus, they'll add jalapenos if I ask nicely.
      Autumn's List
      1. Turkey - Bread and Cup, Lincoln:  Yum!  One of the most delicious sandwiches I've ever had.  It was everything I wanted; creamy, crunchy and full of flavor.
      2. Jalapeno Chicken Melt - Sportscasters, Lincoln:  I try to order something different every time I got to Sportscasters, but since I tried the Jalapeno Chicken, I can't bring myself to order anything else.  It has two of my favorite things; cream cheese and pepperjack!
      3. Club on Croissant - The French Cafe, Kearney:  This sandwich was a staple of my diet when I was in college.  It is served on the flakiest croissant I've ever tried and goes great with their homemade cheesecake.
      4. Chicken Salad on Croissant - Uptown Brewery, Stanton:  I ordered this sandwich because it was the lunch special the day we stopped.  This sandwich restored my faith that you can make chicken salad with celery instead of celery salad with chicken.
      5. Philly - Sidelines Steak and Sports Bar, Cook:  The steak is seasoned perfectly, with just enough pepper to keep the beer flowing.  They will also make it without mushrooms, which is important for those of us with Mycophobia.
      *The Chicken Coop has a location in West Des Moines, IA, but it originated in Kearney, NE 

      Jeff's Top Ten Sandwich Shops from the Lincoln Journal Star

      Wednesday, September 1, 2010

      Two New Wineries!

       Prairie Creek Vineyards, Central City
      Recently we had the pleasure of visiting two Nebraska wineries for the first time.  While visiting family in the central part of the state, we stopped by the Prairie Creek Winery.  The winery is only open on weekends, but owner Nick Ryan made an exception and opened for a tasting on a Thursday afternoon.  The building is beautifully decorated and we were more than impressed with the wine.  Nick opened a new bottle for each wine we tried, which shows he has great pride in his product.  We tried all of the wines that were offered and were not disappointed by any of them.  We left that day with a bottle and a new winery to add to our Top 5 Nebraska Wineries list.

      Glacial Till Vineyard, Palmyra
      Driving home from Lincoln last Saturday, we decided to take a detour to the Glacial Till Winery.  This winery is only open for tastings by reservation, so we made a call.  We were in luck, Mike Murman and his son, John, were working at the winery that day.  This was by far the most impressive winery tour we have ever received.  Mike took us around every inch of the winery and showed us exactly how the wine was made, from vine to bottle storage.  After the tour, we sat outside and enjoyed a wonderful tasting, complete with a "champaign" that the winery made by accident.  We took home a bottle of the unique Frontenac Rose and have made plans to go back to the winery for one  of their many events.