Last week my husband and I took a road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to visit his family who moved there recently. I thought it would be fun to write about our very first experience in the Midwest and our very LONG, 18 and a half-hour journey it took to get there and back…
First, we made the unfortunate decision to drive the 18.5 hours from Tallahassee, FL to Lincoln, NE. Flights were so expensive last minute and we (mistakenly) thought that driving there wouldn’t be so bad. We got off to a slow start because we had to run a few errands and drop the dogs off at boarding before we could even begin our trip. Once we were on the road, we couldn’t even make it an hour on the road before we had to stop. We went through the charming, small town of Whigham, GA and found a little café, aptly named the Whigham Café. Everyone was so friendly, and the food was great for lunch. Mike is still talking about how good the fried okra was and I, admittedly, can’t stop thinking about how I want some more of their fried pickles.
With food in our bellies, we were SURE to be on our way with no more excuses. Our drive up through nearly the entire state of Alabama and across Mississippi was very long and uneventful. We thought that Memphis would be a good place to stop for the night, so we made it our goal to get there in time for the National Championship game. We wanted to go to a neat BBQ place or bar to hang out in to watch the game, but we got in too late and ended up watching the game in the hotel room. Sorry we missed you Memphis, but we hope to be back soon.
The next day, we got up very early and began to drive the remaining 10 and a half hours from Memphis to Lincoln. We left Memphis with only a cup of coffee from the hotel lobby but made it all the way through the Ozarks in Arkansas, which by the way is very pretty, before we stopped for breakfast at the Ozark Café in West Plains, Missouri. This place was your typical hometown café. In fact, we were there the Rotary Club was having their monthly breakfast meeting. The coffee was hot, the food was good, and everyone was SO nice. At the time we didn’t know it, but we had officially had our first interaction with people in the Midwest. One of the best things I think we could say about the Midwest is that everyone (at least everyone we encountered) was so friendly and nice.
Our next goal was to make it to Kansas City, because several people on Instagram recommended that we should stop at Jack Stack BBQ. I’m so glad that we stopped in because it was absolutely delicious. The BBQ was absolute tops and I couldn’t get enough of the cornbread. Mike ended up getting what he considers to be the most Midwestern dish you could think of—cheese corn, or as the menu called it, “Cheesy Corn Bake”. If you haven’t had or seen this before, I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing we did, that this was going to be something with corn on the cob and cheese. Instead, what was brought to us was a bowl of cheese sauce with some corn. Our waitress and the table next to us swore by it and it actually ended up tasting pretty good. Mike is still cracking up at the thought of cheese corn. Afterwards, we got back on the road and finally made it to Lincoln that late evening.
Before I get into our experience in Lincoln, I should mention that we packed like fools for this trip. Mike and I are both from the Southeast, where cold to us is anything below 60. In fact, when we left, it was a glorious 70-something degrees. We quickly realized that we were underprepared for what I consider the most frigid cold I have ever been in. I’m so happy that we stopped at L.L. Bean in Kansas City to get some warm clothes. While in Lincoln, we wanted to check out the campus at University of Nebraska, the bars, and local restaurants. Our first stop was to visit the university and walk around. Did I mention that we packed like fools? After about 10 minutes of braving the cold and freezing our fingers off, we decided to get back in the truck and find a warm bar. Maybe we were being dramatic about the cold, because people on campus were wearing t-shirts, shorts, and sandals even though it was 30-ish degree weather. So began our bar-hopping. We started off downtown but realized that those bars are for undergrads and didn’t open until the afternoon. Our bartenders made a great list of bars that we needed to check out. If you are ever in Lincoln, I would recommend these places, too, so I’m going to highlight our favorites.
Lead Belly in the Hay Market District: We ended up going here several times while we were in Lincoln because we liked everything about it. It has a great vibe, great selection of drinks, and super nice people working there. They serve the best cider I have ever had called Curveball Cider from James Arthur Vineyards. Also, they have the best bloody Mary I have ever had. They make their tomato mix in-house and its absolutely delicious (I may have had several). The food here is great, too. They are best known for their Raspberry Beret, but I must say I really loved their Mac and Cheese.
Runza: Several people on Instagram recommended this place to us. Runza is a fast food restaurant in the area that serves local favorites. Our bartender at Lead Belly said that in schools in Nebraska, kids are commonly served chili and cinnamon rolls for lunch. These two together doesn’t sound like they would be, but I had to give it a try…and boy was I surprised. Also, you should try the beef and cabbage roll if you ever have the chance!
Le Cupcake: I am always searching for the best macarons while I travel. This place popped up and they didn’t have the best macarons, but they made up for it with their amazing cupcakes. I believe this shop was featured on that show Cupcake Wars. If you have a chance, stop by for a very tasty dessert!
The Oven: The entire time we were there, everyone kept recommending to us The Oven, an Indian restaurant. With our expectations high and our bellies ready for some food, we checked it out the last night we were in town. Unfortunately, the poor service we had really took away from our experience. The service was very slow, the food came out somewhat cold, and our server was very inattentive. Aside from that, the flavor of all the food was definitely there. I believe if it had been served hot and if the service was better, everything would have been great! I definitely want to give it another shot.
Blue: Excellent quality sushi!
Engine House: Great breakfast!
Jack’s Bar and Grill: Great dive bar!
Starlight Lounge: Best martinis I have ever had!
The Mill: Excellent place to grab a cup of coffee
Jake’s Cigars & Spirits
The Watering Hole
Our last night in town a huge snow storm came through. The next day we played in the snow and took pictures before we started our 18 and a half hour drive back. The snow was so lovely and a perfect end to our trip. Driving in the snow wasn’t the most fun, but we still enjoyed seeing it. Thanks for reading about our experience driving to Lincoln!