The wind blew, and I found myself cast a thousand miles east, having been lifted from the Salt Lake Valley and its sprawling mountain roots beneath the earth, landing among Omaha, Nebraska’s rolling hills.
Culture is seeded here in clumps of arbitrary districts where like-minded individuals have gathered, evolving over decades into sects that have developed their own music, shops, and flavors. The locals call it the Twenty-Minute City, since any pilgrimage, from one side of the metropolis to the other, takes less than half an hour by car.
I put the name to the test.
On the western edge of Omaha, I visited Lazlo’s Brewery in hopes of testing one of their small-batch brews, and to judge the quality of their burgers. I’m somewhat of a burger connoisseur, and my appreciation of local brews is already known to you, my dearest reader. Therefore, my anticipation of this experience had grown to exponential proportion.
I sat at the bar and was glad to have the secluded corner to myself as it was not yet noon, and thus, my interpersonal skills were not yet warmed for the day.
Among the diverse beers available, I was pleasantly surprised to see a Scottish Ale, my favorite style.
My bartender, a bright-eyed and intelligent young woman, recommended I also try their Chaco Canyon Gold Ale and produced a small golden glass of bubbling liquid. To refuse would be a slight, so I happily accepted.
When I ordered the Lazlo Burger, she asked me what temperature I wanted it cooked. Let me pause here to express, if you will, my stance on burgers: They should always have bacon, they should always have an option for smoked gouda or pepper jack, and they should always be cooked to a specified temperature: ideally Medium or Medium Rare.
There have been multiple occasions when I have ordered a Medium burger and received it Medium Well. Not at Lazlo’s: it was Medium to perfection. The pink was clean and tender, and when I added bacon and pepper jack, then sipped a crisp and smoky Scottish Ale between bites, my life felt complete.
Who am I to judge? I am but a wandering philosopher traversing the planes of space and time adjacent to those who have come before me. I am a simple man. Give me Scottish Ale, and deliver a Medium burger, and I believe the world needs nothing more. This is why I was pleasantly surprised, sixteen minutes later east of Lazlo’s, when I parked my `84 300zx (50th Anniversary Edition(no big deal)) at downtown Omaha’s Tap House. Parking was free for esoteric reasons.
Regardless, I parked, crossed the one-way street, and plumped into the barstool. They had a fantastic selection of burgers, and I homed-in on the Bourbon Aged Ale. The bartender, a former burnet wrestler, was energetic and attentive. When you add spice to my burger, my interest is intrinsically piqued. And smoked gouda becomes me.
The appropriate burger was promptly delivered, and before me was an aromatic, rich, and flavorful ale. Although the burger came uniform, Well-done, the buttered bread and rich flavors left nothing for wont.
A young couple from Iowa made pleasant conversation with me, and the energy between them, me, and the bartender resonated with my spirit. I spent an hour in contagious conversation. Now my social capacity awakened to its fullest extent.
The spice of the gouda burger gave way to the soothing richness of my bourbon ale in an experience that left me fulfilled: socially and nutritionally.
This is a mere snapshot of the coming exploration of Omaha’s cultural density. And I look forward to the nooks and delicious finds in the coming weeks.
Anyway, that’s my 2¢. Thanks for reading.