Central Omaha – Omaha, NE

Central Omaha has an eclectic mix of personalities and vibes that come to life as the neighborhood divides into districts with invisible borders and distinct identities. Benson brags about its dive bars and indie rock clubs, while Dundee’s streets flaunt ethnic diners and hipster coffee shops. And then there’s Midtown Crossing, a dazzling block of classy apartments and trendy boutiques. Each of the area's cultural hubs has its own history and commercial claim to fame. Located just west of downtown Omaha, these districts span both sides of Dodge Street, the city’s main roadway. While residents proudly associate with the district in which they live, together they form a complete community that charms most everyone who’s ever settled here. From university students and fresh graduates to retired couples and young families, there’s a bit of something for everyone in Central Omaha -- if not on your own block, than right around the corner.

Schools in Central Omaha

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Restaurants & Nightlife

Given Central Omaha’s size, residents enjoy a wide array of foods from several continents and countries, traditional or fused with the area’s Midwest flavors. Each distinctive portion of the neighborhood, from Midtown to Dundee, battles for the prestige of being the neighborhood’s best area for restaurants or bars. In Dundee, Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob ’s simple menu — falafel, kabobs and curry fries — lures diners from around the city. Try the garlic sauce on your pita and ask for extra curry powder on the fries. Because the kitchen is open until 3 a.m. most nights, feed your cravings at any time, but table space is limited, so take out is often your only option. Pitch Pizzeria, on Underwood Avenue, wins accolades for its coal-fired pizzas, but customers rave over the truffle fries and arugula salad. Community tables and weekend all-day happy hours pack people in, though often at the loss of private conversations. Stop by Monday or Tuesday for their pizza and bottle special: $30 for a specialty pizza and house wine. The dinner scene quiets down at Blackstone District’s Mula Mexican Kitchen & Tequileria. Though some residents argue its limited menu features less authentic ingredients than the taco trucks in South Omaha, Mula’s tacos, tortas and extensive tequila menu challenge the idea. Swing by on Tuesdays for $2 tacos, or try the al pastor, with chile pork and charred pineapple. The nightlife in each of Central Omaha’s enclaves relies heavily on treasured dive bars, Americana pubs and cozy wine bars. Watch the game over a Philly steak sandwich at Barrett’s Barleycorn Pub and Grill, or sip on draft champagne at The Homy Inn. The Dundee Cork & Bottle serves its famous Moscow mules in copper cups and sells half-priced bottles on Wednesdays, while Pageturners Lounge pours craft brews in a converted used book shop. For late night entertainment, settle into a couch at Hookah 402. Besides shared shisha pipes, the laid-back lounge has live music and comedy shows, and never charges a cover. More thumping base clubs and DJs can be found downtown.

History & Culture

Omaha’s initial growth at the end of the 1800s depended on the thriving Union Pacific railroad, which passed through the city. As floods of people followed the tracks from the East Coast to Nebraska, Omaha’s population expanded outward from the banks of the Missouri River. Central Omaha's Dundee-Happy Hollow district thus earned the title of the city’s very first suburb. The Dundee neighborhood's arts and culture scene leaves a strong wake in this district. The Dundee Gallery shows off local paintings, sculptures and glass work. At the Dundee Theatre, residents pile into duck taped seats for midnight showings of cheap cult classics. The Omaha Community Playhouse, the largest community theater in the country, hosts modern and classic performances. Dundee also hosts Dundee Days, one of the neighborhood’s largest annual events. This outdoor block party features live music, family entertainment and food and drink from local vendors.

Transportation

Dodge Street is the aorta of Central Omaha, continuously pumping traffic smoothly through the neighborhood and delivering residents to all other parts of the city. While a majority of Omahans own a vehicle, the hassle of Dodge’s changing one-way lanes gives a great excuse to use public transportation. More than eight Omaha Metro bus routes service the neighborhood. Routes 2 and 92/98 carry passengers east-west along Dodge, between Westroads and Downtown Transit Centers. Routes 3 and 15/55 cut through the neighborhood from north to south. Using Dodge, you can reach the Old Market in three minutes, or continue on into rural Iowa in 10 minutes. Call Happy Cab Dispatch for a taxi, or utilize one of the city’s ride-sharing services. Uber and Lyft use free smartphone apps to access drivers in the area. In Central Omaha’s commercial and residential districts, parking tends to be in small lots or street-side, making space limited. While the neighborhood has few designated bike lanes, cyclists can ride along continuous streets through residential areas with low vehicle traffic. Pedestrians are welcome in all areas, though extra care should be taken when walking major roadways, such as Dodge Street, Blondo Street and Leavenworth Street.

Cost

The cost of living in Central Omaha is starkly higher than the city-wide average. General goods and services total more than 17 percent higher in price here than elsewhere in Omaha. However, when it comes to housing and rental rates, the numbers remain much closer, with the city’s average rental rate per month just $50 more than the monthly rate in Central Omaha. Expect to pay about $745 for a one-bedroom rental unit here. A one-way ticket on Omaha Metro costs $1.75, regardless of distance or destination within city limits. Opt to drive instead and pay approximately 1 percent less than the national average to fuel up your car. A pint at the corner pub costs $4 to $6. Purchase a movie ticket for $10, and an afternoon meal runs $8 to $12 per person.

Shopping

With Westroads Shopping Mall and the nationally recognized Nebraska Furniture Mart – a mega store covering some 450,000 square feet – in the neighborhood, Central Omaha's shopping options may seem to be entirely big-brand chains. Yet, the trend for locally owned and operated stores finds plenty of support in each of the neighborhood's districts. The Nebraska Furniture Mart is the brainchild of famous billionaire Warren Buffet. Specializing in furniture, the store also sells electronics, home decor and appliances. Give yourself a full day to wander through its mock-up rooms and miles of shelves. For special bargains, visit the Mrs. B's clearance and factory outlet floor space. At Beyourself, a specialty women's boutique, funky dresses and accessories promote a feel-good fashion. Customers shop by colored stickers instead of size numbers to avoid self-image issues. Be sure to stop by during the store's seasonal sales, where every $100 spent earns a $50 bonus coupon. Dropping down in scale and price, Dundee's consignment closet, Scout, stocks carefully selected men's and women's clothing. Trendy pieces mean you pay more than you would at thrift stores, but this shop has a larger selection of gently used vintage items. Sell your wardrobe back to Scout at the end of the season for a few extra dollars. In addition to HyVee and Walmart supermarkets, residents can explore Asian Market for Japanese, Indian, and Korean imported goods. The nearest farmer's market takes place in downtown Omaha, at the Omaha Farmer's Market. This runs from spring through autumn, with vendors selling fresh produce, homemade condiments, craft products, and hot foods. Farmers and goods rotate, which gives you an excuse to return each Saturday. Bring your own bag, because many of the vendors don't supply them.

Parks

Memorial Park stretches out like the centerpiece of the neighborhood. Beginning at Underwood Avenue and continuing across Dodge Street and down into Elmwood Park, this expansive green space was created to honor members of the armed forces from the area. President Harry S. Truman dedicated the site in 1948, and since then, this has become one of Omaha’s largest and most popular public parks. Jog or cycle along the park’s maintained paths, play Frisbee in the grass or simply relax with a picnic lunch. Dogs are welcome on leashes. Every June, Memorial Park becomes the scene of a free concert sponsored by Bank of the West. Celebrating Independence Day, the performance draws classic big-name acts like as The Village People, Styx and REO Speedwagon for an evening of family entertainment, with fireworks to follow.
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9045 Burt St, Omaha, NE 68114
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10351 Hamilton Plz, Omaha, NE 68114
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815 N 94th Plz, Omaha, NE 68114
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