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Mar 8, 2011 08:29 AM

Dinner in Kearney, NE?

We will be in Kearney for a conference for a few days. Can anyone recommend some relatively inexpensive places to eat that are off the beaten path - any kind of cuisine? I've read that Thunderhead Brewery is definitely one.

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  1. If you don't mind a short drive (50 miles), Bella Italia in Cozad, NE has UNBELIEVABLE italian food. The gentleman who owns it relocated to Nebraska from New York City and used to cook for Rudy Giuliani.

    Bella Italia
    114 W 7th St, Cozad, NE 69130

    1 Reply
    1. re: 01grandprix

      I am here right now - March 12. Try Wild Thai on 11th St. It is terrific. Service can be slow but the food is great. I'm from DC where we have dozens and dozens of Thai restaurants so I have a good basis to judge. Be careful of the heat - 3 is borderline painful. My husband had a curry at 5 and it was super-hot but the coconut milk tempered the heat a bit.

    2. I'm sure this is too late for the original poster, but for anyone who passes through this area, a must stop is Skeeter Barnes. We stayed in Kearney on a drive from Chicago to Denver. I saw the billboard for Skeeter Barnes and literally picked it just for the name. What a fortunate choice for a chowhound foodie! They do barbeque and steaks to rival anything in Chicago (and obviously due to the location, the prices beat Chicago by quite a bit). We happened to end up there on New Year's Eve. I had a tender, deliciously seasoned filet with mashed potatoes and wine/butter sauteed mushrooms. My husband had a 3 meat BBQ combo with brisket, smoked pork and Texas sausage (with a salad and bbq beans). The pork and sausage were excellent. Brisket was good, but we're spoiled by a really good place with to die for brisket in Chicago. They don't cover their BBQ with sauce either, they give you a their 3 various heat sauces on the table to put on yourself.

      We also got a ginormous piece of their carrot cake to eat at the hotel later. That was excellent as well.

      Just south of I-80 at the exit for Kearney. Great service and awesome food. Wonderful surprise in the middle of nowhere Nebraska!

      1. Reviving this dead thread for the future Kearney-bound. I'm from Kearney, so I'll recommend some of my favorites...Suwannee Thai is top notch ($8-$10/person), The Cellar, Pane Bello (some say it's a knock off Panera's but I really like it), Hunan's (usually packed, but affordable and decent Chinese food), Nick's Gyros (not exactly gourmet, but it's good for what it is...Americanized greasy "Greek" food), El Potrero, French Cafe, Delight Donuts (right off the interstate...get there early for fresh donuts before they run out!), The Spaghetti Shop (the pasta is mediocre, but I go for the garlic bread), Big City Burrito (about $6 for a huge burrito...I always get the potato with their spiciest salsa).

        4 Replies
        1. re: vestalis

          Is the Japanese restaurant still there?

          1. re: lfirebrand

            Yes, though I'm not entirely sure how as it doesn't seem like they get many customers at all. Last time I went, the only other people there was the owner's family (I'm assuming). Sushi is mediocre, overpriced, and underportioned, but it's pretty much the only place in town that offer it (though King's Buffet has a small selection of sushi on the buffet). The set up is a bit...strange. The first time I walked it, I felt like I had walked through the back door.

            I did have their veggie tempura with miso soup once. It was okay, but I think the prices overshadow the quality. It's a nice sentiment, having a Japanese restaurant in small town Nebraska...unfortunately, I think that may have been their mistake.

            1. re: vestalis

              I am originally from Kearney, though I moved away in 2003. I still make it down there once or twice a year, and I have also eaten at the sushi place. You're right, it was definitely overpriced and mediocre. I definitely want to try one of the Thai places though, because I've heard they're both incredible.

              1. re: lfirebrand

                I ate at Wild Rice a couple times before Suwannee's opened. It was a little on the pricier side, but the portions are pretty darn decent and the presentation is nice. Suwannee's I think is owned by the same people or the same people owned Wild Rice at some point? Either way, both are great (though I asked for the spiciest pad see ew and I didn't find it to be very spicy)!

                I only wish people (aka my parents) would be a little more open about trying something different. I'll have to drag them there next time I'm in town!