Nightlife review: Laid-back bar opened in 1968 and just keeps growing

By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald correspondent

Published in the Omaha World-Herald, January 26, 2017

Candlelight Lounge has staying power.

The laid-back, unpretentious pub at 5031 Grover St. has been in business for almost 50 years.

The neighborhood bar opened in 1968 in a narrow storefront in the same, unassuming strip mall it’s in now.

Over the years, Candlelight Lounge has expanded by absorbing the square footage of neighboring businesses as they closed or left.

Now the formerly small establishment is downright spacious. Its ample square footage affords plenty of room for pool tables, lots of seating at large tables, a sizable bar, and entertainment offerings like Keno, darts and electronic games, including my favorite: pinball.

Also, since no good Nebraska watering hole is complete without them, Candlelight Lounge has plenty of strategically-placed televisions for all of your football-watching needs.

As for its drinks, Candlelight offers all the standard mixed drinks and classic beer options you’d expect from your neighborhood sports bar. On tap they have the classics like Budweiser, Guinness and Blue Moon, as well as a few pleasant craft beer surprises.

The night I visited, Candlelight Lounge had one of my favorite local beers on tap. Joel Porter, from Benson’s Infusion Brewing Company, is an English-style porter. It is robust but still very drinkable, and you can really taste the beer’s advertised hints of chocolate and subtle notes of coffee. At more than 7 percent alcohol by volume, it’s a heartier beer, ideal for sipping on a cold, winter’s night.

On the food front, Candlelight Lounge serves up all of the bar and grill standards — burgers, sandwiches, salads, tacos and a whole host of appetizers from chicken wings to fried green beans.

Most of the food on Candlelight Lounge’s menu is less than $10, and the bar and grill also offers daily weeknight food specials such as hot roast beef with mashed potatoes, enchiladas, rib-eye steak, tacos and walleye. Again, each costs less than $10.

The bar serves food from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 5 to 10 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Candlelight Lounge also serves food on Husker game days and offers takeout.

Candlelight Lounge owner Travis Saint said the bar and grill’s menu is in the process of being revamped and expanded so new offerings will be available soon.

The bar and grill will also soon have a new website, as it is being updated, too. Meantime, customers can check out the bar’s Facebook page, Candlelight Lounge, to stay up to date on events or specials.

Though Candlelight Lounge has a few changes on the horizon, you can expect the neighborhood watering hole to stay true to what has kept it in business for almost five decades: affordable drinks and food served up in a relaxed atmosphere.

“We’re a neighborhood, come-as-you-are bar,” Saint said.

***

Where: 5031 Grover St.

When: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday to Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday

Info: 402-504-4966 or candlelightomaha.com

***

 

Nightlife review: Get familiar with McFly’s; Grab a beer, feel at home at laid-back neighborhood bar

By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald correspondent

Published in the Omaha World-Herald, January 12, 2017

mcflys-worldherald

McFly’s Center Street Tavern

Where: 4503 Center St.

When: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday to Saturday; noon to 2 a.m. Sunday

Info: facebook.com/Mcflys-Center-St-Tavern

* * *

Neighborhood bar and grills aren’t conventionally exciting. They’re not supposed to be.

In many ways, neighborhood pubs should be just the opposite. They should feel comfortably familiar even if you’re new there. You should know what to expect even if it’s the first time you’ve walked through the door.

That’s what you get at McFly’s Center Street Tavern.

You’re not going to get artisanal cocktails and gourmet eats here.

Instead, you get exactly what you’d expect — drinks and bar grub at decent prices in an unfussy, homey atmosphere.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about McFly’s is its theme — firefighters. Fire hydrants, fire extinguishers, toy firetrucks and photos of fires are on display. A sign hanging over the bar proclaims that McFly’s is located at “#1 Fireman Way.”

Otherwise, McFly’s looks exactly like what you’d expect. There is plenty of seating at tables and at stools along the bar. The floors are wood, the lights are low and there are University of Nebraska at Omaha flags because all good neighborhood bars support the home team.

And because McFly’s also bills itself as a sports bar, there are plenty of televisions, both in the room with the bar and in a larger, adjoining room that houses McFly’s pool tables.

McFly’s also offers keno, darts and electronic games.

On the drink front, McFly’s offers all of the standard domestic brews and ciders, some on tap, some in bottles — Budweiser, Miller, Michelob, Corona, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Angry Orchard, etc.

My drinking buddy and I ordered arguably the two fanciest brews on tap — a Boulevard Wheat and a Lagunitas IPA. They were each about $4.

Boulevard Wheat is one of my all-time favorite beers. The unfiltered wheat from Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Co. is a light, easy-drinking beer that is a perfect transition for people who are used to drinking standard domestic brands but want to branch out into some more exciting brews. Since it’s so mild, Boulevard Wheat is one of my go-to beers in the summer, but it’s good all year round.

I’m not a big fan of IPAs, but Lagunitas IPA is one of the milder, more drinkable ones I’ve tried. If you’re an IPA lover, it may be too tame for you, but if you’re just looking to check out this beer variety, this may be a good one to sample.

On the food front, McFly’s offers burgers, sandwiches, tacos, wings and more — all the typical food you’d expect from your local watering hole. They have daily food specials — most for less than $6 on weekdays — as well as special deals on prime rib on Friday and Saturday. The full kitchen menu is available from 5:30 to 10 p.m.

All in all, McFly’s is exactly what you’d expect from a pub that bills itself as “your neighborhood bar.” Its prices are on the cheap side, its atmosphere is unpretentious and, more often than not, its televisions are turned to football.

It’s a laid-back, Nebraska neighborhood bar — exactly what it’s meant to be.