Nightlife review: Plenty of reasons to kick back, relax at Jerzes in Papillion

By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald correspondent

Published in the Omaha World-Herald, June 1, 2017

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Jerzes Sports Bar and Keno

Where: 501 Olson Drive, Papillion

When: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily; food: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; Players Keno: 8:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily

Information: jerzes.com or 402-934-4394

* * *

Jerzes Sports Bar and Keno in Papillion takes its Keno seriously. That much is clear from its name.

But don’t be fooled: Jerzes isn’t just for Keno lovers. There’s something here for anyone who enjoys a typical sports bar experience.

Jerzes, which is just a few blocks from Papillion’s Shadow Lake Towne Center, has all the sports bar standbys: cheap food, generous drink specials and a ridiculous number of televisions.

On the food front, Jerzes menu offers what you’d expect from an establishment like this: burgers, sandwiches, pizza and salads, as well as a decent selection of fried and cheesy appetizers.

Most of the food costs less than $10 and even the “Jumbo” sizes of specialty pizzas cost less than $20. They also have food specials throughout the week. Some of the standouts are 40-cent wings on Monday nights and steak dinners for less than $10 on Friday and Saturday nights.

The bar’s daily drink specials are arguably even more generous. On Mondays after 5 p.m. you can get pitchers of domestic beers for $5, and on Thursdays after 5 p.m. you can get $3 Long Island Iced Teas. You can also get pints of domestic beer for $2.50 all day on Sundays.

Jerzes has all the usual domestic beers: Budweiser, Coors, Michelob, Busch and Miller, some on tap, some by the bottle or can. They also have all of the typical sports bar import beers like Guinness and Stella Artois.

To Jerezes’ credit, they also have a few craft beers, including several options from La Vista’s Lucky Bucket Brewing Company.

If you’re not into beer (even though you should be), Jerzes also offers all the usual bar and grill mixed drinks: bloody marys, daiquiris and piña coladas, to name a few.

They also offer a selection of signature mules: a traditional mule with Smirnoff vodka, ginger beer and lime juice; a “Caribbean” version with Captain Morgan’s pineapple rum; and a “Canadian” version featuring Crown Royal whisky. All options are $4.95.

I went with the “Caribbean,” whose hint of pineapple was nice and not overpowering. Though, if I had to choose again, I’d probably go with the traditional mule, because there’s nothing wrong with a Moscow Mule done the usual way.

Whichever you choose, just know that since the mules come in pricier copper mugs, Jerzes takes your driver’s license as, well, a bit of collateral. You get your license back when they take the mug back. I’ve had to do this at a few other bars before, so it’s never really bothered me.

I also wasn’t bothered by the crowds at Jerzes. Though the place was fairly busy when I visited on a weekend evening, there was plenty of space to go around. I’ve been to quite a few bar and grills in the metro, and Jerzes is one of the most spacious ones I’ve encountered.

Inside there is plenty of seating at tables and booths, as well as at stools along the large, wooden bar. Outside, a generous-sized patio offers seating for those warmer spring nights. You could easily kick back out there and relax.

You could even play some Keno. They do a lot of that around here.

Nightlife review: Bar and grill boasts laid-back vibe and inexpensive menu

By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald Correspondent
Published in the Omaha World-Herald, May 18, 2017

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The HopHouse Bar and Grill

Where: 11425 S. 72nd St., Papillion

When: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day

Information: 402-933-0511 or hophousebar.com

* * *

There are two kinds of bars in this world: bars with “regulars” and bars without.

The HopHouse Bar and Grill in Papillion is of the first variety. It’s the kind of place where as soon as you walk through the door you can tell that the people sitting around the bar have been here before — many, many times.

That’s a good sign. It means people have found something they like enough to visit again — and again.

Bars like this are usually pretty comfortable places to grab a beer. They will inevitably have pickup trucks in the parking lot, burgers on the menu and small-town vibes.

The HopHouse Bar and Grill is like that. Located in an unassuming strip mall not far from Highway 370, HopHouse has everything you’d expect from a laid-back, small-town pub, plus a few extras that make it stand out in a good way.

Their drink menu includes all of the standard domestics — Budweiser, Coors and Miller — as well as the usual imports like Guinness, and craft brew options from Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Company and Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery, to name just a few.

But, to its credit, HopHouse also has some impressive local craft brews on its menu, like favorites from Benson’s Infusion Brewing Company.

My personal favorite beer, Infusion’s Vanilla Bean Blonde, is on HopHouse’s menu. Its noticeable-but-not-overwhelming vanilla flavor keeps it interesting and its low alcohol by volume content (4.8 percent), makes it a refreshing spring-time drink. It’s delicious. You should have some.

HopHouse also has a few craft beer options I’d never seen before like the Union Jack IPA from California’s Firestone Walker Brewing Company. IPAs aren’t usually my go-to beer, but I might choose this one again. It’s hoppy but well-balanced with subtle hints of citrus.

Like all good neighborhood pubs, in addition to its beer menu, HopHouse offers all of the standard liquors and mixed drinks, as well as drink specials throughout the week.

They offer particularly generous happy hour specials from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday where you can get well drinks for $2.50, domestic draft beers for $2 and domestic bottled beer for $2.25. Yeah, drinks for less than $3. Not bad, huh?

HopHouse’s food menu is also on the cheap side. With the exception of a sizable appetizer platter and some steak options, everything on the menu costs less than $10. They offer all the burgers, sandwiches, salads, appetizers, wings and personal pizzas you’d expect at your neighborhood bar and grill, all of it served in generous portions.

If you’re looking for entertainment, HopHouse has plenty of televisions, as well as darts, electronic games and Keno. Plus, on the Saturday night we visited, they also had karaoke.

HopHouse offers plenty of seating inside with lots of tables and chairs, as well as stools along the bar. Outside they have a sizable patio area where you can enjoy the weather while sipping your beer. (Just to reiterate: Get the Infusion Vanilla Bean Blonde.)

If you’re looking for a bar with a small-town vibe in the city, check out HopHouse. You may even become one of its regulars.

Nightlife review: Longwell’s is for lovers. Beer lovers.

By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald Correspondent
Published in the Omaha World-Herald, April 6, 2017

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Longwell’s, 350 Canopy St., Suite 100, in Lincoln.

Where: 350 Canopy St., Suite 100, Lincoln

When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m. to midnight Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday

Information: longwells.com or 402-904-5283

* * *

I love beer, and Longwell’s does, too. The Lincoln bar’s motto is “76 Strong” which refers to the 76 different beers it has on tap.

Longwell’s, in Lincoln’s Railyard district, has beers from Nebraska favorites like Omaha’s Brickway Brewery and Distillery and Lincoln’s Zipline Brewing Company, as well as international brews and craft beer standouts from across the country.

Basically, their beer menu is huge, which is good news for craft beer enthusiasts.

The good news for craft beer newbies is that Longwell’s beer menu is informative, too. Both online and in the bar, Longwell’s beer menu lists each beer’s type, its alcohol by volume (ABV) and, in some cases, its International Bitterness Units (IBU) rating.

Don’t know much about ABVs or IBUs? No worries. Longwell’s staff can offer suggestions, and you can always sample a beer in a smaller size.

Longwell’s beer menu allows you to order draft brews in 5-ounce, 10-ounce and 16-ounce servings.

The prices vary by the beer, but you can get a 5 oz. glass of most of the brews for less than $3. That makes it a good option if you’d like to taste a few different beers.

That’s what I did on my last visit.

I stuck with Nebraska breweries and got Farnam House Brewing Company’s Ginger Brett, Scriptown Brewing Company’s Sassy Lassy and White Elm Brewing Company’s Inverted Galaxy.

The Ginger Brett is an interesting and heartier brew at 8.9 percent ABV. The Sassy Lassy, a blonde ale, is a lighter beer perfect for spring, and White Elm’s Inverted Galaxy is a double IPA chockful of hops.

All of these beers were different, all of them were good and they’re just a very small sampling of the beers on Longwell’s menu.

If beer isn’t your thing, Longwell’s also has a selection of wine and all the liquors you’d expect at your neighborhood bar.

But really, at Longwell’s, it’s about the beer. And sports.

Longwell’s bills itself as a place “where craft house meets sports bar.”

On this front, they deliver.

In addition to their extensive craft brew selection, Longwell’s also offers everything you’d expect from your local sports bar: bar eats and tons of televisions tuned to your favorite sports teams.

Longwell’s food menu offers all of the sports bar classics: fried and cheesy appetizers, burgers, wings, salads, sandwiches and wraps, most for $10 or less. They also offer a selection of barbecue, including pulled pork, brisket, ribs and more, most of it for less than $15.

I’ve been to Longwell’s a few times and have eaten items from across the menu. As someone who eats at a lot of sports bars, trust me when I say Longwell’s selection is better than most.

Longwell’s also more than lives up to its sports bar credentials with plenty of televisions, including a 45-foot LED television inside and great views of the Cube, the massive television in the Railyard’s common area, outside.

So, if you’re looking for a sports bar experience that can satisfy your craft beer fix, check out Longwell’s the next time you’re in Lincoln. They’ve got you covered.

Nightlife review: Beer, wings, sports on TV; If that’s what you want, then you want to go to Brewsky’s

By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald correspondent

Published in the Omaha World-Herald, March 23, 2017

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Brewsky’s — Q Street

Where: 15350 Weir St.

When: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, noon to midnight Sunday

Information: brewskys.com or 402-614-2739

* * *

During March Madness, you talk about sports bars, and when you talk about sports bars in Omaha, you’ve got to talk about Brewsky’s.

Brewsky’s Food & Spirits is a chain of sports bars and restaurants started in Lincoln in 1990. The chain has since grown to include six locations — four in Lincoln and two in Omaha.

Today I’m going to talk about the Brewsky’s at 15350 Weir St. in Omaha. Brewsky’s website refers to this as the Q Street location.

Like the other locations, this one is spacious, low-key and offers plenty of televisions for all of your sports-watching needs.

Brewsky’s co-founder Jim Mumgaard said that this location was recently renovated to include even more (and even bigger) televisions. Plus, he said, the bars offer “every television sports package out there.”

On the food front, Brewsky’s offers everything you’d expect from your neighborhood sports bar — burgers, salads, sandwiches, wraps, plenty of appetizers and, of course, wings.

Brewsky’s does its wings four ways: boneless, original “sauced” wings, chargrilled or double-dipped wings (which are sauced, grilled and then sauced again), with a dozen sauce options.

The wings range in price from $6.49 for 6 wings to $17.49 for 18 wings. Boneless wings are around $10 for a basketful. Brewsky’s offers special deals on sauced or grilled wings on Wednesdays and boneless wings on Thursdays. Brewsky’s also has deals on tacos on Tuesdays, burgers on Sundays and extended happy hour specials on Fridays.

Most of the food costs less than $10 and, aside from some very large servings of wings, everything on the menu costs less than $15.

Their drink menu is also on the cheaper side. When I visited the other day, my drinking buddy and I got two bottles of craft beer for about $5 each.

I went with Free State Brewing Company’s Wheat State Golden, a light, mellow beer that would be a good craft beer transition for someone used to drinking classic domestics.

I also tried Mirror Pond Pale Ale from Bend, Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery. It’s crisp and refreshing with subtle notes of citrus and floral to keep it interesting. Brewsky’s also offers beers from Nebraska companies like Zipline, Nebraska Brewing Company and Lucky Bucket. As expected, Brewsky’s also has all of the standard domestic offerings like Budweiser and Coors, as well as the usual imports like Corona and Guinness, to name a few.

I’d recommend picking something from the craft beer menu instead — particularly something from one of the Nebraska breweries. Zipline’s my go-to.

I’d also recommend you check out a Brewsky’s on trivia night. At the Q Street location, they offer trivia on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.

But if trivia isn’t your thing, there’s no shame in stopping by Brewsky’s for the televisions alone. Like I said, there are plenty of them, they are big and, for the next couple of weeks, they’ll have your March Madness needs covered.

Nightlife review: Even craft brew enthusiasts will find something new here

By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald correspondent

Published in the Omaha World-Herald, March 9, 2017

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The Casual Pint — Countryside Village

Where: 8718 Countryside Plaza

When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday

Info: 402-919-7468 or countrysidevillage.thecasualpint.com

* * *

Stop what you’re doing and go to The Casual Pint. Or go some time when it’s convenient for you instead.

Either way, just go.

You’ll be glad you did, especially if you’re a beer lover like me.

Like most beer enthusiasts, I’m always looking for a new place to get my craft brew fix and, in Omaha, a city of beer enthusiasts, there are plenty of options.

The Casual Pint, which opened up in central Omaha’s Countryside Village in December, offers something a little different, though.

“We combine a bar and retail space in one,” said Casual Pint co-owner David Vannier, “You don’t have to commit to buying a six pack, taking it home and hoping you like the beer. Buy one and open it in the store. If you like it, buy a six pack to take home.”

The Casual Pint has a rotating menu of 30 beers on tap and close to 200 beers by the bottle, so odds are you’ll find something you like enough to take with you.

For beer lovers, this extensive beer menu is a major plus. It might be a bit overwhelming for craft beer newbies, though. That’s where The Casual Pint’s staff can help.

The Casual Pint is a chain with close to 20 locations across the country, and they call their bartenders “beertenders.”

“Our beertenders are knowledgeable and love helping people find their new favorite beer,” Vannier said. “Even if you aren’t a craft beer lover, with 30 taps and 200 different singles, you will find something to drink that is new and exciting.”

I did.

I’ve tried my fair share of craft brews — or, more likely, more than my fair share — and I was pleasantly surprised to find a few things on The Casual Pint’s menu I’d never had before.

I got a flight so I could try a few.

I went with Founders Brewing Company’s Breakfast Stout, a hearty, coffee-flavored brew; Fort Collins Brewery’s Salted Caramel Scotch Ale, which had a strong but not overwhelming caramel flavor; Lincoln’s White Elm Brewing Company’s biere de garde, which was complex and unlike anything I’d tried before; and Ballast Point’s Mango Even Keel, which nicely balances its mango flavor with some serious hops.

All of the beers were completely different, but also, all of them were good.

And they’re just a small sampling of what’s available at The Casual Pint.

The bar/beer market also offers entertainment with a few televisions and a selection of board and card games, along with events such as trivia, dice and Bingo nights, and special deal nights like half price growler fills on Fridays.

They also have snacks. Their small but diverse food menu includes wings, chips and dip, soft pretzels, spiral-cut potatoes and flatbread pizzas. All of the food is between $5 and $10.

I’d recommend the Bavarian Pretzels with beer cheese sauce. You get three large, soft pretzel sticks with a generous portion of cheese for $8. The pretzels are great, but I’m partial to the beer cheese because even it emphasizes beer in the best possible way.

After all, that’s what The Casual Pint is all about — beer.

So, beer lovers, go to The Casual Pint already and bring your non-beer-loving friends with you. The Casual Pint just might have what it takes to change their minds.

Nightlife review: Bar and grill has what you need for a casual night out

By Ashley Strehle Hartman/World-Herald correspondent

Published in the Omaha World-Herald, February 23, 2017

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Tanner’s Bar and Grill

Where: 19102 Q St.

When: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday to Saturday. Kitchen hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday to Saturday

Info: tannersbarandgrill.com or 402-763-4414

* * *

Sometimes you want fancy cocktails with ingredients you can’t pronounce.

But sometimes (most of the time, in my case), you just want to share some beers and burgers with friends. At times like that, you want Tanner’s Bar and Grill.

Tanner’s is a bar and grill chain with close to 20 locations across the Midwest, including spots in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin and, of course, Nebraska. There are two Tanner’s locations in Lincoln and five in the Omaha metro area.

I’ve been to a couple of the locations, but today I’m going to talk about the one I visited most recently — the one in southwest Omaha at 19102 Q St.

Like most of the other Tanner’s locations I’ve visited, it’s spacious while still maintaining a cozy, laid-back vibe. There is ample seating at round, wooden tables and at stools along the massive bar.

In keeping with the bar and grill tradition, there are plenty of televisions so you can catch the game as well as the usual entertainment options: keno, darts and electronic games.

The drinks menu features all the bar and grill classics as well — Budweiser, Miller, Michelob, Coors and Busch, along with the usual imports — Corona, Heineken, Modelo and Dos Equis.

For those more interested in craft brews, Tanner’s has beers from Surly Brewing Company, Breckenridge Brewery and local favorites Lucky Bucket Brewing Company and Infusion Brewing Company.

I had a pint of Infusion’s Vanilla Bean Blonde (one of my favorite beers) for $5. This is a fairly easy-drinking beer at 4.8 alcohol by volume, and it has a distinct vanilla flavor. I’d recommend it if you’re interested in branching out to craft beers but you’re leery of typically darker beers like stouts or porters.

I also sampled Oskar Blues Brewery’s Dale Pale Ale, a hoppier beer with hints of citrus and 6.5 percent alcohol by volume. It’s a fairly common craft beer at Nebraska bar and grills.

Overall, though, I’d say Tanner’s has a slightly better than average beer selection for bars of its kind, which is a big plus for beer lovers like me.

I’m also a big lover of bar food, and Tanner’s has plenty of it for decent prices. It offers all the standard menu items — burgers, wings, chicken strips, a bunch of fried and cheesy appetizers, salads and sandwiches.

All of the food is less than $20 and most of it is less than $10.

I had a half pound cheeseburger, which at Tanner’s they call cheese Boogas. I got mine with a generous serving of “Tanner tots” for $8.49. It was a solid bar burger — greasy but not too greasy and so big you probably can’t eat it all at once.

Another popular menu item at Tanner’s is their boneless chicken strips, which they call chicken lips. They make them 10 different ways — battered, grilled, charred, blackened and with a variety of different sauces.

Tanner’s menu says they’ll “make ’em any way you want ’um” and that’s basically Tanner’s motto in a nutshell — friendly customer service delivered in an unpretentious atmosphere.

Tanner’s founder, who is lovingly referred to as Grandpa Tanner, wanted his bar and grills to be: “Friendly purveyors of good times, fine food, and the pause that refreshes.”

From what I’ve seen, they’re doing just that.