Midwest Living magazine came out with a list of their top 25 (and then some) burger joints around the Midwest earlier this year. Many of the places listed can be found on Road Tips, but I became interested by a number of other ones that I wasn't familiar with. Quite probably the one that intrigued me most was a place in Omaha called Dinker's Bar. On a recent trip out to Omaha, I decided to find Dinker's for a burger.
I've been coming to Omaha for business since 1986 (and about 10 years prior to that when my sister and brother-in-law used to live in Omaha) and while I was familiar with places like Stella's and Louie M's Burger Lust, I had never heard of Dinker's Bar before. But the locals certainly love it. It has been voted as Omaha's best burger many times over the years. In fact, they're so confident of the burgers at Dinker's Bar they have a permanent sign on the front of their building that says, "Omaha's Best Burger." While I certainly love the burgers at Louie M's and I've given Stella's high marks over the years, I was somewhat taken aback that I hadn't known about Dinker's burgers until I read about them in Midwest Living magazine.
Dinker's Bar has been in existance since the mid-60's when Frank "Dinker" Synowiecki opened the doors to the neighborhood bar south of Omaha's downtown area known as Sheely Town. Sheely Town was named after Joseph Sheely who owned and ran a packing plant on Omaha's south side in the 1800's and who built tenement housing, initially, for mostly Irish workers. But later on, a number of Polish and Czech immigrants came to Omaha to work in the stockyards and slaughter houses of South Omaha. Many of the Polish immigrants settled in Sheely Town while many of the Czech's settled further to the south. Today, the Sheely Town neighborhood is a mix of small bungalow houses and larger two story homes that were built before World War II.
Initially, Dinker's Bar was just a "beer and a shot" type of place. However, Synowiecki put in a grill and began to serve burgers and sandwiches. Today, Synowiecki's son, Bob, runs the place. It's located in a long narrow building at the corner of S. 29th St. and Castelar St., just south of Martha Street and right next to I-480 (see map). Midwest Living compared to decor to a 1970's bowling alley. I guess I didn't get that when I walked into the place. I found it to be open and airy, but comfortable enough for people to carry on conversations. There are a number of tables throughout the long dining room with the bar in the front and the kitchen in the back.
I got in just after 1 p.m. and found the "Order Here" sign toward the dining room. A small line was in front of me as I took a look at the menu on the wall to see what I wanted to get on my first visit to Dinker's.
Dinker's Bar not only features their idea of the best burgers in Omaha, but they also have a number of sandwiches, salads and appetizers including homemade buttermilk-battered onion rings. Dinker's also features a lunch steak entree with a 6 oz. Omaha Steaks sirloin served with fries, a salad and their garlic cheese bread. They also feature luncheon specials each day - that day the hot beef sandwich was the feature. Quite honestly, it looked good when one of the waitresses walked by with a heaping plate as I was standing in line to get a burger.
The burgers at Dinker's Bar are hand-pattied, then cooked on a flat grill and pressed. Their beef is fresh, delivered three times a week to the bar, and I believe they grind their own burger meat. Their signature burger is the Haystack - a quarter pound patty topped with American cheese, honey smoked ham and then finished with a range free fried egg. That sounded really good. They also have a jalapeno burger that is topped with pepper jack cheese and fried jalapenos. But they also had a mushroom/Swiss cheese burger that I ended up getting.
The lady at the counter asked if I wanted any fries or onion rings with my burger. I wasn't certain I wanted anything other than the burger. She said chips came with the burger and that the rings or fries were extra. I ended up ordering some fries with the burger. You pay for the food at the counter as you order (WARNING - Dinker's is a cash only establishment), they give you a number to place on your table and they'll bring the food out to you.
There's really no wait staff at Dinker's Bar, so after you order your food and if you want a drink you have to go to the bar. I ended up sitting at the bar placing my number beside me. The bar area, itself, was a throwback to a 70's style bar with brickwork on the wall, along with mirrors hung over the brick. A series of bar glasses, a number of liquor bottles and even a Jagermeister machine cluttered up the back bar area. It was your typical neighborhood bar.
After about 15 minutes, a man brought me my burger and set it in front of me. When I ordered at the counter, the lady had asked if I wanted lettuce, tomato and onions (grilled or sliced) on my sandwich and I was rather impressed with the freshness of both the lettuce and tomato slices. The onions were pungent and fresh, as well. A large mound of French fries accompanied the burger in the basket.
The burger was thick and juicy, covered with copious amounts of fresh mushrooms. In fact, the mushrooms were so plentiful, they were sliding off of the burger with nearly each bite. Four napkins were dropped off with the burger and I needed them all. The burger, itself, was cooked perfectly with a little bit of pink in the middle. With all the veggies on the burger, it was difficult to get a full taste of the beef. But I pulled off a corner of the burger patty and tasted it on its own. It was very, very good.
Last, but certainly not least, the kaiser bun that Dinker's uses for their burgers was light and fluffy, adding a wonderful taste to the burger. It was lightly toasted and helped with the overall taste of the burger. It held together very well with the moist and juicy burger. I was overly impressed with Dinker's burger.
I'm sort of kicking myself for not knowing about Dinker's Bar before this. I love little neighborhood places like Dinker's. The burger I had was very, very good and I may have to make a couple more visits to Dinker's before I can decide if it truly is the best burger in Omaha. Stella's and Louis M's Burger Lust are certainly high on my list and I would have to say that Dinker's Bar has a burger that would be as equally worthy - if not more - as the burgers at those places.