Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bar Rescue -- Back to the Bar in Omaha

Because they just can't seem to stay away for too long...Jon Taffer's crew once again traveled to the Omaha-area to document whatever became of some of the most "notorious" bars ever on that fantastic(end sarcasm) show.

"Why did you ask me to pull your finger? "

Now, I'm not here to pimp Bar Rescue anymore than I have to. So if you want to learn more about the episode that debuts tomorrow and includes the OFace Bar and Sorties all mean click right

But, since I know that a lot of you are fans of the show (or just watch for the joke of it all) I asked the three owners of Sorties Tavern to come into the 1290 KOIL studios yesterday as I co-host the Bob Bruce Radio Experience.

Live in-studio at 1290 KOIL

If you didn't get a chance to listen live yesterday, here are links to the three segments where the guys opened up a bit about it was really like to deal with Jon Taffer...and if they would have gone on the the show in the first place if they knew what all would happen during the tapings. Good stuff!

Sorties Tavern on 1290 KOIL (Part one)

Sorties Tavern on 1290 KOIL (Part two)

Sorties Tavern on 1290 KOIL (Part three)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Best Patios for Drinking in Omaha -- 101.9 The Keg Exclusive

When the phone rings and it says "Crash Davis"...that's a call I always take no matter what what I'm doing. Why? Well, for one Crash is a good friend. And two, it usually means he has a new idea of something fun I can get into.

So, what was this call about? Simple. Coming up with my "Top 10 Patios to Have a Drink on in Omaha" of course.

So, knowing I was going to be on the air with 101.9 The Keg first thing in the morning, I went right to work.  For those HitThatDive purists, these are NOT all dive bars...take a deep breath. It will all be OK.

The majority of them are dives, but I thought for this particular Crash Davis assignment, a more compete list was the better approach. So, after much deliberation, here is the "Scuba Steve" Top 10 Patios to Have a Drink on in Omaha...your list may vary.

The Nest Lounge: What better place to knock back a few drinks and keep an eye on the kids as they're at the daycare directly next door? Oh yeah, and by the way, it's one of the best spots in West Omaha to sit outside and enjoy the summer air.

Ask for the Sunny D and vodka

Rose and Crown Pub: Keeping with our places to sit outside and have a drink (or two) while keeping an eye on the kids, the Rose and Crown is directly across the street from the Omaha Children's Museum and boasts one of the best deck scenes in town. Is it a dive? You bet. Is it made for some patio drinking? You be your life it is!

Avoid the Children's Museum here

Mr. Toad's Pub: Smack dab in the heart of Omaha's Old Market, Toad's was a stop on last year's HitThatDive Haunted Hangover Tour. And, from what most will tell you, is the prime spot in the Old Market to suck back a few drinks and just sit and people watch. Is it a dive? You make the call.

Old Market people watching central 

Heron Bay: No doubt this IS a dive, and a bit oddly situated, and basically next to a  Sanford and Son junkyard. However, it has one of the best decks in Eastern Nebraska to sit and have an amazing view of the Platte River. For my money, the closest you can get to drinking at an ocean bar anywhere in Omaha. (Prices are a bit steep, be warned Amigos.) This is always a prime stop for anyone that rides a motorcycle.

River. Beer. Fun.

1912: Have not been to this one in Benson yet, BUT, when a Benson spot comes highly endorsed by MarQ Manner....that's all I need to know. Many people wrote in and said this is THE spot for an outdoor patio in the Benson area...and it sure looks that way. This is the only place on my list that made it sight unseen. MarQ's word is gold in my book...give this one a look when you're in that part of town, and then let me know how it is.

Always trust MarQ Manner

Poop Deck: Is this the most elaborate deck in Omaha? Hell no. But it's the Poop Deck which means it's automatically HitThatDive certified, and, it's the only spot on this list where you can sit outside and watch the sun raise with a drink or two when they open the doors and 6:00am. Early morning bartender Chuck, is one of the best in town! I love the Poop Deck so much that's me in the picture below after getting there at 8:00 am to hang out with the Bergan Mercy nurses after an overnight shift.

A classic!

Crossbones Bar: The covered back patio at Crossbones is one of the best year-round spots in town. Oh sure, I froze my ass off back there on St. Patrick's Day, but it's fully covered by a roof, and always has the South Omaha equivalent of the trade winds blowing to keep you cool in the summer regardless of the temperature. Throw in one of Omaha's best Bloody Marys on a Sunday morning, and this might be the best hangover spot on the list.

Always a good time

Beer City: Hey, weekend warrior golfers, I've got a spot for you. Save the fortune that you're going to pay on greens fees (and golf course beers) and head to the corner of 42nd and L Streets. Grab your drink, head out the back door, and get ready to practice putting on Omaha's only outdoor putting green attached to a great dive bar. Is it the world's best patio? Hell no! But you're at a bar practicing your putting...on a real putting green...where else can you do that? This is Golden Tee for real people!

I putt, you putt...

Salt 88:  Yes, I know, this most definitely is not a dive bar. But who cares? John and his gang have the BEST patio in the Omaha city limits, incredible food, an extensive wine list and PBR Tall Boys! This is the only place in town where both Mrs. HitThatDive and I can go together and both be happy the entire time we're here. We bring the kids, come here for date nights, hell we just find reasons to come should you too. Don't let the fancy appearance scare you off...this place is great for anyone no matter what your taste might be.

Have a PBR Tall Boy

The Doghouse Saloon: When Crash asked me to put this list together, the Doghouse in Waterloo, Nebraska was the first place that popped into my mind. Small town honky-tonk bar. An amazing outdoor set up with a stage, plenty tables, TVs and the best part of all...honest-to-goodness truck tailgates that you can sit on and enjoy the day. Want the fun of tailgating, but don't want to do all the work? The Doghouse is just what you're looking. When you think of an outdoor bar to hunker down and spend a lazy summer afternoon...this is the spot I head to first. Did I also mention it's hangout for fans of my hometown Pittsburgh Steelers? Here we go we go!

Yeah baby!

There you have it, that's my list. What did I miss? Let us know if there's something you think needs to be added as one of the Omaha area's best bar patios. Have a complaint about this? Call Crash at 101.9 The Keg...this was his idea! (Just kidding) Now get out there and enjoy your summer!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

First Annual HitThatDive Omaha Wing Challenge

Let's start off with a few things. Before you send me a message saying "But why wasn't MY favorite place on this list???" The answer is simple. To be included on this year's review list the ONLY requirement was that the participating bar had to donate $100 (all tax deductible) to Ted E. Bear Hollow.

So a big thank you is in order to all nine local wing places that each donated directly to an amazing charity to be part of this year's competition.  Who was on the list year? Here they are in order of which way the HTD judges traveled around Omaha sampling some of the best wings this area has to offer one-by-one. The contestants are...

The Good Life

Again, these are all locally owned small businesses that rely on the support of the people in our community to provide jobs, and well, keep us happy that we have so many great options for wings and beer!  

So thanks again to everyone that participated. And for those of you reading this...make it a point to try each and every one of these places in the next few weeks...we'll tell you exactly what to order when you're there...just keep reading. 

Not my sippy cup

How It Worked

A casting call was sent far and wide to assemble a rag-tag bunch of judges of anyone that loved to eat wings, and had some time over the course of two weekends in June. Our cast of nearly 15 judges were provided with score sheets and asked to rate wings on the now famous/infamous HitThatDive scoring criteria, which always include the following five categories. 

  • First Impressions
  • Sauce
  • Crispy 
  • Size
  • And the always ambiguous "Extras" 
Judges were asked to grade each type of wing, at each place, with a 0-10 in every category...which means a 50 is a perfect score...and a ZERO of course means we must have made a wrong turn and are now eating at LaVista Keno.  

Judges took it seriously 

I (Scuba Steve) did not take place in any of the judging, and was just there to eat wings and answer any questions in regards to proper scoring.  Keep in mind that the HTD judges ate at nine places and had been served, in some instances, more than 10 varieties of ONE stop.  So this was no easy task to judge and score.  The HitThatDive judges did an amazing job, so thank you all for your time, efforts and stomaches.  

Lessons Learned for Next Time

  • Judges will eat at no more than THREE places per day...we are not competitive eaters. 
  • Bars will submit no more than three wing flavors in advance.
  • Judges must fast for 24 hours before we eat. (OK, well that's not really going to be a rule...but as we's a damn good idea!)
  • We will draw straws to decide order because the most difficult spot to be in for bars are the ones going first or last. 
  • Ultimately, we learned a lot of lessons on how to do things much better the next time we do this. Promise! 
Scoring some wings at Addy's

Let's Get Down To It

For this section, we'll walk you through each bar and let you know if any of the wings that the judges scored received a 35 (or higher) out of 50 points (combined average)...those are the ones you should order for sure next time you're in these places. 

Wing categories were broken down into three separate flavors which included: Traditional Buffalo. The now (almost) famous Omaha Charbuffed. And specialty...which can include anything from teriyaki to peanut butter and jelly. 


The Good Life Sports Bar and Grill -- This, our first stop, we were just trying to figure out how all of this would work in real life. After figuring out how to eat and write at the same time, the judges all agreed that the Teriyaki (both bone-in and boneless) and the BBQ wings were the winners of the bunch here at TGL. 

Judge Quote: "Good sauce. Right amount. Tasty." 

Oscar's Pizza and Sports Grill -- Judges here, according to their score sheets, were highly impressed with the flavor of the double-dipped Buffalo wings and made several comments on the great heat-to-flavor ratio of the wings and the sauce. 

The Charbuffed wings also rated out above a 35, but  several judges pointed out that they love the Charbuff wings here but these were not quite as good as usual. But this is Oscar's after all, and even if not firing on all cylinders...they're still good enough to make the leaderboard. 

Judge Quote: "OMG! This had a great "hot" flavor that lasts!" 

Chicken Dance

Observatory Lounge -- The OB pulled out every stop to make an impression on the judges...and they all took notice. Oh, did I also mention that everything wing that they served us all earned rave reviews too?  Several score sheets went out of their way to mention the great impression that the OB made on them including an honest-to-goodness rendition of the Chicken Dance! 

The winners here were the Buffalo (Mild and Hot) and the Parmesan Sean's.  Of the parmesan wings, several judges pointed out that they're not really into that flavor but here "Parmesan all day baby!" 

Judge Quote: "Probably the most interesting taste I've experienced...ever!" 

Paloozas Sports Bar and Grill -- This stop brought us to the end of the first day of judging, and for nearly every judge, the first time here.  For being a newcomer on the block, Paloozas clocked in with four wings that broke the 35 average point total that included their Charbuff, Breaded BBQ, Dry Rub BBQ and their Memphis wings. Also of note, is that this is the home to arguably the largest wings we had seen on the entire competition. 

Judge Quote: "So...definitely different. Breaded which is a treat. And good! And the chef is definitely proud of his work!!" 

The Buffalo Company

Addy's Sports Bar and Grill -- As to be expected, Addy's scored big on five varieties of wings including their Spicy Garlic, Hot Buffalo (charbuffed), Bloody Mary, Teriyaki and the hottest wing we tested Sriracha Ghost Pepper. As noted by one judges after eating just one sriracha ghost mouth is still burning and that the heat sure stays with ya!

Judge Quote: "Sweet with a kick! Nice change from the traditional teriyaki wing sauce!"

The Buffalo Company -- I always enjoy the guys at the Buffalo Company, and they did not disappoint scoring on all three types of wings the judges sampled including their Medium Buffalo wing, Garlic Parmesan and one I had never seen before their Rubbed and Charred wing. Across the board, judges were impressed with the overall crispiness of all the wings here. 

Judge Quote: "Way better than expected! Pleasantly surprised!"

More wings!

Donohue's Pub -- Often overlooked when people are thinking of new places to try wings around the area, Donahue's made the judges take notice by scoring above at 35 on their Original Buffalo, Spicy Garlic and their Peanut Butter and Jelly wings. One judge ever went so far as to say the PB&J wings here were the most original we had tried at any place on this year's tour. 

Judge Quote: PB&J -- If you like peanut butter chicken, this tastes like really good chinese peanut butter chicken. 

Ray explaining what makes a good Buffalo wing

Ray's Original Buffalo Wings -- To sum up our stop at Ray's, one of the judges comment on their score sheet "The other bars should be glad we came here towards the end! I'll be back!" Ray's wings all earned rave reviews for their Medium and Hot Buffalo and for Teriyaki wings. Also noted on several scoresheets was Ray's homemade blue cheese dressing. 

Judge Quote: "The medium buffalo was awesome and the blue cheese was amazing." 

The HopHouse Bar and Grill -- Our final stop also was a first for many of the judges (including myself) and even though they had the unenviable task of being the last stop on this year's wing challenge, made an impression on the judges with their PB and J wings and also with their Parmesan sauce. 

Judge Quote: I sort of feel bad...last stop of the challenge and it's hard to compare to eight others!" 

So, there's the quick tour through all of this year's stops. So, I know what you're asking...who are the damn winners?!  

Extras matter!

Here's how were going to do it, the top three places in our three wing categories (Buffalo, Charbuffed and Specialty) will be listed as well as the top three overall places based on average score of all their HERE WE GO! 

Biggest ones we saw!

Final Results 


3. Donahue's Pub -- Spicy Garlic: (41) TIE
    Addy's Sports Bar and Grill -- Sriracha Ghost (41)  
2. Observatory Lounge -- Parmesan Sean's: (43.1)
1. Ray's Original Buffalo Wings -- Teriyaki: (45)


3.  Oscar's Pizza and Sports Grill -- Charbuffed Hot: (37.5)
2.  The Buffalo Company -- Rub and Charred: (39.5)
1.  Addy's Sports Bar and Grill --- Charbuffed Hot: (40.2) 


3.  Oscar's Pizza and Sports Grill -- Double Dipped Buffalo: (40.7)
2.  Ray's Original Buffalo Wings -- Medium: (45.5) TIE
     Ray's Original Buffalo Wings -- Hot (45.5)
1.  Observatory Lounge  -- Buffalo Hot (45.7)


3. Addy's Sports Bar and Grill -- (40)
2. Observatory Lounge -- (43.1)
1. Ray's Original Buffalo Wings -- (45.3) 

We have a winner
How close was the scoring? Keep in mind that between third and ninth place there was only a difference of 7.1 points...TOTAL! The voting was that close...and in most instances...a point one way or the other could have made a huge difference for just about every bar on this list in every single category. 
Over the next few days, I'll be hand-delivering the original score sheets to every bar owner and will be available to walk you through the scores...that is if you want and any additional detailed insight. 

Thanks again to every bar that participated! 

People of Omaha...if you want your favorite wings included in this challenge next time...start telling your favorite bar owner(s) to pay attention to HitThatDive when we're looking for places to include in the future! 

Scuba Steve 

Who's still hungry?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

2015 (Hasty) Spring Stumble -- 5th Annual Edition

Join HitThatDive as we assemble for the 5th Annual Spring Stumble this Saturday at Alderman's Bar. Want to know all the details, stay up-to-date right here! Spring Stumble 2015...

This year's Stumble is free...but any donations will be gladly accepted for the Omaha Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Rusty Nail, Omaha -- REVISIT

14201 Pierce Plaza
Omaha NE 68144

When I first started to write what we'll loosely call "dive bar reviews" nearly five years ago, never did I assume that I'd still be writing them today. Which means, I never really put in any thought about what happens when some of these reviews begin to show signs of being out-of-date.

We meet again
Over the last five years any number of bars have come and gone, even more seemed to have changed owners (multiple times) and others have expanded or even changed names...right Crossbones Bar?

So, in my infinite "wisdom", I guess now is as good of a time as any to circle back to some of the earliest bars reviewed by HitThatDive to see if well...I guess to see if my snap judgement critiques of a bar still seem accurate half a decade later. And, where better to start than Omaha's Rusty Nail Pub!

I'll admit, in the early days of HitThatDive, I was downright brutal to a few places. But I don't think I was stretching the truth at all when I wrote about the Rusty Nail in 2010:

"Hello? Service?? Hey…look over here. I WANT A BEER. Please. Just one? It took nearly five minutes for the Baby Spice-looking bartender to be pulled away from doing absolutely nothing and take the required six steps to see if the person who walked into her bar a while ago just MAYBE wants something to drink."
Clean bar

And of course:

"Bad service, weird vibe and no drink specials to speak of…why in the world someone would come in here more than once is beyond me? I couldn’t even make a left out of the place to go West on Pacific (the way I wanted to go)…so that just added to the “I’m never coming back here again frustration”. Do not hit this dive! This place can easily be summed up by the writing on it’s own restroom wall “Here I sit all broken hearted…”
With that as your background...away we go!


PROS: Much improved drink specials. Lots of events listed of stuff going on during the week. 

CONS: Confusing service that can fluctuate widely in the course of an hour. 

NEW First Impressions: Well...looks...the same. Much like my first go-around, the place is eerily quiet even though there's a few people scattered around the bar. Keep in mind that this is a Saturday night around dinner time.

Unlike the first time here, I was greeted immediately by the owner with a hearty "Hello" so that was a nice change. This place still has a western-look...which I like, and is pretty much identically the same as it did the first time here. But it just always lacks a "fun vibe" to me for whatever reason? Your experience may be different.

Rumor is this place is haunted too. So, if that's the case, the ghost in here in not a party soul at all, unlike the spirit of "David" at The Village Bar that seems to encourage a big old party seven days a week....this spirt is far more...ummm...chill. Of note...this is all speculation on my part. So, who knows? Just a theory.

Big place!

The Bar: It's a big rectangle-shaped bar, and a huge room with tables and booths tucked away against the walls. In fact, I didn't even know there were people in a few of the booths...that's how hidden they are.  And that's not even counting the separate party room which occupies half of the rest of the building.

It's worth checking our their website to see what's going on any day of the week. That also saves me from listing it all here, I don't get paid to write this stuff!

In the course of an hour I made notes on the atmosphere that included everything from "This place is NOT the cure for boredom." To, "It's so quiet in here I just want to break into show tunes." But once a few people showed up I noted "there is suddenly signs of a pulse in here!" That of course was after someone finally dropped a few bucks in the jukebox.

The lack of "vibe"was part of my beef the first time here too, the only "entertainment"at this time of day is the radio, on Q98.5, and not even the sound from a few TVs playing sporting events.

Par-tay room

The Crowd: Here's where I see the largest change and a glimpse into that the fact that people are coming here and having fun... aka regulars! When I first sat down there were only five people, well that I could see not in booths, but about 30 minutes later that crowd nearly tripled and all seemed to know one another. Hell, even another regular called the bar just to say "hi" from out of state on a trip.

The fact that The Rusty Nail has some dedicated regulars says, to me anyway, that people willingly come back here because they feel they're treated fairly. Can't argue with people that willingly return to a bar...can you?

No one likes me

Service: This is where it gets OK then bad... then...well...gone. The bartender who first waited on me wasn't the same person that closed out my check...not sure whatever happened to the original one either? She just vanished.

They seem to employ some sort of odd "rotating-random" service that consists of a group of 3-4 women all huddled behind the bar and seemed to basically choose straws to see who was the bartender...who wants to wait tables...who wanted to run food from the kitchen...and who didn't want to do any given moment.

The people next to me were getting drinks from a different person than the person taking my orders...but both employees (and more) were working the fairly empty bar.

All but one of the four was more than friendly, although I never really had a conversation with any of the them. I did get a pleasant "Bless you" after I sneezed. So thank you!

Confused yet? I was!

Keno anyone?
I guess what adds to the general dull feel in here, from time to time, is that I watched the bartender/waitress brigade spend most of their time huddling behind the bar having their own private conversation. Also, a few oddly timed F-Bombs went ringing across the quiet bar for seemingly no good reason from the staff.

Not that I cared, but, if you're trying to attract new customers to be repeat customers, that may not be a good habit to practice too often. But I'm not a regular, so who knows...maybe it is.

But, my biggest beef with the service is that time after time, I saw customers greeted with "What can I get you? Cash or tab?" Now, if it's me bartending I'm throwing out a few "'s your day been?". Or, "First time here? Let me tell you about all of today's specials." Instead of just basically asking name, rank and serial number.

But, giving credit where it's earned, bartender Krystal was a shot in the arm of enthusiasm from the second that she walked in that the Rusty Nail could benefit from all day long from all  And also, thanks Krystal for your comments on the HitThatDive Facebook page!

Full menu

Prices: Thanks to the fact that it was still happy hour, even on a Saturday, I was paying $2.75 for a domestic pint...which is actually less than I paid here five years ago. What I do like about the drink specials here now is that they have a daily special that kicks in after happy hour there's always a decent drink price to be had.

Food:  They boast a pretty compete bar food menu, and I was lucky enough to be here for their "Prime Rib" night. For $12.99 I was able to get a thick slab of prime rib, salad and two sides...not too bad in my book.

Now, I'm not much of a prime rim aficionado (other than the one I make on Christmas) but it was good in my book. Of course lately, I'm on a bit of a diet and would have been happy with an old shoe at that point. Which reminds me of an old joke...what's the difference between Bea Arthur and and old shoe? Know the answer...send it to me on Twitter.

Good enough

Entertainment: Of course they have TVs and pool tables and the usual stuff. But they seem to have a packed calendar of events going on throughout the week blues jam, poker, karaoke, a psychic, local comedy...who knows...sounds like decent stuff...maybe I'm just never here at the best times?

Bartender Chat: This would be more like bartender eavesdropping. Again, I would say I had rude service (but that's not true), just nothing much to write about interaction-wise either.

I did have a short talk with whom I assume is the owner right as I was leaving, and he seemed like a good guy to me. But that was after I sat there for at least 8-10 minutes with an empty beer waiting to close out.  I'll never know where my first bartender vanished to...maybe this place really IS haunted?? Where's that psychic when I need her!

Restrooms:  Not bad, kind of hidden. First time here these were the highlight of my visit. This time around they didn't outshine the rest of the bar, but didn't make much of an impression one way or the other either.

How Far Did My $20 Go?: Well, over the course of an hour, I was there long enough to have a prime rib dinner and two beers brought my way for less than $20. I could have easily sucked down about eight beers, but like I said I'm on a bit of a diet, so maybe my original bartender/server vanishing was to my benefit.

Bar picture

Final Thoughts: Oh, you know...I hate to be too critical on this one. But the service IS confusing and just seems to literally vanish from time to time...that happened on my second trip here too as documented right here.

Ignoring customers to have an all-staff conversation, that lasts more than one minute, is enough to get employees canned from most bars.  Let alone a group huddle that continues over and over...maybe that was a fluke on this visit too...but a look at some of the comments on the HTD Facebook page seems to back up my observation.

Ultimately, it just might boil down to this spot is just not what I'm looking for in a "go to" bar. Which kind of sucks because it's not all that far from my house and is the only bar on Pacific Street between 180th and 120th. Again, I didn't hate it here by any means..and who knows...maybe the key is to show up more often to make friends with a few of the regulars so I don't get so bored...something that never happens at the bars I really love.

My advice...give it a shot. If you feel the same way I generally do when I leave here, then don't come back. Nothing I encountered here on this trip would keep me away from The Rusty Nail for good, yet I still struggle with why I personally would come here on a weekly basis.  But your experience may be vary, who knows?

Bartender/server Krystal pointed out on Facebook that this group of employees has stuck together through years of adversity, and that alone, is enough for me to be back again...hard to thumb your nose at people that are trying to earn your business, even if that doesn't always outwardly seem to be the case.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Register to be HitThatDive's Best Bar or Best Wings of 2015

In years past, I've tried any number of ways to pick the HitThatDive "Bar of the Year".  A few years ago, Jerry's Bar won by virtue of an online vote (back when Facebook allowed that function for fan pages).

The last two years I just decided to pick a bar I think is most deserving, based on a lot of factors, but mostly...does the bar try and make their surrounding community a better place? So, as many of you know (and have occasionally complained about) that honor has gone to The Village Bar...twice.

You'll get one of these

So, this year, I'm doing things a bit differently. ANY bar in the greater Omaha-Council Bluffs region is eligible to win....except The Village Bar...we will never have a back-to-back winner again.

In 2015, the Bar of the Year...and also Omaha's Best Wings...will be determined by a select committee of volunteers that will take an "oath" to find the best of the best when it comes to local bars...and the wings that they serve.

Of note, your bar doesn't need to serve food for bar of the year consideration, but it would be extremely helpful if your place served wings for the best wings category...

And...the bar of the year generally makes for a great local news this! HitThatDive Bar of the Year.

The winner keeps this for a year

How It Works

For the second year in a row, I'm a proud member of Mustaches for Kids -- Omaha. Last year, a dedicated group of "growers" (yep , that's what they call us) raised more than $250,000 for HETRA by doing nothing more than growing mustaches and asking for donations.  Simple, no?

In fact, in the six years Mustaches for Kids Omaha has been raising money, the fellas have collected donations of nearly $775,000...making it the largest operation of its kind anywhere in the country. 

This year, we're raising money for Ted E. Bear Hollow. If you don't know about Ted E. Bear Hollow they provide free grief support for kids, teens, adults and families...follow the link to read about all the amazing things they do all over Nebraska and Iowa...I'll wait. 

Hey, you're back! where do YOU or YOUR bar come factor in to all of this? Well, I need donations. want the accolades, positive news stories, and kick ass trophies that come with winning this year's award!   So what do you say we come up with a deal? 

  1. To be considered for 2015 Dive of the Year, or Omaha's Best Wings's going to cost you to enter....sort of.  For the mere price of a $100 donation (which goes directly to Ted E Bear Hollow and is 100% tax deductible) your bar (or wings) will now be on the HitThatDive review committee list. 
  2. Committee reviews will begin by June 10th, and will conclude no later than the final week of September 2015 (depending on how many bars participate.)
  3. Bars will be split into several categories so there's a chance to recognize several types of local dives...but there will only be one overall winner. 
  4. Wings will be judged in three categories and there will be three overall winners. Categories include "Best Traditional Buffalo Wings", "Best Omaha Wings"...aka char buffed and "Best traditional Wings" aka...teriyaki, garlic get the picture.    
  5. Every bar and wing joint that registers will receive a HitThatDive "Dive Bar Certified" or HitThatDive "Wing Certified" decal to proudly display on your front door.
What our committees look like

How To Register

As simple as a few clicks of your computer, smart phone or tablet. 

  1. Go to and click on the "Donate Now" button which takes you directly to the Ted E. Bear Hollow donation page. 
  2. Enter your amount and click the "Check Out" button. 
  3. Fill out your contact and credit/debit card information. 
  4. In the comments section please name your bar or restaurant and if you are entering in the "Dive of the Year category or the "Omaha's Best Wings category. 
  5. Lastly and most important. Where is says "Grower Name" just below the comments section enter the name "SCUBA STEVE". 
  6. Click the "Proceed" button and you are almost done!
  7. Expect two emails. One from Ted E. Bear Hollow acknowledging your donation. And one the following day from HitThatDive telling you how awesome you are...and with further information about what's going to happen from here. 
So, break those piggy banks, pass the hat, have a raffle...or just take $100 out of the drawer and get ready to be called Omaha's best dive bar/wings by people that actually know what the hell we're talking about!

Want to be a "committee member"? Look for how to sign up to be a member of one of HitThatDive's expert committees tomorrow! 

Questions...just send them to 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

HTD's Best Beard in Omaha and Calendar Pin-Up Contest

Do YOU have what it takes to be named Mr. or Mrs. HitThatDive? Full details, and sign-ups, will be ready to go on Friday...right here at!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Omaha Wing Challenge -- Pipeline Tavern

1300 South 72nd Street
Omaha NE 698124

I'll be fair to start this one off, I actually like the food at the Pipeline Tavern...but until last night I had never ordered the wings. Let's get to the moral of this entire story...if you're here on a Saturday...order the pretty awesome burger and fries for $5. Now, about these wings. Oy vey...where to begin?

Oh, I know, I'll start with something pleasant.  I was at the Pipeline in the first place to catch up with Bob Bruce to see how his colonoscopy went from a few days ago. Yeah...this is the pleasant part. For those that don't know...Bob Bruce and the BBRE can be heard Monday-Friday on the Mighty 1290 KOIL with yours truly joining the fun every Friday from 5-6. 

Keep in mind that I actually like this bar.

Now, let's review some wings. 

How It Works: Wings are rated in five categories for a total potential perfect score of 50. The current reigning champion (by virtue of a committee vote) is The Pheasant with a total score of 48. 

And, for shits and giggles (mostly to get the shits) the worst score has been the severed toe wings at LaVista Keno which flatlined at a 2. Just click right here to get the complete list of HitThatDive wings reviews. Even the ones that I'd rather not remember. 

First Impressions: I knew there was going to be a problem when, in a completely empty bar, an order of wings came out of the kitchen in less than 8ish minutes. Why is that a problem you ask? 

Well, I figured since the cook literally had nothing to do, it would have been the perfect time to throw some wings in a fryer and watch them sizzle for the appropriate amount of time of ...12 to 15 minutes. It would at least beat watching the paint in the kitchen dry. 

But son of a gun, here they are in the blink of an eye.  And at least from initial impression...they were indeed steaming hot. I just know that something seems "fishy" with these wings (and boy was I'll see why in just a bit). Something seemed off with the sauce too, but I think there's an actual section in the wing reviews that addresses that topic...but it's been awhile since I wrote one of these so I can't seen to remember. 

SCORE: 5 out of 10


Sauce: A ha! I do write about the sauce. I knew it!  You can order the wings here with three pretty bland-sounding sauces. The closest I assumed to Buffalo sauce said something to the effect of "Frank's Hot Sauce" as one of the I went with that. 

In something I had never seen before, it was like the wings were coated with Rain-X and the chicken literally seemed to be repelling the "sauce".  Which actually, was neither here nor there because so far the stuff masquerading at Frank's Hot Sauce is as uninspired as everything about this order of wings. In fact, the sauce was so bland and uninteresting I never even made a note about it. 

Since it practically was invisible, I'd like to make a suggestion to rename the stuff so they have their own signature wing flavor. So next time I order wings at the Pipeline, I would like to have the "Claude Rains Sauce" as one of my options. Ask for it by name. 

I'll have mine with an extra side of Claude, please
Score: 2 out of 10 

Crispy:  Here's my guess as to  how they could pump out an order of wings in eight minutes. These wings gave off a distinct baked flavor, so I'm guessing that they bake up a whole batch, keep them in the refrigerator and then wait for some unsuspecting sucker to order them.  

Once ordered, a few of the baked (and cold) wings get tossed into a fryer for a minute or so, then get slapped into a bowl with some Claude Rains sauce, hustled onto a plate and brought out faster than you can say "pass the Tums."  

Not only were they not crispy, in the least, they had the same slimy consistency of swallowing a raw oyster...remember I said something seemed a little fishy (ZING!). Not to mention that they were slightly undercooked and suddenly you have a rather unremarkable plate of $7.95 wings that there was no chance I was going to eat all of. 

It repels sauce

Score: 0 out of 10  

Size: This is a direct quote from the HTD Facebook page that I could not agree more with. "I can only imagine what they even did to make a chicken that big...I wouldn't eat if even if it were cooked properly."  And that's  the problem,  far too often anymore, bars are serving GIANT mutant wings and they have no idea how to cook them properly. 

When you take a nearly cooked pterodactyl wing, let it cool, and then toss it in they fryer for a bit, there is no chance that it's going to be remotely close to being cooked properly. It might technically be "done"...but this isn't horseshoes. Close does not come close to cutting it. 

I was not surprised in the least when I bit into one of the biggest of the Solomon Grundy-looking chicken toes to find that it was cold on the inside. Not frozen like some of the ones I've had recently...but still. Cold chicken that came to the bar with steam coming off of it?  How do you even pull that one off? Oh wait, I think I just did figure that out. 

Score: 3 out of 10

Oyster anyone?

Extras: Oh, you know, I have to immediately deduct five points for no celery. But other than that, I guess I don't have much to bitch about on this one. Extra napkins? Check. Not horrible blue cheese? Check. All the other food I've ever had here before. Usually great. So I'm not going to nit-pick too much here.

Score: 5 out of 10

Final Score: 15 out of 50

Stick to burgers

Every now and then I'll offer my suggestions on how to improve things in the places that I write about. And, I feel that I need to do that with the wings at the Pipeline. So here it goes...just take them off the menu! Please. 

Places that make great wings care about every aspect of the wings they serve to their customers. That clearly is not the case here. Wings are not a priority, and that's fine, focus on the food that you do make well and leave the wing making to to places that give a damn.  

That being said, I'll be back here soon (I'll never order the wings again) but the burgers are great and it's a fun bar to kickback in and have a few beers.  Just do us all a favor, get a Sharpie and cross any reference to your sad and uninteresting wings off them menu...the world will be a happier place when you do.