Omaha, Nebraska: King of Dive Bars?

This is part of the #WinosOnTheRoad trip series with Diana of D Travels ‘Round as we drive across country to start her new chapter in life.

Dive Bars: Omaha, Nebraska 3

“I think this looks like the right place. Looks dive bar-y enough to be it for sure.”

We walked into The Brothers with confidence. It was going to be a good night.

Dim lights: Check
Cheap booze: Check
Pool table: Check

While it was a little cleaner than I thought it would be, that doesn’t negate the fact that we were heading into some serious dive bars for the night.

Dive Bars: Omaha, Nebraska

We could smell the smoke permeated furniture from decades of smoky evenings long after the smoking ban went into effect in Omaha. The pinball machine could be heard pinging softly in the back.

This is my kind of bar.

With my $1.75 pint of PBR in hand Diana and I waited for Kim Reid Kuhn and Sarah Rowe to meet up with us on the start of our Dive Bars tour of Omaha, Nebraska.

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Seriously though, if you want to get the personality of a place, it should be a priority on your list. Sure we could have gone to a swanky bar downtown – but why when you have the opportunity to explore the “real” Omaha?

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Kim and Sarah with the owner of The Brothers (another artist in Omaha to boot!).


After a couple beers we moved on to Bud Olson Bar… also known as the bar where old men and prostitutes go to die. I like to think of it as a glorified elephant graveyard filled with beer, cat urine smells, cake on the ceiling (ask Sarah about her birthday…) and a replica of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte?

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Dive Bars: Omaha, Nebraska 9

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A quick round of drinks kept us on our feet and did I mention that Diana likes Jager? Yeah. It was one of THOSE nights. She was very excited about $3 shots and I decided to participate in her glee… you know, for solidarity or something.

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Our night ended at their “Cheers” – Oleaver’s Pub.

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This is a place I could call home. Somehow I found a perfect mix of the tattooed community and a dive bar that made me feel like I was right home at the old golden days of the Jackalope back home in Austin. Great music, random decorations, and hell, my bartender Landon even modeled for the “Men of Oleaver’s” in a calendar.

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Rawr! Sexy.

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The night ended in a blur. Honestly, I was totally taking advantage of Diana being my designated driver. I was hammered and having the time of my life.

Hugs were exchanged and almost tearful goodbyes were shared. Everything ended a bit too fast.

The owner of the bar, with a flash of a grin, handed us a handful of random items to remember the night by. Last year’s employee stockings, a orange vinyl record, a screen printed poster for a random show and a bottle of lighter fluid (which we did have to pass on seeing as we still had quite the drive ahead of us) fell into our laps as we scooted out the door.

Honestly I couldn’t have asked for a better night. Serendipity at its best.

Thank you Omaha for leaving such an impression on me. I will not forget this.


28 Responses to “Omaha, Nebraska: King of Dive Bars?”

  1. Waegook Tom July 18, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    “Where old men and prostitutes go to die” hahaha! That does sound strangely appealing. Some morbid people watching to be had!

    I don’t necessarily need the pool table, but cheap drinks, dim lights and a pinball machine? Yes please! You and D have all but convinced me to visit Omaha next year now 🙂

    • Erica July 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

      Woop woop! I would love to see your take on it! 😀

  2. Diana Edelman July 18, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    Aww … miss this!

    • Erica July 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

      One day when we make it out to SEA, we can go to all the dive bars we can!

  3. Steve Kimmons July 18, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    I lived in Omaha from 1984 to 1986, and dated Bud’s daughter Liz. She definitely was “the one that got away”! Last time I saw her was at Bud’s in 1988. She broke my heart then, and I still miss her now!

    • Erica July 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

      Steve – this is the greatest comment ever. Seriously. Thank you for sharing your history with us. How awesome!

  4. Christy @ Technosyncratic July 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Wait, Diana was the designated driver? What about all those Jager shots?!

    • Erica July 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

      We only took one and she was sipping on beers extremely slowly for the rest of the night! No worries!

  5. Bret @ Green Global Travel July 18, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    If you guys dig dive bars, you should totally come to Atlanta. Between Little 5 Points and East Atlanta Village, you’d be bar-hopping for a week!

    • Erica July 21, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

      Diana used to live in Atlanta and would talk about the dive bars there! Sounds AWESOME!

  6. Ali July 19, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    Definitely looks like an interesting place, never would’ve guess this existed in Omaha! And I’ll second what Brett said about Atlanta’s dive bars in those neighborhoods, put it on your next road trip!

    • Erica July 21, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

      Why do so many people know about Atlanta?!

      • Ali July 22, 2012 at 7:19 am #

        Bret lives somewhere in the Atlanta area and I lived there for 16 years until I moved to Germany 🙂

  7. Adam July 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Dive bars are the best – you meet some really fascinating people in them. I used to go to one every week when living in Boston – felt pretty cool to just be a regular at a dive bar!

    • Erica July 21, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

      I’ll bug you about Berlin’s dive bar scene when we’re there this October! I love my dive bar. It is the greatest.

      • Adam July 22, 2012 at 6:24 am #

        Oh man! So exciting. I know the perfect place for you 🙂

  8. Tricia (Geeky Explorers) July 19, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    So, Omaha has been on my list anyway for awhile…adding dive bars just makes it more attractive!

    • Erica July 21, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

      Awesome! What made Omaha be on your list?

  9. Greg July 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Wait, you forgot the most important part of the great bar checklist:

    Foosball table

    Dude, seriously, you walk into a bar and there’s a foosball table you might as well hand over your wallet cuz that puppy is going home empty.

    • Erica July 21, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

      I get really pissy about foosball because I suck at it pretty obscenely. I play Shaun and I think he takes pity on me.

  10. Margyle July 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Amazing. Is it wrong that I kind of want to visit these bars? lol

    • Erica July 21, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

      No way! We were SO excited to be there. They should be enjoyed by SOMEONE!

  11. Stephanie - The Travel Chica July 22, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Now I MUST go!

  12. Hogga July 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    The only bars for me are dive bars… it’s where I feel the most at home lol

    • Erica July 31, 2012 at 11:58 am #

      Well then… LETS DO THIS.

  13. Elizabeth August 4, 2012 at 12:42 am #

    Thank you! I grew up in Omaha and remember vividly going to O’Leaver’s. It is the perfect type of bar, the type that makes “normal” folk wrinkle their nose in confusion. With so much of the city moving westward, I was so happy to see all your photos of the real Omaha, the downtown and Saddle Creek area, which is the last stronghold against the strip mall mania happening out west. Makes my husband and I want to head home for a visit!

    The best part of Omaha: the dive bar scene is beloved and seemingly endless. You could have spent weeks and not hit them all!

    • Erica August 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      AWWWW! I love hearing from people who have had the joy of experiencing the wonderfulness of our adventures. Seriously – I LOVE THAT BAR.

      We are going through the same growing pains in Austin so I completely understand how important it is to see authentic. 😀

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