These are the top five restaurants/bakeries that top my best-of list for 2012.
Please note this is NOT a list of favorite restaurants, but a list of NEW favorites that Ground Zero visited in 2011.
I also revisited several places that have been among my favorites before, including Phat Jack’s, Yia Yia’s, Venue and jtk.
Eateries were evaluated on food quality, service and presentation.
1. Issara (reviewed Oct. 19) -- The Blue Orchid owners opened a second restaurant in southwest Lincoln featuring a mix of Blue Orchid favorites and pan-Asian cuisine. The restaurant excels at seafood (scallops, halibut and more) as well as ambiance and service. The upscale eatery is a very welcome addition to the Lincoln dining scene.
2. Honest Abe’s Burgers and Freedom (Aug. 10) -- The owners of the GUP Kitchen foodtruck opened this restaurant in the Meadowlane shopping center specializing in gourmet hamburgers and hand-cut “freedom” fries. The burgers are among the best in town -- 5-ounce, hand-formed patties heaped with a variety of delicious toppings.
3. The Pho Factory (Nov. 16) -- The Vietnamese restaurant is part of the new Saigon Plaza on North 27th Street and specializes in pho, a rice noodle soup that is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine. The menu also features rice platters, noodle bowls, clay pots and stir-fry as well as some of the best appetizers around.
4. Single Barrel (Sept. 7) -- The chophouse features cuts of dry- and wet-aged steak (porterhouse, ribeye, filet mignon, bone-in KC strip and flat iron) as well as Nebraska-raised buffalo, pork, chicken and fish caught within the state’s borders.
5. Butterfly Bakery (March 30) -- Amid the industrial tract on West O Street sits Linda Hudson’s gem of a bakery. She has a variety of breakfast goodies (cinnamon rolls, danishes, scones, muffins, etc.) to go along with her delicious, moist cupcakes and bite-size pastries, such as fruit-filled tarts.