Food Review: Saints Pub + Patio not just for sports fans -
go logo
article photo
article photo
article photo
The cheeseburger is topped with a choice of cheeses.(JAMES R. BURNETT / THE WORLD-HERALD)
article photo
Danielle Hrabik and Chris Spurgeon enjoy a late lunch on the patio. General manager Brittany O’Dell says Saints Pub chose its atmosphere deliberately. "We knew in Midtown Crossing — it’s a very nice development — we’d want to be a little nicer to fit in."(JAMES R. BURNETT / THE WORLD-HERALD)

Food Review: Saints Pub + Patio not just for sports fans
By Jeff Peterson / World-Herald correspondent

Many Omaha sports bars, to offer casual comfort and familiarity, turn to convention.

Think menus filled with standard wings, burgers and nachos with packaged chips and cheese accompanying nearly frozen pitchers of beer. Gigantic television sets chockablock with Tommie Frazier replica jerseys. Tables for the hungry, thirsty sports fiend needing a respite full of like-minded fanatics.

As a sports junkie who has been in their shoes, I know it can be difficult to distinguish one sports bar from another.

That's probably why on two recent visits to Saints Pub + Patio, a regional chain founded in Des Moines, I was excited to find a sports bar working to distinguish itself. The atmosphere focuses on sports but doesn't alienate the diner who isn't, and the menu features mostly successful and thoughtful takes on bar food.

The restaurant, which opened last summer, is in Midtown Crossing in the spot formerly occupied by Parliament Pub.

Saints Pub + Patio

Address: 120 S. 31st Midtown Crossing

Phone: 402-932-1911


Hours: Open daily 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Saints has about 15 beers on tap and a drinks and cocktails menu.

The restaurant runs happy hours daily. On Sunday, you can buy $4 Bloody Marys all day. On weekends, wings are 75 cents each. On Wednesday, bottles of wine are half price.

There are other locations in Iowa and Kansas.

The Midtown Crossing Saints has a patio that can accommodate groups and offers a view of downtown Omaha.

I stopped in with my family for a weekend lunch. There were no noteworthy sporting events on television, so there were plenty of open tables.

With more than 25 strategically placed, high-definition TVs, it was not hard to envision a packed college football Saturday. Though there's sports on the televisions, there's no sports memorabilia on the walls.

General manager Brittany O'Dell said that's a deliberate choice.

“We knew in Midtown Crossing — it's a very nice development — we'd want to be a little nicer to fit in,” O'Dell said. “Someplace where you could have a beer and watch the game, go to happy hour or bring in a date on Friday night.”

We started with the Pepper Jack bites, $6.99, Saints' take on a cheese curd, served with a homemade spicy ranch dressing. I enjoyed the light, crisp breading, which kitchen manager Mike Hullett later told me is made with panko bread crumbs, buttermilk, flour and ranch seasoning. The breading allowed the perfectly melted, spicy pepper Jack cheese to shine. A thicker breading may have overwhelmed the filling.

I ordered the crab cake burger, $10.99, with a side of sweet potato tots. The burger was huge — six ounces of the restaurant's from-scratch crab cake mixture on an oversized bun. While I appreciated the flavors of the crab meat, chipotle ranch slaw and roasted red peppers, the cake fell apart after a few bites.

Hullett told me that using so much meat makes consistency a challenge, and they are working on the right mixture.

The sweet potato tots were well-executed, hot and crisp with a soft inside. O'Dell said the tots show how the restaurant aims to be a bit more creative than a typical sports bar.

My wife and son split the barbecue chicken pizza, $12.99. The thick 14-inch pie could feed at least three adults.

Hullett said the restaurant experimented with crusts. While it is not quite Chicago-style deep dish, it is thicker than what is commonly found in Omaha, he said.

What I appreciated was the fresh, not frozen, diced chicken paired with tangy Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce and fresh cilantro on top.

Service was attentive without being intrusive on both visits, and wait times for food were in line with my expectations: about 10 minutes for appetizers and 15 to 18 minutes for entrees.

I returned for a weekday lunch with a friend and found a brisk crowd. We sampled more signature dishes: two appetizers too big to finish.

The Saints nachos, $10.99, feature a bed of waffle fries topped with pork, chicken or ground beef and a mountain of the usual toppings, including onions, jalapeńos, queso, sour cream and olives.

Nachos with waffle fries tend to become soggy under the cheese and toppings. But the thick and crispy Saints fries maintained their consistency.

“It's all about the ratio of ingredients to fries,” Hullett said.

The creamy and authentically spicy house-made queso stood out, too, instantly distinguishable from canned, processed nacho cheese.

We also tried the blue cheese chips, $5.99, a pile of russet potato chips fried in-house and topped with house-cut bacon, green onion and blue cheese crumbles and dressing.

As an enthusiast of all things blue cheese, I thought this would be my favorite dish on the menu. The chips were crispy and salty and the toppings good. But the dressing should have been warmer.

I also tried the juicy mushroom Swiss burger, $9.99. It combined a fresh, hand-pattied half pound of ground beef with sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese with A1 steak sauce on the side. The burger was cooked to a perfect medium. I could have eaten it without the steak sauce, though it contrasted nicely with the buttery mushrooms and sharp Swiss cheese.

The unexpected highlight of an overall good meal: my companion's fish tacos, $10.99. Hullett said the soft and spicy blackened tilapia tacos are popular. The fresh corn salsa and citrus aioli kept the dish lighter than anything else we sampled. And the large portion was balanced between spicy and refreshing without being overly rich.

By offering original, from-scratch takes on classic sports bar fare that make it stand out, Saints Pub + Patio likely will be busy whenever there's a game on — and maybe even when there isn't.

Contact the Omaha World-Herald newsroom

Copyright ©2014 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

Latest Stories

A saliva-inducing look at M's Pub's new happy hour
A saliva-inducing look at M's Pub's new happy hour

The downtown staple recently introduced a happy hour. And its menu's pretty amazing.

Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita
Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita

Chef Jose Dionicio has wisely refocused Taita on sushi, and the well-crafted small bites of fresh fish I tasted from his one-man sushi bar are delectable.

New Benson BBQ restaurant opens next week
New Benson BBQ restaurant opens next week

Fusion BBQ, at 7024 Maple St., focuses on American style barbecue cooking melded with international cuisines.

Nebraska's best burger determined by folks who know about this kind of thing
Nebraska's best burger determined by folks who know about this kind of thing

The Nebraska Beef Council announced the winner of its Nebraska's Best Burger contest.

Rockbrook Village restaurant Taste has a new chef
Rockbrook Village restaurant Taste has a new chef

Ryan Devitt will come to the restaurant as both a chef and partner to focus on farm-to-table style cuisine.

Over Easy will host a west Omaha block party
Over Easy will host a west Omaha block party

Over Easy is playing host to a west Omaha block party this summer.

Movie review: 'Transcendence' ends up quite ordinary
Movie review: 'Transcendence' ends up quite ordinary

“Transcendence,” a sci-fi thriller about an attempt to meld the human mind with technology, falls far short of transcendence. So far short I had to fight off sleep.

Dining notes: Dario’s has a new spring menu

Dario’s Brasserie in Dundee has a new spring menu, a new brunch menu and late night vittles.

Movie review: 'Bears' is cute — and so much more
Movie review: 'Bears' is cute — and so much more

"Bears" is exactly the sort of nature documentary we’ve come to expect from Disneynature, which rolls out a new nature documentary every year at Earth Day.

Movie review: 'Under the Skin's' sure to get under yours
Movie review: 'Under the Skin's' sure to get under yours

Quiet, cryptic and never less than creepy, here's a sci-fi that doesn't do the work for you. No character rattles off a paragraph or three of exposition and back story.

Movies Opening this week

Movie showtimes and theater listings

Read this!


Tonight in Prime Time
© 2014 Omaha World-Herald. All rights reserved