Presidents Of The 100 Block
It’s not often that a brief history lesson accompanies a restaurant review, but in the case of
Lincoln’s Pub, opened by Jon Nelson and Ryan Mann in the former Dixie Quicks location in the historic 100 Block of Council Bluffs, it is almost impossible to ignore.
Abraham Lincoln’s ties to Council Bluffs are well documented following his visit to the town in 1859, one year prior to being elected President. Lincoln arrived via steamboat up the Missouri River and during his 4-day and 3-night stay, he met with railroad engineer Grenville Dodge seeking his council on the best route for his vision of the railroad, and the rest, as they say, is history. Lincoln’s Pub, at 157 West Broadway, is located directly down the hill from Council Bluffs’ Lincoln Monument, marking the spot high above the river valley where Lincoln and Dodge surveyed and visually mapped out the route of what would become the Transcontinental Railroad.
With its exposed brick and concrete, eclectic décor and terrific lighting, Lincoln’s Pub has a warm, industrial feel with subtle nods to the city’s railroading history and of course, Abraham Lincoln, whose visit here160 years ago set forward the destiny of Council Bluffs, Omaha, the state of Nebraska, and the entire nation. For those who had visited Dixie Quicks, you may notice that much of the décor and ambiance is the same, and the prominently displayed drink menu board, not only features an impressive array of wines, craft beers, and signature cocktails but at the top is written: “In Loving Memory – Rene Orduna” in honor of the late Dixie Quicks co-owner, who passed away in 2016. Rene’s husband, Rob Gilmer, closed the restaurant in January of 2018, and Lincoln’s Pub opened later that same year.
After having been long-time patrons of the former restaurant and already in love with the space, “It was simply too hard to pass up the opportunity to bring something different and creative to the town and showcase its history” said Nelson, when describing he and Mann’s decision to move forward with their vision. “We knew that we had big shoes to fill” he added.
The Pub boasts a terrific brunch menu with a unique variety of choices that include traditional choices such as Biscuits and Gravy, Chicken and Waffles, Pancakes, and a Classic Breakfast offering. Don’t be mistaken, however, Lincolns Pub is far more than a brunch stop. This is a full feature gem with an extensive menu that you won’t want to miss and we are sure you’ll return over and over, each time walking away with a new favorite. The menu is loaded with appetizers, soups, handhelds, and entrees that include a wide variety including a Putanseca, Blackened Chicken, Fish, and Chips, or Butcher’s Ragu. You can also order up favorites such as the Fried Catfish or Steak Frites. Also featured are Dry Aged Steaks and Chops, locally sourced from Jon’s Naturals, Nelson’s custom butcher shop in nearby McClelland, Ia, where the raising and processing of all animals using the highest standards and most humane practices are paramount. The menu features a Tomahawk Chop with a honey mustard glaze as well as a Wagyu Ribeye.
“We take pride in providing proteins that have been locally sourced, without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones. We believe in traceability and accountability, so we can ensure that each animal has been treated with respect from farm to table”. – Jon’s Naturals
On our recent lunch visit, we had the opportunity to taste first-hand, some of that locally sourced beef, including a patty melt and one of the specials of the day, the Wagyu beef burger, topped with braised pork, pickled jalapenos, and white cheddar on a perfectly toasted bun and dressed with garlic mayonnaise. The burger tasted as good as it looked, and the juicy tenderness of the Wagyu was unmistakable. The side of clean and crisp, skin-on, traditionally cut fries, along with a chocolate milkshake made this classic American lunch favorite an indulgent treat.
We found our experience to be so exceptional, we went back again after being alerted that the latest menu item had gone live. Nelson and the crew are proud to be rolling out authentic wood-fired pizza, which is also offered at their new adjoining Jefferson’s Lounge. Jefferson’s Lounge opened this fall and is worthy of another article in its own right, but for this visit, we were all about the world-class Mugnaini wood-fired pizza oven, which is masterfully presented in what can only be assumed is the coolest pizza kitchen you’ll ever see. Patrons of the Pub can’t miss the Pizza Grotto, as it’s called, which when viewed from any seat in the restaurant may make you forget you’re in the States, let alone the metro area. This place is a must-stop for any foodie, and we’re certain that it won’t be your last.
The Mugnaini has been well seasoned, fired up, and pumping out hundreds of some of the most amazing wood-fire pizza you will get your mitts on. “We are excited to have Pizza Chef, Seth Lacey, on board. He’s one the best Pizza Chefs around.” Nelson said. Based on the incredible pies that we had presented to us on our recent stop, it’s clear that Chef Lacey at the top of his game. “We are able to build some amazing combinations around quality ingredients that include the locally sourced meats from Jon’s Naturals” Lacey stated. With standard pizzas which include classic Marinara, Burger, Margherita, Three Meat, New York, and Veggie, you can be assured that the industry’s most quality ingredients along with Lacey’s flair for the exceptional, make these creations far more than standard. If you want to step off-menu, build your own with the You Pick’Em option, but you can also count on some incredibly creative specialty pizzas rolled out as daily specials. This is where the artful combinations and stellar ingredients meet the wood-fired oven for a memorable pizza experience.
We ordered up the daily special on our visit, and Geré brought us some amazing looking pizzas, including the Braised Pork, featuring a blueberry/habañero bbq sauce, pineapple, onion, pickled jalapeño, smoked ricotta, pecorino cheese and topped with fresh cilantro. The sweet zip of the sauce, paired with the perfectly balanced ingredients, complimented the braised pork beautifully. All of which, of course, was set off by the delectable wood-fired crust. A definite home run for any pizza lover, particularly those looking for a unique dish.
The Omaha Food Magazine Crew also ordered up the oil Margherita, which was bursting with classic flavor, courtesy of the fresh mozzarella and aromatic basil. The New York was also a major hit, which is the Pub’s take on a classic Rueben, featuring delightfully cut pastrami, fresh kraut, 1000 Island, mustard aioli, and mozzarella. Definitely a new favorite. We can go on and on about the premier ingredients, locally sourced proteins, and creative flavor combinations, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t shine a spotlight on the crust. The wood-fired crust is a superb balance of crispiness and light airiness and is so terrific that it stands on its own as an appetizer. The tasty Dough Balls come in a choice of seasoning and are a savory treat along with the marinara.
The addition of authentic wood-fired pizza adds to the wonderful family atmosphere of Lincoln’s Pub. Many readers may recall the days of local pizza joints tossing dough, spreading sauce, and laying out toppings as you watched and anxiously waited. If you like that sort of action, the visual of the Pizza Grotto at Lincoln’s Pub may just be your jam. It is as beautifully presented as it is functional, and an experience in itself. A second Mugnaini is also featured on one of the most unique food trucks you may ever see, to include a pizza oven and log rack on a classic 1973 Loadstar International. The Loadstar Pizza Truck will provide that same amazing pizza and a unique experience for your next house party or event, delivered only as it can be by the folks behind Lincoln’s Pub and Jefferson’s Lounge.
Jefferson’s Lounge and Lincoln’s Pub are connected by the entryway and are two distinctly different establishments, yet they share the same warm and inviting industrial vibe. While Lincoln’s Pub us a full-service restaurant, Jefferson’s Lounge opened in the fall of 2019 and is a cool fusion of cocktail lounge and sports bar, where you can enjoy a variety of amazing craft cocktails while also hanging out and watching a game or playing shuffleboard or pool. On this particular day, we were treated to a distinctively delicious New York Sour with a twist. Our Bartender, Taylor, whipped up a handsome and tasty blend of whiskey, lime juice, and an egg white shaken and poured over hand-crushed ice, topped with a red wine drizzle and a Bing cherry. If you’re not already aware, take note; Along with the Old Market, Midtown Crossing, Benson, Blackstone or Farnam Hill, the 100 Block in CB is becoming known as a hot-spot for those looking for a fantastic night out and for foodies alike, and Lincoln’s Pub and Jefferson’s Lounge are must-stops.
Owners Jon Nelson and Ryan Mann couldn’t be more thrilled to be bringing something unique and exciting, not only to Council Bluffs but to the entire Omaha, Metro area. “Council Bluffs is such a beautiful town with a rich history, and we want to be the best community member we can,” Nelson added. If our recent visits are any indication, they are already well on their way, and both Lincoln’s Pub and Jefferson’s Lounge should be on anyone’s list to visit. Whether you are simply looking for something fun and unique, or a diehard foodie, this is a stop you will definitely want to make and we’re sure it won’t be your only visit. The Omaha Food Magazine crew is already eager for our next trip across the river.
Location of Lincoln’s Pub
Address: 157 W Broadway, Council Bluffs, IA 51503