By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald correspondent
Published in the Omaha World-Herald, July 13, 2017
Choo Choo Bar and Grill
Where: 14240 U St.
Bar hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday
Grill Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
Information: www.choochoobarandgrill.com or 402-895-6617
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Choo Choo Bar and Grill isn’t an upscale cocktail bar. It’s not a sophisticated gourmet restaurant.
This is a bar and grill exactly as advertised. There are no artisanal drinks or foods you can’t pronounce. There are no pretentions or attempts at fanciness.
Choo Choo is a casual, neighborhood bar — which is exactly what it’s supposed to be.
It has everything you’d expect from your local watering hole: stiff drinks, cheap food, plenty of regulars, and all the usual bar and grill entertainment options, including Keno and plenty of televisions.
The drink menu is populated with the bar and grill classics — domestic beers like Budweiser, Coors and Miller.
When we visited, Choo Choo was also offering five specialty drinks: a Southern Peach Cooler; Rye Mule; Irish Mule; a J.O.G. with Jagermeister, orange juice, ginger ale and orange wedges; and a Sidecar, made with cognac, triple sec and lemon.
Ordinarily I would have opted for the Irish Mule or the Rye Mule, variations on the classic Moscow Mule which features vodka, ginger beer and lime. In the Irish Mule, Choo Choo swaps out the vodka for whiskey and in the Rye Mule, they, predictably, swap out the vodka for rye.
Unfortunately, the day I visited Choo Choo was out of ginger beer — a vital component in the mules, so I got a Southern Peach Cooler instead. The Southern Peach Cooler features Maker’s Mark, peach schnapps, sweet and sour, orange juice and lemon-lime soda. Be warned, it umm, packs a wallop.
They do not skimp on the alcohol here. For me, the alcohol taste was a bit strong, but for others it may be just right. The peach flavor was present, though not overwhelming, which was nice.
Choo Choo also has a selection of Red Bull cocktails on special which feature the energy drink’s new Orange and Yellow editions. The Orange Edition tastes like tangerine. The Yellow Edition has tropical flavors.
I opted to skip the Red Bull offerings and went straight for the food. Choo Choo has all of the pub grub you’d expect from a bar and grill: appetizers, soups, salads, wings, burgers, wraps, sandwiches and pizza.
Most of the food is less than $10, with the exceptions of the larger, specialty pizzas that still come in at less than $20.
My drinking buddies and I tried food from across the board — mainly sandwiches and wraps, and all of it was pretty good. The accompanying fries though, were great. Of the three varieties of crinkle cut, waffle and natural cut — both the waffle and natural cut fries were perfectly crispy.
If you’re looking for entertainment with your eats, Choo Choo offers karaoke on Friday nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Texas Hold’em poker on Monday nights starting at 6:30 p.m.
So, if this sounds like what you’re looking for in your neighborhood pub, you may want to climb aboard the Choo Choo train. (Yeah, I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I had to use a train pun. I just had to.)