Early Bird: Loved by Many, But Maybe Not All

Martha’s Pick:

Early Bird
7775 Olson Drive, Papillion
Fare: Brunch
Cost: $60 for one appetizer and two meals
Reservations: They don’t accept reservations, but it’s highly recommended you “get in line” on their virtual waitlist.

Greetings, Eaters and Readers!

In an effort to maintain our regularly scheduled programming – i.e. not get 3 to 6 months behind on posting – we sometimes decide to capture random meals Jac and I have when we’re getting together outside of blog research. Our recent breakfast at Early Bird was one of those instances. Personally, I had been hoping to get to Early Bird for years. Every time I had tried to visit their original location in Blackstone, the line was out the door and the wait was 45-60 minutes.

When the Papillion location opened, I hoped my first Early Bird experience would soon follow. Delayed a bit by pandemic habits, I finally made the voyage over on a sunny February Saturday. Jaclyn had visited the Blackstone location before, but it had been more than a year since her last taste of Early Bird. I arrived a bit before she did, so I added our name to the Yelp-managed wait list. The Papillion location was bustling with steady breakfast traffic, but our 20-minute wait time went quickly. We sat down and started pouring over the large menu.

Hash Holes ($9.75) — Hash brown croquettes made with cheddar, smoked gouda and bacon. Served with ketchup & queso

I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to try the hash holes. Even without reading the delicious description, a friend had recommended them during a past trip to Des Moines. The friend was recommending Early Bird not knowing it was an Omaha original – never mind that I had yet to experience it. We didn’t end up going to EB on that trip, but her fondness for the hash holes stuck with me. I loved everything about these delish, crispy rounds. It’s everything you love about a hash brown casserole – rolled into a ball and deep fried.

El Gordo Morning Burrito ($17.50) — Flour tortilla stuffed with cheddar cheese, scrambled eggs, hash browns, black beans, house carnitas, topped with queso, avo crema and house salsa

At first, the price of the El Gordo almost made me pass on it and find something else. But I couldn’t ignore the drool-inducing list of ingredients. I also could feel myself filling up on the hash holes. I decided to order it with the intent of saving half for the next morning’s breakfast – which would have been a perfect idea had I not forgotten my to-go box on the table. But I don’t want to cry and type – so let’s move on.

The El Gordo is exactly what it should be with that name – a big, stuffed-full breakfast burrito. Smothered perfectly by drizzles of queso, avo crema and salsa – you’ll enjoy using the yummy sauces with each bite. There were generous portions of all ingredients – including the carnitas – so one can understand where the price adds up. The only thing wrong with my burrito? That I left about $8 worth on the table when I left. I’m still not over it …

Tree Hugger Omelet GF ($15) — Egg whites, grilled ‘shroom medley, red pepper and spinach. Served with hash browns and toast.

Jac’s eyes were all over the menu – hopping from sweet to savory. Landing on the Tree Hugger Omelet, she thought it’d be a nice, light option since she wasn’t feeling particularly starved.

Stuffed with red pepper, mushrooms and spinach, she expected her first bite to be packed with flavor. But … it wasn’t. In fact, Jac said it couldn’t have been more bland. If the veggies were sautéed in any sort of seasoning, she couldn’t tell. Adding salt and pepper helped a little, but not by much.

Foregoing the omelet after a few bites, she focused instead on the hash browns and hearty pieces of toast. Those filled her up, at least.

Final Bites

With three Omaha locations, and one West Des Moines location, Early Bird seems to be holding its own and doing well amongst the competition. Their expansive menu offers a blend of breakfast staples and imaginative, trendy brunch items.

Jac’s experience was unfortunately different than mine. Having felt the same about their Vegan Hash on a past visit, Early Bird fell short again. She thinks if she’d ordered something on the less healthy side, she’d have enjoyed her meal more. But if you’re going to get a fork up from her, you’ve got to be good at all of it – not just some.

Our rating on this one reflects our mixed experiences – I had a ‘fork up’ experience and Jac’s experience earns a fork sideways. All in, we would both go back to Early Bird if friends wanted to meet there – but it might not be at the top of the list if people asked us where the best breakfast spot is in Omaha.

The Good Bite Gals

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