After my visit to the Benson neighborhood [see blog post], I took a bus west for a lackluster perusal of the claustrophobic confines of Westroads Mall. Tiring after a long day so far, I took the bus downtown and cooled my heels at a favorite hangout of mine, the 13th Street Coffee & Tea Company in the Old Market, content to piddle a few hours sipping several iced decafs.
On my way back to the Megabus stop I popped into the Runza at 72nd & Pacific. Runza is a Lincoln, Nebraska based chain of fast-food restaurants offering a signature namesake sandwich – and one of my favorite guilty pleasures – a bread pocket filled with ground beef, onion, and cabbage.
Runza also serves up a fine burger in the opinion of guide blogger, Road Tips. On their recommendation, I passed on loading up on meat Twinkies and instead ordered a simple cheeseburger with a side of Frings – Runza's whimsical packaging of onion rings and fries together in one container. I've even knew some vegetarians who stopped at Runza just for the Frings.
I must admit, Runza does make a great fast-food burger. I got mine made to order with cheese, ketchup, mustard, and pickles. Anything more would be a distraction. Sure I like West Coast favorite In-N-Out for their famously tricked out burgers (if you know the not-so-secret menu) [see blog post], but when comparing the burger patty itself, Runza's offering is the superior.
As for the Frings, the onion rings were okay, but the perfectly browned crinkle cut fries were outstanding. Crisp and potatoey, they're as exemplary as the burger.
I couldn't visit a Runza without ordering a Runza sandwich. My particular favorite is the Swiss Mushroom, but now Runza offers up a variety of ingredients to trick out your sandwich. Going for one of the suggested builds on the menu, I was drawn to the Southwest with cheddar, jalapeño ranch, salsa, taco seasoning, and tortilla strips.
It's a surprisingly tasty sandwich, but going for all the accoutrements seems to defeat the simplicity and familiar flavors that makes the Runza sandwich so popular. Popular enough that travelers passing through routinely order sacks of frozen Runzas to take home and enjoy. I know I've hauled home around six-dozen or so over the years.
Afterward, the Russell Stover Candies outlet nearby piqued my interest, but they were closed for the day. I would say I had a restful ride back home on the Megabus, but the overhead green lights left on made sleep difficult, along with some guy across the aisle with the loudest clicking cell phone keypad I ever heard.