Insomnia plagued me the night before my second day trip to Omaha in as many months [see blog post]. I got about four solid hours of sleep before I woke up for good, beating the alarm clock by 45 minutes. As for Megabus, it left from Des Moines nearly a half-hour late. After the break of dawn, the day started off with a rainbow. A good sign.
Arriving at the Omaha Megabus stop on 72nd just north of Dodge, I steeled myself for a two-mile walk for breakfast at Leo's Diner in the Benson neighborhood. A hat clamp I fashioned onto my shoulder bag worked like a charm; my hat beat a soft tattoo as it swung across my lower back. While walking down the street of an upper middle-class neighborhood, a group of children yelled out, "¡Hola!" I was rather pleased.
Now north of Western Ave., walking up 61st, the rolling landscape changed over to a comfortable working-class neighborhood populated with tidy little homes of varying styles. Upon entering Leo's Diner on Maple Street, I perused the day's specials. Intrigued, I ordered the Sicilian Island.
A little backstory: Leo's offers up hash browns, topped with a split biscuit covered in country gravy and two eggs cooked to order, calling it the Original Island. Not content to leave perfection alone, Leo's also offers the Fantasy Island, further accentuating an Original Island with bacon, sausage, ham, green pepper, onion, and tomato. Daily Island specials are also available, such as the Husker Island with steak, ground beef, corn, and tomato; the Pelini Island – a Husker with sriracha; the Josh Island with turkey, bacon, ham, hollandaise, and cheddar; the Digger Island – a Fantasy Island with jalapeño and cheddar; the South Padre Island with chorizo, jalapeño, tomato, and cheddar; and the Amsterdam Island with corned beef hash, green pepper, green chiles, and cheddar.
On this day housemade Italian sausage influenced the daily specials, with an Italian Scramble, an Italy Skillet, and the Sicilian Island, an Original Island with Italian sausage plus tomato, mushroom, black olive, and mozzarella. Biscuits atop hash browns make for a hearty foundation, but its the spicy Italian sausage with the smooth pairing of country gravy and melted mozzarella that makes the dish exemplary.
On a previous visit, another kind of daily special lured me into its spell – the Bac' Mother, i.e., bacon & M&M's pancakes. These plate-sized pancakes were delicious. Sweet and savory, I passed on syrup.
Foolishly I had ordered optional sides which were another meal unto themselves: two eggs, hash browns, a large sausage patty, and a Rotella English muffin. You don't go hungry at Leo's Diner. Not by a long shot.