Historic Haymarket District
With tastes of flavored licorice, homemade ice cream and locally made wine, guests can immerse themselves in part of Lincoln’s thriving culinary scene. The Historic Haymarket District houses dozens of local restaurants and shops that reflect the authentic flavors of the area.
“The Haymarket District was originally a warehouse district where farmers could go and sell their produce,” said Meyer. “It’s been restored, and now it is a booming area with a lot of restaurants, attractions and shopping areas. In 2013, we expanded on to the district to add an entertainment district.”
Volunteers give walking tours of the district to help participants picture the area as a produce market in the late 1800s. When the city adopted a redevelopment plan for the area in 1984, workers transformed the largely vacant, crumbling 1920s buildings into a vibrant part of downtown Lincoln.
Groups can easily spend an afternoon touring the district’s interesting shops, such as Licorice International, which boasts the largest selection of licorice in the United States. Other popular stops include old-fashioned ice cream tastings at Ivanna Cone and wine tastings at the From Nebraska Gift Shop.
For dinner, groups can choose from a variety of restaurants, or they can arrange a progressive dinner with a cocktail, a main course and a dessert, each at a different venue.
Prairie Plate Restaurant
Many foodies seek restaurants that source local food. However, few restaurants can boast food sourced from only a few yards away. The Prairie Plate Restaurant serves meals to diners using what they call a “farm-to-the-kitchen-to-the-table” approach.
Owners Jerry and Renee Cornett first opened Lakehouse Farm, a certified organic farm just outside Lincoln in 2011. In 2014, they opened the Prairie Plate Restaurant, which features a seasonal menu to ensure that 85 percent of the vegetables offered come from the attached 40-acre farm.
Both Jerry and Renee spent time working for and traveling with the U.S. Navy, which exposed them to many cultures that use flavors from their native environments, such as fresh mangos in Indonesia and local wines in Tuscany.
The Cornetts applied the concept to their farm and restaurant. During a group visit, the owners can also share their sustainable farming techniques, such as drip irrigation, covered crops, contour farming and crop rotation. They also compost kitchen scraps from the restaurant to mix into their soil.
Items the couple doesn’t produce — namely, meat, dairy and grains — come from local farmers and suppliers. The restaurant sits in a former farmhouse renovated by the couple.
“A group of 50 can take over the restaurant and have an intimate experience with the chef and owners,” said Meyer. “It’s a peaceful experience. The restaurant overlooks a lake on a prairie.”