• McKinney's Irish Pub
    McKinney's Irish Pub

    This Americanized Irish pub is an offshoot of a pub started in Lincoln. It might look like your average sports bar, but the food is decidedly continental.

  • Kinkaider Brewing Co.
    Kinkaider Brewing Co.

    The second restaurant offering out of the Broken Bow, Nebraska-based brewery, Kinkaider is quickly becoming one of Grand Islands’ favorite places to eat and drink.

  • The Chicken Coop
    The Chicken Coop

    If the Chicken Coop had a flaw, it would be that too many people like to eat here. It’s one of the biggest eateries on our list, and yet is somehow always full.

My five favorite

by Leah Wissmann

If you find yourself in Grand Island, Nebraska, for a conference or competition, and you need a place to unwind, be sure to dine and drink like a local.

You want a joint with great service and a relaxed atmosphere. You want the best hot food without overpaying. You want fun and original drink options. Gather your crew around you and check out the top five (in our opinion) restaurants in town –that also serve up a great alcoholic beverage.

5. The Filling Station
Number five on our list is tucked away in a strip mall on the east side of town. But don’t let its understated location fool you.

Community leaders come here for the fried pickles and cold beer, which comes in a red gas can if you’re buying for a crowd. The wraps are fresh, and the burgers and buffalo wings never disappoint.

The walls are covered with motorist memorabilia up to the high ceiling, and the bar’s many TVs and a pool table keep its patrons entertained. Newly opened for business in 2016, the place is always spotless floor-to-ceiling, and the service is always friendly.

Friends meet at The Filling Station because they know they will be well taken care of. Like snuggling into a warm quilt, but the bar version.

Atmosphere  ✩ ✩ ✩     
Originality  ✩ ✩ ✩
Hours/Convenience  ✩ ✩  
Friendly Service  ✩ ✩ ✩

4. Sin City Bar & Grill
Sin City has won awards for “Best Burger in GI” many times over. But that’s only part of why we love it.

The kitschy Las Vegas décor and down-home staff set a free-wheeling mood. Mountains of curly homemade potato chips are served with decadent blue cheese. The drinks menu includes  classices like Harvey Wallbangers and Singapore Slings plus original concoctions like the Hit Me, to complete the party mood.

Being here is like being at a party from the heyday of Vegas. It’s a trip.

Atmosphere  ✩ ✩ ✩     
Originality  ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩
Hours/Convenience  ✩ ✩ ✩
Friendly Service  ✩ ✩ ✩

3. McKinney's Irish Pub
This Americanized Irish pub is an offshoot of a pub started in Lincoln. It might look like your average sports bar, but the food is decidedly continental.

Irish nachos, bangers and fries, and more corned beef than one menu really needs all round out a can’t-go-wrong eats list. And if you’re looking for a convenient place for Sunday lunch, they do that, too. This place is always open just when you need it to be!

And the beer. Whether you like it from Texas or Ireland, clear yellow or almost black, McKinney’s has the one for you. The cheerful staff offers honest opinions on everything from the beer to the weather.

Atmosphere  ✩ ✩ ✩     
Originality  ✩ ✩ ✩
Hours/Convenience  ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩
Friendly Service  ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩

2. The Chicken Coop
If the Chicken Coop had a flaw, it would be that too many people like to eat here. It’s one of the biggest eateries on our list, and yet is somehow always full. The staff only lose a star for friendly service because they don’t have time to chat! They do get full marks, however, for getting you what you need when you need it.

Nothing beats a brewery, and the Chicken Coop has one in the back. The menu has a revolving list of new introductions and seasoned favorites, like the Peach Wheat. Feeling more adventurous? Try the Purple Haze, but don’t be surprised if they cut you off after two of these humdingers. Historic photos artfully adorn the original brick walls in this historic downtown building. Soaring ceilings and brick arches add a unique touch and make it feel as though this place has been here forever (even though it only opened in 2004).

Since this place is such a local favorite, you’re likely to see lots of families with kids of all ages. A few large party rooms often host retirement and even high school graduation parties. The homemade pizzas take a little longer, but are well worth the wait. However, we recommend the sirloin steak, and anything with cheesy/spicy Jack Sauce.

Atmosphere  ✩ ✩ ✩     
Originality  ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩
Hours/Convenience  ✩ ✩ ✩
Friendly Service  ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩

1. Kinkaider Brewing Co.
The second restaurant offering out of the Broken Bow, Nebraska-based brewery, Kinkaider is quickly becoming one of Grand Islands’ favorite places to eat and drink.

This place offers dozens of beer choices, plus anything you can think of from the stained-glass and vintage-mirrored bar.
The food is decidedly carnivore friendly, with pulled pork or shrimp or burnt ends of beef thrown in dishes like mac and cheese or fresh green salad. A partially raw tuna steak on the menu is served looking like something from the type of joint that makes the waiters wear ties. But they’re not – just matching Kinkaider T-shirts. (This is still a bar, after all.)

Ever had a jalapeño beer? How about a snozzberry one? Give up on deciding? Try twelve different kinds at once in mini flight glasses. Share with your friends and talk about how no one came to the restaurant this beautiful, bi-level space used to be.

Naturally, you raise a glass to Broken Bow and the Sandhills, and all that makes the rural places of Nebraska great. Smile at your friends, and eat another onion ring.

Atmosphere  ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩
Originality  ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩
Hours/Convenience  ✩ ✩ ✩
Friendly Service  ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩

Leah Wissmann is an English teacher at
Grand Island Senior High school.