Blue Line has two locations in Omaha: one in the burgeoning North Downtown neighborhood and the other in Dundee. Because I live close to the downtown location and go there often, that’s what this review is about.
Blue Line styles itself as a French espresso cafe, complete with light fixtures that resemble gaslights, big vintage absinthe posters, and a small, comfortable bar. It’s a fun place in a good part of town. Next door are a number of other great places, including Slowdown, the Film Streams movie theater, and Greenstreet Cycles. Blue Line becomes the natural stop before or after a movie at Film Streams, after a show at Slowdown, or while my bike is getting fixed at Greenstreet. What I’ve done several times is pick up a sandwich from Blue Line and bring it in to a movie. I’m not sure this is technically allowed, but I figured that everyone else is munching on popcorn the whole time, so I might as well have a pannini.
Blue Line’s food isn’t anything fancy, of course. It’s mostly just simple toasted panninis, quiche, some black-bean burgers, and other cafe food. The coffee, however, is excellent. The iced coffee is among the best available in Omaha, and it might be the only coffee shop in the area that uses the real cold-brew process, instead of simply brewing coffee hot and then refrigerating it. The quality of the beans is also very good, and I frequently buy their whole beans for later use. Although several of the coffee strains they sell are not technically organic or free-trade (which requires expensive third-party certification), Chris, the rather eccentric owner, apparently flies out to the coffee farms in Africa which produce his coffee to ensure their quality and ethics. That’s dedication.
One of the few problems with Blue Line is the incessant be-bop and hard-bop that’s always playing. I enjoy jazz well enough, but constant loud be-bop gets rather grating after awhile. It’s fine if you bring headphones or you’re a loud talker.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but Blue Line is also the only Omaha coffee shop that also serves alcohol. It’s not an especially overwhelming selection, but they have plenty of wine, bottled beer, scotch, and absinthe. Blue Line wonderfully fills the role as the place to go when all other places seem expensive or tiresome, or when you want cocktails, she wants coffee, and he wants wine.