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Joe Tess' Place

5424 South 24th Street, Omaha, NE - (402) 731-7278
Posted By Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on October 21, 2008 2:12 PM
Joe Tess sells carp. Not for stocking the pond in your Japanese garden, but for eating. Most Americans do not consider carp much of an eating fish (although it does find its way into gefilte fish), but here in Nebraska and the surrounding states, it's an inexpensive treat. Especially when someone else does the cleaning and cooking.

You see, carp has to be cleaned carefully to make it delicious and, even then, lots of small bones are likely to remain in the flesh. Shad, a (somewhat) more widely enjoyed eating fish, has the same problem, and it's often cooked in such a way, long and slow with acidic ingredients, that the bones dissolve and become edible. A similar approach is taken with carp, although unlike shad, the carp is deep-fried. Deep slits are cut into the flesh to allow the hot oil to blast the bones into submission. The resulting fish is very crusty and surprisingly soft and moist, with plenty of non-edible parts to nibble around. These are not generic white fish filets, although the flavor is not overpowering. Still, we wouldn't recommend that fish-frowners try to develop a taste for the stuff eating carp.

Joe Tess raises the carp, and catfish too, for sale in his restaurant and to other restaurants in the area. You can get the ultra-fresh carp as part of a full meal, accompanied by crunchy disks of fried potatoes, or in a sandwich, which is one of the true Roadfood bargains to be had anywhere.

Joe Tess' Place is a large family-friendly tavern on the south side of Omaha, and it's extremely popular with the local folks. There's a good selection of other things to eat here, not just fried carp and catfish, and there's also an attached seafood market where you can see the live critters swimming about in tanks. If you like fish, and like to try the local specialties when traveling, order the carp.
4 star rating
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Posted By Eric on April 8, 2011 7:39 AM
My family visited Joe Tess's after seeing it on Food Network's Diners and Drive-Ins. We loved it. The food was excellent. We had battered oyster appetizers and two-piece carp dinners. It was more food than we could eat, and very good.

The service was excellent. Our waitress was very pleasant, responsive, and helpful. We left with purchases from their gift store (smoked carp, pickled carp, and fish fry batter). Surprisingly, it was all excellent too.
5 star rating
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Fried Carp

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Posted By Amy Brock on December 11, 2008 2:31 PM
We recently made our first visit to Joe Tess Place in South Omaha. The food was very good; no complaints there. However, we were given a waitress who, although friendly enough, didn't wait on us in a timely manner. She was very pleasant though and we tipped her well.

On our second visit we were placed in the upper level of the restaurant, and were given an older waitress who, although efficient enough, was about as pleasant and friendly as a pinecone, but because she was efficient and did her job we left her a decent tip.

We recently made our third and last visit to Joe Tess. We were once again placed in the upper part of the restaurant, and were given a young waitress who had to be asked not once, not twice, but three or more times for simple items and they were NEVER received. She took 15 minutes to acknowledge our existence in her area and then we waited brutally long times for refills. Finally one of us refilled our own drinks at the soda station, because she was obviously never coming back.

It was a horrible experience. Yes, the food was great (it always is) but if they expect to keep good customers they better step up their service because other places with better service have good food as well. I left no tip. I didn't feel bad about that and I won't be returning to Joe Tess again. I expect service to gradually IMPROVE when I frequent a place, not steadily DECLINE. Time to move on.
1 star rating
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