John Horvatinovich’s first restaurant logo involved a guy riding a taco. Horvatinovich, executive chef of the hip and modern Salt in Eagle Run, was a taco-obsessed Michigan kid when he first imagined owning a restaurant (he dubbed it Ándale Tacos).
Opened in May, Salt is a far cry from the taco joint of his youth. Tucked in the Eagle Run Square shopping area, Salt greets customers with clean lines, cool Mediterranean colors and funky acrylic chairs. A 50-seat patio offers a pop of turquoise and a view of Eagle Run Golf Course.
With its crisp ambience and modern American menu, Salt seeks to be a restaurant unlike any other in Omaha and particularly in West Omaha, where many restaurants are chains. “We’re not trying to change the composition of food — I don’t have Bunsen burners or beakers,” Horvatinovich said. “But we are trying to say, ‘Hey, think about dining a little bit differently.’ Our restaurant is for people who are not the same cookie-cutter diners.”
Salt was brought to life by Horvatinovich and co-owner Milton Yin, who also owns and operates Hiro 88. Previously, Horvatinovich worked with Yin at Hiro 88, where he started as a server, learned the art of slinging sushi and eventually became general manager. A partnership grew between Milton and wife Norma, and John and wife Jennifer, ultimately leading to Salt. “They saw something in the two of us and in the concept, and they put it on the line,” John Horvatinovich said. “They’re like our Asian parents”.
Throughout his career at other restaurants, Horvatinovich honed his own dishes. The Salt menu represents the chef’s 20 years of industry experience distilled in an eclectic menu. Salt’s wasabi gouda mashed potatoes, for example, first took shape seven years ago. The swai tacos, a nod to his child – hood taco dreams, are a dish he and his wife frequently served to their children. Italian, Croatian, Mediterranean and Asian flavors have found their way onto the menu. Among the half-dozen pizza offerings, not one has the same sauce
SALT, AN 88 RESTAURANT
3623 N. 129th St.
Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Happy Hour: Daily 3-6:30 p.m., Sunday all day
It’s these varied offerings that Horvati – novich hopes will draw people to Salt. Unlike chain restaurants, Salt is able to quickly tweak menu offerings and atmosphere based on customer feedback. Newly installed acoustical soundboards to enhance conversation are one such improvement.
Horvatinovich’s desire to engage also comes through with Salt’s signature dessert, cotton candy. The whimsical confection inspires diners to “get their hands dirty and dive in,” Horvatinovich said. From start to finish, Salt seeks to give diners a reprieve from the day-to- day grind, and a nostalgic stick of cotton candy adds the final positive note.