Friday, June 19, 2015

Where to find the best Runza aka "cabbage bun"

Runza cabbage bun Leon's Grocery
You too can find these beautiful buns around town. 

I promised Lincoln: quintessential and quirky. And there is nothing more true to that sentiment than the Runza. 

As an out-of-state college student, I’d sometimes bring friends home with me over school breaks. Which would, of course, always include a trip to Runza. Our pre-meal dialogue usually went something like this:

Friend: “What’s a Runza?” 

Me: “It’s like a hot pocket with cabbage and beef.”

Friend: “Oh. It sounded like a carpet-cleaning place.” 

If you’re from Nebraska, you know the drill. Runzas are to us what deep-dish pizza is to Chicago or crab legs are to Baltimore. (I may have made that up. But I think crab legs are a Baltimore thing.) 

If you’re from Lincoln, you may also know that Runza sandwiches originated here—in 1964, out of a small food shack by Pioneers Park. 

If you’re a German-from-Russia in Lincoln, you also probably know that the Runza recipe originated among our people. (Yes, I’m half German-from-Russia, which is an actual thing. There’s even a museum in town.)  

The Runza fast-food restaurants are great. Brilliant. There’s nothing like bringing Volga German fare to the masses. And there’s nothing like a drive-through Temperature Tuesday on a blustery winter day.

But to find my favorite “cabbage bun” (don’t want to cross any trademark boundaries), I have a single recommendation:

Leon’s Grocery, 2200 Winthrop Road

This local grocer makes a mean cabbage bun, served fresh Wednesdays and Saturdays. They’ve kept this schedule since some coworkers and I discovered their culinary bounty a year ago, but if you’re ever in doubt, just give ‘em a call

Leon’s serves a variety of cabbage buns, but my German-from-Russia taste buds prefer the original.

Pro tip: Pick up some salt and pepper packets at the deli counter and season to taste. These buns won’t taste as sodium-packed as their trademarked counterparts, but that’s why I love them. My coworkers also perfected the art of ketchup and mustard add-ons, but I'm a traditionalist. 

—Lincoln from a local

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