OMAHA • ALONG INTERSTATE 80 • THE SANDHILLS
WARREN BUFFETT’S FAVORITE HAUNTS
— Gorat’s — A former Buffett fave, the billionaire held his annual meetings here until a few years ago when the former owner, childhood chum Louis “Pal” Gorat sold the place. New owner Gene Dunn updated the place and although Buffett transferred his loyalties, Gorat’s still gets local raves. www.goratsomaha.com
— Petrow’s — Buffett’s wife has lunched at Petrow’s for years, and a few years ago she converted her husband to the charms of the Fifties-style diner. Buffett, in turn, introduced the place to Bill Gates when the Microsoft exec was in town for a game of bridge. As a result, Petrow’s sign now reads OVER TWO BILLIONAIRES SERVED.
While most folks order the burgers and giant ice cream sundaes for which the diner is famous, the two richest men in North America prefer the daily specials. On a recent visit Buffett, who ordered the steak special and a single scoop of ice cream, was set back $13.34. Gates did even better. His shrimp special and ice cream only dinged him $12.58. www.petrows.com
— DQ Grill and Chill Restaurant — Dairy Queen is a subsidiary of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which may or may not explain the billionaire’s affinity for its ice cream. During BH meetings, Dairy Queen sets up a booth where shareholders can purchase a creamy treat for market price. Buffett favors their Vanilla Orange or Strawberry Cheesequake bars.
But when he goes to the Grill and Chill Restaurant at 114th and Pacific, he’s likely to order a Dusty Sundae, which is vanilla ice cream topped with malted milk powder.
— Dundee Dell — The iconic Reuben sandwich of corned beef and sauerkraut fame originated in Omaha’s old Blackstone hotel when a crusty old man (pardon the pun) named Reuben Kulakofsky was playing poker with his buddies in the 1920s. (Others also claim to have invented the sandwich, but esteemed New York Times food writer Craig Claiborne gives the honor to the Omaha Reub.)
The Blackstone Hotel is long gone, but the Dundee Dell has been serving the sandwich since 1934. Their new, updated and presumably healthier version uses turkey instead of corned beef, but its still slathered in cheese and covered with a special sauce. www.dundeedell.com
WHEN NOT TO VISIT
— Early May — During the Berkshire-Hathaway Annual Shareholder Meeting — Unless you’re a Berkshire-Hathaway shareholder, in which case read no further, it’s best to avoid visiting Omaha during the company’s annual meeting. Lodging is hard to find and restaurants have lines as long as a billionaire’s portfolio.
ALONG INTERSTATE 80
— Fort Cody Trading Post — This fake fort, that looks like an old frontier stockade, has a reputation as America’s kitchiest road side attraction. It’s part museum, part home to a miniature version of Buffalo Bill’s wild west show that includes 20,000 wood figures, part a purveyor of collectibles from the covers of old magazines to packs of old-time chewing gum and part a souvenir shop that sells mugs with ceramic snake handles. Cody’s is right off the freeway and definitely worth a stop. www.fortcody.com
— Union Pacific railroad yard — Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard is the largest railroad classification yard in the world. To learn more, go to the SMALL BITES section of this website and click on the article titled Chugging Through Nebraska.
— Time Change — At the Lincoln/Keith County Line, which is about 25 miles west of North Platte near mile marker 150, the time changes from Central to Mountain Time. In other words, as you head west the sky gets a little lighter and, as you gain an hour, the day seems to last a little longer. Great news if you’re going west; not so great if you’re headed into darkness.
— Sparse facilities — Distances between restaurants, motels and gas stations are greater as you head toward the less-populated areas in the western part of Nebraska. In addition, rather than being located right off the Interstate exit, they’re likely to be in a town that’s five or more miles down a country road. If you’re headed west, consider filling your gas tank — and your stomach — in North Platte.