Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ogallala Livestock Barn: Kathy's Kafe

Clint and I took a road trip around the country last week, mapping out a few interesting—and, admittedly, a few very uninteresting—stops along the way. I've always been more of an "off-the-beaten-path" traveler, and I'm giddy to have found me a man that's on board with that. Give us a narrow road to unknown treasures over a blinking neon arrow to a tourist attraction any day.

The "Giant Coffee Pot" stop on Thursday turned out to be a bust, but the accidental breakfast that we found on Friday morning more than made up for it.

We pulled over in Ogallala, Nebraska. A small ranching town, we had a hard time finding a restaurant of any sort, so pulled into a gas station to ask for advice. We were directed on down to, and I quote, "the sale barn."

Breakfast in a sale barn? Yay! Ok! What's a sale barn? We scooted down to find ourselves at at Kathy's Kafe, at the Ogallala Livestock Sale Barn, and parked in a big dusty lot next to cattle pens. The  aromatherapy and white-noise (mooooo!) made for instant interesting ambiance.

When we walked in looked around, we knew we'd hit the jackpot. "Yes!" ::fist-bump:: We found a booth, and the waitress promptly brought me coffee, "hon." I love it when waitresses call me "hon."

Our orders were placed, and we could see into the small kitchen where ham was promptly sliced, and sausage was pattied. Clint ordered the Ham 'n eggs 'n pancakes:

I never order sweets for breakfast, no pancakes, waffles, sugary cereal. Still, I had to have a bite of Clint's pancakes, and they were to. die. for. They tasted like they were made out of vanilla cake batter. I had another bite, and maybe another, even though I do not like pancakes, I mean it, now. But I would eat these every day if I lived in Ogallala.

And this was my breakfast. Ah, nothing like a stick-to-your-ass ribs breakfast to get you through 10 hours of rasslin' cows riding down the highway in luxury. No, this was not on my diet, but baby, if I'm eating with cowboys, I'm by-God going to eat like one.

Yeah, cowboys, real live cowboys. Hats and chaps and boots.

And the cows to go with them:

The sale pens next to the livestock barn had stairs to an overpass so that you could walk up and check out the wares. A cowboy's jewel case. We wandered up after breakfast, and watched a few cows being herded out of barns and into trucks. They didn't care for us that much. They raced toward us, and came to a screeching halt when they realized we were standing overhead, and refused to go under the "bridge" we were standing on, until a—what—a cowpoke? A cowpoke sauntered up behind them and hit a plastic thingy on the ground to get them going. "Get along, little doggies." (He didn't say that; wouldn't it have been cool if he'd said that?

Oh, I can't get along little doggiee....

Kathy's Kafe at the Ogallala Livestock Barn. It really was our cup o' tea, and you must go there if you're ever meandering through Nebraska.



  1. oh good god that looks fantastic!!! (and I'm with you on your choice of breakfast)

  2. Those pancakes...


  3. Let's hear it for cowboys.. (there are three or four of 'em in Nashville but they all came from Texas :)

  4. I'm glad you had such a fun getaway. You deserve some time out like that. Thanks for taking us with you on this adventure!

  5. Here's a thought. Those cows are being fed corn which is not their natural diet, grass is. You can still purchase grass fed beef, but it is a gourmet item...or available in California. These corn fed, hormone injected, antibiotic bovine are a far cry from the little doggies Clint Eastwood used to drive along on Rawhide. This is production animal husbandry.

  6. Funny, the book I took on the road trip was The Omnivore's Dilemma.

    The place was merely a place to sell cows. Not sure what they were fed, but in that part of the country, it was cows in meadows for as far as the eye could see. I wondered that they must surely, mostly, be grassfed.

    Still a good breakfast at the kafe, though.

  7. Anonymous11:20 AM

    Many of the cattle in this part of the country are grass-fed most of their life in the vast grasslands of the Nebraska sandhills.

    1. Anonymous8:33 PM

      That's not true. The vast majority of cattle in this area are not grass-fed.

  8. Thanks, anon! I thought that might be the case!

  9. I am from Ogallala and have never ate there lol i mite have to try now !

  10. I was born and raised here and so glad you had a chance to experience the hospitality of our little town. Kathy took over the cafe which was just a place to eat during the sales, and has turned it into one of the best places around to eat breakfast and lunch. She has many business folk come for lunch, and has become the most popular place in town for the high school crowd as well. It's a tasty balanced meal that beats the socks off fast food. I would add there are other great places in town as well,, The Golden Spur Steakhouse serves up delicious lunch specials, and some of the best dinners around. Taco John's, although most consider it "fast food", has better food than any other Taco John's I have ever eaten at. I do hope you will find your way back here to enjoy our fair town again. Thank you for your kind words.

    1. Anonymous8:35 PM

      That's no lie about Ogallala's Taco John's. It's the best I've ever eaten at as well.

  11. Oh,, and anony is right, around this area there are a couple feedlots, but even they use a lot of organic feeding methods. The cattle at sales in Ogallala however, are locally grown, not feedlot cattle. They are home-grown/range-fed cattle.

  12. Now THAT is funny! I think we all miss out on little gems in our own hometown, thinking we've been there, done that seen it all. Well, go eat and let me know what you think!

  13. More than ever before, consumers have a lot of questions about their food and beef is no exception. They see cattle grazing in the fields and fresh beef in the meat case but don’t know what happens in that “gray area” in between.

    Unfortunately, anti-animal agriculture activist groups (Like the author of your book, Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan) exploit this lack of knowledge and thirst for information. They use terms like “factory farming” and “industrial agriculture” as they try to cast modern beef production in a negative light. They want consumers to believe modern beef production is harmful to the environment, cruel to animals and produces unsafe and unhealthy food. And most of the time, they think of modern beef production as a feedlot.

    Most people typically don't know that all cattle spend the majority of their lives eating grass in pastures. Calves start grazing at a young age and are kept on pasture after they are weaned until 12-18 months of age. Then, they are taken to a feedlot or are kept on grass to become “grass-finished”.

    Also, a corn-fed diet is a natural diet. @Richard Sites, did you know that corn is a member of the grass family? Corn is fed to cattle in feedlots to provide a nutrional diet packed with protein and energy. Additionally, after corn is harvested, many farmers have their cows graze cornstalks for its forage and nutritional values.

    Thanks @Gnightgirl for the blog post about Ogallala and I'm here to assure you that the meat and eggs you ate here in Nebraska are safe, nutritious and raised by family farmers!

  14. Anonymous10:12 AM

    I could live anywhere, and I choose Ogallala.
    For your readers who might consider stopping's important to note that Kathy's is only open for Breakfast and Lunch, and only during the Week. Noting is more frustrating than wanting those sausage patties on a weekend.

  15. Wow, so much fun to have the Ogallala folks pick up on this post!

    Kelsey, thanks for the info. I never finished the Ominvore's Dilemma, I think it got a bit repetitive and tedious (or my attention waned). Good to know though; I'm not sure what circumstances would bring me back thru Ogallala--but maybe I should just invent something!

    Anon: VERY good to know. Guess I'd just have to sit in front of the door til Monday morning for my sausage!

  16. Anonymous5:23 PM

    Hello.... great place you have there for sure..........

    We are new to the area..... just trying to introduce ourselves and meet other local people. We are going to be putting together a local meet and greet sometime next week to get acquainted with other local business , folks etc, do you have any idea what bar / restaurant might be a good place for that ?

    We would be happy to place a free link to you - on our website.

  17. Anonymous9:37 AM

    Will not get it to the grass feed cattle conversation going on here but.... the cattle you saw when you visited had for the most part been grass feed. Don't know why people have to have so many negative comments. If you don't want corn feed beef don't buy it. As for Kathy's Kafe it is a great local place to have a good breakfast or lunch. Kathy and the gals really take good care of the customers. Above it was mentioned that she feed local business people and school kids. The kids have a real short lunch break so they come, order at counter, and sit at one big table. She gets them served and on there way fast.

  18. Hi Anon! This post was written 5 years ago, and I'm glad to hear that Kathy's Kafe is still going strong. I wish I had a reason to cross paths there again, it was a lovely memory on our road trip! Thanks for posting!


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