Road Foodie

Some people drive simply to arrive.

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge

Posted By on September 24, 2009

Grass-fed steak! Frozen beans. So whaddaya want?

Grass-fed steak! Frozen beans...hmmm. So whaddaya want?

Plans change. That’s the beauty of driving.

Instead of laying my weary head down in Des Moines and Kearney, NE the last two nights, as planned, Stella and I bunked down in Council Bluffs, and then Paxton. There were various reasons for the change of plan (which necessitated several on-the-fly reservation changes); one of them was the heads-up thrown my way by one of my very best college buddies, Fred Koch. I’ll be staying with feisty Fred and his adorable forever-wife, Kitty, at their posh pad in Denver after the agony of Nebraska is but a wispy memory in my rear-view. But about 48 hours before that, he calls with a 911 question:
“Have you been through Nebraska yet?”
“No, I’m still in corn-world No. 1, ie Iowa.
“OK, you HAVE to go to Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse, Lounge, and Restaurant in Paxton, NE. It’s less than five miles off I-80. They have 200 animal heads on the wall.”
I’m pretty easy when it comes to a challenge like this.
“OK.”

Ole's, which is on it's second owner in 76 years, opened at 12:01AM the day Prohibition was repealed, in 1933.

Ole's, which is on it's second owner in 76 years, opened at 12:01AM the day Prohibition was repealed, in 1933.


Ole opened the place because he and his hunting buddies needed someplace cozy to showcase their dead animals, tell one another tall tales, and throw down cocktails (perhaps shots of whisky would be more accurate, but you get the picture). When Ole retired, a similarly-minded local man took over, and the place is now a de rigueur stop for anyone savvy that passes this way.
My companion at the bar at Ole's. We chatted for hours.

My companion at the bar at Ole's. We chatted for hours.


Not to be unkind, but perhaps Nebraska is not at its best on the days I am driving through it. Sitting at the old wood bar with a glass of wine and my journal, and anticipating the arrival of a grass-fed boneless rib-eye from their very own Nebraska beef company, Hehnke’s—and then greedily consuming it—almost (but not quite) makes up for the cold, gray desolation of almost three whole days, across western Iowa, Nebraska, and eastern Colorado. I listen to and sing along to West Side Story to speed the hours past.
In the last post, you saw my drive-ironment. This is my preferred non-drive-ironment.

In the last post, you saw my drive-ironment. This is my preferred non-drive-ironment.


Just as I’m getting ready to leave, my trusty bartender grudgingly allows as there’s something a little, well, risque, in the back room. OK, I’ll bite. Turns out serious, circa 1940’s, cheesecake festively festoons the walls up above the foosball. I am instantly transported back to the forties, and wish I’d worn my bobby sox. (Not really—what bobby sox—and anyway, she’s not wearing any.) How serendipitous that Fred should have alerted me to this time-machine of a place! But please, please, pretty please: Bring on Denver!
One of the girls in the back room at Ole's.

One of the girls in the back room at Ole's. Sans sox.

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