Posts tagged nebraska

Tio Wally Eats America: Return to Sapp Bros

I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Odessa, Nebraska.

Greetings from Odessa, Nebraska
N 40° 40.707’ W 099° 15.342’ Elev. 2206 ft.

I don’t know why the Garmin GPS designates this particular Sapp Brothers truck stop as the “Sapp Bros Landmark.” I’d think the original Omaha location would be. Garmin also says this is Elm Creek but Sapp Bros calls this location Odessa. The mailing address here is Elm Creek. I feel like I’m in Odessa. There is nothing else here so … who’s to know for sure?

Maybe it’s the “Landmark” because the iconic Sapp Bros coffee-pot sign is the only (tallest) notable thing around for miles. Nebraska is like that.

On the other hand, state line to state line Interstate 80 across Nebraska is 455 miles long. Perhaps someone decided that this Sapp Bros was the halfway point. Sure, it’s 36 miles short of halfway if you’re traveling west. But it’s further if you’re headed east. I understand the impatience westbound. I understand even more the sense of accomplishment that comes with the 36 extra miles covered if you’re the poor bastard who’s unfortunate enough to be headed east.

I’ve written about Sapp Bros before and how much I like them. They’re old school, kind of funky. I stopped here this time because I had to take a mandatory 30-minute break. I also knew that Sapp Bros is offering an 8 oz. Steak Dinner for $9.99. Although I’m not really a steak guy, I figured I’d go for it. After all, that T-bone Steak breakfast in Lemoore was so good ….

I showed up a little after 2 p.m., it was just starting to snow, and the place of empty except for me and the server, Dina. Talk about personalized service! I asked her about the steak. She said she’d heard it was good but that she wasn’t really a steak person. (Birds of a feather?) It turned out the steak came only with one side and garlic toast. I was hoping it also came with the salad bar so I could have something green as well. But no.

“We also have Beef and Noodles on special for $7.99,” she said. “Would you like to try it?” Sure, I said. I took one bite of the sample and knew that that was what I was having. I told Dina how good it was. “I’m glad you like it. I made it this morning,” she said, explaining that she cooked in the morning and waited tables in the afternoon. “Of course,” she confessed, “I wouldn’t have told you that if you didn’t like it.”

The special was advertised as “Beef & Noodles, served over mashed potatoes, and garlic toast.” I thought that seemed like an extraordinary amount of starch. So she let me substitute hash browns — hash browns contain less starch, right? — which I got on the side.

The beef and noodles were very beefy and very hearty. The beef was fork tender, like pot roast. I don’t know what they call that kind of noodle but it’s the same ones the Pennsylvania Dutch and many others like to pass off as “dumplings.” It’s all a matter of how they’re cut, I guess. I was really hoping they’d be egg noodles. But hey, what are you gonna to do?

The hash browns were pretty good; crispy outside, soft and moist inside. The garlic toast was garlicky enough that it was pretty good, too.

What made the meal really special — in addition to Dina — was that it was just the right amount at just the right time to be the perfect respite from the crappy, snowy 15° weather outside. I’m officially sick of winter.

And so we roll.

Sapp Brothers Cafe, I-80, Exit 263, Odessa (Elm Creek), Nebraska

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.


Tio Wally Eats America: Casey’s General Store

I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Williamsburg, Iowa.

Greetings from Williamsburg, Iowa
N 41° 41.433’ W 092° 00.707’ Elev. 815 ft.

Here was an wholly unexpected score. I was driving on Interstate 80 through Iowa one night looking for a place to park for the night and, hopefully, get a decent cup of coffee in the morning. I ended up stopping at a Casey’s General Store in Williamsburg (130 W. Evans St., Hwy. 149 and I-80, Exit 220).

Casey’s General Stores are mainly little convenience stores/gas stations of various sizes, with various amenities. A few of them have diesel and a bit of parking. This particular one had a restaurant attached to it, which is unusual for a Casey’s.

Unbeknownst to me, some Casey’s also have little deli’s inside that feature pizzas as well as sandwiches; $5 for their “Classic” foot-long subs.

I’ve made no secret of my fondness for Tuna Salad. Most places charge extra for tuna, if they even have it. But lo and behold, not only does Casey’s have it, it’s considered part of its “Classic” menu.

I ordered one because it looked so good and was not disappointed. It was great. Moreover, the lady that made the sandwich put five giant scoops of it on the sandwich. I have no idea how many ounces of meat was there, but I’m thinking it was well over a pound; it was definitely more than one of those containers from Braum’s contains. It was huge! Enough for four meals for me.

There was also another special of sorts going on in the parking lot that morning that was strictly for the birds. A truck had spilled some feed corn and the local avian community was going crazy. At times the pile was nearly covered with three or four different species. Unfortunately, I was never able get a shot of the “big gang.” They were very skittish and, much like the Amish, refused to pose.

I also made another major score on that cruise. I was in Norfolk, Nebraska and hit the Hy-Vee for dinner. One of the specials that day was a monster stuffed pork chop with two sides and a roll for $5. For the sides I got scalloped potatoes and baked beans. Needless to say, it was great and made for multiple meals.

And so we roll.

Casey’s General Store, throughout the Midwest, primarily in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas and Nebraska.
Hy-Vee, throughout the Midwest

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.