When you fish around for local lore in Omaha, Neb., you find out the city is known for more than being the host of the College World Series since 1950 and the hometown of Warren Buffett.
It turns out what’s become an American sandwich standard may have been invented there. The Reuben, usually of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing on rye, was invented by a grocer in Omaha, according to the locals, though there are some in New York City who might disagree. If you’re in Omaha cheering on the Wolfpack, in its first CWS since 1968, you can explore the varying interpretations of the Reuben throughout the city’s extensive restaurant culture. We caught up with Omaha-based alumni for suggestions on where to eat and what to see while in town.
David Connell ’82, a regional vice president of operations in Omaha for Union Pacific Railroad, says it’s a city known for beef and pork. “Omaha grew up around the railroad and the stockyards,” he says. “There are still a number of legacy steakhouses like Cascio’s and Johnny’s that serve up a great steak. You might catch Warren Buffett at Gorat’s on Center Street.”
And if a steak is too much, our Omaha-based alumni were unanimous in saying Dinker’s Bar makes one of the top burgers in town and serves as a regular hangout for fans during the CWS. Travis Withers ’00, a brand manager for ConAgra Foods, says to order the Husker Burger there and bring cash since they don’t take credit cards.
The CWS fever isn’t just felt at local burger joints. “Almost everyone gears up for the CWS like it’s a citywide party,” says John Payne ’95, an employee of the Omaha Public Schools. “You can hear the radio broadcast of the games in the grocery store. Many folks here pick a team to cheer, even if there is no personal connection to the college.”
Connell echoes that, making a comparison to an event everyone in North Carolina knows. “[The CWS] is the ACC basketball tournament of Nebraska,” he says, adding that TD Ameritrade Park, which replaced Rosenblatt Stadium as the site of the games in 2011, is a venue to behold. “The whole city shows up to watch the best baseball that can be found.”
When the games are over, or if it rains, there’s plenty to do in the city. Our alumni say the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is one of the premier zoos in the country. There’s also the Omaha Children’s Museum and the Durham Museum, which is an old train station converted into a museum. And the downtown area has a many shops included in what is called the Old Market.
Connell says that no matter what you choose, you’ll find Omaha is a great city known for its food, art and culture. “Omaha doesn’t look like the ‘cowtown’ it started as, and you can count on the welcome mat at the door.”