Road trip-worthy restaurants in Iowa
Yummmm! These restaurants are definitely worth the trip. Wochit
Small towns are often on the country's "best food" lists, and Iowa does its part to continue that tradition.
Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or looking to expand your taste buds, we've uncovered some of the best-kept secrets of the Iowa food scene.
Breitbach's Country Dining
Breitbach's Country Dining is the oldest restaurant in Iowa, and they couldn’t have stayed open this long without serving up great food. Since 1852, this family-owned eatery offers everything from traditional breakfast items to hearty lunches and dinners — everything is made from scratch. This restaurant also comes with a spectacular view of the Mississippi River valley.
Canteen Lunch In The Alley
This may look like a hole-in-the-wall joint, but don’t judge a book by its cover. This restaurant is an Iowa icon, known for its burgers and sandwiches dating to 1927. Their loose meat sandwiches are the best. This restaurant has only 16 bar stools, and come lunchtime there’s quite a crowd. P.S. Ask about their homemade pies.
Ladora Bank Bistro
Not only does this establishment kill it in the food department, it has a venue like none other in Iowa. Ladora Bank Bistro was built in the town’s historic, 1920s Savings Bank. The unique and contemporary menu puts the small town of Ladora on the map. With a menu of shared plate options, it’s the perfect spot to road trip with friends.
The General Store Pub
Built in 1897, The General Store Pub is a historic eatery nestled along the banks of the Wapsipinicon River. Its first claim to fame is that the building itself is included in a famous Grant Wood painting. Its second claim to fame is the food, which includes tasty burgers, rib specials, seasoned waffle fries, all washed down with a one-of-a-kind Wapsirita rimmed with salt.
Unkies may look miniature, but it packs a serious punch with some of the best rib eye, shrimp and lobster in Iowa. Patrons rave over the delicious rib eye dinner, the great service, low prices, vast menu and fun atmosphere.
Bluff Lake Catfish Farm
This restaurant is a hidden gem that is located down a gravel road and lies between two lakes. Did I mention there is a 50-foot waterfall right outside the door? Bluff Lake Catfish Farm is known for one of the best fish fries in Iowa. People come from all over, but don’t let the wait stop you. The all-you-can-eat meals are well worth it.
Location: Le Mars
If you’ve never tried a Bob’s dog with the works, you haven’t lived. This little Drive-Inn has quick service, loaded hot dogs, tavern loose meat sandwiches and malts. If you're looking for a meal on the go that has your mouth bursting with flavor, stop in — and don’t forget dessert.
Location: Le Mars
After Bob’s Drive-Inn for lunch, hit up Archie’s Waeside for dinner and step back into the 1970s. Archie's earned a James Beard Foundation award in 2015 for being one of America’s Classics. From their New York Strip to their Mexican pepper balls, this place has delectable food. The atmosphere is a little like stepping back into grandma's house, but hey, we all love grandma’s cooking.
Known for the sirloin and prime rib, this steakhouse has some fantastic food choices. This isn’t a place you come to for a fancy dinner, but if you're craving a steak and a casual outing with friends and great prices, head on over. Don’t forget to make a reservation because we aren’t the only ones who know how great this place is.
Location: Storm Lake
If you want authentic Mexican food that comes with a great price, don’t hesitate to make the trip to Storm Lake. They have a great atmosphere and people love their burritos and tacos. This isn’t your ordinary sit-down Mexican restaurant. You order at the counter, eat, then pay. This method means you'll get your food faster.
The Williamson Tavern is home of the original 1-pound Papa Burger with all the fixings. This cash- or checks-only establishment is filled with bar games, a jukebox, and nostalgic beer advertisements.
Goldie's Ice Cream Shoppe
Location: Prairie City
Known for its blue ribbon pork tenderloin sandwiches, customers come from miles away just to eat this enormous sandwich. It may be called Goldie's Ice Cream Shoppe, but don’t let that fool you, these sandwiches are what put them on the map. But don’t forget about the ice cream.