1. Darrell’s Place, Hamlin
Home of Iowa’s original #1 pork tenderloin, Darrell’s Place is a quintessential Iowa experience. Their tenderloins are truly huge and delicious, and they serve a variety of other comfort foods, like pork chops, mashed potatoes and creamed corn. This rural favorite was opened in 1980 by married couple, Darrell and Marilyn Munch. Their mission is simple: to serve good, affordable food.
2. The Lost Cuban, Cedar Rapids
Opened by a man who missed the Cuban favorites he grew up on when he moved to Iowa, The Lost Cuban is an authentic gem in downtown Cedar Rapids. Enjoy sandwiches on traditional Cuban bread like slow roasted pulled pork or the traditional Cuban, a pressed sandwich made with ham, roast pork, Swiss, pickles and mustard.
3. Her Soup Kitchen, Iowa City
A simply great lunch place with handcrafted sandwiches and soups, this is a hometown favorite. The owner sources her ingredients from the local farmer’s market and features seasonal specials on a large chalkboard. If you enjoy high quality ingredients with inventive interpretations, you’ll love this place.
4. Tacopocalypse, Des Moines
This isn’t your typical taco joint. This place is hip and unexpected, with lots of surprising flavor combinations that mix Mexican and Asian cuisine, like the Red Curry Chicken w/ Fried Rice burrito, along with many of the old standards. With plenty of meat, vegetarian and vegan options, there’s something for everyone.
5. Sweetiepie’s Chicken and Fish Fry (now Sugapeach), North Liberty
A favorite of soul food lovers, Sweetiepie’s, which is now called Sugapeach, is just what it sounds like: deliciously fried fish and chicken, with mouth-watering sides like their perfectly seasoned and cooked sweet potato fries with sweet cinnamon dipping sauce, deep fried okra or collard greens. Top it off with a sweet tea or lemonade and you’ll be stuffed and satisfied. Check them out in their new location in North Liberty when they open on August 1st.
6. Chuckwagon Restaurant, Adair
With its restaurant’s namesake, the Chuckwagon burger is customer favorite, with 6 ounces of fresh beef on a grilled bun, sautéed onions, mushrooms, bacon, tomato and Thousand Island dressing. This place was named winner of the 2016 Iowa’s Best Burger contest, held by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Iowa Beef Industry Council. Need I say more?
7. Zoey’s Pizzeria, Marion
Zoey’s opened in 1991 and has since been serving consistently amazing pizza. My mouth waters just thinking about their Chicago style pizza with handmade sauce and olive oil crust, and their thin crust pizzas are just as good. It’s always crowded around dinner time, so you may have to stand in line, but trust me, it’s worth the wait.
8. Wild Carrot, Waverly
This is a great place for breakfast and lunch with excellent service. Of course, their carrot soup is amazing, but you can also enjoy a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, pastries, coffee drinks and more.
9. Salt Fork Kitchen, Solon
Solon has become quite the eater’s paradise in the last few years, and Salt Fork is no exception. If you’re looking for fresh, local food with an innovative twist, give this place a try.
10. Bogie’s Steakhouse, Albia
A meat lover's paradise, Bogie’s serves up hand cut steak cooked on a charcoal grill, as well as a variety of pork, chicken and fish entrees. This hidden gem is a local favorite and offers a friendly atmosphere for locals and travelers stopping in. If you’re feeling really hungry (or ambitious), get the 20oz. prime rib.