They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; some of the best ones are a little worn, a little rough around the edges. The same goes for restaurants. Some of the best ones don’t worry about outward appearances, instead, they focus on what really matters: the food. You won’t find fancy facades or decadent decorations at these 11 restaurants in Iowa, and although they may not look like much on the outside, the food is out of this world.
1. The Irish Shanti, Gunder
The Irish Shanti is home to the Gunderburger, a large burger that was created in the '70s to put Gunder on the map. The Shanti serves more than just burgers, though, and you can find some delicious turkey tenders, pork loins, boiled cod, and ribeye steaks. They also have a variety of import beers, and Guinness on tap. Plus, they offer a gluten-free menu.
2. Rube's, Montour
In 1973, Rube's was the first of its kind - a grill your own steakhouse in the tiny little town of Montour. Since then, Rube's has become a favorite through generations, known always for their award winning steaks and unique atmosphere.
3. George the Chili King, Des Moines
George The Chili King Drive-In has been serving great food in Des Moines since 1952. They first opened as a diner and drive-in with carhop service, and that’s how they’ve remained all these years. Now, 61 years later, they are the only one left in the area!
4. Morg's Diner, Waterloo
Morg's is a tiny little place on Mulberry Street that offers big servings and low prices on all the classics. The diner is very old school, but in the best way - including the jukebox at every booth. Be sure to try their pecan pancakes.
5. Townhouse Supper Club, Wellsburg
Located in the tiny town of Wellsburg, the Townhouse Supper Club offers a massive pork tenderloin, with a taste just as big. The sandwich, which won the 2006 IPPA Best Tenderloin award, is a must-try for 'loin-lovers in Iowa.
6. Northwest Steak House, Mason City
It may not look like much on the outside, but Northwestern is truly a hidden gem. Since 1920, Northwestern has been serving the best Greek steaks in the Midwest. You may have to wait a bit for a table, but just know that it will be worth every second.
7. The Fort Diner, Fort Madison
The Fort is one of those great ma and pa places where you can go to get breakfast all day, and is the perfect spot to go for those Sunday brunches with the family.
8. Lansky's, Council Bluffs
For over 20 years, Lansky has offered fast casual dining in a carryout and catering capacity. Lansky's offers Philly steak sandwiches, freshly made pizzas, deli sandwiches and homemade pastas.
9. Breakfast House, Cedar Rapids
The Breakfast House is a family business passed on for 30 years. You can enjoy all of your favorite classic comfort foods here, as well as some unique dishes that you won't find anywhere else.
10. Sneaky's Chicken, Sioux City
Sneaky's Chicken has been a part of the Sioux City restaurant scene since 1979. Since then, Sneaky's has served their delicious chicken dishes to thousands of customers.
11. Belmond Drive-In, Belmond
This restaurant in Belmond (which opened in October of 2014) may be new, but they have the pork tenderloin game figured out - they even won the Iowa Pork Producers' Association's Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin contest in 2015.