We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Ladora Bank Bistro
Tucked away in the tiny town of Ladora is a true hidden gem - and a must visit stop for your Iowa restaurant bucket list. The Ladora Bank Bistro offers delicious and contemporary food in a unique and historic environment. The bistro is located inside of the old Ladora Bank building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
2. General Store Pub, Anamosa
Built in 1897 and immortalized in famous artist Grant Wood's painting titled "Stone City, Iowa," the General Store Pub is a truly unique eatery that everyone in Iowa must experience at least once in their life. Nestled along the banks of the
Wapsipinicon River in the old quarry town of Stone City, the General Store Pub is (as you guessed) a general store turned restaurant.
3. Bombfire Pizza, Sabula
Sabula is not only Iowa's only island, but it's also home to some delicious eateries, like Bombfire Pizza - making it a double whammy on your Iowa bucket list. Bombfire is known far and wide for their funky and eclectic decor (think vinyl records, rainbows, and electric guitar music - like a living hippy museum), and also for their delicious and healthy pizza made with fresh ingredients.
4. 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.
5. Blue Mountain Culinary Emporium, Orange City
Blue Mountain Culinary Emporium is a unique restaurant that is split into three different themed eateries. There is The Smokehouse Grille, which serves BBQ and pizza, The Passport Club, which serves soups, salads, pizzas, and other globally inspired menu items, and The Lodge, which serves steaks and other classic dinner favorites.
6. Fong's Pizza
Do you ever just want pizza, but at the same time want to enjoy the ambiance of your favorite Chinese restaurant? Well, Fong’s is the place for you. The legend goes that the restaurant used to serve Chinese food, but when the new owners bought it they didn't want to change the decor, and so Fong's Pizza was born. Fong's has become wildly popular for their fun, Asian-inspired theme, delicious pizza, sandwiches, salads and desserts. Fong's has two different locations in Des Moines and in Ankeny.
7. Zombie Burger, Des Moines
This zombie-themed burger joint is a hit with both the living and the dead. The restaurant itself is filled with zombie-themed decor, and their food is to die for - no pun intended. Their whole menu is loaded with insane, amazing, taste-bud-exploding choices like this one.
8. The Twisted Tail, Beebeetown
Located in the tiny town of Beebeetown, The Twisted Tail is a fun steakhouse and saloon that offers some pretty delicious ribs, as well as some fantastic Phillies. This is a great place to stop and grab a bite to eat on your scenic Loess Hill road trip.
9. Breitbach's Country Dining, Balltown
As the oldest restaurant in the state, Breitbach's is a must visit on your Iowa restaurant bucket list. Just like Grandma’s kitchen, Breitbach’s makes everything fresh, and from scratch. Delicious homemade soups, salads, and pies are prepared fresh daily by the owners and the staff.Aside from their famous lunch and dinner buffet, a full menu is offered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Complete dinners feature steaks, prime rib, chicken, and a variety of seafood entrees. There is also a full sandwich menu, and, of course, some pretty delicious Iowa tenderloins. Breitbach’s even received the “American Classics” award, which is the highest award a restaurant can receive.
10. Galleria De Paco, Waterloo
If you've always wanted to visit the Sistine Chapel, but just don't have the kind of money for a costly trip to Europe, we have your solution. A graffiti artist named Paco Rosic bought a building in Waterloo and recreated Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. Then he turned the place into a restaurant, which also serves amazing food.
Have you been to any of these resaurants? What others would you add to this list?