Here are a few amazing Iowa restaurants you probably haven’t heard of. Their food is amazing, even if their locations may be a bit out of the way. One thing is for sure, if you decide to visit, you’ll definitely be back for more.
1. El Super Burrito
3300 Johnson Ave NW, Cedar Rapids
Street tacos, tortas, made-from-scratch tamales, home made tortillas, super (super) spicy salsa by request, and a menu that will make lovers of Mexican food swoon....this humble and laid-back restaurant has some of the best food in eastern Iowa.
2. Bob's Drive-Inn
Hwy 75 South, Le Mars
This local small-town favorite is famous for their natural casing weiners. Chili dog? This is one of the best places to get your hot dog fix in Iowa. Try their taverns, too. You won't be disappointed.
407 E 5th St., Des Moines
If you are into eating sustainably raised local products sourced from Iowa farmers, makers, and artisans as close to home as possible, then we've found your restaurant. The food is amazing, of course. Korean chicken, vegan Chorizo, braised pork, tomatillo habanero salsa, kimchi, vietnamese sandwiches, and a bacon parfait are just a few items on this huge menu of amazingness that will make you want to eat everything in sight.
4. Bluff Lake Catfish Farm
9343 95th Ave., Maquoketa
All you can eat fried catfish? Yes, Please. Friday nights at Bluff Lake Catfish Farm are an all-you-can-eat event that starts at 4pm. This place is off the beaten path, but worth every extra mile you drive to get here. Prepare to wait for a table, or be happy eating outside. If you get stuck eating outside, you can enjoy the view of a 50-foot waterfall and Iowa's natural beauty. The food is so good that it's nearly constantly busy, here.
5. The General Store Pub
12612 Stone City Road, Anamosa
These folks know what to do with a tenderloin: Iowa Style. This is one of those places you have to go on purpose. It's near Anamosa, in the tiny town of Stone City. Their live music line-up is impressive, their bloody marys are amazing, and their view of the Wapsipinicon River from the deck is inspiring. Fans of the Iowa artist Grant Wood may recognize this pub from his painting, "Stone City, Iowa." Here's a pro tip: if you stop by during the winter months, go downstairs and grab a table by the giant fireplace.
516 Pearl St, Sabula
Nestled in between Iowa and Illinois, in the Mississippi River, is the Iowan island of Sabula. Here, you'll find the most incredible wood-fired pizza joint. They use locally grown and fresh ingredients. The food is rustic and delicious. The decor is funky and fun. It's a must-see on your list of tucked-away Iowa restaurants.
7. The Family Diner
1604 Hill Ave, Spirit Lake
This is a true Midwestern diner, with exactly the menu you expect. Cinnamon rolls with an inch of cream cheese frosting melting on top, fluffy pancakes, sausage gravy, crispy hashbrowns, thick Iowa hamburgers, hot beef sandwiches, pork tenderloin sandwiches, made-from-scratch mashed potatoes, and more. The locals eat here, so you know it's good.
8. Cafe Dodici
122 S Iowa Ave, Washington
This Italian restaurant offers authentic cuisine from the owners; a native Iowan, Lorraine and her Italian husband, Alessandro. With an emphasis on fresh and local and a farm-to-table vibe, the food here is incredible. Combined with the beautiful atmosphere and excellent service, you'll have an unforgettable dining experience.
9. Butch's River Rock Cafe
1529 253rd St, Mount Pleasant
An incredible view of the Skunk River bridge, award winning tenderloin sandwiches, stacked grilled cheese, loaded fries, and a burger that's consistently one of the best in the state makes a trip out to this out-of-the-way restaurant worth every mile.
10. Historic Northside Cafe
61 E Jefferson St, Winterset
Come for the food, stay for the menu descriptions. The ever-changing specials change with the times, as the "Trump Burger" proves that the owners of The Northside Cafe aren't afraid to tread into a politically charged arena where strong opinions and food collide. No matter your political affiliations, we think you'll agree that this little cafe has some amazing food.
11. Thai Spice
1210 S Gilbert St, Iowa City
Try the Tom Kha Kai (coconut soup) or the cashew chicken. People who eat here often call this a big-city Thai food experience. The grilled shrimp appetizer and red curry sauce are completely delicious. If you are in the mood for a not-so-traditional dining experience, right in the middle of Eastern Iowa, this restaurant is a great one to put on your list.
Which hidden, unique, out-of-the-way Iowa restaurants are your favorite? Please let us know in the comments.