Here in Iowa, we love pork tenderloins, sweet corn…. and barbecue. There’s nothing in the world like barbecued Iowa pork; we know how to do it just right. Next time you’re cravin’ some Q, head to one of these 12 BBQ joints in Iowa – they’ll be sure to keep you coming back for more.
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. Jimmy Jack's Rib Shack, Iowa City
Jimmy Jack's was voted the best BBQ in Iowa by Thrillist, and it's easy to see why - their food is amazing! Not only their barbecue, but their fries, corn bread, and honey butter are to die for. When you go, you have to try the Supreme Sandwich, which is filled with pork, smoked turkey, and brisket. Mmmm.
2. Smokey D's BBQ, Des Moines
If you have never been to Smokey D's, put it on your bucket list. Not only is their food just plain heavenly, but their serving sizes are huge - you won't go hungry here! The ribs nearly fall off the bone, and the burnt ends and brisket are deliciously juicy. Don't leave without trying their potato casserole!
3. Mosely's, Iowa City
Mosely's is a pretty new establishment, but they know their stuff. If you're looking for a taste of Carolina style in Iowa, Mosely's is your place. Try their rib tips and their pulled pork, I only have one word for them: delicious.
4. Wildwood Smokehouse & Saloon, Iowa City
If you're in Iowa City searching for some good Q, and a fun time, look no further than Wildwood. I mean, they have a mechanical bull, what else could you need? Their food is mouthwatering, and you should definitely try their Dinner Sampler Platter (twice). Plus, they have won many awards for their BBQ, including: Newbo Fest 2012, Best Ribs at the Brew-B-Q in 2013 and 2014, and the North Liberty Blues & BBQ in 2013.
5. Jethro's BBQ, Des Moines
Jethro's BBQ has a few different locations in the Des Moines area, and they are known for their delectable BBQ and fun environment, but it's also a place you can take the family for lunch. If you're a competitive type, try the Adam Emmenecker challenge, which is a 5 lb monster burger in 15 minutes. Seems easy, huh? Just wait until you find out what's on it: pork tenderloin, an Angus steak burger, slabs of Texas brisket, apple wood bacon, fried cheese, finished with buffalo chicken tenders, smothered in melted cheddar cheese and white cheddar sauce. Better come hungry.
6. QDogs BBQ Company, Marion
Next time you're in Marion, make sure to make a stop at QDogs - you won't regret it. Get their brisket, ribs, corn bread, and au gratin taters. Meal of the champions. Not only is the food great, but the atmosphere is great and the restaurant is super unique!
7. Woody's Smoke Shack, Des Moines
Woody's has some of the best BBQ in the state, and they have the awards to back it up. Woody's has won many contests around the Midwest, including the World Pork Expo, the American Royal in Kansas City and the Jack Daniels Invitational in Tennessee; three of the most prestigious BBQ contests in the U.S. They're also a winner of the Iowa State Barbeque Championship. With a resume like that, it's no surprise that Woody's is a favorite of BBQ lovers across the state. Their wonderful smokey flavored meat just slides off the bone, and they do sides right, too.
8. Battlecry Smokehouse, Ames
Battlecry Smokehouse, or Battles BBQ before the name changed, is a longtime favorite of those in the Ames area. At Battlecry, you want to make sure you try their smoked brisket, perfectly soft and buttery buns, and their spicy yet sweet BBQ sauce.
9. Old Armory BBQ, Decorah
If you go to Old Armory, I recommend you try the blueberry BBQ sauce, it's actually amazing, and the sweet potato tater tots will literally melt in your mouth. Their rib platter is quite good, too, and with their low prices, you are sure to leave fat and happy.
10. Boxer BBQ Co., Council Bluffs
Somewhat of a hidden gem in Council Bluffs, Boxer is gaining popularity as a premiere BBQ joint in the area. Their falling-off-the-bone meat has that perfect, smoky flavor. The food is plentiful, and the price is right.
11. Vinny's BBQ, Dakota City
I could show you a picture of some of Vinny's delicious BBQ, but wouldn't you rather see his giant pork tenderloin instead? Yeah, I thought so. This behemoth pork tenderloin was made for a competition held at the Iowa State Fair, which the restaurant competes in each year. In 2013, the burger weighed something like 300 lbs, and the bun about 45 lbs. But back to the BBQ, when you visit Vinny's be sure to get a plate of their burnt ends with their homemade barbecue sauce, it's simply delicious.
12. Smokehouse Grille at the Blue Mountain Culinary Emporium, Orange City
The Blue Mountain Culinary Emporium is a unique restaurant that offers three different dining options in one place. There is The Lodge, The Passport Club, and The Smokehouse Grille, which is the BBQ joint. Smokehouse is known for their delicious ribs and brisket, and they also have some really good sauces, like the Blue Mountain House Sauce, Bad JuJu, and Pear Brew. Make sure you check out this hidden gem of a restaurant next time you're in the area!
While these 12 BBQ joints are delicious, there are so many more to love! What are some of your favorite spots?