We love new restaurants; they each offer something new and different to the food scene. However, old restaurants deserve respect for their epic accomplishment. Only the best restaurants survive the test of time, especially those that have been in operation for over 100 years! These Iowa eateries have earned their spot in history for serving up consistently delicious dishes for decades.
1. Breitbach’s Country Dining
Breitbach’s Country Dining was opened up in 1852, making it the oldest restaurant in Iowa. This famous family-owned restaurant has served up classic American comfort food and out-of-this-world freshly baked homemade pies for over 16 decades, so it’s pretty clear that they didn’t survive this long by offering anything less than the best-of-the-best.
Save room for dessert!
Breitbach’s Country Dining is located at 563 Balltown Rd., Sherrill, IA.
2. General Store Pub
The limestone building that houses the General Store Pub was built in 1897 as, you guessed it, a general store located on the Wapsipinicon River.
This spot is most famous for its appearance in American artist Grant Wood’s painting, "Stone City, Iowa," and these days, they serve up tasty pub fare.
General Store Pub is located at 12612 Stone City Rd., Anamosa, IA.
3. The Lighthouse Inn
The Lighthouse Inn has a pretty amazing story; this historical restaurant in Cedar Rapids was built in 1912, which makes it one of the oldest in the state. At the time, The Lighthouse Inn was way out in a rural area, known as an excellent supper club that served true farm-to-table meals utilizing the fresh produce and meats of surrounding farms. It sits right on Mount Vernon Road, which in 1913 became a part of the Lincoln Highway – the first paved highway to stretch across the country – which made The Lighthouse Inn a popular spot for travelers.
Operations carried on, even after the market crashed in 1929, despite being foreclosed upon. As the Inn was pretty far removed from more populated areas, they continued to serve alcohol during the Prohibition era, albeit a bit more slyly. This attracted a few well-known gangsters to frequent the Inn, including John Dillinger. These days, The Lighthouse Inn is known for its fantastic live Jazz music nights on weekends!
The Lighthouse Inn is located at 6905 Mount Vernon Road SE, Cedar Rapids, IA.
4. Canteen Lunch in the Alley
This local favorite has been serving up some of the best sandwiches in the state since 1927! The old school Midwestern-style loose-meat sandwiches aren’t pretty, but they’re absolutely amazing. When you come to taste this signature dish, get here early; there are only 16 bar stools at the lunch counter and it’s quite a popular spot!
Canteen Lunch in the Alley is located at 112 2nd St. E, Ottumwa, IA.
5. Taylor’s Maid-Rite
This lovely little family restaurant was opened in 1928 and have been offering up amazing, 100% Iowa beef sandwiches and homemade ice cream and desserts.
One step inside feels like you’ve been transported back to the 1950s, complete with throwback lunch counters!
Taylor’s Maid-Rite is located at 106 S 3rd Ave., Marshalltown, IA.
6. Fong’s Pizza
While Fong’s as it is today is a newer addition, this unique pizza place earns a spot on this list because they carried over many of the features of the site’s original occupant – a Chinese restaurant called King Ying Low, which opened in 1907 as the first of its kind in Des Moines. The cuisine has moved to an Asian fusion menu full of unique and delicious options that give a nod to the Chinese roots while also modernizing the fare.
Fong’s Pizza is located at 223 4th St., Des Moines, IA
7. The Ladora Bank Bistro
The Ladora Bank Bistro is certainly one-of-a-kind! The restaurant was built into the old 1920s-style Ladora Savings Bank, which sits on the National Register of Historic Places. The building is an architectural relic from the 1920s and considered on of only a handful of similar structures left in existence.
Though the restaurant is a new addition, it has certainly made an impression on the Iowa food scene with its delicious menu that has earned high praise and awards. It’s a little hidden gem in the small town of Ladora, with an interesting and unique contemporary menu that contrasts beautifully with the history-rich atmosphere.
The Ladora Bank Bistro is located at 811 Pacific St., Ladora, IA.
Are you hungry yet? We certainly are! When you are looking for a unique dining experience with a side dish of history, check out these awesome Iowa restaurants for meals that have stood the test of time! Bon Apatite!