The Top 10 Restaurants to Try In Dubuque, Iowa

Dubuque Iowa |© SD Dirk/Flickr
Dubuque Iowa |© SD Dirk/Flickr
Photo of Graziano Scaldaferri
9 February 2017

Located along the Mississippi, Dubuque attracts flocks of tourists due to its remarkable river-scapes. The city’s restaurants are ready to welcome those tourists with memorable meals and, more notably, excellent and friendly service. Read our guide to discover Dubuque’s 10 best restaurants.

Millwork District – Downtown Dubuque, Iowa | ©Tony Webster/Flickr

Pepper Sprout

Restaurant, American, $$$
Pepper Sprout, Dubuque IA
Pepper Sprout, Dubuque IA | @ Alan Light/Flickr
Spend a relaxing night and enjoy a delectable dinner in Dubuque’s restaurant Pepper Sprout. Locals love to grab a table at Pepper Sprout because the restaurant combines superlative food with a cozy, slow-paced atmosphere and friendly staff. Chef Kim Wolff crafts a new menu every season to ensure that only the freshest ingredients, sourced from regional producers, delight the taste buds of her guests.

Caroline's Restaurant

Restaurant, American, $$$
Dinner at Caroline's in Hotel Julien Dubuque
Dinner at Caroline's in Hotel Julien Dubuque | © Alan Light/Flickr
Hotel Julien is a very elegant hotel in the Old Main District, a historical part of Dubuque and one of its most charming areas. The hotel was inaugurated in recent years after extensive renovations were completed, and with that, Caroline’s Restaurant opened its doors. Caroline’s eminently matches the hotel both in refinement and quality service. The design of the interiors, which slightly changes across the multiple dining rooms, includes such features as stained glass windows, beautiful carpets and luscious dark parqueting. The menu, inspired by several international cuisines, is filled with many diverse courses that ensure it remains an excellent choice for business meetings, family outings and romantic dinners.

L. May Eatery

Pizzeria, Restaurant, Dessert, American, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
Making reservations at L. May Eatery is highly recommended – this restaurant is so popular among Dubuque’s residents that walk-ins might have to wait a while before being seated, even on a Monday night. L. May’s secret is simple. The owners, siblings Lea and EJ Droessler, are always around to make sure that everything runs smoothly and that the guests feel as comfortable as if they were in their own home. Open for both lunch and dinner, L. May Eatery’s menu includes a range of appetizers, small plates, entrees, soups, salads, desserts and pizzas, and is therefore suited to either those looking for a hearty dinner or just a quick, light meal.

Copper Kettle

Bar, Restaurant, American, $$$
Copper Kettle confirms the rule that a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover. Sitting a little off the beaten track in a somewhat desolate area in Dubuque, when seen from outside, Copper Kettle looks quite unpromising – yet another good ol’ American bar. But take one step inside and that judgement will turn on its head. The restaurant boasts modern, hip interiors with a beautifully laid-back atmosphere, a great place to be in with good company while enjoying some delicious food. Copper Kettle serve simple, classic American fare, but every morsel is full of taste, and every dish well cooked and presented. Choose between a succulent steak, a fresh-cut salad or a mouth-watering burger or sandwich, and wash everything down with one of the many sensational craft beers on offer.

Europa Cafe

Cafe, Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Ravioli | © stu_spivack/Flickr
There’s an intimate, cozy place in Dubuque to enjoy some healthy, scrumptious, exotic fare and that place is called Europa Cafe. A unique establishment in the city’s dining scene, this restaurant offers absolutely exquisite dishes typical of Eastern Europe, plus a few Italian specialties. Try the chicken Kiev — the national dish of Ukraine — the creamy pork stroganoff or the mouth-watering ravioli, filled with cheese, oven-roasted and topped with red peppers and fresh spinach. A family business, the friendly owners clearly have a passion for cooking and will be happy to explain in detail the preparation of their meals.

Sugar Ray’s BBQ

An irresistible whiff of barbecue cooked meat lures passers-by on Dubuque’s University Avenue into Sugar Ray’s. Chef Raymond Sanders grew up with fried chicken and pork chops as a young boy in Chicago, standing next to his grandmother while she cooked wonderful family meals. He later ventured into the cooking business as a caterer for special events – his pork ribs were so tender and tasty and his sandwiches so exquisite that his services proved to be a success every single time. Eventually, Sanders opened Sugar Ray’s, his very own barbecue joint which is now one of the most popular spots in town for a fail-safe, stellar barbecue session.

Sugar Ray’s Barbeque, 1106 University Ave, Dubuque, IA, USA, +1 563 583 9590

Ichiban Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

Bar, Restaurant, Japanese, Sushi, $$$
Sushi | © SubtlePanda/Flickr
Dubuque’s citizens should feel lucky that they have one of the best Japanese restaurants in the region close at hand. Ichiban tempts its clientele with a truly endless choice of appetizers, sushi, sashimi, rolls and hand rolls, every single one of them so good and enticing that customers will feel the urge to come back time and time again to work their way down the entire menu. The restaurant also serves Hibachi dinner, a style of cooking either meat or fish on a flat iron grill. Cooking the Hibachi way involves tall flames being ignited directly on the grill — the Hibachi chefs at Ichiban turn the operation into a small spectacle that never fails to amaze the enthusiastic diners. Good food, friendly service and a nice atmosphere make Ichiban one of the must-try restaurants in Dubuque.

Zoro’s Gyros

Fans of gyros — the traditional Greek sandwich of rotisserie meats, salad vegetables, lettuce and tzatziki sauce wrapped in grilled pita bread — have one name to remember for their next trip to Dubuque. Zoro’s. This fast food joint serves the best gyros in town, prepared with pork, chicken or cheese. Whatever variant is preferred, customers will find in their hands a huge, delicious gyro that will keep them full for a good while, especially if they’ll have Zoro’s fantastic fries with the sandwich. Although gyros are the house’s specialty, Zoro’s also offers a range of no less tasty, typical fast foods such as hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken wings and hot dogs.

Zoro’s Gyro, 1400 Central Ave, Dubuque, IA, USA, +1 563 557 5071

Adobos Mexican Grill

Bar, Restaurant, Mexican
Burrito | © Pixabay
Who wants a burrito? Get in line at Adobos’ burrito bar and wait for a fresh, exquisite burrito – try the Baja burrito, or the three-cheese variant – just like a restaurant back in Mexico would serve it. Adobos Mexican Grill is one of the best options for Dubuque’s residents to savor some authentic Mexican fare. Choose from the packed menu of burritos, nachos and tacos, or treat yourself to some amazing enchiladas without fear of being left disappointed. Adobos Mexican Grill gets extra points for its range of spicy salsas, starting from the just slightly spicy Sweet Tomato Red, to the burning hot El Diablo, made with bird peppers, onions and roasted garlic.

Chocolaterie Stam

Patisserie, Dessert Shop, American, Dessert, $$$
Dubuque’s Chocolaterie Stam — one outlet in a chain of stores across Iowa and the neighboring states — awaits the city’s chocolate junkies to spoil them with an irresistible selection of tantalizing sweets. The variety of bonbons puts self-control to an especially fierce test; who can resist such treats as the petite chocolate pastries filled with amaretto, buttercream, cognac cream or liquid caramel? Chocolaterie Stam is a century-old business with roots in the best of Dutch patisserie. Join this Old World spot enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while indulging in their sinful chocolates.

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