Often called ‘America’s heartland’, Iowa offers a taste of the real Midwest. Its biggest cities of Des Moines, Davenport, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City attract large numbers of tourists each year, with Iowa City being the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. Food is big business in Iowa, with Iowan restaurants regularly featuring on TV shows such as Man v. Food and Bizarre Foods America. Below are our top 10 restaurants in the state.
Backpocket Brewing is a microbrewery and restaurant providing Iowans with German inspired, hand crafted beer. The front of the building houses the restaurant, with a simple but comprehensive menu including soups, pies, salads, grills, flatbreads and brick oven pizzas. All of the beer on offer is brewed on site, and the highly knowledgeable staff are more than happy to give beer recommendations to accompany your meal. You can also venture outside for patio seating and enjoy sitting by the outdoor fire pit. The back of the building is home to the brewery, which runs popular tours throughout the week.
Backpocket Brewing, 903 Quarry Road, Coralville, IA, USA, +1 319-466-4444.
Breitbach’s Country Dining
First opened in 1852, Breitbach’s Country Dining is Iowa’s oldest restaurant and bar. The great, great grandfather of the current owner bought the restaurant in 1862 and it has remained in the family ever since. Having recovered from fires in 2007 and 2008, Breitbach’s reopened in 2009 to great acclaim, with diners having travelled from across the state to support this Iowa institution. The restaurant serves traditional American breakfast, lunch and dinner and all dishes are made from scratch on the premises. Outside, there a views of the Mississippi, fields and river valleys, giving one of the finest dining vantage points in the state.
Breitbach’s Country Dining, 563 Balltown Road, Sherill, IA, USA, +1 563-552-2220.
Orchard Green Restaurant and Lounge
Orchard Green Restaurant and Lounge is Iowa City’s premier fine dining destination. Typical menu items include bouillabaisse, seared sea scallops, swordfish, filet mignon, ‘cowboy’ ribeye and New York steak, with Executive Chef Bryan Herzic regularly updating the menu choices in line with the availability of fresh and seasonal ingredients. Hand picked wines and custom speciality drinks make the perfect accompaniment to meals, or to unwind with at the bar. Their two main seating areas are the upstairs dining room, with its elegant cathedral ceilings and chandeliers, and the more casual downstairs lounge. The wooden furnishings, white tablecloths and spattering of flowers throughout certainly gives Orchard Green an air of high quality, which is further enhanced by the food.
Orchard Green Restaurant and Lounge, 521 South Gilbert Street, Iowa City, IA, USA, +1 319-354-1642.
Mediterranean and North African dining in Iowa’s capital city, Proof is proof that there is more to Iowan food than Americana and eating competitions. It still acknowledges its place in Des Moines however, by using local ingredients in all its dishes. Executive chef Sean Wilson uses his South Carolina roots to inspire his Mediterranean dishes, and, as with all restaurants where ingredients are the centrepiece of their fresh dishes, the menu changes in line with seasonal availability. From fine cheeses and charcuterie samplings to complex molecular dishes, Proof offers an enviable menu in terms of both the variety of food on offer and the processes that go into their making. The interior is simple, airy and bright, making for a pleasant atmosphere which allows the food to be the star of the show.
Proof, 1301 Locust Street, Suite C, Des Moines, IA, USA, +1 515-244-0655.
Zombie Burger is a fun restaurant and drink lab that is nonetheless serious about its burgers and alcoholic concoctions. Inside, canteen style and bar seating await diners, with zombie paintings adorning the walls and servers who are known to get into character. As you may have guessed, the menu has a downright impressive selection of burgers, fries and hot dogs and unlike many burger restaurants, there are also menu options for vegans and vegetarians. For the thirsty hordes, there are appetizing shakes, cocktails and bottles.
Zombie Burger, 300 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA, USA, +1 515-244-9292
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