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Best of Central Iowa

Does anybody make a really good Cheesesteak in the area? A long time ago I used to love the ones at Da Vinci's in Ames, but that location is closed.

Aug 08, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains

Des Moines Update

Chili at the Chili King is still pretty good, as are the Onion Rings. Or at least they were last (?) year, the last time I was there.

I agree though. A lot of the menu seems to be straight from Sysco.

Though CK's lack of ambiance is kind of their thing. Most people assume it'll be some kitchy diner like Sonic's. It is not.

If you're looking for a good home-made tenderloin next time you're in Des Moines I suggest the B&B Grocery, Meat & Deli. It's a long running small grocer/butcher in south central Des Moines who has branched off into serving meals.

Jul 29, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains

Des Moines Update

I do love Tasty Tacos Original Flour Taco. That link is kind of BS though. It says that Tasty's is statewide. If only. All of them are in the Des Moines Metro area, which means when I get back to DM I almost invariably go to Tasty's once to sate my craving.

I still live in Iowa, and a good tenderloin is easy to find where I'm at, so I don't have to go to Tasty's AND B&B AND George the Chili King in one weekend. :)

Jul 25, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains

Des Moines Update

Getting some Tasty Tacos too? :)

Jul 23, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains
1

Iowa City IA Fine Dining?

I live somewhat near Iowa City, but have not gotten there in the last couple years for fine dining. I'll be there in a week or two. What's good? Anyplace new that's outstanding? I remember liking 126 and Orchard Green, but not being particularly impressed with the Motley Cow.

Alternately, what are some good moderate cost places? (I'm not sure right now if I'm going to be able to convince my traveling companion to go get expensive food)

Jul 23, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains

Des Moines Update

If you're willing to do a bar at a restaurant, a lot of my friends have good things to say about the bar at Django, which is about 1 mile away from Embassy Suites. It's relatively close to the restaurant Centro that hawkeyeui93 suggested.

Jul 23, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains

Driving from Michigan to Moline Quad Cities IL via I-94 and I-80

Le Figaro is probably my favorite place in the QC. The food is good, but more so it is one of the few restaurants on either side of the river that is *quiet*. No brick walls, hardwood floors, and exposed ceilings for sound to bounce off of so that it's 90db with 5 people in the place. :)

Plus they often have table service, especially for the "for two" items on the menu, which is rare in these parts.

Jul 22, 2014
vitus979 in Great Lakes

Lawrence, KS to Chicago, IL - good eats in eastern IA?

Crap, I'm late to the thread.

I will say that a very good BBQ place in Iowa City is Wildwood, which is also a honkey-tonk. I tend to go in spite of the ambiance. :)

Augusta is great, though I have to agree with the OP that the gumbo hasn't grabbed me when I went.

Jul 22, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains

Des Moines Update

The Embassy Suites are right on Des Moines River. In addition to the East Village (which hwkeyeui93 mentioned), right across the river is an area known as Court Avenue, which is the street Court Avenue and a few side streets with a collection of bars and restaurants. I'm sorry to say I'm not familiar with the bars in the area, but I am with the restaurants.

If you're in town on Saturday you might check out the Farmers Market on Saturday morning, which is very large and takes up the roads in the Court Avenue area.

Jul 22, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains

Best of Central Iowa

Best Teriyaki - Appare "Shrimp Teriyaki", Urbandale

Best Lunch - Lucca/Basil Prosperi's "Sausage & Pepper Pasta"

Best "just like mom used to make" item - Palmer Deli "Pumpkin Bar", multiple Des Moines locations

Best Pizza (honorable mention) - Felix & Oscar's "Chicago Style Pizza", Des Moines

Best Fries (honorable mention) - Felix & Oscar's "Nasty Fries", Des Moines

Best Cake (honorable mention) - Bake Shoppe "Petit Fours", Windsor Heights

Best BBQ Dish (honorable mention) - Wildwood "Pulled Pork", Iowa City

Best Tenderloin (honorable mention) - Augusta, Oxford

Best View (honorable mention) - Embassy Club, Des Moines

Anybody know of a place with a porch for outdoor eating with a great view?

May 17, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains

Best of Central Iowa

Good Point, I have tried the poutine.

Best Fries - Django "Poutine"

Though this category IMO has a lot of contenders. The Zombie Burger fries are good, and I've got a soft spot in my heart for the Smash Burger Rosemary fries. I haven't tried the Library Cafe though.

Also, has Cactus Bob's gotten better again? I went a couple times and really liked it, then went a couple more times and the food wasn't nearly as good. A friend in living in Johnston told me he stopped going because the quality hadn't picked back up. That's been awhile though.

May 15, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains

Best of Central Iowa

>>Best Fried Chicken- Latin King<<

Really? I've been there a dozen times and never tried the Fried Chicken. I'll have to try it next time.

>>Best Authentic Taco- La Pena, Indianola Rd.<<

Thanks for this one. I don't live in Des Moines anymore, and I have problems finding authentic Mexican.

May 15, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains

Best of Central Iowa

>>Best BBQ Dish - Burnt Ends @ Smokey D's (There is NO Competition here IMO)<<

Agreed, though I love their Smoked Sausage as well

Best place for a quiet meal - Baru 66, Des Moines

Best Appetizer - Buzzard Billy's "Bacon Wrapped Andouille", Des Moines

Best Cake - Cafe Di Scala "Italian Wedding Cake", Des Moines

Best Burger (all time) - Lincoln Cafe, Mt Vernon (RIP)

Best Burger (in business) - G Migs 5th Street Pub, West Des Moines

Best Pork Chop - Mi Patria, West Des Moines

Best Pizza - Great Plains Pizza, Ames

Best Chocolate - Chocolaterie Stam, Ingersoll location Des Moines

Best View - Iowa River Power Restaurant, Iowa City

Best non-authentic Taco - Tasty Tacos (multiple locations)

PS does anybody know a place with great Cheesecake? Lucca/Basil's used to have *wonderful* cheesecake, but apparently the person making it is no longer working with them.

May 14, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains

Ultimate kung pao in Des Moines-Ankeny-Ames?

Take this with a grain of salt. When I was in Ames in the early 2000s Little Taipei had a decent Kung Pao. It's a hole in the wall in the middle of campustown though, so don't expect a lot of ambiance.

Mar 11, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains

Desserts in Des Moines IA?

I decided to go with an Italian Cream Cake that I first tried at Cafe Di Scala. Exceptionally good, and surprisingly good on the third piece 3 days later. Unlike most cake, the frosting doesn't get sickeningly sweet the more of it you eat. :)

Jan 08, 2014
vitus979 in Great Plains

RIP: Lincoln Cafe (Mount Vernon Iowa)

Sure, but I'm not really interested in the Wine Bar so much. I'm interested in the dinner specials (and the hamburgers) at the Cafe.

What does the Wine Bar serve? (other than the obvious of course) I've been there a couple times, but not for anything but waiting for my table at the Cafe.

Dec 11, 2013
vitus979 in Great Plains

RIP: Lincoln Cafe (Mount Vernon Iowa)

One of the best restaurants in Iowa, Lincoln Cafe, is closing its doors on December 21.

Well that sucks.

Does anybody know if Chef Steigerwald has any plans?

Dec 05, 2013
vitus979 in Great Plains

Desserts in Des Moines IA?

I'm going to be in Des Moines for Christmas and I thought I'd pick up a dessert for Christmas dinner.

What's a good place to order from? I'm open to ideas be it a restaurant or a bakery or someone who makes good stuff in their home...but it needs to be something that can travel from the place I'll be picking it up to the house I'll be staying in, and it needs to be able to be stored for at least a day. Cheesecake, regular cake, bars, specialty ice cream, mousse, tarts, etc... I'm not particularly picky as long as I get enough to have 20 servings and it's exceptionally good.

PS - I live on the Mississippi river in Iowa and normally get my desserts for holidays at Ganson's in Rock Island Illinois. The desserts there are outstanding, but that's not going to be possible this year.

Dec 03, 2013
vitus979 in Great Plains

Eating between Chicago and Iowa City

I think there's good food to be found in the Quad-Cities, but not much in the way of "quick lunch meal near I-80" that the OP is asking for. If I were doing that route I'd probably go to the Noodles and Company on 53rd Street.

Aug 05, 2013
vitus979 in Great Plains

Fine Dining in Des Moines

>>I'd vote Trostel's Greenbriar over Dish

I recently got back to Greenbriar for the first time in over 10 years. I'm not sure why I'd been away so long. The ambiance is an old-style dinner club (and sometimes it's tight when the place is full), but the food was great.

Also a huge fan of Django.

Just a thought to the OP, have you tried the surrounding area? Ames maybe?

Jul 25, 2013
vitus979 in Great Plains

Eating between Chicago and Iowa City

There's a Culver's off I-74 in Davenport, which is close to I-80.

A little usage of Google maps shows on in Stirling if you go I-88, and another one in Princeton if you go down I-80. I have no idea about where these places are.

Jul 11, 2013
vitus979 in Great Plains

Eating between Chicago and Iowa City

There are some things in the Quad Cities near I-80

There's the Machine Shed, which serves country style midwest cuisine.

A little off I-80 there's Cafe Indigo. I've eaten there for dinner and was happy, but can't say anything about lunch. There's also the Red Crow, but that's not open for lunch.

There's Thunder Bay. It used to be a fish place that I wasn't a fan of, but they've turned over their menu and I've heard good things about it from a couple people since then.

There's the Iowa 80 Truckstop, but I don't know that I'd recommend that.

The trouble is that along I-80 in the Quad Cities it's mostly chains, specifically near the Brady Street exit and off Exit 1 on I-74.

Jul 09, 2013
vitus979 in Great Plains

[Des Moines, IA] Cafe Di Scala

Cafe di Scala is an Italian restaurant in a converted Victorian era home. It sits in a residential neighborhood just west of downtown Des Moines. It has a very small menu, about 6x appetizers, 1x soup, 3x salads, 6x main course options, and 3 or 4 desserts.

Overall I and my two companions were quite pleased.

High-Lights: All of us were very happy with our soups/salads, main courses, and desserts.

* The noodles of the pasta with red sauce and sausage main were very nice, and the sausage was surprisingly mild for Graziano's.

* The bacon wrapped, cheese stuffed chicken main was a hit.

* The braised pork stew w/ quinoa main was a surprise at first, but very tasty.

* The tiramisu was quite good.

* The Italian Wedding cake was exceptional

* While we didn't sit out for very long, the porch was very nice.

Low-lights

* Parking on a busy night would be terrible given that this restaurant has no parking lot.

* While my companions were quite pleased with the lamb meatballs I was not, but I firmly feel this is an issue with me as an eater, not on the restaurant. I'm coming to the conclusion that the only meatballs I like are beef-based.

* After the dessert course, we were semi-neglected. Receiving and processing the check took longer than we would have liked. If we had been sitting outside this would not have been as much of and issue, but the restaurant was filling up, getting loud, and we were ready to leave. I can understand this to an extent because we ate early and we were finishing while the rush was coming in, but it was still frustrating.

Side Comments:

* The soup offered is very good, but ridiculously large as a first course. It took all three of us to put a dent in it. It could easily serve as a main course.

* I didn't see how this restaurant would work for someone in a wheelchair given its steep stairs. There may be an elevator along the side I missed. Those with mobility issues should ask when making reservations.

* While this restaurant has a menu in the Italian style with Primo and Secondo courses, the individual courses are far too large to chose one of each. Picking a salad or soup, Primo, Secundo, and Dolce would leave the eater with many doggy bags (not necessarily a bad thing).

We had a good experience overall. The best single item was probably the Italian Wedding Cake. I have a well known sweet tooth amongst friends and family, so I'm not sure how impartial that statement is, but each of my companions felt the same way.

Jun 08, 2013
vitus979 in Great Plains

Toffee Ice Cream

Which companies make a really good ice cream with toffee in it that I can buy at a grocery store? It seems like there are two varieties; butter brickle, and ice cream with Heath Bar chunks. The ones I know about are

1) Breyer's Heath Bar "ice cream" - When Breyer's was still ice cream instead of "frozen dairy dessert" I used to love this stuff. Now....not so much.

2) Blue Bunny's Butter Brickle - The variety I grew up on, and since I live in the midwest, still available to me.

3) Skondra's* Butter Brickle - a little better than Blue Bunny, but not as common in my area.

4) Heath Bar Blizzard at Dairy Queen - Good stuff, but I've got to go to Dairy Queen every time I want it.

I've heard there are a couple Ben & Jerry's varieties with toffee in them, are they any good? Anything else?

* unknown to me till now, Skondra's is Hy-Vee's premium in-house brand. Hy-Vee is a chain of grocery stores in the midwest.

May 20, 2013
vitus979 in General Topics

Traveling I-80 West with family

Smokey D's is RIGHT OFF I-80 (it's less than 50 yards past the off ramp for 2nd Avenue). IMO it's probably my favorite newer restaurant in Des Moines to go to with groups that aren't all foodies. The BBQ is excellent, especially the Smoked Sausage. I'm also a fan of the Garlic Bread and the Cucumber and Onion Slaw.

Apr 20, 2013
vitus979 in Great Plains

Bettendorf, Iowa casino trip!

Close to you is Trattoria Tiramasu, which is a decent Italian place. The other place that comes to mind is Lunardi's in Davenport. Both are long running places, so expect that "1950s/1960s American Italian" experience with the kind of food you'll get at both.

Probably the best steak is Bass Streak Chop House, which also has seafood. Be prepared to pay though.

My favorite place is probably Le Figaro in Rock Island. It's supremely quiet, the French food is excellent, and you can get French Table Service on the dinners for two most nights.

A side trip to Whitey's Ice Cream is worth your time if you like Shakes or Malts. Some of the best shakes I've tried. There are a number of locations.

Excellent, but pricey is Red Crow. It's a Fusion style restaurant. Probably the best quality food in the Quad Cities.

Another good breakfast spot is Riefe's. There is almost no ambiance, but the food is good and the service is generally excellent. Pretty modestly priced as well.

For breakfast there's also City Limits in Rock Island, which has good food, but be prepared to wait. They recently added table space, but did not increase the size of the kitchen so service can be slow at peak times.

Finally, slightly out of your range is the town of LeClaire, which is where the History Channel show American Pickers is based. If you're planning on seeing the Picker's store, one of the best restaurants in the area is there. Steventons has an excellent Fusion style menu that leans towards seafood and has the most scenic overlook of the Mississippi River I'm aware of. They also have an excellent patio, but I've always been there during the winter when I can't take advantage of it. :(

If you're looking for something different, or something else, don't hesitate to ask.

Apr 20, 2013
vitus979 in Great Plains

Bettendorf, Iowa casino trip!

Are you trying to stay inside Bettendorf, or are you willing to travel around the Quad Cities area (Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island, and Moline)?

Apr 19, 2013
vitus979 in Great Plains

Traveling I-80 West with family

The one in the Quad Cities is good, but the one in Des Moines is better (as someone who has a lot of family in Des Moines and who lives near the Quad Cities, I go to each at least once or twice a year).

Apr 19, 2013
vitus979 in Great Plains

Traveling I-80 West with family

I'm taking your "we are meat and potatoes kind of people" into acount with these suggestions. As such there are a lot of places I'm not mentioning.

Quad Cities area (Davenport and Bettendorf Iowa and Moline and Rock Island Illinois) - Whitey's Ice cream. Wonderful malts and shakes. The location closest to the Interstate is the one in the Coralville mall, but I'd suggest going to the one at 2419 East 53rd Street in Davenport, which is only a little farther away from the Interstate, but will be worlds easier getting to, and then getting back to the interstate when you're done.

Des Moines area - So the first thing you should know is that there is not much along I-80 in Des Moines other than chains. The second thing you should know is that I-235 splits off of I-80 on the East side of Des Moines and swings down through the middle of Des Moines and re-connects with I-80 on the West side of Des Moines. Taking this route only adds maybe 10 minutes to your driving time (as long as you're not going through 235 during rush hour).

Along I-80 through Des Moines probably the best restaurants are Smokey D's BBQ and B Bops (which is a local outdoor burger joint kind of like Sonic). There's also the Machine Shed, which is an Iowa classic. They're very much a country style meat and potatoes kind of place. The Iowa Chop (a very large pork chop) is their signature, and I can't think of anyplace that does a better pork chop.

If you take I-235 through Des Moines you open up nearly all of Des Moines. The first thing place that comes to mind is Tasty Tacos, a small local chain that does fluffy/puffy tacos. There's the Hi-Life Lounge, which is off the interstate a bit. They serve 70s era comfort food (and the place is made up to look like a basement from 1972). There's Buzzard Billy's which is a really solid Cajun place. There's Zombie Burger, a hipster burger joint done up like Night of the Living Dead. That being said, the burgers are really good and the Fries are great.

Apr 19, 2013
vitus979 in Great Plains

Iowa City

Maybe the Amana colonies?

Otherwise I suggest a shotgun given how much of a comeback wild turkeys have had in the last decade. :)

Nov 13, 2012
vitus979 in Great Plains