The lighter side of real estate

15 Restaurants In Iowa That Will Blow Your Mind

Dining at these places will prove once and for all that Iowa has the best food in the Midwest.

Spencer McKee

139 articles, 0 comments

1. You Better Leave The Grilling To The Pros

Flying Mango in Des Moines, IA

Source: Flying Mango via Facebook

Flying Mango
4345 Hickman Rd
Des Moines, IA 50310
(515) 255-4111
Yelp: 4.5 Stars; 141 Reviews.

With instant classics like the orange BBQ-glazed ribs and their sweet potato pancakes, the Flying Mango is a Des Moines staple that won’t be leaving this city any time soon.

Offering up some of the best smoked and grilled meats in the Hawkeye State, this restaurant has attracted the attention of celebrity chef favorites, including Guy Fieri.  A trip here won’t soon be forgotten.

2. I’ll Teluwut’s For Dinner!

Teluwut Grille House & Pub in Osage, IA

Source: Teluwut Grille House & Pub via Facebook

Teluwut Grille House & Pub
627 Main St.
Osage, IA 50461
(641) 832-3300
Yelp: 4.5 Stars; 8 Reviews

Teluwut is a jack of all trades in the restaurant game, with a great variety of amazing dishes. The difficulty here isn’t finding something that looks good, it’s committing to just a single dish.

A few favorites include the loaded blackened prime rib and the Big Mouth Vinnie.  One visit will definitely have you coming back for more.

3. Zombie Meat Never Tasted So Good

Zombie Buger + Drink Lab in Des Moines, IA

Source: Zombie Burger + Drink Lab via Facebook

Zombie Burger + Drink Lab
300 E Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 244-9292
Yelp: 4 Stars; 309 Reviews.

When it comes to creativity and bold new flavors, there might not be a better place in the entire country to sit down for a burger.  Zombie Burger + Drink Lab in Des Moines is constantly crafting bold combinations of burger toppings.

Take the “Walking Ched” for example, a burger that’s on a breaded and deep fried macaroni and cheese bun (yes, you heard that right), topped with bacon cheddar, onion, more mac and cheese, and mayo.

4. The Proof Is In Every Bite

Proof in Des Moines, IA

Source: Proof via Facebook

1301 Locust St
Ste C
Des Moines, IA 50309
Yelp: 4.5 Stars; 91 Reviews.

Who needs Spain when Iowa has tapas this good?  And you can forget about Italy or Greece.

Des Moines’ Proof is ahead of the curve when it comes to blending Mediterranean dishes with American favorites.  If it’s your first time through the doors, you can’t go wrong with the lamb burgers, pork belly, or the scallops.

Feeling adventurous? Proof promises it can deliver you a perfect meal by only asking 5 questions and without ever handing you a menu.

5. Sweetiepies’ Got Soul

Sweetiepies Chicken And Fish Fry in Cedar Rapids, IA

Source: Sweetiepies Chicken and Fish Fry’s Website (cropped)

Sweetiepies Chicken And Fish Fry
624 12th Ave SE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
(319) 826-1809
Yelp: 4.5 Stars; 20 Reviews.

Warning: Sweetiepies’ fried chicken can be addictive.

The menu isn’t huge, but it’s loaded with all of the best soul foods and comfort foods around with plenty of delicious sides.  The sauces are made in house. Word to the wise, their “fin and beak” sauce will have you begging for more things to dip.

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6. Make Her Soup Kitchen Your Own

Her Soup Kitchen in Iowa City, IA

Source: Her Soup Kitchen via Facebook (cropped)

Her Soup Kitchen
625 S Dubuque St.
Iowa City, IA 52240
Yelp: 4.5 Stars; 75 Reviews.

Her Soup Kitchen in Dubuque has some of the best soup, salads, and sandwiches around.  With local ingredients and options changing on a daily basis, there’s always something new and exciting to try.

From the cucumber water served up at every table to meals like the sweet chicken avocado sandwich, this place is a must-visit destination.

7. Italian Food For The Whole Family

Angelini's Pizza and Pasta House in Keokuk, IA

Source: Angelini’s Pizza via Facebook

Angelini’s Pizza and Pasta House
1006 Main St.
Keokuk, IA 52632
(319) 524-9009
Yelp: 4.5 Stars; 13 Reviews.

The Angelini’s motto is simple, fresh is always better.  It’s easy to tell that they stick to this standard, as the ingredients they use simply taste better due to  the higher quality.

The pasta bar is delicious, the staff is always friendly, and their pizza is some of the best for miles.  If you’re in the area, Angelini’s is the place to be come dinner time.

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8. When It Comes To Tacos, Don’t Fear The Beard

Tacopocalypse in Des Moines, IA

Source: Tacopocalypse via Facebook

407 E 5th St
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 556-0571
Yelp: 4 Stars; 60 Reviews.

The food at Tacopocalypse is devastatingly delicious, with a menu taking inspiration from Mexican, Korean, and Vietnamese cuisine.

The chorizo seems to be the fan favorite, but don’t limit yourself to trying just one type of taco.  If you’re lucky enough to find yourself at Tacopocolypse during brunch time, it should be noted that their Korean chicken and waffle simply can’t be beat.

9. Home To The Best Cuban In 1,400 Miles

The Lost Cuban in Cedar Rapids, IA

Source: The Lost Cuban via Facebook

The Lost Cuban
209 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
(319) 362-2627
Yelp: 4.5 Stars; 57 Reviews.

The Lost Cuban will have you thinking you’ve stepped off the street in Havana for a bite.  With tons of Cuban classics ranging from the basic Cuban sandwich to their empanadas, anything you order will leave you satisfied.

10.  Nodo Is A No-Duh Choice

Nodo in Iowa City, IA

Source: Nodo: coffee, carry out & catering Iowa City via Facebook

600 N Dodge St
Iowa City, IA 52245
(319) 512-5028
Yelp: 4.5 Stars; 64 Reviews.

If you find yourself in Iowa City in search for a healthy meal, head straight for Nodo.  Whether it’s for breakfast or lunch, Nodo has plenty of options that will have your taste buds thanking you.

Two favorites among the local patrons include the “Ham & Mango”, topped with smoked ham, mozzarella, and mango relish on a sourdough bun, and the “Nodo Steak”, with roast beef, red onions, white cheddar, and a Guinness BBQ mayo.

11.  Eat, Drink, And Be Merry

The Irish Shanti in Elgin, IA

Source: Gunderbruger – The Irish Shanti via Facebook

The Irish Shanti
17455 Gunder Rd
Elgin, IA 52141
(563) 864-9289
Yelp: 4 Stars; 6 Reviews.

If you’re in the mood to eat a full pound of ground beef, head to the Irish Shanti, home of the Gunderburger.  This massive sandwich can only be found in rural Iowa, but it’s worth the trip.

Other favorites include the corned beef and cabbage and the fried pork tenderloin, but, trust me,  the entire menu is loaded with some of the tastiest things you’ll ever stick in your mouth.

12.  This Restaurant Is Always Right

Starboard Market in Clear Lake, IA

Source: Starboard Market via Facebook

Starboard Market
310 Main Ave
Clear Lake, IA 50428
(641) 357-0660
Yelp: 4.5 Stars; 15 Reviews.

If you’re used to the same old sandwich, consider yourself warned: Starboard Market does things a bit differently.  This quaint stop has a long list of unique options including the very popular “Zephyr”, which is topped with smoked turkey, Havarti, and a cranberry chutney.

With fresh ingredients, creative minds, and an extensive menu, Starboard might have a new twist on sandwiches, but it will become your old favorite in no time.

13.  Small Town Restaurant With A Big City Vibe

Cobble Hill in Cedar Rapids, IA

Source: Cobble Hill via Facebook

Cobble Hill
219 2nd St
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
(319) 366-3177
Yelp: 4.5 Stars; 25 Reviews.

Cobble Hill is definitely on the pricier side of this list but you’ll  know you got what you paid for the second the plates hit the table. Old tradition meets new technique (including molecular gastronomy) , all backed up with explosive flavor.

Want dinner and a show? In certain instances, it’s even possible to dine at the chef’s table, in which the entire cooking process can be observed, great for foodies and casual diners alike.

14.  Jimmy Jack’s Will Keep you Coming Back

Jimmy Jack's Rib in Iowa City, IA

Source: Jimmy Jack’s BBQ via Facebook

Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack
1940 Lower Muscatine Rd
Iowa City, IA 52240
(319) 354-7427
Yelp: 4.5 Stars, 96 Reviews.

Voted the best barbecue in Iowa City on several occasions, the restaurant is much more than just a rib joint. With tons of awesome cuts and a long list of sides, Jimmy Jack’s will make you think you’ve died and gone to carnivore heaven.

Their process of cooking the meat allows them to seal in the flavor and juiciness of their proteins and their sauces will appeal to any lover of BBQ. Jimmy Jack’s can’t be skipped. Just bring a napkin.

15.  If This Restaurant Was Single, It’d Be The “Total Package”

L.May Eatery in Dubuque, IA

Source: L.May Eatery via Facebook

L.May Eatery
1072 Main St.
Dubuque, IA 52001
(563) 556-0505
Yelp: 4.5 Stars; 83 Reviews.

L.May Eatery is a restaurant that has a perfectly blended classic cuisine, an elegant ambiance, and a comfortable atmosphere.

One item that should be on everyone’s culinary bucket list is the pork osso buco, served with a Grand Marnier cherry sauce and parmesan mashed potatoes.  Whether it’s a first date or a dinner on the whim, L.May Eatery is a great place to create a memorable experience.

Like This Post? You’ll Definitely Love These:

What’s your go-to for great grub in Iowa? Tell us in the comments below!

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posted on: January 5, 2015
609,598 views, 52 comments


  1. Jeff Mommer

    What about Cu in downtown waterloo

  2. Cassie

    Sam is a genius! Tacopocalypse is perfection in all of his creations.

    Personally, I work at +39 in Ames, and our cuisines are eloquent in design and development company with a fantastic ensemble of flavorful dishes! Yes, shameless plug! I’m a foodie and extremely selective in my dining choices. This is where I work, eat, and enjoy the finer things.

    In Des Moines, I prefer Django, Cafe diScala, and Blu Thai. Los Tres Amigos in Waukee/ Valley Junction; Appare and Taki Sushi in Clive. Well of course: Noah’s Pizza is my go to as well!

  3. Tammy Vittetoe

    Her Soup Kitchen is in iowa City and the food is the best. love the chicken avocado sandwich, but everything is good and so fresh. Only open during the day. one of my favorite places.

  4. Miranda

    Greg’s place Waterloo, IA best wings ever and jalapeños wrapped in bacon are the best ever!!

  5. Erin

    La Tavola in Burlington is the best place for Italian in Iowa.

  6. May Hesseltine

    River Rock Cafe down at Oakland Mills in Mt a Pleasant Iowa. Voted Best tenderlions

  7. Jayne

    Let’s not omit Z’s Restaurant in Waterloo for the best pizza around! Not only just the pizza … the daily lunch specials, the oven baked subs and broasted chicken!!!! Then on those sweltering summer days when you can fry an egg on the sidewalk, walking in and enjoying an ice cold beer in a frosty mug! The ingredients are piled high on the pies and the taco pizza is amazing!

  8. Pam Taylor

    LOVE Starboard Market in Clear Lake Iowa.
    Wonderful food. Great service. And everyone is treated like they are their favorite customer. EVERYONE! Very special place! YAY! Starboard Market! Congratulations!

  9. Sophia Sturges

    Hickory Park, Mandarin Chinese, and Great Plains Pizza in Ames, Iowa! :)

  10. Ryan Stevenson

    Can’t forget Myers Grill in Williamsburg. Awesome food and a great atmosphere.

  11. Rhonda Zimmerman

    Checkerboard Restaurant in Pleasantville, Iowa has the best homemade onion rings and pizza. Also, great decor!

  12. shawn

    The radish in grimes. Small town and big flavors.

  13. Gloria B Waltke

    Chicago style pizza at Zoey’s in Marion is the best. For ribs try The General Store in Stone City. Only on the first Friday of the month though. Rest of the menu is also great.

  14. Laura Larson

    Archie’s Waeside in LeMars ought to be on this list – best steak ever!

  15. Jeremy Christensen

    The Danish inn Elk Horn Ia authentic Danish food that has been featured in everything from news programs to Iptv food shows and authentic Danish pastries featured in The Iowan magazine in fact the whole holiday baking issue was about the pastries and most recently the Price bros visited from Denmark form their cooking show. Everything is homemade

  16. Milli

    Who ARE you people? Some of these places are ok/good, a few are great, many were left out. Seriously who came up with this list? None of these restaurants are bad. I will allow you that.

  17. Zelda

    All the places sound great but what about us in Guttenberg, Iowa at the Stadium Bar. We have a wide variety on our menu and all is good. Stop by and see me and I will greet you with a smile. I love to meet new customers and hear about there travels.

  18. Alisa Shields

    Her Soup Kitchen is on Dubuque St but in Iowa City. Hamburg Inn No. 2 is a classic and el Bandito’s has the best brunch! Seriously good, fresh food.

  19. Sheryl

    You all are right!! Would also like to see Galleria de Paco in Waterloo and Cafe Dodici in Washington, IA included–both are very special–food, decor, and the way you are treated!

  20. Kris

    Northwestern Steakhouse is only the best steak you will ever eat!

  21. Kendra Julseth

    Mr Taco taco truck in Northwood. 100% authentic and AMAZING!!!

  22. Abbie

    I’m from NE Iowa – so I have to give a shout-out to TJ’s Pizza in Cleremont & The Old Rossville Store too! So many great places to eat in Iowa. And, I’m a little surprised Wig & Pen in Iowa City/Coralville didn’t make it. Too many to choose from!

  23. Noreen Purcell

    I think Cu in downtown Waterloo has the best food in Waterloo!

  24. Ryan Rush

    McDonalds in Boone rules!

  25. Sharon James

    Cider House restaurant and bar in Fairfield Iowa

  26. Shelia

    What about Bluff Lake outside Maquoketa – It is amazing.

  27. Klarista

    Living in the northeastern part of Iowa. There is two places are a must go for me when I come back to town. For breakfast Maggie’s Diner, listed on Hwy 18 in McGregor, is a must. Amazing breakfast every day and even better service. You truly feel like you are sitting at grandma’s kitchen table. But for any other meal TJ’s pizza, in Monona and Clermont will have you falling in love. There isn’t a pizza joint in the area that could compete with TJ’s.

  28. stephanie sliger

    I’m very surprised NoOne mentioned the Amania Coloneys Ox Oak Inn…..Family style meals…German…. Great wine….decent priced….

  29. Marti

    So many were left out! Rube’s Steakhouse, The Quarry, West Fork Wharf, Cattlemen’s, RoCa…. Those are only a few…

  30. Mau

    You cannot say you have eaten in Iowa until you have eaten at the Augusta Restaurant in Oxford, Iowa. Their food is outstanding but their pork sandwich put all of the other food in second place. Just try one the next time you are there.

  31. brian joens

    Joensy’s in Iowa City is the best. 30 years of making the biggest and best tenderloin in iowa. The tenderloin is what iowa is know for and Joensy’s makes it better then anyone else.

  32. Melissa

    The cafe in Ames! Nuff said!!

  33. Fred's Place Battle Creek, Iowa

    Opened July of 2014… only open Thurs, Friday and Sat. nights but have been packing them in ever since… May have to wait to sit, but is worth it… Nothing but homemade goodness!!

  34. Paul

    Zeno’s Pizza in Marshalltown! Best Pizza!

  35. Minni

    For the best smoked Bar-B-Q You must try a small bar/restaurant called Vinnie’s in Dakota City (Next to Humbolt) it has an outstanding menu. My favorite is the blunt ends and tips.

  36. DAN


  37. Bill Witt

    Cafe Dodici–yes! Prairie Canary in Grinnell. McCaffery’s, Decorah (wood-fired, brick oven pizza–the “Real McCoyffery”!) Klunder’s Kafe in New Hampton–great down-home food, superb service. Newton’s Paradise Cafe in Waterloo. A Dong, Des Moines (Vietnamese). Montage, Cedar Falls. La Michoacana, Waterloo, muy autentico–& the BEST goat soup around. Asian Fusion, Cedar Falls (Thai-Vietnamese).

    To name but a few.

    And, RIP Lincoln Cafe, Mt Vernon…

  38. Richard Pankey

    Butcher Block Steakhouse, 568 Boyson Road NE,Cedar Rapids. Our customers tell us it is the finest steakhouse in the region, and I understand that the customer is always right. Some evenings it is hard to get a table right away, however the wide variety of Liquid Therapy refreshments makes the time fly by.

  39. Laurie

    WHAAAATTTTT??? The Lincoln Cafe is closed? I’m
    SO sad. That was my favorite restaurant in Iowa by far.

  40. Ellen

    La Michoacana inIowa City is now called La Regna – authenic Mexican tacs with all sorts of meat. Our fav!

  41. Shannon Baas

    Did you not think of about 90 percent of the state? Only 3 or 4 cities listed here.

  42. steve

    Des Moines Iowa B&B Market on se 6th and hartford

  43. Phyllis

    All the chosen places are based on Yelp reviews. Most of the restaurants listed in the remarks, can’t be found on Yelp! Want your place chosen, write reviews…..

  44. Kerry Evans

    Schara’s in Elkader is terrific! Algerian and American choices and lots and lots of interesting beers. Right on the river with a great walking trail as well.

  45. Jenny

    The beard is definately something to fear at Tacopocalypse. The food is good but almost every time I’ve eaten there I’ve found a hair in my food.

  46. Amber Jennings

    I Don’t Care! In Charles City!!! Come Try A Pizza. Made From Scratch!!!

  47. Lue

    Best hamburg…MaidRite in Marshalltown!

  48. hank heun

    nothing like a MAID-RITE at taylors in marshalltown

  49. Taylor Smith

    I LOVE zombie burgers they are the!!!


    -Taylor Smith :)

  50. Taylor Smith

    i love FOOD!


  51. cathy

    If you’re talking about mason city. Ia northwestern steakhouse you are absolutely correct! Taste, quality & excellence + a superb wait staff. Love it .. gotta have it .. and get it !

  52. Mike

    Hale Supper Club and Jungletown Tap!!! The “Gutbuster” is the best hamburger, not only in Iowa but in most of the U.S.!!!


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