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Any Illinois travellers know of great local food in the Quad Cities area?

  • n

I know it's not part of Chicago metro, but I'm hoping some of you Chicago folk make it out to the River now and then.

I'm a descendant of Rock Islanders but haven't been there in awhile and am about to pay a visit. I'd be grateful for any suggestions of places to eat that serve quality local fare. I don't need fancy stuff (I live in New York and get plenty of that) - just good food. As an example of what I'm looking for, my favorite restaurant in the area used to by Ry's Star Sandwich shop (formerly Fagan's) which made some of the best burgers I've ever had anywhere. I also used to love the catfish at Ben's Gourmet House. I understand both establishments have closed now, but I'm hoping that other local stars have taken their places.

Thanks, all, for any tips.

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  1. My in-laws live in the Quad Cities and to me, the best place to go while out there is to the Belgian Village in Moline. They make amazing sandwiches on their home-made bread (you gotta get a VandeRueben ~ Rueben on homemade raisin bread). It sounds strange but all of their sandwiches are fantastic (and gigantic for that matter). Interesting article over here -> http://www.qconline.com/progress98/di...

    A must-stop for me.. Then get some Whitey's Ice Cream for dessert. :
    Belgian Village
    560 17th Ave.
    Moline, IL

    Link: http://poweredby.10best.com/details.p...

    6 Replies
    1. re: west side

      I agree. I went to school in the QC and Belgian Village is really nice and the sandwhiches really are gigantic. Jim's Rib Haven is darn good too. Other than that? In the past 10 years the area has taken on the look more and more of a Chicago suburb (especially northern Davenport). Lots of new strip malls and big chain places like Chili's. There are also several new brew-pub type places that serve decent bar food in Rock Island and Moline. I found while in school that, sadly, there just aren't too many great finds out there. And I'm not being too harsh. Every year Olive Garden wins newspaper polls for best Italian. It's that kind of area.

      1. re: CMC

        When traveling in the vicinity we used to come off the highway at, could have been Davenport or Moline, to eat at a cafeteria that might have been called Bishop's. Very home-cooked-style food, incredibly low prices, wonderful, tasted like Sunday dinner at Grandma's house. Does anybody know whether such a place still exists? Bishop's? Somehow connected with Furr's Familly Dining cafeteria chain?

        1. re: N Tocus

          You're correct. Bishop's went bankrupt (sometime in the 90's, I believe) and was acquired by Furr's. Furr's has since gone bankrupt and reorganized. I believe that Bishop's quality declined after they were acquired by Furr's, but others may disagree.

          Dave R

          1. re: N Tocus

            We used to eat at Bishop's in downtown Davenport all the time when I was a kid (I'm 50). We'd go after Saturday shopping in downtown Davenport at the Peterson Harned von Maur and McCabe's department stores...it was always the highlight of our shopping trips (we lived just south of the QC).

            Sadly, all of the above are distant memories. I remember reading somewhere that that particular Bishop's closed in the 80's. It (and the downtowns of Moline, Rock Island, and Davenport) was a victim of the Northpark and Southpark Malls that opened in the early 70's and the horrible economic decline that the Quad Cities suffered in the 70's - 80's...also changing tastes - cafeterias now survive mainly in the South these days....

            I also remember Sunday dinners at a big downtown hotel in Davenport, I think it was the Blackhawk Hotel (wasn't the LeClaire Hotel in downtown Moline? Maybe I am confusing them...). Very fancy for the time. We dressed up (it was after church, natch).

            A bit further south on the river, we'd also go for Sunday dinner at the Burlington Hotel in Burlington IA.

            Ah, to go back 35 or 40 years again!


          2. re: CMC

            My grandparents lived in Rock Island while I was growing up, and my younger brother just graduated from Augustana. While I generally agree with your comments about the Quad Cities, there is a decent brewpub with good food in the "district" area of Rock Island called Blue Cat, and also a nice brewpub across the river in Davenport (the name escapes me). Additionally, there is a place called Johnny's Steakhouse that is surprisingly good for a Quad Cities restaurant. It is located near the John Deere tractor exhibit across from the Radisson, in the space that formerly had been a restaurant called Planted Earth Cafe.

            Separately, I saw some posts mentioning Bishop's, and I remember that as being one of my grandpa's favorite places when he was alive back in the '70s and '80s.

          3. re: west side

            THe Vanereuben was great. I had it today. I got the full sandwich, which is HUGE, the equivalent of two sandwiches, I still was able to finish it. I had a friend who got the pork tenderloin sandwich and was not happy with it, but my group loved their food. We got a Vandereuben, a turkey reuben and a tuna sandwich. In addition my 16 month old daughter got a frilled fish sandwich and LOVED it. This is a much in the food challenged Quad CIties.

          4. It's been a few years, but I've always enjoyed Jim's Rib Haven for bbq ribs etc.

            Link: http://www.qconline.com/progress98/di...

            1. Hi,

              I would visit the local Maid Right loose meat sandwich shop.


              Link: http://www.maid-rite.com/aboutus/abou...

              1. We used to regularly visit friends who lived on a farm with Davenport city limits, south edge of town. They used to take us to a local bar on the river near there that had good whole fried catfish. Picnic tables inside your basic bar, but the catfish was tasty.

                Sorry I can't give more specific instructions. They lived on the road that goes down to Muscatine, past Scotty's Auction House. The place was near there.

                Whitey's is definitely a must-have. Be sure to take a look at the giant heads on the campus of the college of chiropracty:-)

                1. I had the best Swordfish and an overall great time at The Dock in Davenport.

                  1. l

                    There is the Machine Shed in Davenport, it's on an exit off I-80. This is the original of what is now a small regional chain. Kind of a down on the farm kind of place, being Iowa they feature a lot of pork on the menu but have family style chicken and beef as well. The pork chops I have had there were thick and juicy but I have been to the one in Rockford where the chops were not up to par and were somewhat dry. Since they have become a chain they have added kitchy little things they sell up in the front area. I believe they are open breakfast through dinner.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: LikestoEatout

                      Having eaten at the Machine shed in Davenport, I wouldn't really say it's worth the time and money. If you're going to get on I-80, you might as well drive to the Amana colonies for that kind of food. However, we're drifting further and further away from Chicago.

                      1. re: LikestoEatout

                        I agree with you. The food that I have had has been very good, especially the pork products. They do a lot of dishes that you generally don't see at many restaurants.

                      2. Whitey's Ice Cream Parlor, Harris Pizza, Maid-Rite are true QC local fare. Le Figaro in downtown RI is the one really nice French restaurant in the area that I'm aware of; however, I haven't been in more than five years so I don't know if it's still around. Ben's Gourmet House is now Rexie's, I think, and it's decent. Miss Mamie's for seafood in Moline is good. I second the recommendations for the Belgian Village and the Dock. There used to be a vietnamese restaurant in Moline at the top of the 16th street hill, by the Country Style/Whitey's, but I don't know if it's still there. My favorite Chinese place doesn't look like much from the outside...it's called "East" something now, in downtown RI in the district; just ask the locals where "Frank's" Chinese restaurant is and you'll find it. The QC's are not really known for their chow, it's true. Oh yes, in Bettendorf there is a Biaggi's Italian, which is a decent high end chain place, a Lettuce-type place.

                        1. In Davenport, off of 53rd. and I-74 there is Biaggi's Italian restaurant that is good and down the road on 53rd., The Red Crow Grille is excellent. Also, downtown Quad Cities is a new place "Five" which I haven't been to, but friends like it a lot. Mary

                          1. m
                            mike coughlin

                            Here's my top list in no particular order. Belgium Village, Machine Shed, Jim's Ribs, Maid Rite and two local outfits that I didn't see mentioned are Ross's(loose meat sandwich and the famous Magic Mountain) and Rudy's for Mexican. Rudy's has locations all over the Quads. Ross's is a one and only just off the 74 bridge in Bettendorf. at Blue Cat in R.I. you can get a flight of beers if that intrests you but the food is average bar food and it is more of a pool hall than anything else. Skip the Dock...average at best. Bishops has been out of business for years.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mike coughlin

                              I don't know about Rudy's. Rudy's is like a local Taco Bell chain in my opinion (ok, a step up, but Chi-Chi's is more authentic). There are several decent Mexican places in Moline and East Moline. Names and addresses totally escape me, though. While they are serious upgrades over Rudy's, they aren't exactly top-notch authentic places either. I wouldn't waste a meal at any of them if you're just visiting for a short time.

                              On a side-note, there used to be a Mexican place in Moline called Jalapenos. Now, I know there's a big chain now and they are represented in the Quad Cities. I'm curious as to the relationship of this place, which was little more than a shack when I used to go there (at least 10 years ago), to the chain. It was really good and outside of the name and logo it bore little resemblance to the generic tex-mex bar food you get at the chain. Was this is an early franchise? The humble beginnings of an empire? I remember they closed right before I left the area to move into a bigger, supposedly nicer space.

                            2. The Faithful Pilot is a wonderful restaurant in LeClaire, Iowa--just about 10 minutes outside of the QC. It features an eclectic menu. I highly recommend the salad with the honey chipotle dressing, the salmon with champagne sauce and lobster mashed potatos (if it is still on the menu), and the lamb chops (at one point they served them with a great blackberry sauce). I've been there a number of times over the last 10 years and have always had top notch meals. I recommend it to others regularly and have never had anyone be disappointed with their experience.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: CB

                                Tenderloin. 11th Street Bar and Grill, 2108 East 11th, in the village area. I usually prefer my loins breaded but the one here is outstanding. It's been years since I ate at the Faithful Pilot but the last meal I had there was fantastic and the desserts were great. I remember a delicious Creme Brulee.