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Jul 12, 2000 09:57 PM

1-80 food recomendations between chicago and Des Moines

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Can anyone share thoughts on good places to stop along i-80 between chicago and Des Moines??

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  1. Not sure what kind of place you're after, but here's a few different ones. I've got nothing on I-80 between Chicago and the Mississippi, as I always take 88 (fewer trucks.)

    If you get off I-80 in the Quad Cities you have some options...nothing much in the true to-die-for-category, but some good eats in roughly ascending price order are:

    Real cheap eats to go, San Lues Food Market, 818 1st Ave, Silvis, IL, 309 755 4103. This is a Mexican grocery store, but on Fridays and weekends they make yummy tortas that are, incredibly, two bucks each. My faves are carnitas or carne asada "with everything."

    Cheap eats to sit, the lunch buffet at India House 220 Harrison St, Davenport, IA, 319 322 3755. Don't be put off by things like the run-down looks of the place, hand written signs taped to the wall, or the little Christmas tree still in the aisle in June. Good cheap eats, real nice folks.

    Also for lunch, Chino's, 601 15th, Moline, IL, 309 762 9763, Mexican, "home of the pambazos." They bake their own bread, and a chicken pambazo there is one honest sandwich.

    Breakfast: buffet at the Lady Luck Casino Hotel, State Street Landing, Bettendorf, IA, 319 359 7280. All you can eat standard breakfast fare. Lunch and dinner are underwhelming, but breakfast is a good deal. Eggs to order are at the far end of the room where you might miss 'em, so look for 'em.

    Belgian Village Inn, 560 17th Ave, Moline, 309 764 9222, pub, local landmark. The must-have is the spectacular reuben, aircraft carrier sized on homemade bread. Many locals prefer it made with the BVI raisin bread - try it, you'll be as surprised as I was. Incidentally, they have two spots, don't be confused by the little sandwich drive-thru around the corner on 19th. You want the mother ship on 17th, so you can grab a booth and have a beer with your reuben.

    Just in passing, New China, 140 19th Ave, Moline, has great potstickers. Can't really recommend anything else there, but if an acute dumpling jones strikes, that's where the doctor is.

    Stepping up a bit, Trattoria Tiramisu in Davenport, 112 W 3rd St, 319 323 2787. Lunch and dinner. Advise reservations for Fri or Sat nights. Homey Italian, modest prices. Nothing tricky, just simple and tasty chow, generous portions too. Hard to advise on specific choices, as the small menu changes a lot. I usually just pick a pasta, but being fond of tilapia, I'll go for that when it shows up, as it often does in one guise or another. Once had a bruschetta-like thing with marscapone and smoked salmon and capers that was a true yumbosity...but, alas, it was gone the last time.

    Couple of others in the Quads, but if you're just passing through, that should be more than enough.

    The Iowa City area has some very interesting places. I'll just mention one that's real easy to get to from I-80: Mondo's Tomato Pie, 516 2nd St, Coralville, 319 337 3000 (can't remember the exit number, but I can find out if you want to try this place.) Large, highly eclectic menu. Pasta is all made fresh, wood grilled meats, rotisseried chickens, wood fired pizzas, seafood, and on and on. Sandwiches can be hit and miss, but other than that it seems hard to go wrong, especially with pastas, or anything grilled or rotisseried. The rotisseried Chicken Rustica is my favorite, succulently perfect with garlic mashed potatoes and sauted peppers. Or try some Iowa beef, Steak DeBurgo is excellent. Or the giant spinach ravioli topped with lemon dill sauce and tiny shrimp. Or a carpaccio pizza..or....or...or...

    Quiet for lunch, can get kind of high energy in the evening, especially weekends, but always worth a shot. Last time I was there I thought I detected a very slight downhillness, but it may have just been a bad day, and I'd still recommend it.

    They also do a nice Sunday brunch if that's your timing, 11-2 or so. Belgian waffles, big bowls of real whipped cream, vast trays of fruit, fresh baked coffee cakes, sausages - all piled on the bar as an all-you-can-eat buffet for five bucks or so. Unusual omelettes available too (alas, the calamari omelette is no more, I guess that was just too unusual.)

    Hope that helps.