I-80 Must Eats...
A friend and I are driving from NY to Portland, OR mostly via 80. Besides NY and Chicago, any stops that we should not miss? Prefer low-end, ethnic, and regional American foods. Specialties of the area, of course, are always sought after.
I-80 west of Iowa City, Amana Colonies exit, north and through the colony of Homestead and then north into the colony of Amana --> Colony Inn.
That's my pick and personally the only one of the old foursome of my favorite Amana eateries that I can still abide. The other three old-timers (The Ox Yoke Inn, The Ronnenburg, Bill Zuber's) all now cater to bus tour groups and the food quality and service have slipped enormously over the past 15 years or so, but Colony Inn remains loyal to what it was like in the mid-'50s when I was a kid going to the Amana Colonies with my parents and grandparents.
I'm rather partial to their big country breakfast myself. Amazingly fresh eggs, terrific Amana bacon and sausage, massive pancake, toast/muffins with homemade jams, fruit bowl, fried potatoes, juice, coffee -- in endless quantities!
Their lunches and dinners are pretty good, too, but I try to specifically time my visits to breakfast hours (7 a.m. to 11 a.m., seven days a week).
While Iowa City has several wonderful restaurants, if I was just passing by that way and wanted something really different, homey, affordable, I'd do Colony Inn.
Western Nebraska, about a mile or so into the town of Paxton --> Ole's Big Game Steakhouse & Lounge -- and they have a coffeeshop, too.
The joint first opened the very next day after prohibition ended in 1933.
The place is as much a natural history museum as a restaurant with a huge collection of Ole's mounted beasts and fish from his decades of travel as an outdoorsman.
Affordable, different, and for the adventurous, Rocky Mountain Oysters. I like their gizzards, too. Sometimes they've got buffalo burgers. Save room for an Apple Dumpling with a heap o'soft serve ice cream on top.
re: Dennis S
I second the Loin at Darrell's place. Last I knew it was 5 bucks. You can get virtually the same loin at Michaels in Des Moines, just a few miles off I-80, but it will set you back 7.99. If you want to try it, and chose close over price, Michaels is at the intersection of Beaver and Urbandale.
Merle Hat exit, south a couple miles to Urbandale, east across Beaver (1 1/2 M) just east of the intersection to your left.
I've been a fan of Tony Packo's ever since I used to hear Klinger on TV's M*A*S*H talk about it!
Especially fond of their fried pickles and stuffed cabbage, but my real passion is their pickled Brittany tomatoes! In fact, I love them so much that I order a case delivered about once a year.
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