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Apr 23, 2007 08:08 AM

RAGBRAI team seeks Chow in IA

My cycling team is looking for all your best ideas for anything edible and wonderful along the route of RAGBRAI XXXV.

For those who are unfamiliar, RAGBRAI is the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This year, the route will take us through

Rock Rapids
Cedar Falls

We'll dip our rear tires in the Missouri River, then 6 days later will dip our front tires in the Mississippi. But we're gonna need some calories to burn off. We welcome ideas on:

Craft Brewed Beer
Pork Tenderloins

And anything that's Edible and fantastic.

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    1. Oh and I forgot to mention, the more "local" it is, home grown, homemade, organic, etc. the better

      4 Replies
      1. re: Devotay

        I see you live in Iowa City, so you can about imagine that some of the small towns you'll be rolling through will not have much by way of 'cuisine'. 8-) That being said, I'm from Hampton and have been following the town's forming of committees in preparation of the big event via the local paper which I still get once a week. I haven't seen any details yet, but when RAGBRAI went through in '89 or so I know that most of the local churches set up shop and some really great homemade pies could be found. YUM!

        You'll find the Maid Rites as you get more towards Cedar Falls and Independence, I imagine. In the Hampton area they are usually made with tomato sauce - not the real thing.

        Great big crispy tenderloins that exceed the width of the bun by about 3 inches all around should be found at every stop - or you can hope so, at least!

        There is a winery near Iowa Falls (Eagle City Winery) that has some nice fruity wines, couldn't tell you if they would set up shop for the ride or not.

        It will be interesting to see how much 'local' flavor you find along the route vs. 'corporate' food. Please let us know how it goes! Enjoy the ride!!!

        If I read anything new in the Hampton paper, I'll post a follow up. 8-)

        1. re: MesaChow

          Awesome, Mesa, thank you. That's a great start.

          Pie is very important, especially to one particular team member for whom it seems to be a kind of spiritual quest. We are also seeking the elusive Iowa pie shake.

          A Maid-Rite with tomato sauce is a sloppy joe, isn't it?

          1. re: Devotay

            While I'm not familiar with the other towns on RAGBRAI, I live in Cedar Falls and I noticed you mentioned Maid-Rites and pie. Our local Maid-Rite (which has probably been in existence for 40+ years) not only has true - not sloppy joe - "loose meat" sandwiches, but also has some of the best pies in our community outside of church potlucks. Recently I asked one of the ladies working behind the counter where the great pies come from and she told me that several local women bake pies for the Maid-Rite. They are the closest to home-made you will find in any of our local dining establishments.

            The biggest problem that riders may have if they want to get a slice of pie from this place may be the schedule. To my knowledge, Maid-Rite closes fairly early - although I suppose they may have a food stand for riders - and they often run out of pie after their lunch hour. The Cedar Falls Maid-Rite is located "down town" just a short block east of Main on 4th street.

            Good luck with the weather and have fun eating your way across the state.

            1. re: tompounds

              Good stuff Tom, thanks. What about Waterloo, anything good there?

              We're also interested in farmers' markets & brewpubs, by the way.

      2. RAGBRAI is really not about eating in restaurants. In fact, you'll be hard-pressed to find a spot that isn't serving a buffet as most of these small town restaurants cannot handle the influx of 10,000 riders.

        Start your morning at a high-school pancake feed or peddle a bit out of the overnight town and look for breakfast burritos. The line for the breakfast burritos will be long, but it is worth waiting at least once.

        All of the pass-through towns will have vendors selling street food (walking tacos, pulled-pork--when in Iowa!, corn on the cob, brats, pork burgers). But, along the way, you will hear the calls of Mr. Pork Chop. You cannot get pork chops like these--hot off the grill with a squirt of special sauce--anywhere else in the world. Also don't miss Tom's Tender Turkey (grilled tenderloin sandwiches) and pork wings. For carbo-loading after a long, hot day of cycling, there's the Pastafari, which travels to each overnight town.

        Each evening in the overnight town, you'll find another street festival with fair-type food, but for all-you-can-eat, touch-of-Midwest fun, I recommend the church and VFW dinners.

        Of course, you'll find pie, though it goes fast. And, one last thing, when you hear the pistons backfiring, get ready to yell, "Rider off." Beekman's ice cream is served fresh, cold, creamy, delicious. I live in a dairy state, so I feel I'm qualified to say it's the best vanilla ice-cream on the planet (also good black raspberry, honey, and chocolate).

        One best things about RAGBRAI is that you ride 70 miles a day so you really can eat everything. Another high point is the outstanding hospitality. I haven't started training, but I'm ready to go--this is my third ride. What is your team name?

        2 Replies
        1. re: hambone_and_spice

          We're Team Edible, and this is our first ride as a team.

          We want all kinds of good food, restaurant, church basement, whatever. But the best stuff that'll win the most affection from us is the stuff that's local, and preferably made from local ingredients as well.

          You mention it's your 3rd ride. Any of your previous ones go through any of these same towns?

          1. re: hambone_and_spice

            The husband got back from RAGBRAI and said that this was Mr. Pork Chop's last RAGBRAI. He's retiring after all these years. Unfortunately, he didn't get a chance to try one, lines were too long. But he ate his way through pie and homemade ice cream across Iowa, at one point, 4 ice cream servings in 1 day!

          2. Hey Team Edible,

            I'll be in Spencer this weekend. Looks like the route is going to go right past our old family farm (just outside Webb!) so I'll make a point of asking our farm manager (and other folks for some recommendations). Hopefully I'll be able to get online before its too late for you!

            And if you do it again next year, I'd love to join a team.

            2 Replies
            1. re: zebcook

              Thanks Zeb. How're the brats at Mowery’s Bar & Grill?

              1. re: Devotay

                So, finally got a chance to get online here in Spencer so here's a quick report.

                Pork Tenderloins -- had a very good (and huge) tenderloin at the American Classics Cafe. Very thin, seasoned breading and crispy fried. Came with your choice of salad, fries, hashbrowns, or home-made potato chips (go for the chips). Would recommend it. At the intersection of Grand and 71.

                Steak -- If you feel the need for a protein fix, The Prime Rib has excellent steaks. This is old school steakhouse. Had a 12 0z. bacon wrapped filet and hashbrowns. Salad bar is very Midwest -- an equal mix of greens/vegetables and prepared salads -- pasta salads, pea salad, etc. Oh, and very good pickled herring.

                Carroll's Bakery -- They're closed on Mondays but maybe they'll be open for RAGBRAI. No breakfast items per se, but lots of good bakery items, with a very high butter quotient. Tuesday is their cookie special day (3 dozen for the price of 2 dozen). All sorts of cookies -- frosted cookies, lemon bars, almond shortcake bars, raspberry-cheese cookies, crispies, and more. Downtown Spencer on Grand.

                Shaky Tree Coffee -- The best coffee in what's been an otherwise disappointing selection.

                Talking with some people here, Spencer has hosted before, so the church groups and others will be getting organized to feed people.

                As for the towns south of Spencer, you will have to rely on church groups and others. Gillette Grove has 1 small tavern, likewise Webb has 1 tavern/cafe.

                Haven't made it to Mowery's yet.

                Good luck on the ride!

            2. I live in Pocahontas so you'll be going just north of us. To be honest...the only organic you'll find is if somebody took it out of their garden. And that's if they chose not to use any chemicals. Unfortunately, the best tenderloins are here in this town at the Home Plate (seriously...tastes and feels like real meat, prepared fresh when you good!), and most other places get their tenderloins from a box with SYSCO stamped on it. The only advice I can offer is to avoid the Hardee's in Humboldt. My experiences there are always less than stellar and unfortunately the town doesn't have much else to offer in the way of restaurants, so I'd go with the church ladies or VFW. Oh, and if you wanna go drink and experience a real small town watering hole, go to Sit-n-Bull's. Sylvia is the friendliest bartender you'll ever meet and make sure to tip the waitress. She'll take good care of you :)

              2 Replies
              1. re: spellweaver16

                Sounds like you have something there, but "tastes and feels like real meat," you're not insinuating that it isn't, are you?

                Please drop me an address or a map to this Home Plate, and to Sitn'n'Bulls.

                1. re: Devotay

                  All's I'm saying is that most tenderloins, at least the ones you're most likely to encounter, come frozen from a box and are comprised of a thin layer of meat in the middle of a bunch of breading. Though most would argue that that is the natural state of a pork tenderloin. After having better, I disagree.

                  This is the address for Sit-n-Bull:
                  728 Sumner Avenue
                  Humboldt, Iowa 50548
                  (515) 332-2221

                  Also, they have a website for RAGBRAI riders who will be stopping in Humboldt:

                  Home Plate isn't in Humboldt, it's here in Pocahontas, but if you want I'll give you there address as well :)