Worth the drive in Iowa
Looking for small town restaurants that are worth a drive from Des Moines. I know about the Farmers' Kitchen in Atlantic and some of the Pork Tenderloin places. Mostly interested in area between Des Moines and the Missouri river / South Dakota border. The farther off the beaten path, the better.
I'm slightly biased as it's my hometown, but The Ice Cream Capital of the World is LeMars in the northwest corner and they have some nice dining treats. Archie's Waeside has excellent dry aged steaks and an amazing wine list, but they are only open in the evenings. The value is also amazing, very inexpensive compared to what you pay for a similar sized meal in Des Moines and larger cities.
Bob's Drive-In has really good taverns (loose-meats) and the Bob Dog (naturally cased Wiemer's dog with loose meat topping) is wonderful. They also make good malts and shakes.
Stopping at the Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor is also a fun trip. They serve old fashioned sodas and phosphates as well as having lots of different flavors of their ice creams, some of which are hard to find in the grocery store.
All three places have been reviewed by Michael Stern for roadfood. Here are the links.
Yes, they opened up a bar and grill type of place about a year ago called 4 Brothers but unfortunately, I don't think it's been very well received. I have yet to have had the chance to try it, but I haven't really heard many good things about it. Apparently the service is pretty bad and I think the menu is largely standard fare from food service companies, as it sounds like it tastes pretty generic and similar to other places. The Drive In is a great place and it's unfortunate they weren't able to carry that over. LeMars really needs a sports bar type of place so I am a bit surprised it hasn't done better.