Husband and I are moving out west and will be driving from Ann Arbor to Portland in early August. Our route is basically I-94 with a detour through Dubuque and Decorah, then to I-90 with a short detour into Yellowstone. Nights in Decorah, Minneapolis, Bismarck, Yellowstone, and Missoula. Any recommendations for some really tasty Midwest fare? Bonus points for good pie!
Not sure of your route from Decorah up to the Twin Cities, but the Norske Nook in Osseo, on I-94 a bit south of Eau Claire, is a canonical pie place. You also might go by Trempealeau, WI on that trip; on a similar road trip we had a great dinner at the Hotel Trempealeau, right on the Mississippi bank. Homemade root beer!
I've heard good things on this board about Old Europe, on I-94 near Kenosha, for old-fashioned Wisco-German food.
I assume St. Paul is in play as well. The most uniquely Minnesotan place is Heartland. The chef literally crafts his menu based on whatever local ingredients he finds that morning, and early August is a spectacular time to eat locally here.
That's on the high end on the price range. If you want cheap, grab a Juicy Lucy (burgers stuffed with cheese). My favorite is at the Blue Door Pub (St. Paul again).
In the middle would be Brasa (locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul). Think Boston Market, but with a caribbean flair and impeccable sourcing.
If you like beer, be sure to get some Surly. It comes in a can, so you can easily drink it in the hotel room.
Good pie is to be had at the Harmony House Cafe in Harmony Minnesota - they understand how to make good crust! Also: real mashed potatoes and great soups. Take Hwy 52 north from Decorah on the way to Minneapolis. In Harmony you will also find a lot of Amish-made preserves and pickles and produce. Just a mile outside of Harmony on 52 is Austin' Angora Goats and Mohair, which sells some wonderful goat meat and sausage if you have the means to transport it. Worth a stop beyond the meat, too: http://www.austinsmohair.com/ . (There's nothing on the site about the meat, but you can call or email for availability. Ada the proprietress is wonderful.
Also re: Decorah - there's some surprisingly good Mexican food downtown (I think on Water Street...?) I cannot remember the name of the restaurant, sadly, but the pork was amazing and the salsa spot-on delicious. If you're a gardener, definitely put Seed Savers Exchange on your list to visit: http://www.seedsavers.org/.
Have a great trip!
Coming out of Dubuque is Breitbach's if they have it rebuilt, the bonus being Balltown Rd to irdge Road is a scenic route. Breitbach's is the oldest restaurant in Iowa.
or depending on your route, you might get a gunderburger at the Irish Shanti in Gunder.
We had lunch at Ruby's on Water St. a few years ago and it was pretty good.