I-80: CO-NE-IA-IL-IN-OH Leg of CC Drive
We are looking for great lunch recommendations, also breakfast, snacks, must-stop places along I-80 on our drive cross-country with baby and dog. We are spending the night in Omaha, Davenport, and Sandusky, and have dinner ideas already but are always open to suggestions!
Someone recommended The Machine Shop when in the Des Moines area. It's actually The Machine Shed.
Also someone recommended Tasty Tacos. If you've never had Tasty Tacos I'd suggest avoiding them. Folks in Des Moines seem to love them. I'm from St. Louis originally. I've tried them 2 or 3 times and that's 2 or 3 times too many. I wouldn't walk across the street to eat there. I won't give you the details.
On University Ave a few miles east of I35/I80 I can recommend Monterey's for lunch (and dinner). Really good Mexican food at good prices with excellent service.
There's a Maid-Rite about half way between Iowa City and Des Moines in Brooklyn, Iowa. That's another Iowa thing. I find them quite boring but to each his own.
I just posted this in another thread. Since you have a baby with you, I would probably leave M's Pub, Marks Bistro, and Espana off the list.
Some of my Omaha favs:
Dixie Quicks for lunch. Awesome food, I have something different every time and it is always great. Definately call ahead for reservations.
M's Pub for late-night dining and drinks. Great atmosphere and very good food. Try the lavosh.
Mark's Bistro is also very good. I have only eaten there once, and enjoyed it very much. I had a wonderful carrot curry ginger soup. Their big seller is homemade mac n cheese with two different chef's embellishments that change daily.
Espana for decent tapas and sangria. This place is a bit of a hit-or-miss, but the hits are VERY good.
Sushi Japan for sushi. Very good selection and delicious.
Vincenzo's is pretty good Italian, and I am addicted to their soups.
Wheatfields has the absolute best breakfast in town.
Shucks has surprisingly great seafood. Seriously the best and freshest seafood I have had (except on the West Coast).
Guaca Maya has the tastiest and most authentic Mexican food in Omaha. Try the parrilladas or the Huanchinango a la Talla.
Jaipur has very tasty Indian food and they brew their own beer. Try the Jalepeno Ale.
The Bohemian Cafe has VERY heavy and delicious Czech food.
Iowa is known for Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwiches. If you can take a 10 mile detour, Darrells Place in Hamlin is on Hwy 71 North of I-80. One of the best in the state.
Augusta Cafe in Oxford was the 2008 (I think) winner of best in State. About an hour and a half East of Des Moines, a couple miles North of I-80. The chef at the Augusta is from NOLA.
He ended up here after Katrina. I think it's a heavily NOLA type menu, but he knew that in Iowa, he had to add a tenderloin. Haven't had it, but it must be a good one.
While it would be pretty hard, it can be done. Some places believe that the size is most important. They pound the pork so thin you can see through it. It's a breaded breading sandwich. I also once had one fried in oil that wasn't hot enough. Yuck.
Can I ask where your revelation occured?
I don't know how old your baby is, but I was just in Moline with my toddler and he loved Lagomarcino's for ice cream (old fashioned candy/ ice cream place) in downtown Moline. (Moline is part of the Quad Cities/ Davenport area) We had sandwiches there too, though they are known for their hot fudge/ phosphates etc. And only a couple blocks away is the free John Deere tractor museum, with tractors that kids can sit on - really fun. If you go by a grocery, pick up some Boetje's mustard which is made in Rock Island (although it does get distributed outside of Illinois.) Whitey's is another QC ice cream favorite.
Maid Rites are odd little fast food places that are concentrated in the Iowa area - people who grew up on them love them - a Maid Rite is kind of like a Sloppy Joe but like steamed meat. Another specialty of Iowa is the pork loin sandwich - I can't really help you on those but I know I've seen postings on this board for places right off I80.
Very good point, I tend to forget about Lago's just because I'm not partial to their chocolates and I don't get to downtown Moline much. It's definately a place you should go at least once though.
For good chocolates I'd suggest Stam in Des Moines. It's a Dutch chocolaterie with shops in Amsterdam, the Hague and ...... Des Moines. The owner's youngest son emigrated and set up a shop. The one on Ingersoll is great since it also has a number of boxed european candies that are generally hard to come by.
Davenport - Whitey's Ice Cream (get a shake or malt). Breakfast? Hmm, probably City Limits in Rock Island (beware, it will probably be busy), the biscuits and gravy are supposed to be the best in town. Personally I'd also like to hear breakfast suggestions for the Quad Cities. I've got a group that meets weekly group and we can't find a place we agree on.
Des Moines - Along I-80 and the 35/80 loop around town it's kind of barren of good food. Perhaps B-Bops off the 86th street exit? Perhaps Palmer's Deli off the University Exit on 35/80. There's also the Machine Shop for classic midwestern eats off the Hickman exit on 35/80. If you take I-235 through Des Moines instead of taking the 35/80 loop around the edge of Des Moines you open yourself up to a LOT more good food. If you go that route for lunch I'd suggest Lucca for lunch, their lunch pasta is great. If you want something quicker, the local Tasty Tacos chain is good stuff. The closest one to I-235 is south of the SE-14th st exit.
PS - you do know that Omaha and Davenport are only about 5 hours apart on I-80 right? With dog and baby I can see why the short hops I guess, but it seems a rather short driving day.