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Where to eat in America?

We'll be traveling through the US on I-80 in December and wonder if anyone can recommend places to eat, good local specialties/holiday foods to try.

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  1. Can you narrow that down? I-80 is the second longest interstate in the country and runs the entire width from New York to California. Unless you're going to spend a week or more to drive the entire thing, it would be helpful to know which state(s) you'll be traveliling in. There are regional differences even within the various parts of the Midwest, and what I'd recommend for Illinois will be very different from someone's recommendations for Iowa or Ohio.

    7 Replies
    1. re: shaja

      We'll be entering in Vallejo, and if weather permits, not leaving the interstate till 4 days later in Youngstown, Ohio. That encompasses Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and most of Ohio.

      1. re: beequeen

        I've done the trip many times CA to Iowa. Here are my stops.

        Winnemucca, NV Las Margaretias for Mexican or Ormachea's Dinner House for Basque

        Salt Lake City has many good places.

        Rawlings, Wy Either Aspen House for upscale or Anong's Thai Cusine.

        West of Des Moines in Waukee, IA Rube's Steakhouse

        West of Iowa City in Oxford. Augusta. Iowa City has many great places.

        You'll be lucky to get good food along I80 so I wouldn't be too hopeful for "holiday specials".

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        Rube's Steakhouse
        118 E Elm St, Montour, IA 50173

        1. re: Stan

          The Augusta Restaurant in Oxford is outstanding. It is owned by Louisiana expats forced out by Katrina. Not only do they bring an unusual Louisiana inspired menu to Iowa but they adapt well enough to Iowa to have won the Iowa Pork Producers Association best breaded pork tenderloin sandwich in 2008.

          1. re: Stan

            FYI, Rawlings makes baseball mitts, Rawlins is in Wyoming! I love Wyoming but Rawlins is not one of my favorite places. Except the Aspen House which is a real sleeper. Great atmosphere in this old house and surprisingly good fish although the steak is dynamite.

            1. re: PitLab

              "FYI, Rawlings makes baseball mitts"

              The discussion was food along I80, so a leather glove came to mind ;-)

              I was also thinking that a Winter trip should include better places to get stuck. If I was going to get stuck in Wyoming on I80 Rawlins would be my first pick.

          2. re: beequeen

            Are you really planning to drive 2500 miles in the winter in 4 days with time to chow?

        2. I-80 in Indiana -

          Sahara in Michigan City. An unusual mix of Mediterranean and Indian food. The baba ganouj, ensalada avocado, spinach pies, stellar gyros and the famous dates.... mmmm

          http://www.sahara-restaurant.net/Saha...

          1. I have one strong recommendation, the Farmer's Kitchen in Atlantic, IA. That is midway between Des Moines and Omaha. I've been there and can attest it is worth the stop. Here is a feature report on it in the Iowan magazine.

            http://www.iowan.com/good-medicine.cfm

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            Farmer's Kitchen
            319 Walnut St, Atlantic, IA 50022

            3 Replies
            1. re: Davydd

              I hve to agree with Stan; you've planned a very long trip during a potentially weather-dicey time of the year. Be careful and watch the weather forecast daily. Depending on snowfall, you may encounter closed roads in the Rockies. Also, trying to get through the Chicago area will take you a good three hours because of traffic unless you are going through around 3 am

              That said...

              We have driven the Cleveland, Ohio, to Chicago, IL section many times. We also did Erie, PA (picked up 80 in Cleveland) to west of Iowa City, Iowa, in one day, and that was a seriously looonnnngggg day.

              My best advice (which you don't have time for) is get off the Interstate and experience America and our regional food at its best on our side roads and small towns. For example, in Indiana US Highway 20 runs nearly parallel to 80 and will take you through Amish country. Stop off in Shipshewana, or try Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury.

              West of Iowa City, Iowa, are the Amana Colonies which collectively are a national historic landmark of seven villages. We liked The Ronneburg for authentic New World German; other family like the Ox Yoke. And you must stop at Maid Rite once in Iowa for the classic loose meat sandwich.

              At first glance, I-80 through Illinois won't look like much. But, if you take a look at some of the bigger towns (Geneseo, Princeton, Annawan) you will find some nice locally places. I'm talking places where people will take the time to talk with you, serve a piece of homemade pie and make you feel welcome.

              1. re: shaja

                Thanks everyone.
                We're seriously heading 2500 miles in 4 days in winter over potentially snowy passes. AND, we're considering dropping down from Salt Lake City I 80 on rt. 6 to hit Denver and then back up to Nebraska on 76 to 80. Maybe dropping down to rt.6 or 20 in IL and IN for a bit more local flavor.

                1. re: beequeen

                  There is next to nothing on 6 and 76 to 80 is as boring as 80. I take it that you are somewhat young.

            2. Check out these existing topics on food along I-80 in the Midwest:

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/637793
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/490480
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/487752
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/330576

              You can also search for topics about the cities that lie along your route. In the Midwest, these include Omaha, Des Moines, Quad Cities, South Bend, and Toledo. You will also be close enough to Chicago and Cleveland for a short detour for just about any kind of food you like.

              1. Stop at The Nugget Casino in Sparks Nevada. The chowder bar is surprising and solid. Steam jacket kettles at the counter seats enable you to watch your meal being prepared in front of you. Its very fresh and formulaic cooking, and crave worthy.

                1. if your in iowa City and its nicer out then its been.... I own a Chicago Style Hot Dog Stand on the corner of Burlington and Clinton st in Iowa City. We make them just how you like them. A lot of people compare our hot dogs to portillo's a well known staple in Chicago. We Started doing it last summer over there on the corner. There is a nice table outside and when the weather gets better we will be out there everyday serving the chicagoans there favorite hot dog for the second year. People love them and often tell us we make them just like in Chicago. We have huge Vienna umbrellas and you can't miss the stand if your at the traffic light intersecting Burrlington and Clinton. Come on down we will be back on for the season when its a little nicer. Looking forward to seeing all you Chi-town dog fans soon!

                  1. No place is more Iowa than "The Machine Shed". Along I-80 in Davenport (Bettendorf?) & Des Moines, Hickman Ave. exit. Had my first Iowa meal there 10 years ago and when comfort food is needed no place is better. Think pork.

                    1. if your looking for the best tenderloin EVER...its at Palmers Deli in Ankeny,Iowa...and no I don't work there but I just had a tenderloin...

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: tzurriz

                          lol yeah I know...but this is 2012 and maybe somebody still likes tenderloins :)