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Traveling I-80 West with family

We are driving from Syracuse NY to Jackson WY in June and are looking for places to stop and eat along the way. We are interested in hidden gems just off the interstate and are reasonably priced. We are meat and potatoes kind of people.

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  1. What route are you taking to get to Jackson once you hit WY? Are you just following google maps? There are better, more scenic routes to get to Jackson once you get out here. I can help with some ideas, depending on your route.

    2 Replies
    1. re: wyogal

      We are staying on I-80 until Rock Springs, only because we are doing so much driving on the way back. Driving through Tetons, then Yellowstone, then bear tooth road, then to Custer State park in South Dakota, then back to NY. Our trip is 12 days long.

      1. re: pmstewart19

        There is a good Sushi place in Rock Springs, I'll look for the name later, they also serve Chinese food for those that don't like sushi.
        From Yellowstone you are going to Montana, then back down to Wyo, then SD? That's the part I'm interested in.

    2. In the Chicago area, you want to stop at either a Portillos (there is one in Tinley Park, about 10 minutes off 1-80) for Italian beef sandwiches and Chicago dogs, or at Dixie Kitchen and Baitshop in Lansing (3 minutes off I-80) for southern/cajun. :)

      3 Replies
      1. re: tzurriz

        Oh, and when you cross over the Illinois/Iowa border, stop at the Machine Shed. Yummy country cooking, giant (really insanely huge) cinnamon rolls, and if you say "I like eggs" they double your order. It is crazy!

        And if you have kids, they give them little metal john deer tractors to play with while you wait.

        1. re: tzurriz

          The one in the Quad Cities is good, but the one in Des Moines is better (as someone who has a lot of family in Des Moines and who lives near the Quad Cities, I go to each at least once or twice a year).

          1. re: vitus979

            Thank you for your suggestions! I appreciate your time!

        1. I'm taking your "we are meat and potatoes kind of people" into acount with these suggestions. As such there are a lot of places I'm not mentioning.

          Quad Cities area (Davenport and Bettendorf Iowa and Moline and Rock Island Illinois) - Whitey's Ice cream. Wonderful malts and shakes. The location closest to the Interstate is the one in the Coralville mall, but I'd suggest going to the one at 2419 East 53rd Street in Davenport, which is only a little farther away from the Interstate, but will be worlds easier getting to, and then getting back to the interstate when you're done.

          Des Moines area - So the first thing you should know is that there is not much along I-80 in Des Moines other than chains. The second thing you should know is that I-235 splits off of I-80 on the East side of Des Moines and swings down through the middle of Des Moines and re-connects with I-80 on the West side of Des Moines. Taking this route only adds maybe 10 minutes to your driving time (as long as you're not going through 235 during rush hour).

          Along I-80 through Des Moines probably the best restaurants are Smokey D's BBQ and B Bops (which is a local outdoor burger joint kind of like Sonic). There's also the Machine Shed, which is an Iowa classic. They're very much a country style meat and potatoes kind of place. The Iowa Chop (a very large pork chop) is their signature, and I can't think of anyplace that does a better pork chop.

          If you take I-235 through Des Moines you open up nearly all of Des Moines. The first thing place that comes to mind is Tasty Tacos, a small local chain that does fluffy/puffy tacos. There's the Hi-Life Lounge, which is off the interstate a bit. They serve 70s era comfort food (and the place is made up to look like a basement from 1972). There's Buzzard Billy's which is a really solid Cajun place. There's Zombie Burger, a hipster burger joint done up like Night of the Living Dead. That being said, the burgers are really good and the Fries are great.

          2 Replies
          1. re: vitus979

            Thank you for your suggestions and time. I will definitely add these to my places to possibly stop at, especially Smokey D's. I like to make a list of places to give us options, you never know what your in the mood for!

            1. re: pmstewart19

              Smokey D's is RIGHT OFF I-80 (it's less than 50 yards past the off ramp for 2nd Avenue). IMO it's probably my favorite newer restaurant in Des Moines to go to with groups that aren't all foodies. The BBQ is excellent, especially the Smoked Sausage. I'm also a fan of the Garlic Bread and the Cucumber and Onion Slaw.

            1. Colorado and Wyoming are covered by the Mountain States forum. You might try posting there for suggestions in those states.

              Similarly, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio are part of the Great Lakes forum, so you might try posting there.

              The section of I-80 covered by the Great Plains board is through Iowa and Nebraska.

              1. A GREAT place and really perfect for families and "meat and potatoes kind of people" and everybody else, in my view, is the Bohemian Cafe in Omaha.

                My family and I have been eating there for some 60+ years. We moved away from Omaha years ago, but we still drive far out of our way to go back there.

                http://bohemiancafe.net/

                1. Iowa City has several good places.

                  Just west of Iowa City is Oxford. Augusta Restaurant is great.
                  http://augustarestaurant.net

                  For an overnight stop we like West Des Moines. There is a fun grill your own steak place "Rube's" four miles west of there.

                  Nebraska is a long state one interesting stop is Paxton.
                  Ole's Big Game Steakhouse olesbiggame.com

                  Rawlins, WY is a good place for chow. Rose's Lariat is a great Mexican diner. The is also a very nice place "Aspen House" and a very good Thai place "Anong's"

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