Monday, September 1, 2014
Location: 501 S Main St. in Burlington, Des Moines County in Southeast Iowa.
Directions: You have to take Main St south from downtown and Jerry's is on the West side of the street.
Price: $4.70 also available in smaller size.
Service: Its counter service and the food is made right in front of you.
Ambiance: Its a brick diner building from almost seventy years ago with fourteen seats on an L-shaped counter. The walls are covered with photos or old newspaper stories, and you can buy a t-shirt while you are here.
Final Thoughts: There aren't many places with as much history or family tradition as Jerry's Main Lunch. I think the family were talking about furniture when I stopped in during the off hours. When I see Jerry's thriving it makes me surprised that nobody is trying to make it work at the old Valentine Diner parked beside the river in Muscatine. Just a reminder you can see my list of tenderloins near Highway 61 HERE.
Friday, August 15, 2014
Location: 521 Westbury Dr on the East side of Iowa city in Eastern Iowa.
Directions: Its near the intersection of Scott Boulevard and Rochester Ave or the Herbert Hoover Highway on the far east portion of Iowa City. There isn't much else out here so you can see the place from the boulevard before navigating the side streets.
Online at: Website is HERE.
The Tenderloin: The problem here is that the cut of pork loin seemed to never have been tenderized. This was one chewy sandwich from start to finish. The batter formed a decent crunch that melted away without any real beer flavor. Served on a durable bun that felt calibrated for heavy juicy burgers. This seemed like an extra item tacked onto the menu. Overall 6.4 out of ten.
Price: $10.00 with a mountain of handcut fries that are the real star of the show.
|Fries are good|
Service: It seemed like students running the show while I stopped in for lunch.
Ambiance: The interior design is great with nice wood fixtures on the bar and booths, with exposed metal and televisions everywhere.
Final Thoughts: The location in a strip mall between Middlebury, Eastbury, and Westbury Roads feels like the geography of being nowhere. I know this area will fill up someday but right now its just emptiness. The original and East location are still places I would go for a burger. My next stop in Iowa City will probably be at Iron Hawk downtown or Shakespeare's Pub.
Friday, August 1, 2014
There have been taco trucks in Des Moines for a long time, and you can see my progress towards eating them all HERE. But where are the other food trucks? The Spot has stepped into this vacuum in 2013, and this summer they are joined by Magnolia Kitchen. Last year I visited a truck originally from Dewitt in Eastern Iowa, Chuckies Tenderloins, which drives all over the western half of the USA selling tenderloins. Recently The Spot started putting a tenderloin into their rotation of specials and I had to track them down.
Location: I think they are at a different location for five days out of each week this summer.
Directions: You have to visit their website to see where they are at.
Online at: Website is HERE.
The Completo: This is their Latin American hot dog. The Spot is supposedly the first food truck that isn't serving tacos or pupusas but some of the taco trucks serve hot dogs.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Location: 68168 US Highway 30 just outside of Colo, Iowa in Story County. Its about a 45 minute drive from Des Moines.
Directions: Turn south off of Highway 30 when you see Twin Anchors Campground, the Country House is next to the out of business service station.
Price: $7.50 with a side. I went with the fries which were thick steak fries lightly salted and served hot.
Also on the menu: The menu is simple, and I mean real simple like less than half a page for lunch. I think they have simplified it since my first visits several years ago. Think burgers and hot beef sandwiches, the daily special was grilled cheese tenderloin. There are also homemade pies on a sheet cooling on the counter:
Service: Its seat yourself table service, and you can pay at the counter or wait to have your ticket taken for you.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Location: 852 Washington Ave in Burlington, Southeast Iowa.
Directions: You can get here by taking the Main St exit from the state highway and turning on Washington St.
The Tenderloin: I had to grab one to go because there was no light inside the bar. This felt like six ounces of in a shapeless form in a delicious golden brown color. The tenderized meat did was a bit limp and seemed to flop over the toasted bun. The breading had little seasoning and steam from the meat took away any kind of crunch. This was still a decent dive bar tenderloin. Overall 7.5 out of ten.
Price: $4.50 a great value.
Also on the menu: mostly the usual fried stuff you find at every bar, along with steak and burgers. I think Thursday is taco night.
Service: I think the grill is only open from five to nine in the evening. You need to sit at the bar to get service.
Ambiance: This is a dive bar decorated with photos of Marilyn Monroe and figurines of knights in suits of armor. The building is old and the bar fixtures are showing their age. There was a crowd of people standing outside the door smoking.
Final Thoughts: I've had tenderloins at several places in Burlington so far and none have stood out or above the Short Stop in New London or the Apron Strings in Mediapolis. My next stop in Burlington will probably be at Jerry's Main Lunch on Main Street.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
There is something about livestock auctions and food that just goes together. These are major get together locations with a specific function in the farm economy of Iowa. There are sale barns all over the place in rural Iowa, and many serve food on sale days. There have to be a few that stay open during the week, and I stumbled across one in the far south of Iowa in Lamoni.
Location: 900 East Main St. in Lamoni, Decatur County, Southern Iowa.
Directions: Take the Highway 65 exit from I-35 and turn West. The road turns into Main St in Lamoni and the Sale Barn Cafe is close to the city center.
Price: $7.50 a la carte
Also on the menu: There is a hot beef sandwich and tenderloin served hot beef style, something called a Chuck Wagon, burgers and sides. The daily specials come with a roll and a couple sides. The pies and other desserts are often made with fruits from the local Amish farms. They also sell homemade bread.
Final Thoughts: Its no secret that livestock auction houses will have some good food. The hard part is getting into town and knowing the when and where to go. My internet searches have not found any other sale barn cafes with regular weekday hours, and information about any others would be appreciated.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Mr. Filet is a small cafe for the downtown office lunch crowd that fits into a few niches that are becoming harder to find in each passing year. Its a fast order grill run by Greek-Americans, which is a tradition across the country. Its also a low price steakhouse, something nearly impossible to find in an owner operated cafe these days. Finally, its a place that has survived in one of the worst locations imaginable for any business. There is zero curb appeal, the inside is not nice by any stretch of the imagination, and I can't remember seeing an advertizement for this place in my lifetime. Its even come back from at least one devastating fire. Its really a miracle that Mr Filet has lasted so long.
Location: 510 7th St in Des Moines, Iowa. Its underneath the 7th and Grand Ave. parking ramp scheduled for demolition sometime in 2014.
Directions: There is no direct access from the skywalk but there is a bright neon sign that reads RESTAURANT that can barely be seen from certain angles at street level.
Price: $6.40 with fries after tax.
Also on the menu: old Greek grill favorites including breakfast omelets in the morning, burgers, gyros and grilled steaks were the specialties in the afternoon. The most expensive steak is $11.25 after tax.
Service: The counter area for ordering is a fixture from decades ago with a lunch trays to slide and a cabinet holding side salads and desserts. The cooked food is taken to your table after a short wait.
Final Thoughts: I don't get any enjoyment out of eating mediocre tenderloins or taking the time to get photos and write about them. I have a lot of respect for what Mr Filet has done over the years and the disappearing relics of the great contribution these Greek-American grills have added to American fast service and lunch restaurants. George the Chili King might be the last of the Greek owned fast food grills with an actual old Greek guy inside. Downtown Des Moines has a history of demolishing buildings when it seems like a good idea only to regret it a few years later. With this parking ramp and YMCA scheduled for demolition I wanted to get one more account added to the internet before its too late.