Friday, August 15, 2014

Shorts Burgers Eastside in Iowa City, Iowa

The original Shorts burgers and Shine in downtown Iowa City has been massively successful and earned mentions in every local media outlet and the New York Times. They have built up a reputation as the best burger place in Iowa City with a huge selection to choose from.

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
Also on the menu: I counted 24 specialty burgers, 13 chicken sandwiches, and six black bean burgers. The East location has expanded appetizers and chicken wings.

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.
Short's Burgers Eastside on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Spot Food Truck in Des Moines, Iowa

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 Tenderloin: The loin meat only felt like six ounces and was in a long triangle shape. The meat retained a huge amount of juiciness. Bits and pieces of seasoning were clearly visible in the breading and strong taste. This was a sandwich that insisted upon itself, it really did not need the final layer of salt on top of the tenderloin. Served on a roll with romaine lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise. Overall 7.9 out of ten.

Price: $6.50

Asparagus side.
Also on the menu: The menu changes but they usually have an Al Pastor burger and sides like pasta salad or macaroni and cheese.

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.

The Completo
Service: You order at a window and they try to get your attention when the food is ready.

Ambiance: Its parked in parking lots in anonymous office blocks or near bars downtown.

Final Thoughts: Des Moines might be a little late to the Food Truck trend. I think the regulations force the food trucks to have an agreement with a business or land owner and access to a restroom. It seems clear that both the trendy food trucks and the taco trucks have to shut down or fly south for the winter. That makes getting out and finding them when the weather is warm so important.