Sunday, July 15, 2012

Big Dave & Holly's and Le Claire Iowa

Big Dave & Holly's was once a Dairy Sweet, and its sign has ice cream cones and a burger with facial features greeting the visitor. The building has survived its fair share of great floods at this location with pictures documenting the water levels. Locally known simply as "Big Daves", this is small town style ice cream place right next to the river on the north side of Le Claire.

Location: 1204 N Cody Rd in Le Claire, just outside Bettendorf and the Quad Cities in Eastern Iowa.

Directions: Cody Road is Highway 67, the Great River Road, the main street through Le Claire reached from the last exit on I-80 before the bridge over the river.

Online at: website is HERE.

The Tenderloin: The portion was a great size, filling the entire plate. I could hear the cook battering this thing and dipping it into the hot oil. The breading had a salty batter type of consistency. Interior meat was thoroughly tenderized but had a bit of a mushy texture with a gray-ish color. Served on a large untoasted bun that couldn't handle the weight of the sandwich, with your choice of fixings. Overall 7.0 out of ten.

Price: $6.00

Also on the menu: The sign reads Tenderloins, Ice Cream & More, and the "more" seems to be burgers and daily specials like tacos or jambalaya.
Service: There was a school aged kid taking orders and another person cooking when I stopped in.

Ambiance: The interior is small and cramped with a couple counters and tables for seating. There are picnic tables outside and views of the train tracks and the river.

Some notes about visiting Le Claire:

Big Dave & Holly's was visited on the American Pickers episode White Castle on the Farm. Its the location of a dramatic scene involving intense phone conversations and paper shuffling. After eating at Big Dave's on the north side of Le Claire, I figured it was worth walking in the footsteps of The History Channel and checking out the town.
Taking the road from I-80, there are several new strip malls on the way to the historic shopping district. For a person from Des Moines, the immediate comparison is to say its like Valley Junction upon the Mississippi. According to the NY Times article, the guy from the show bought a downtown building after negotiating the asking price down by $150,000. It appears the town of Le Claire was developing into a boutique shopping destination before the show started pulling in over 5 million viewers in weekly installments. The local media shares credit for the turnaround to the opening of an Iowa Welcome Center, a couple of new restaurants, and some active local residents.

I've been to some other towns in Iowa that promote themselves as antique "destinations" that just aren't interesting to visit. Le Claire's Main St. area was near fully occupied and busy with visitors while I was there. The growth of the tourists, small businesses, shops, and the rest of the town mark a sharp contrast to other river towns in Iowa.
The Antique Archaeology garage/storefront building is just off of Cody Rd south of the main shopping area. Visitors can walk inside and look around at some of the odd finds and antiques. A bunch of young women were running the shop, and most people here seemed to be just looking around and taking pictures before buying a t-shirt. They have other branded items at low price points. There were some motorcycles wheeled out in front of the garage with Not For Sale stickers and short description, but I honestly can't tell them apart from any other motorcycle.
Big Dave and Hollys on Urbanspoon

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