Monday, April 15, 2013

The Other Place in Clear Lake, Iowa

The Other Place is one of the most successful restaurant chains ever conceived in Iowa. The initial locations in the Cedar Falls and Waterloo opened in the seventies, then Mason City and Clear Lake in the eighties. Finally expanding to Kansas City and later Central Iowa in the past decade. The locations have stayed in business for decades, and the older ones look more like old pizza parlors from the outside. The Other Place in Clear Lake also suffered a grease fire in its kitchen in January but reopened just three weeks later.

Location: 200 Highway 18 West in Clear Lake, Cerro Gordo County in Northern Iowa.

Directions: Its just a mile off I-35 taking the Highway 18 exit through Clear Lake. Its hard to miss the gigantic building.

Online at: website for the chain  with locations and menus is HERE.

The Tenderloin: Taking the bun off the top reveals some marks that look like this was in storage for a while. The breading was more of a fine layer than anything crunchy, once again little seasoning save some visible black pepper flakes. The meat had been tenderized thoroughly and pounded into a large triangle shape. This is one of the better chain restaurant tenderloins out there, and clearly hand breaded. Served on a gigantic bun with more than enough vegetables on the side. Overall 7.5 out of ten.

Price: $8.75 with a side, but its a special on Thursdays for $7.45

Also on the menu: Like most chain sports bars the menu is huge with lots of stuff they might not be particularly good at making. There are soups and baked sandwiches, wings, fried appetizers, pastas, and their pizza is overloaded with cheese and toppings. The Mexican section even includes the "Biggest Burrito in Town", is that a realistic claim in Storm Lake, Iowa?
The sides available include homemade chips that were good salty crunchy things that paired well with ketchup:

Service: I was in during the off hours in the middle of the day, no wait for a table and nothing to complain about.
Ambiance: This is a very modern and new sports bar with a gigantic dining area and at least twenty televisions tuned into sports. There is a bar area, takeout counter, and outside patio space for special events and barbecues. The whole place is just huge.
Final Thoughts: The Clear Lake and Mason City area has a lot of choices for dining. While The Other Place isn't the best its still a good choice for groups or families who need a large menu and tons of televisions. Just across the street is the honorary Buddy Holly Place and the lake isn't far away.
Other Place on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 1, 2013

Community Tap & Pizza Ft. Dodge, Iowa

The word "Local Legend" could be used to describe Community Tap and Pizza in Ft. Dodge. Its the place everyone from Ft. Dodge points visitors to, and it has the space to fit the whole town inside. I get the idea its held this position in town for a long time. The entryway near the takeout counter shows no shortage of "Best Of Ft Dodge" awards from the local newspaper.

Location: 2026 5th Ave South in Ft. Dodge, Iowa a little over an hour north of Des Moines

Directions: 5th Ave. S is the Highway 20 Business Route and the main East-West drag through Fort Dodge. Community Tap & Pizza is just south and west of the city center.
Online at: Facebook page is HERE.

The Tenderloin: Breading had the usual cracker crunch on the outside, only the barest trace of any seasoning. The pork was a little on the thin side for my tastes yet kept some good chewy softness. Served on a big fresh buttered and toasted bun. Overall 7.0 out of ten.

Price: $5.50

Also on the menu: They deliver pizza and there are other sandwiches to choose from.

Service: There is a take out counter along with separate bar service and table service areas.

Ambiance: This is a small town dive bar pizza place, but its a gigantic one. Dining areas include a bar area, takeout entrance, back entrance, and an outdoor patio area in the summer.

Final Thoughts: Ft. Dodge is a town with no shortage of places with 3 letter words in the name. Its like every single building has letters arranged into BAR, PUB, and TAP. I think my next stop in this area will be Antler's Pub in Clare, recently runner up in the annual IPPA contest.
Community Pizza on Urbanspoon