Many Iowans would consider pork as a food staple in Iowa. I think that'd be a fair statement because I'm not sure if you've heard this once or 10,000 times before but Iowa has more hogs in the state than people. Iowans get pretty serious about their pork. In 2023, Iowa was voted as having the "world's best pork tenderloin."

While Iowa is home to many incredible pork tenderloin sandwiches, plenty of restaurants have more to offer than just pork. Iowa could be considered a loose meat capital of the world, there are more Mexican restaurants in eastern Iowa than I can count, and Iowa is home to many incredible steak houses.

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Simply put...if you like food, Iowa is a fantastic place for any foodie to take a restaurant road trip. If you had to pick Iowa's most iconic restaurants, which establishments would you choose?

Let's Go Iowa has helped put together some of Iowa's most iconic restaurants and your favorite establishment might be on the list! *These are in no particular order*

Iowa's Most Iconic Restaurants

Northwestern Steakhouse

Let's Go Iowa starts the list with Northwestern Steakhouse in Mason City Iowa. This has been a family-owned restaurant since 1965 and when entering the restaurant, you'll be treated with a "yesteryear" feel. There are wooden booths and old movie posters, and the exterior is a classic old brick building. The steaks "taste like no other you've eaten."

Jethro's BBQ

Jethro's BBQ has multiple locations in Iowa and is known for its delicious BBQ as well as chicken and steaks. You may have heard of or seen one of these meals on "Man vs Food" as Adam Emmenecker tries to take down "The World Famous Adam Emmenecker Sandwich." This meal includes pork tenderloin, Angus steak burger, Texas brisket, bacon, fried cheese, buffalo chicken tenders, and cheese sauce.

Mabe's Pizza

It's not just BBQ or steakhouses that are considered iconic in the state of Iowa. There is also a plethora of incredible pizza places in this state as well. According to Let's Go Iowa, Mabe's Pizza, located in Decorah, wasn't always a pizza place. It originally opened as  Mabel's Lunchroom and became incredibly popular with students from Luther College.

Mabe's uses fresh ingredients and each pizza is made by hand, using a thin crust. There are 13 pizza styles/toppings to choose from and they do offer burgers, pasta, chicken, and salad.

Zakeer's Family Restaurant

You can't forget about breakfast! It's the most important meal of the day. Zakeer's Family Restaurant, located in Fort Dodge, is known for its smothered hashbrowns and has been a must-stop for more than 6 decades. The hashbrowns are smothered in sausage gravy and topped with two eggs of your choice. After that, you can add a side of ham, bacon, or sausage for a complete breakfast.

Zombie Burger + Drink Lab 

Zombie Burger + Drink Lab is located in Des Moines and with 28 different burgers to choose from...everyone can find something they like. The names of some of the burgers are amazing and even funny. They really get behind the whole undead theme. They feature burgers called 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, and my personal favorite, They're Coming to Get You, Barbara!

Zombie Burger also features milkshakes and malts that also have names you'll surely have a good laugh at.

This is the point in food articles where I start to get hungry...

Pink Poodle Steakhouse

In my humble opinion, there's nothing better than a good steak. I even enjoy paying someone else to do the cooking. This 70-year-old restaurant looks like a throwback to classic steakhouses and is located on Old Lincoln Highway, in Crescent.

If you prefer chicken or fish, you'll have that option but I have no idea how you could turn down their famous prime rib. They come in 3 cuts; regular, cut and a half, and Diamond Jim. You just have to choose how full you'd want to be on your car ride home. Cresent is located near the Nebraska border and Pink Poodle Steakhouse continuously challenges for best prime rib in the Omaha area.

Did any of Let's Go Iowa's most iconic Iowa restaurants surprise you? Are there any they should add to the list? Which of these locations have you visited? Let us know in the comments.

Eastern Iowa Restaurants That Have Been Open 50+ Years

There are quite a few Eastern Iowa restaurants that have stood the test of time! Here are some of the eateries that have been open in the area for 50 years or more!

Gallery Credit: Courtlin

3 Locals Eat at 19 Cedar Rapids Restaurants in 1 Day

Camden Stovie, Colton Storla, and Joe Sample celebrated Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week by going to all 19 participating restaurants in ONE DAY! Here are all the specials they ordered throughout the day on Saturday, February 17th:

Gallery Credit: Courtlin


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