The Iowa Tourism Office rolled out a new feature last week called “99 Restaurants,” where it selects one restaurant in each of the Hawkeye State’s 99 counties it deems a must visit for tourists.
This is a cool idea and not to #humblebrag but I’ve either been to or am familiar with a fair share of the restaurants listed in Central and Northwest Iowa.
Rather than just repeating the same information listed for the Northwest Iowa selections by Iowa Tourism, I’ve decided to name the selection for each county we cover and that I have also been to and dined in.
Starting alphabetical order:
Buena Vista County: La Juanitas, Storm Lake — Clearly, there is no refuting this selection on any level. I love La Juanitas anywhere I can find it.
However, I also recommend people check out the Boat House. A few years back, I had a fantastic Chicken and Steak Oscar dish.
Cherokee County: Gasthaus Bar & Grill, Cherokee — The only other place I’ve eaten in Cherokee has closed so I can not refute this one nor offer an alternative.
Clay County: Weasy’s Lounge & Grill, Spencer: This is getting awkward… Besides the Clay County Fairgrounds and grabbing some Chinese at the local Hy-Vee, the only other places I’ve eaten in Spencer have closed, so Weasy’s is your undisputed champ.
Dickinson County: The Taco House, Okoboji: Literally everyone told me to go to Taco House when I lived in Sheldon, but it was one of those things where I always thought I’d have time. Now I live two hours away from it. No objection to this choice, but I’d like to point out that Minervas Restaurant & Bar in Okoboji is pretty fantastic.
Lyon County: Doon Steak House, Doon — No disputing this. This place has an awesome and friendly staff and the steaks are divine.
For a nice change of pace, hit up Slade’s Drive In in Rock Rapids on a nice warm day and bask in its great ice cream and ice cream adjacent offerings.
O’Brien County: Old 60 Steaks & Chops, Sheldon — Two bacon-wrapped pork chops, soup, bread, and one side dish is my go-to meal whenever I eat here.
I love steak but putting pork on top of more pork is genius and it cannot be denied. A choice alternative would be Truly Scrumptious also in Sheldon.
Osceola County: 1015 Steak Co., Sibley — The menu is pretty similar to Old 60s, which is only a few miles down the new U.S. Highway 60, so it’s pretty good food.
El Tio Nachos, also in Sibley, is one alternative or you could travel south to Ashton and hang out at the Hangout Pub & Grill (see what I did there).
Plymouth County: Archie’s Waeside Cafe, Le Mars — Still haven’t had a better steak than the one I had here.
I’d also recommend P’s Pizza House for dinner or lunch and dessert at Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor and both of these also are located in Le Mars.
Sioux County: Blue Mountain Culinary Emporium, Orange City — The food at Blue Mountain is perfectly fine, but there are a few alternatives I would check out in Sioux County first: Sfumato in Carnes, 10th Street Pub in Alton, Fruited Plain or Sioux County Livestock Co. in Sioux Center and in Orange City, I'd check out P’z or The Hatchery.
Woodbury County: The Diving Elk, Sioux City — The Diving Elk is a fine choice to represent Sioux City — try the Chicken Tikka Masala — but our food scene here is so crazy diverse that you really can’t go wrong depending on your mood and what you're craving. I've written a bit about our local selection, most recently about breakfast, so don't think I can add much more.
Again, my list doesn't cover all of the Iowa portions of Siouxland but just the places I've been and dined. Check out more here: www.traveliowa.com/99restaurants