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Des Moines, Iowa
What you’ll find:
In Iowa, tenderloin doesn’t necessarily mean a roast: It could also be a pounded-tender slice of pork that gets battered, crisp-fried, bunned, and served along with pickle chips, raw onions, and mustard. Some of the state's best BPTs can be found west of Des Moines in small-town cafés like the Red Barn (712-268-2645) in Exira
(ask for Pea Salad, made with shredded cheddar cheese and mayonnaise, on the side), and at Chatterbox (712-563-3428) in Audubon.
You’ll also find it at family-friendly taverns like Larsen's Pub (712-764-8026) in the Danish community of Elk Horn,
and at Darrell's Place (712-563-3922) in Hamlin.
(By the way, Darrell’s rhubarb pie, made with stalks that owner Darrell Munch gets from local farms, is not to be missed.) A few slices of heaven can also be found at The Farmer's Kitchen
where Charlene Johnson's Chocolate Peanut Butter Explosion Pie has won national awards.
Northwest Iowa is home to the unique loosemeat sandwich: seasoned ground beef cooked loose (as opposed to being formed into a patty) and served sauceless on a bun. Different versions are made around Sioux City,
at the Miles Inn (712-276-9825), where it’s topped with melted cheese and called a Charlie Boy, and at Tastee Inn & Out (712-255-0857), where it’s known as a Tastee and served with fried onion chips. Bob's Drive-In (712-546-5445) uses loosemeat as a topping for their Nebraska-made wiener, dubbed the Bob Dog.
If it’s steak you’re after, check out Archie's Waeside
, also in Lemars.
They age their own beef and serve some of the thickest, juiciest slabs in the Midwest. For dessert, cruise over to the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor
and dig into an Avalanche (French vanilla ice cream dipped in dark chocolate, or an outsized Double Dog Dare banana split).
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