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The Great River Road

The Great River Road
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  • Post #31 - September 6th, 2012, 3:47 pm
    Post #31 - September 6th, 2012, 3:47 pm Post #31 - September 6th, 2012, 3:47 pm
    nice T,

    especially the brewery museum.
  • Post #32 - April 17th, 2014, 11:45 am
    Post #32 - April 17th, 2014, 11:45 am Post #32 - April 17th, 2014, 11:45 am
    Tyrgyzistan wrote:I was all ready to stick these things into the recently bumped Great River Road thread. But I was in Le Claire recently and figured these would fit in here better. Many towns along the Mississippi River are better known for economic stagnation and decline. But the tiny town of LeClaire has established itself as the boutique shopping destination in the Quad Cities. Over a decade ago, the skinny guy from American Pickers bought half a block of main st. commercial space here after negotiating down the asking price to less than half of the original amount. The exposure has been good for the town, and it has tons of visitors on the clear sunny day when I recently visited.

    Big Dave & Holly's used to be named Dairy Sweet, has survived multiple floods and is just across the train tracks from the Big River. This is not the best tenderloin in the area. And the "more" referenced on the menu is just fried stuff, burgers and daily specials.

    Gourmet Pop Corn in a town proud of its heritage of being near the birthplace of Buffalo Bill Cody:


    Two blocks from the Main St. shopping area is the storefront for the cable tv show, the people on the show are rarely here. This bike is supposed to be really special for some reason and I saw the episode but I can't remember whats so great about it:

    Big Dave & Holly's
    1204 Cody Rd N
    Le Claire, IA

    Kernel Cody's Popcorn Shoppe
    125 North Cody Road,
    Le Claire, IA

    More from LeClaire

    I got a few reports to sift thru for this thread and thought I'd get this small several hour visit to the historic town of LeClaire, Iowa out of the way first. As described by Tyrgyzistan this is a very charming and also storied river town that boomed during the 19th century. Folks were out and about on my recent visit as it's been a brutal winter and this day was the first sign of it leaving (though snow was in the forecast for the following day). I stopped into the antique store that must be owned by the American Pickers guy as they had a few towns full of cool old junk, too much to look through. Not cheap either. I continue to be enamored with the Great River Road and the towns along it. One of these days I'll pick a historic town and get going on my pitch to HBO to pick up a series on the happenings of it during it's heyday (ala Deadwood).

    Longtime Locals Favorite

    Right on the River

    Highlight was a stop into Fullmer's Fish Market. Dan Fullmer is a fourth generation commercial fisherman. He's a purveyor of fresh fish taken right out of the Mississippi. Most of it is sold in smoked form and on this day he had catfish and sturgeon. Really cool guy, very old school stop. I'm now tempted to work on a project of all the family fisheries that are still left along the river.

    Inside Fullmer's

    Distilling is quickly catching up to brewing as far as being able to snag something locally made most anywhere you are. The Mississippi River Distilling Company was started by two brothers who made their dreams come true. They're the first to make booze in these parts since pre-prohibition and have an array of fine spirits they make, sample and sell right in the distillery on the river. I enjoyed a couple sips of Cody Road Bourbon and tasted of some River Pilot Vodka before heading over to Go Fish.

    Fresh Booze

    Image Image
    I'm loving the boom in making it

    Go Fish is just a locals bar on the river one town over. It has two levels and an outdoor/indoor patio on the second floor. Plenty of bikers out mingling on this Saturday. Some adults that should of known better thought it'd be fun to do something stupid, one isn't here anymore. Don't f-ck with the Big Boy.

    Coming out of hibernation at Go Fish

    Listen up kids, don't ever take a canoe out onto the Mighty Mississippi, you might not return...See ya next time

    Fullmer's Fish Market
    112 E Ferry St
    LeClaire, IA 52753
    (563) 289-5107

    Mississippi River Distilling Company
    303 N Cody Rd
    LeClaire, IA 52753
    (563) 484-4342

    Go Fish
    411 River Dr
    Princeton, IA 52768
    (563) 289-3908
  • Post #33 - April 18th, 2014, 11:30 am
    Post #33 - April 18th, 2014, 11:30 am Post #33 - April 18th, 2014, 11:30 am
    Da Beef, you are living life to its fullest. Love to see your each and every post. I wish I could have an app like an electronic book in my ipad mapped out to all of the places you have posted on.
  • Post #34 - June 27th, 2014, 1:51 pm
    Post #34 - June 27th, 2014, 1:51 pm Post #34 - June 27th, 2014, 1:51 pm
    Jerry's Main Lunch in Burlington Iowa has recently been featured in Edible Iowa River Valley and WQAD TV in the Quad Cities. Operated by the same family since 1946, when servicemen returning home by train could walk across the street and grab a burger. There were three generations of the family when I stopped in during the off hours, they were talking about furniture.

    The Large Homemade tenderloin, really okay for $4.70 but the stars of the menu are the Breakfast Mess and the Jerry Burger, or homemade daily specials or pies ala mode.

    Its got a five digit phone number on the sign! Great for aficionados for vintage five digit phone number signs.

    Jerrys Main Lunch
    501 S Main St,
    Burlington, IA 52601
    (319) 752-3750
  • Post #35 - July 2nd, 2014, 1:26 pm
    Post #35 - July 2nd, 2014, 1:26 pm Post #35 - July 2nd, 2014, 1:26 pm
    buzzd wrote:one stop you might have missed is the pie lady right on the highway in Stockholm, Wi--great pies--its the best pie shop we know---although the Main Street Cafe in Bloomer is darn good too!

    Has anyone been to Stockholm Pie Company recently? I am wondering if it is worth a short detour.
  • Post #36 - August 18th, 2014, 12:33 pm
    Post #36 - August 18th, 2014, 12:33 pm Post #36 - August 18th, 2014, 12:33 pm
    Rolling back in to Fort Madison before two in the afternoon meant I had a change to visit the 10th St. Station:


    The newspaper story from ages ago tells me this was one of the very first Maid Rite franchises when it opened over seventy years ago. Maid Rite once had family owned franchises but many took down the signage and left the franchise agreement over the years.

    The menu claimed this was "award winning", but at least it was very affordable and the service was nice at the ancient counter.

    The old maid rite menu was expanded to include some rural Iowa mexican food, and the super tacos look like regular tortillas stuck in the deep fryer to absorb some oil. This place won't make me forget Jake and Walt's The Fort Diner, but its nice to see a place so old still around.

    10th Street Station
    616 10th St
    Fort Madison, IA 52627
  • Post #37 - August 27th, 2014, 12:18 pm
    Post #37 - August 27th, 2014, 12:18 pm Post #37 - August 27th, 2014, 12:18 pm
    Tyrgyzistan wrote:The old maid rite menu was expanded to include some rural Iowa mexican food, and the super tacos look like regular tortillas stuck in the deep fryer to absorb some oil. This place won't make me forget Jake and Walt's The Fort Diner, but its nice to see a place so old still around.

    10th Street Station
    616 10th St
    Fort Madison, IA 52627

    "Rural Iowa mexican food" is a new genre to me, are there any other characteristics?


    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #38 - August 27th, 2014, 3:12 pm
    Post #38 - August 27th, 2014, 3:12 pm Post #38 - August 27th, 2014, 3:12 pm
    I'm not sure its a real genre tbh. Many small towns have one mexican restaurant that serves food like what used to be served in bigger cities when their first mexican restaurants opened. The fried dough tacos similar to those served at Rudy's Tacos in the Quad Cities and Tasty Tacos chains in Des Moines are big sellers. Taco salads, enchiladas with bright red sauce, and nachos with predictable nearly tasteless ground beef. Not anything to write home about.

    Nearby the Great River Road, in the packing town of Columbus Junction, I took some photos of places I thought I might stop back at later. Like other packing towns such as Marshalltown, Denison, Clear Lake, Osceola, or Ottumwa the packing jobs have been filled by recent migrants from Mexico, Central America, even East Africa or the latest groups from minority ethnic groups from Myanmar. Taco Trucks and small time grocery shops follow the recent migrants, and restaurant scenes develop soon after. The New York Times recently had a series on migration along the I-35 corridor, titled The Way North, which included a stop in Denison. This kind of rural migration to Iowa only started in the late nineties.

    If their twitter and other reviews are accurate, Antojitos Carmen moved from East LA and had positive feedback from local newspapers and even appeared on the Food Network at some point. There is a panaderia and two other taquerias on the same main st in the tiny town. This place is very high on my list if I ever make it back to Columbus Jct. for sopes or huaraches.

    Anotojitos Carmen
    207 Main St
    Columbus Jct
  • Post #39 - August 27th, 2014, 7:51 pm
    Post #39 - August 27th, 2014, 7:51 pm Post #39 - August 27th, 2014, 7:51 pm
    You need to put this all in a book.
    fine words butter no parsnips
  • Post #40 - September 2nd, 2014, 12:08 pm
    Post #40 - September 2nd, 2014, 12:08 pm Post #40 - September 2nd, 2014, 12:08 pm
    The Clam Shell Diner in Muscatine, facing the train tracks and the big river right in the middle of everything in Muskie-land. Once visited by Alton Brown for Feasting on Asphalt, now sits empty for at least a year. The last tenant was a coney dog vendor known as Coneys At The Clamshell, and the clam is a symbol of something they used to pull out of the river here. This kind of rail car diner can be loaded onto a flatbed by anyone who wants to buy it, but who really wants to take this thing away from where it is?

    Clam Shell Diner
    115 W Mississippi Dr
    Muscatine, IA 52761
  • Post #41 - September 3rd, 2014, 6:25 pm
    Post #41 - September 3rd, 2014, 6:25 pm Post #41 - September 3rd, 2014, 6:25 pm
    Tyrgyzistan wrote:I'm not sure its a real genre tbh. Many small towns have one mexican restaurant that serves food like what used to be served in bigger cities when their first mexican restaurants opened. The fried dough tacos similar to those served at Rudy's Tacos in the Quad Cities and Tasty Tacos chains in Des Moines are big sellers. Taco salads, enchiladas with bright red sauce, and nachos with predictable nearly tasteless ground beef. Not anything to write home about.

    I call it American-Mexican and as long as we're being honest, I have a little soft spot for it. I actually grew up eating better Mexican than most gringos having lived in the city but I also ate at the places you describe mainly because Mexican has long been my favorite food and I didn't know any better back then. I loved it all. So I still get a kick out of the places that have been serving small Midwest, usual industrial towns, for several decades and like to stop into them when I can. I actually have a plan to put many of them together into a post but in the meantime here's one of them that sits right off the Great River Road in downstate Illinois.

    Longtime locals favorite in Wood River, IL

    I stopped into this place the same trip I took upthread in and around Alton, IL as I gathered a list of more than a handful of spots selling fried tacos. The owners of this Los Tres Amigos started selling their specialty tacos around taverns in Alton circa 1966. They'd set up trailers in the parking lots and sell them to boozing patrons and passerby's on weekends. It's quite possible that Joe Morales is responsible for making to the areas fried tavern taco craze. Unfortunately most of the bars do them as a weekly special so it's a drawn out post but Los Tres Amigos does them daily. You can get them two ways and one is with a flour tortilla which was Joe's specialty and the other is with a corn one. As always the ground beef seasoning is minimal, this blend comes mixed with diced potatoes. I've said it before and I'm a fried taco fiend so of course I liked these and why shouldn't I? The recipe comes from Joe's mom who made them with beans in place of beef allowing her to feed the family a home cooked meal on the cheap back in Mexico. That's pretty authentic to me. Granted I totally understand the difference.

    The Famous Morales Tacos fried in Flour and Corn tortillas

    Los Tres Amigos
    1822 Vaughn Rd
    Wood River, IL 62095
    (618) 259-9730
  • Post #42 - September 23rd, 2014, 8:34 am
    Post #42 - September 23rd, 2014, 8:34 am Post #42 - September 23rd, 2014, 8:34 am
    Rolled with dabeef up towards Dubuque on the River Road - really got out this summer - this was the 2nd time I was up in Dubuque in the past couple months.

    First stop in Dubuque - Jacks Chicken Palace - been around 50-60 years..



    Originally called Feeney's Chicken Palace - eventually changed hands and renamed Jack's. Famous for fried chicken obviously and onion rings.

    Their chicken is cooked in the same style pressure fryer as MUlkeys in Rock Island, IL.


    Good stuff, light breading: - Fried Chicken "Chief" approved.


    Jacks Chicken Palace
    1107 University
    Dubuque, IL. ... .18.10.pdf

    Next up - over the river into Illinois - East Dubuque - Sinsinawa Ave - called Sin Strip, and little Cicero back in its hayday - gambling, clubs, bootleg liquor -

    A spot thats seen it come and go:



    known for their chili dogs:


    as cool as it gets:


    the chili dog - ok during the day - guessing better late at night:


    an interesting Sun Time article: ... CF7Y5RdV8o

    240 Sinsinawa
    East. Dubuque, IL. ... 0933553482

    Some random stuff from the area:

    Shot Tower Dubuque, IA. right on the river - Built 1856



    built to make shot - molten lead was hoisted to the top of the tower and poured through screens to a pool of water at the base - gravity formed the lead droplets into shot for rifles. - pretty cool. Only a couple of these left in existance.

    also been used as a firer observatory for a lumber company.

    Dubuque Shot Tower
    Commercial Strret @ the River
    Dubuque, IA.

    Next up the Great Five Flags Theater:


    Built in 1910 as the Majestic Theater - also named the Spensley Theater and the Orpheum during its time. Was slated for demolition in the late 1960's but was saved and is now home to the Dubuque symphony. It is part of the Five Flags Center downtown Dubuque.

    Orpheum Theater/Five Flags Theater
    405 Main Street
    Dubuque, IA.

    Up in Sherrill, IA. is a place now called the Black Horse Inn. Originally called the Sherill Mount House -


    built in 1856 along what was a stagecoach route that ran along the Mississippi - Jesse James and his gang allegedly stayed here.. There is a beer garden, dance hall and tavern on the 2nd floor - As the Black Horse Inn it looks to be available for parties and lodging. Once again, pretty cool.

    Black Horse Inn
    5259 South Mound Road
    Sherrill, IA.

    Some fresh shots of a neat - but looked to be shuttered - supper club - whose photos may have appeared on LTH before.

    Sweeney's Supper Club


    nice from that angle, but the shot from this angle gave a tip to its previous name :


    Turns out Sweeney's was a spot called Leiser's Garden - 1951 - 1980 before it became Sweeneys.

    Sweeney's Supper Club(closed)
    11777 Hwy 52 N
    Dubuque, IA.

    Fun times , fun area of the state(s)

    Cant resist - one more - been photographed many times - who knows how long it will be left intact -

    beautiful Wisconsin day - en route to Petosi:

  • Post #43 - October 6th, 2014, 10:38 am
    Post #43 - October 6th, 2014, 10:38 am Post #43 - October 6th, 2014, 10:38 am
    The Tri-State Region

    ♫ On the Road again ♫

    I'm sure I've said it in previous posts on this thread but I love exploring the towns up and down the Mighty Mississippi. Each one has its own history and mystique going back to when it was America's main highway. First stop up, Dubuque.

    The old Dubuque Star Brewery

    I've been thru this area before but it was only for a few hours. Nonetheless at the very least you can always find some interesting stops when riding the river. Some deep digging online led me to a popular bar on the other side of town who's busiest hours were during breakfast time. Interesting.

    West Dubuque Tap

    Packed house when we arrived around 10a but we were able to squeeze out some seats at the bar. I'd say more than half of the people there to eat were also there to drink. NFL allegiances vary in this area so we saw Bears, Packers, Vikings and even Colts gear worn by regulars. Pretty typical bar when it comes to them in these parts, not too big but still able to ring them in. If anyone has interest in trying a llama tenderloin, they're doing them this month.

    Llama Tenderloin Special

    When I'd read reviews on West Dubuque tap the "Magic Muffin" kept on getting mentioned thus it caught my eye. This is the signature breakfast item of the house. They take two sausage patties, an egg, cheese and hash browns and put it all between a toasted English muffin. On this day they had a biscuits and gravy special so I got mine with a side of gravy. I saw others eating their magic muffin with a fork but I managed to pick it up with two hands and eat the entire thing intact. I got a cup of the sausage gravy on the side and poured a little over the hash browns and considering we're way North of the Mason Dixon this was a worthy batch. Hangover food, before you start drinking more food, at its finest.

    Magic Muffin

    Before popping into WDT I noticed this independent donut shop seen below. I've been making it into quite a few of these in my past summer travels and they all put DD and even some of the designer donut shops in the city to shame. Felt like they've been around for a while and tasted that way too. Fresh made donuts for a buck, whats not to like.

    Image Image
    Donut Boy Signature Donuts

    Next stop up was an interesting spot swside came across. Cremer's Grocery has been serving Dubuque for over 65 years and both the outside and the inside of this place looked the part.

    Cremer's Grocery in Dubuque

    From their website "We take pride in our old-fashioned quality and service. Our hand-cut choice meats, homemade sausages, and our Famous Turkey ‘N’ Dressing sandwiches are a few of the specialties that has made us a tri-state ”Institution of quality”.

    a peak inside, employees making sandwiches behind the counter

    I didn't know much about Cremers except the fact that they made a turkey and stuffing sandwich that was popular with the locals. I was surprised the see that all sandwiches were .99 as I was expecting something a little bit different than what they turned out to be.

    Sandwich Cooler

    Turns out all sandwiches are pre-made, on cheap hamburger buns, and placed in the cooler for customers to pick them out of. Not exactly what I envisioned as I was expecting a sub made fresh and served warm with house turkey and homemade dressing. Either way, we were there so why not as least grab one, certainly wasn't going to hurt the cash flow.

    Sandwich Warmers

    I watched as a local walked in and went over to the fridge where she grabbed a couple sandwiches and proceeded to walk over to an area with a couple microwaves. Turns out some, or most as Jim asked, prefer their sandwiches heated up. I heated up mine later that night when the munchies came calling. I guess you get what you pay for in this case. Not awful but anything but special. I guess if I lived near I'd take advantage of these for the kids lunches, cant get much cheaper with no work involved in making them.

    Turkey Stuffing Sandwich

    Next stop up was a longtime favorite near college campus called Jack's Chicken Palace. This local landmark has been serving generations of Dubuqueians(?) with their signature broasted chicken. From an online article "originally opened more than a half century ago as Feeney’s Chicken Palace. After a few years Jack Terry took it over and renamed it Jack’s Chicken Palace. He perfected his frying techniques over the next 18 years and then turned it over to his son-in-law, Nick, who ran it for another 25 years or so."

    Jack's Chicken Palace in Dubuque

    This place seems to be one of the areas top takeout stops as there were people coming in and out for phone orders. Nowhere to sit inside but no worries as eating fried chicken al trunko has become the norm on these excursions. Cool looking machines in place to do the pressure frying, fyi this style of cooking was created by a company in Beloit, Wisconsin and their stretch seems to go up and down the northern part of the Mississippi as seen in previous posts. Pretty damn good, not aggressively seasoned but fried to a crisp outside with some juices remaining inside. Onion rings weren't bad either, a nice place for locals to have as a food option when not feeling like cooking.

    Broasted Chicken

    Next stop up, East Dubuque. There was a time when this town across the river was the center of the areas vice needs. It's often had a bad reputation and is frequently compared to East St. Louis down the river. Back in it's heyday the towns main strip, Sinsawa street would light up the night with its neon and was a frequent hangout of gamblers, boozers, sex traffickers, and of course Al Capone. Because of this and also the name of the street where it all took place, it was labeled Sin City back when. It's heyday stretched from prohibition all the way to the early 90's when the street boasted a handful of strip clubs and lots of bars open until 5am, thus attracting heavy drinkers from surrounding states who wanted more when their spots closed for the night. Mulgrews Tavern is just about the only business left from the strips heyday.

    Mulgrews Tavern on Sinsawa Street in East Dubuque

    As you enter (thru the back side)

    It's not hard to feel the history when stepping inside one of Illinois' most historic bars. Sitting almost directly underneath the Julien-Dubuque Bridge you know you're somewhere old school upon entering. If you choose to go thru the front door you're almost immediately greeted by the beautiful long bar that must sit at least 50. Come in from the back and you'll say hello to the gaming area upon entering. Aside from cheap drinks available from 8a-5a seven days a week Mulgrew's is also known for their foot long chili dog. $4.75 gets you one made up by the bartender served on some wax paper to help catch the drippings. There was a group next to us who must of been from the area originally as they talked about how many they used to eat at night when drinking there. I'm sure these are better when inebriated because they weren't doing it for the slightly buzzed. Not awful but not something I need again. Still fun to try one.

    Famous Foot Long Chili Dog

    Next stop up takes back over the river and down into the tiny little town of Saint Donatus Iowa, home of Kalmes General Store and Restaurant. This spot has been a multiple practice business since 1933 with a restaurant for almost 50 years. I read an article on the wall and learned Peter and Anna Kalmes came to America from Nospelt, Luxembourg sometime around 1840.

    Kalmes Restaurant in St Donatus, Iowa

    "Peter was a skilled sausage maker who found his way to the Luxembourg Village of Saint Donatus. In the early 1850’s he started a bar business in the red pebble stone building across the street from the current Kalmes Restaurant just north of the Gehlen House. In 1933, Theodore and Stella Kalmes purchased the present property and built a small bar and gas station. They added a grocery store and upstairs living quarters in 1942." You can see from my first report that I passed this place on a previous visit and snapped some pics of the exterior but never went inside to try it so I wanted to do so this time around. Awesome exterior and interior as they've kept it old school inside, all the down to the two guys behind the bar who were each older than 60. The General Store is attached to the bar and they sell some hard to find candies, bottled pop and also all of their famous seasonings which they use on the steaks and other menu items. They do a steady business in catering and as you can see in the pic up above they still sell gas.

    View of the Bar

    Pool Table

    View from end of the bar

    General Store Checkout

    Unfortunately they were just making a new batch of their signature kraut sausage but they did just finish making their house noodles. Those were on my radar too and because we were in Iowa I decided to try their tenderloin too which is made a little bit differently than most. It's lightly fried on a griddle and comes laced with their signature seasoning. I wasn't too fond of this one, the one up the road at Breitbach's was much better but the noodles were outstanding. The guy at the bar had mentioned there's a reason he had the gut he was sporting and it wasn't because of beer, he said we'd love their buttered noodles and indeed we did. Some parts were nice and crispy around the edges while the middle had that intact texture you can only achieve with freshly made.

    Pork Tenderloin with side of Homemade Noodles

    Last stop up! Into Wisconsin we go because what would a Saturday night in the Tri-State area be without a trip to a Supper Club? I've had the Village Bar Country Club on my radar for a minute as it's mentioned when best supper club in Wisconsin is discussed. Located in a small town about 10 Minutes from the Dubuque-Wisconsin bridge, folks have commonly come from all three states to get a sip and taste.

    Village Bar Supper Club in Kieler, Wisconsin

    I knew this place was popular but I had no idea it was so homey. I'd say they can sit about 50-60 people max and because they don't serve at the bar the wait was 2 hours when we went in. I decided to put my name down anyway and we rolled around for a while while deciding what to do. Eventually we went back, had another Spotted Cow, and were seated right around our 8:30p quoted time.

    a peak inside at the bar

    Aside from the small size there's nothing else too unique about this Wisconsin Supper Club. It's a husband and wife owned stop and on our visit the husband was running the front of the house while one of their daughters took care of the bar, they obviously were used to being full as it was a smooth running ship. Upon being seated we were given a vegetable/relish tray with some really nice cheddar spread that got devoured while waiting for our prime ribs with hash browns on the side.

    Image Image
    Relish Tray and a Side of Hash Browns with onions and Cheese

    Queen Cut Prime Rib (1.5 lbs)

    Because they're so well known for the prime rib they serve it every night they're open but on Saturday's you get $2 off each cut. I decided to go queen and got this beautiful 1.5 pound cut pictured up above. It had been quite a few months since I last had a real deal piece of prime rib so I thoroughly enjoyed this as if I was a caveman eating my last meal. That said I still couldn't finish the entire thing as it ended up being way too much for someone who just ate at a handful of stops beforehand. Cant ask for much better and same goes for the hash browns which were as good as any I can remember. This is one for the book.

    See ya next time!

    West Dubuque Tap
    1701 Asbury Rd
    Dubuque, IA 52001
    (563) 556-9647

    1646 Asbury Rd
    Dubuque, IA 52001
    (563) 556-1467

    Cremer's Grocery
    731 Rhomberg Ave
    Dubuque, IA 52001
    (563) 583-6589

    Jack's Chicken Palace
    1107 University Ave
    Dubuque, IA 52001
    (563) 588-2003

    Mulgrew's Tavern
    244 Sinsinawa Ave
    East Dubuque, IL 61025
    (815) 747-3845

    Kalmes Restaurant & Catering
    100 N Main St
    St Donatus, IA 52071
    (563) 773-2480

    Village Bar Supper Club
    3410 County Road Hhh
    Cuba City, WI 53807
    (608) 568-3004
  • Post #44 - October 29th, 2014, 9:46 am
    Post #44 - October 29th, 2014, 9:46 am Post #44 - October 29th, 2014, 9:46 am
    Cathy2 wrote:
    Tyrgyzistan wrote:The old maid rite menu was expanded to include some rural Iowa mexican food, and the super tacos look like regular tortillas stuck in the deep fryer to absorb some oil. This place won't make me forget Jake and Walt's The Fort Diner, but its nice to see a place so old still around.

    10th Street Station
    616 10th St
    Fort Madison, IA 52627

    "Rural Iowa mexican food" is a new genre to me, are there any other characteristics?


    Obie's West in Maquoketa - "Home of the famous taco"

    This is definitely a new one for me, and an appropriate post for Halloween week. Obie's West is a popular stop with locals from around it's way and also bikers riding around the river. Located about 30 minutes South of Dubuque I cant remember exactly how I'd read about this place but smart money says it was thru googling 'fried tacos' and 'Iowa' together. This was the first stop on the trip to the Tri-Cities region doc'd up above.

    a peak inside

    We were getting there around opening time so no bikers and or drinkers yet but after we sat a few people came in for lunch. The fried taco was why we were there and we each ordered one with ground beef inside.

    Menu - "We have made "our" version of Mexican food since 1982"

    Your version of Mexican food is the weirdest I've ate to date. I know we've had discussion on it before and it doesn't mean the food will be good or bad but there wasn't a sign of a Hispanic person in sight, maybe a Roseanne Connor or two working the bar but thats it. I've ate alot of fried tacos but never anything like this.

    The Famous "Taco"

    What you're seeing is what I perceived to be some sort of pita/pizza dough combination that takes a quick trip into the deep fryer before getting stuffed with beef that can best be described as well spiced loose meat. On top of that goes the holy trinity of gringo trailer parks nationwide, of course it wouldn't be complete without a side of sour cream. This didn't taste like a taco. It had the flavor profile of some pita sandwich bought at 3am from a mysterious cart on a random European city street. Except it wasn't the meat that was the mystery, what the hell was up with the pita/tortilla that had the consistency of play-dough I'll never know. I'll also never have a valid idea as to how people eat these, not just the fact they're so damn scary but also because they're the equivalent of a medium supreme pizza, a heart attack waiting to happen. That said, I heard one girl order three and she didn't look like the type to share. If there is a next time it'll be when I find myself at the bar with the clock nearing Midnight and the bottle of moonshine in front of me nearing on empty. Despite all this, I'm glad we stopped in, never had anything like it and I try and experience most everything at least once.

    I lived to tell it all

    Obie's West
    3610 173rd Ave
    Maquoketa, IA 52060
    (563) 652-9074
  • Post #45 - October 30th, 2014, 10:28 am
    Post #45 - October 30th, 2014, 10:28 am Post #45 - October 30th, 2014, 10:28 am
    The "pita" shell looks raw/uncooked in that last picture. Was it soggy and undercooked in the middle? It certainly doesn't look crispy.
  • Post #46 - October 30th, 2014, 10:31 am
    Post #46 - October 30th, 2014, 10:31 am Post #46 - October 30th, 2014, 10:31 am
    Always love your posts Da Beef, it feels like I went along for the journey. I get so hungry after reading them!
  • Post #47 - April 10th, 2015, 7:59 am
    Post #47 - April 10th, 2015, 7:59 am Post #47 - April 10th, 2015, 7:59 am
    Ste. Genevieve

    Some recent chatter in the 'Trip to St. Louis' thread reminded me of one of the hundred or so posts I've been meaning to get up. Might as well throw this one together now. The connection between St. Louis and Louisiana was the discussion and to add a little bit more to the mix they're basically cousins as St. Louis was founded by two Frenchman from New Orleans. About an hour down the river is the old French-Canadian colonial town of Ste. Genevieve. Founded in 1735 it's the oldest permanent European settlement in Missouri. Because of it's French connection and resting place along the river, the town has a little bit of a New Orleans feel to it. To this day they obviously take great pride in their French history.

    Main Street

    The Southern Hotel - The oldest operating hotel in the United States west of the Mississippi.

    Actually Ste. Genevieve is full of historical buildings. Three of the last five remaining poteaux-en-terre buildings in the United States reside there. When I was in town a couple years back they were just getting started on a restoration project for the Bequette-Ribault House seen below. It's said to have been built around 1784 but there's evidence that suggests it was built circa 1808 in the exact location of an earlier post-in-ground house. The picture below it is the Amoureux House which was built in 1782. I didn't get a good picture of the third but it's there on Main street.

    Bequette-Ribault House

    The Amoureux House

    Onto the food. The Old Brick House Restaurant sits in the Old Brick House building. The Old Brick House was erected in the year 1780 by a local merchant and ferry boat operator. It's the oldest brick building west of the Mighty Mississippi. So the story goes the bricks were brought from France in boats as ballast.

    The Old Brick House (building built in 1780)

    The restaurant is about what you'd expect menu wise. The inside of the place was old school with a bar in front and dining rooms with white tablecloths draped over the tables. Foodwise, it was again, about what you'd expect. We started with a Monte Cristo sandwich for the table and it was tasty. If I remember correctly it was chicken and dumplings as well as meatloaf for the AYCE lunch buffet that day and it was something like $7.99. It was comfortable.

    Monte Cristo Sandwich

    Lunch Buffet Plate

    Afterwards we wandered next door to the Anvil Saloon for a beer after unexpectedly finding a spot touting New Orleans style baked goods as well as gumbo was closed. This from the Anvil Saloon website, "The building originally housed a hardware store which was in operation from 1850 to 1855. It became the Anvil Saloon in 1855 when it was purchased by the Vaeth family. It was operated as a gentlemen's saloon and adjoined a barber shop next door. The Vaeth family continued to operate the Anvil Saloon until 1978 when it was sold to Bill and Rene Abel. The Abels did extensive interior renovation, exposing the brick walls on either side, refinishing the maple floors and the bar and back bar. The bar and back bar were moved to this location in 1855, by oxcart, from a steamboat that was stuck on a sandbar and needed to have some weight removed."

    The Anvil Saloon

    While sipping on some cold ones we ordered up a couple All-American eats in their locally loved fresh battered onion rings and also a slice of homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Both hit the spot as did the history lesson we got that day. With warm weather near I should be getting down this way at some point soon. Stay tuned.

    Image Image
    Onion Rings and Apple Pie

    See ya next time

    Old Brick House Restaurant
    90 South 3rd Street
    Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670
    (573) 883-2724

    Anvil Restaurant & Saloon
    46 S 3rd St
    Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670
    (573) 883-7323
  • Post #48 - April 10th, 2015, 10:45 am
    Post #48 - April 10th, 2015, 10:45 am Post #48 - April 10th, 2015, 10:45 am
    Lansing Iowa is a small river town about 30 miles north of Prairie Du Chien. There is a bridge across the Mississippi there and it's right at the Iowa end of the bridge. It's a small quite town with a park (Mt. Hosmer) where you can easily hike or drive to the top for spectacular views.

    Two eating places to report on:
    Safe House Saloon: A great collection of craft beers on tap, peanuts on the tables and peanut shells on the floor. We didn't try the food, but this is a great place to stop in for a beer, and I'll bet the food is not bad.

    Sweeneys on the River: Had lunch there and food was very average, but the dining room is on stilts right on the river. Great view of the picturesque bridge leading to Lansing. A worthy stop for a snack just for the view.

    On a non-food note, the Thornton House B&B in Lansing is excellent.
  • Post #49 - June 2nd, 2015, 9:16 am
    Post #49 - June 2nd, 2015, 9:16 am Post #49 - June 2nd, 2015, 9:16 am
    More from Madison County (IL)

    While down in St. Louis last month we took a little daytrip across the river and into Madison County. I'm always intrigued by the town of Alton and it's history as well as it's numerous food stops on my radar. Unfortunately I forgot about Geo's rec of the VFW Hall upthread but will be back there later this summer and be sure to stop in for a bite.

    Cruising thru Alton

    Our first eating establishment of the day ended up being a popular drive-in for fried chicken with a well known name amongst locals. Originally we just happened to be driving by but the chicken sign caught my eye and then the smell outside got us out of the car to place an order at Fast Eddie's.

    Alton, IL

    There's no seating inside or even a door to walk in and order so most people are taking their chicken to go but we would be dining al trunko. This was a fantastic batch and as this thread goes on I'm starting to realize they make some great fried chicken up and down the river. Fast Eddie's recipe was as crunchy of a batch in recent memory with the black pepper laced breading being the star. Quality stuff for sure. Oh yes the name, no relation to the famous bar seen upthread. In fact my friend said that one of them gets mad if you ask if theres any relation to the other.

    Box of Fried Chicken

    I have an ongoing quest to visit every old school slider shop left in America and my chance to hit up Mini Corral Hamburgers came this trip. Though I should point out that having been open since 1982 they're probably the youngest of the spots I try and seek out when in reach. As you can see below there's no old white brick building or even a neon sign to give it that aura the others have.

    Alton, IL

    The sliders wouldn't have that flavor the others have either. In fact I haven't had a "burger" that bad since Burger Chef. You can see in the picture that these were some kind of mystery meat and I should've known due to 1) there was no grill in sight and 2) the price. At just $.89/each and cheaper when you buy a dozen they must only be able to use the cheapest mystery meat possible. One bite, dumpster. Though the housemade root beer was good.


    Continuing on in Alton we check out a spot famous for slanging another popular eat found up and down the river. Riviera Maya has been a staple in these parts since the early 80's and their Alton Tacos are loved by lots of locals.

    Alton, IL

    Before getting into the specialty of the house I must point out that these old school family owned spots in Mid-America do chips and salsa as good as anyone. They always seem to have baskets of hot fresh fried chips and I'm just a fiend for the old school red salsa most of them make to go with it. The stuff loaded up with onions and cilantro. Love it. The Alton Tacos consist of three deep fried ground beef tacos topped with with lettuce, yellow and Parmesan cheese. It's a popular eat in these parts and as you may or may not know deep fried tacos are my guilty pleasure, well one of them anyway. These were winners, most all are.

    The Alton Tacos

    Last stop in Alton is at the Old Bakery Beer Company. Appropriately named due to it's location in a building that was built in 1893 and housed the Alton Baking Company from 1903 to 1926. It was then purchased by a man named J.J Beeby and housed Noll's bakery until 1960. Noll's then sold to Colonial and at the height of production they were pushing 2.5 million loaves a year.

    Alton, IL

    It's a big ass building and on this on/off again rainy day it was packed around noon. Nice crowd of locals, hipsters, families, trial lawyers etc were there to eat and or drink. It's a huge building so while you make your way to the bar area you'll pass thru a hallway in which the walls are decked out with old pictures and relics from the bakery's heyday.

    Old Sign from a previous tenant

    The beers here were excellent. I'm not a beer snob by any means but you wont catch me ordering Miller Lite, Budweiser etc when out and about, I'd rather just drink water. I forget which two I tried but I liked them both and will be back for more next time I'm in town. Cool spot.

    Enjoying a beer at the bar

    As mentioned upthread the deep fried taco is big in these parts. There's a bar famous for them in Granite City and as I was driving I saw a sign leading cars into town. I decided to take the turn and check out Ernie & Annie's.

    Granite City, IL

    Now I've been to some of the most divey bars across the country and there was little doubt upon entry that this place was in the same category as them. Granite City is still a manufacturing town and there was a big ass plant literally across the street from the bar. The entire area smelled like Northwest Indiana. The workday was just ending and quite a few employees of the plant came directly here when off. Ice cold beer and deep fried tacos are the stars of the show but the beer was much better than the tacos, even if it was Killian's on draft. The tacos were stuffed with refried beans and a slice of American cheese. At $1.25 each I guess one cant ask for much more.

    Signature Fried Tacos at Ernie & Annie's

    Last stop up is a special one in my heart. One for the book so to say. There aren't many real deal old school undiscovered gems left but I feel like this place is one of them. If Mike from Detroit sold fish sandwiches instead of ham, Marko's Fish House would be it.

    Madison, IL

    Aside from the fried chicken and deep fried tacos found up and down the river towns there's also lots of fish sandwiches to seek out. While most of the sandwiches found feature species from the river, Marko's offers up a signature cod fish sandwich and it is wonderful. There's also catfish nuggets, fried shrimp, and burgers. That's it.


    So I was told they've been making the same fish sandwich since 1926 using the same local bakery as the bread supplier. Marko himself is Croatian and the bread is said to be an old family recipe baked just for them. Inside is small and there's three mini frying machines where all the work gets done. Talk about a perfect fry job this sandwich was one of the best things I've ate of late. No way they weren't using beef tallow because it had that flavor which stayed in me with each burp afterwards. Everything about this sandwich was money. From the soft but sturdy bread to the simple toppings of onion, banana peppers and tartar sauce. The only thing missing was the ocean in sight. I cant wait to go back. See ya next time.

    Fish Sandwich from Marko's

    Fast Eddie's Fried Chicken
    701 Central Ave
    Alton, IL 62002
    (618) 465-3876

    Mini Corral Hamburgers
    1500 Main St
    Alton, IL 62002
    (618) 462-0400

    Riviera Maya Restaurant
    1702 Homer Adams Pkwy
    Alton, IL 62002
    (618) 465-5000

    The Old Bakery Beer Company
    400 Landmarks Blvd
    Alton, IL 62002
    (618) 463-1470

    Ernie & Annie's
    935 Niedringhaus Ave
    Granite City, IL 62040
    (618) 877-5071

    Marko's Fish House
    820 Madison Ave
    Madison, IL 62060
    (618) 876-9212
  • Post #50 - June 2nd, 2015, 10:56 am
    Post #50 - June 2nd, 2015, 10:56 am Post #50 - June 2nd, 2015, 10:56 am
    We too visited Mini Corral Hamburgers last fall during a mini roadtrip. We were sent there by one of the locals with the understanding they had a fantastic Catfish Sandwich. While ordering the catfish it became apparent that they think pretty highly of those sliders, so we ordered a couple.

    Let's just say we were equally unimpressed with the sliders, however the Catfish Sandwich was a triumph. Three nice sized filets, deep fried golden brown, piled up on a standard fast food bun, melted cheese with a tangy tartar sauce on the side made for some good eating.

    If you're ever passing through Alton again, you might consider giving Mini Corral Hamburgers another try. But stick to the Catfish.

  • Post #51 - June 8th, 2015, 10:33 am
    Post #51 - June 8th, 2015, 10:33 am Post #51 - June 8th, 2015, 10:33 am
    Minnesota paper stops by Pete's in Prairie du Chien. Enthralled by the photo of the baseball burgers on the grill. ... 306266601/
  • Post #52 - June 18th, 2015, 2:14 pm
    Post #52 - June 18th, 2015, 2:14 pm Post #52 - June 18th, 2015, 2:14 pm
    funholidaygirl wrote:Minnesota paper stops by Pete's in Prairie du Chien. Enthralled by the photo of the baseball burgers on the grill. ... 306266601/

    I have to say I thought Pete's was a disappointment. I loved the charm of the place and it's location, but the burger was nothing special, and burgers are a big part of my diet. I would never tell anyone to out of their way to eat there. If they happen to be in the area, sure check it out. A lot of people are fans, so some people enjoy it.
  • Post #53 - August 20th, 2015, 12:00 pm
    Post #53 - August 20th, 2015, 12:00 pm Post #53 - August 20th, 2015, 12:00 pm
    Spent some time recently in the Driftless Region in rural western Wisconsin. We spent most of our time in the woods, but got out and explored the tiny towns of the area, which typically weren't much more than a post office and a saloon (at any of which you could count on a cheap, frosty mug of Spotted Cow and a decent basket of fried cheese curds, I love Wisconsin!)

    For a night out on the town we headed to Prairie du Chien for prime rib. Spring Lake Inn on the Great River Road had come glowingly recommended by our friends in the area.



    On Saturday prime rib night, the place was packed with hunters, bikers, old folks, just about everybody. The place was sort of a hybrid roadside tavern/ supper club with typical Sconnie circuses in the bar and a lodge-like, trophy-lined dining room in the back. We opted for the bar for a little more elbow room.

    Prime rib it had to be. Quite the steal at $17.99 for a regular order (probably about 16 oz.) with relish tray, soup or salad, and choice of side.


    Quite the stacked relish tray. Of note was the home-made chunky 1000 island that had gherkins and hard-boiled egg in the mix.


    Can't go wrong with a big, old bloody, quivering hunk of meat. Maybe a little too much bouquet garni, but the jus was bloody and beefy in the right ways. Those cheesy American fries, though. I ate the whole damn pile.

    Gotta love Wisconsin!

    Spring Lake Inn
    64040 Co Rd N, Eastman, WI 54626
    (608) 326-6907
  • Post #54 - August 14th, 2017, 12:22 pm
    Post #54 - August 14th, 2017, 12:22 pm Post #54 - August 14th, 2017, 12:22 pm
    Took a long weekend and traveled from Prescott to Dubuque over three days. Some good stuff. The Trempealeau Hotel was a cool place. Had cocktails out on their deck on adirondacks watching the Mississippi flow with some large dredge boats lining up for the lock. Food was very good here. No fried stuff, just fresh stuff. A good stop was the Swing Inn in Ferryville with a 12 oz burger done perfectly. The Potosi Brewing was a great lunch stop, soup of the day (broc and cheese) was very good. The beet salad was excellent. The Reuben very good. Nice stop. Hit Wedl's in Jefferson on the way home and was thoroughly pleased with two double cheeseburgers.
  • Post #55 - November 14th, 2017, 7:54 pm
    Post #55 - November 14th, 2017, 7:54 pm Post #55 - November 14th, 2017, 7:54 pm
    Tyrgyzistan wrote:It was late last year when a certain professor Iowa City wrote a controversial attention getting piece for The Atlantic. Amongst other things it described the river cities of Iowa, like Keokuk , Muscatine, Ft Madison, Bettendorf, Dubuque etc. by saying "Keokuk, is a depressed, crime-infested slum town. Almost every other Mississippi river town is the same; they're some of the skuzziest cities I've ever been to, and that's saying something."

    Just got back from a speaking engagement in Keokuk, which involved driving along a fair bit of river road (intentionally -- it's one of the things to do, and it's lovely in the fall). And while there are a few buildings in Keokuk that are showing their age, I'd say it would be hard to get farther from the truth than the above description. Keokuk was charming, and with a gorgeous setting on the Mississippi, with high bluffs topped by handsome, Victorian houses. Everyone I met was delightful and charming. And I learned, among other things, that Keokuk is the geode capital of the world (came home with one), is the place where the largest concentration of bald eagles spend their winter, and is the location of the first National Cemetery west of the Mississippi (for any Civil War buffs, those were the first soldiers buried there). And it's clean and easy to drive around. The library (where I spoke) is handsome and modern. Just so hard to reconcile with that article in The Atlantic.

    Since there was nothing on LTH other than the above controversial quote, I had nothing to go on, food wise -- which is actually not all bad, since I really didn't have a lot of time for dining out. I did notice that they have a Sonic Drive In, and pretty much all the all-American fast food places, from McDonald's to Taco Bell. At the hotel, I was directed to one of the "nice places" in town, just a block from the hotel's front door, which was pretty much good steaks and the sorts of things one expects from a "nice place" in a small town -- bacon-wrapped scallops, cheese soup, jalapeno poppers, chicken cordon bleu, BBQ, and, of course, being it's Iowa, the Iowa Pork Chop. I was also amused to see listed, one after the other, "chicken fried steak; chicken fried chicken." Nice salad bar. So nothing to write home (or LTH) about, but one need not go hungry in Keokuk. I don't mention it as a recommendation, but simply further proof that it's not a scuzzy town. Because not only was the staff at the restaurant attractive and enthusiastic, I found most of the customers to be pleasant and clearly not recently released from prison. One thing I did notice was more of an absence of cell phones while dining than one might see in the big city. But I don't consider that a negative. People were talking to each other.

    So like I said -- this isn't to urge people to go to Keokuk (unless you like geodes or bald eagles), but rather to mention that it need not be avoided. It is far from "skuzzy" -- and is, in fact, quite charming and remarkably friendly. And the setting is fabulous. And the dam and lock are interesting to see. Oh -- and if you find a geode (they're quite large, softball to bowling ball size), they have equipment for breaking them open at the Visitor's Center on the corner of 5th and Main.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan
  • Post #56 - August 16th, 2018, 3:50 pm
    Post #56 - August 16th, 2018, 3:50 pm Post #56 - August 16th, 2018, 3:50 pm
    A recent trip to the Prairie du Chien area yielded two worthy food finds.

    First up is a very good supper club, Jones' Black Angus, in Prairie du Chien. The salad bar immediately tipped us off to a higher quality product; it included some excellent aged cheddar on a cheese board as well as neatly sliced--and dressed with herbs and a bit of oil--tomatoes rather than the ubiquitous ice-cold and tasteless cherry tomatoes. Drinks were good. I had my usual supper club brandy old fashioned sour because when in Rome. Similarly, I had the prime rib, which was tasty if a bit closer to medium than the medium rare I ordered. Others in our party were happy with their prime rib, pork chops, and sea scallops (this last surprised me, but I had a bite and they were very nicely seared and seasoned).

    The second was an excellent family-owned, since 1905, butcher shop in Cuba City, WI. We arrived at Weber Meats shortly before closing on a Saturday afternoon, and the place was hopping. We didn't try the fresh meat, although it looked great. We did purchase bacon and summer sausage, both great. The summer sausage especially was delicious--well-flavored without being excessively salty. I wish I'd bought more.

    This southwest corner of Wisconsin is beautiful but not particularly an easy drive from Chicago because it's off the interstate. But it's worth the time to get there.

    Jones' Black Angus
    37640 US Hwy 18
    Prairie du Chien, WI 53821
    608.326.2222 ... 0863847929

    Weber Meats
    725 N. Jackson St.
    Cuba City, WI 53807