Iowa Bloggers Speak: Favorite Home Town Restaurants

Connecting with other bloggers is my favorite part of blogging. I mention this often because it’s true.

Iowa Bloggers Speak.jpgI’ve always wanted to create a Q & A series featuring other bloggers. I’m often inspired by the creative questions posed by people on Chowhound or reader polls on Eater that illicit storytelling and restaurant recommendations. Hopefully, this will become a regular feature in which my blogging friends from Iowa and beyond tackle new questions.

I published a Q & A in 2012 where North Dakota bloggers shared food haunts that they tasted once and haven’t found since. This time, I wanted to feature bloggers from my newest home state. I asked them to share their favorite food find from their current home city and here’s what they said:

Monica ProfileJohnny & Kay’s Original Steak DeBurgo, Des Moines
Growing up in Des Moines in the late 60s/early 70s, especially if you were a south sider like I was, there is a good chance you probably ate at Johnny and Kay’s. The hallmark of long gone Hyatt House Hotel, Johnny and Kay Campiano were the king and queen of fine dining. Their signature dish, one often recreated, is their famous Steak DeBurgo. There is a lot of dispute around town as to the origin and recipe of this amazing creation, but Johnny and Kay’s is widely regarded as the true inventor. Succulent medallions of beef filet mignon, cooked to perfection and draped in the simplest of sauce- butter, garlic and basil, brings back so many wonderful memories of eating there as a child.

My mother worked there ages ago and often made this at home as well. Believe me, she KNEW the secrets of those amazing chefs in the tall white toques and starched jackets. The dish is still available in several local restaurants around Des Moines, but none are the same, and NONE are Johnny and Kay’s Original Steak DeBurgo.

I’m a foodie, wine lover, mother and grandmother transitioning from city life to country life, taking life with a sense of humor. I blog City Girl, Country Life & Rockin’ the Kitchen. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Sheryl Eat Play Des Moines ProfileSecond Saturday Dinner at Proof Restaurant, Des Moines
Every Second Saturday of the month, Proof Restaurant in downtown Des Moines hosts their aptly named, Second Saturday Dinner.  This isn’t an ordinary dinner though, it’s a 10 course, blind, shared (each meal must be shared with a partner) meal. So you have no idea what you’re going to eat beforehand, but it’s always out-of-this-world. This is a photo of a Second Saturday meal a few months back. The meal is priced at $100 per couple and we look forward to the second Saturday of each month for this meal!  During this particular dinner, the steak tartare was quite memorable as was a béarnaise-deviled egg at the following month that I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to replicate at home ever since!
Sheryl Eat Play Dine Des Moines Photo

Sheryl is the founder of Eat, Play, Love Des Moines.  Started in February of 2013, Sheryl blogs about where to eat, things to do and everything else that is Des Moines.  A Boston transplant, Sheryl started EPLDSM to show off all the great food and fun she found in Des Moines after living here for 8 years. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.

matt_and_lissahDella Dolce, Clive
Della Dolce has become a real favorite of ours since it opened late 2013. Every delicious pastry and sweet delight is made from scratch and served up with love in the beautifully posh, yet homey, shop. 
Catherine is a true owner/operator pleasantly greeting customers and helping them choose between all the fantastic options. Della Dolce is a true bakery with all kinds of pastries, cookies, and cupcakes.
Della Dolce, Iowa Food Blog
With so many great choices, its difficult to choose just one. 

Matt and Lissah Beglinger live in Waukee with their two young daughters. Lissah is an Iowa native while Matt is an Iowa captive, transplanted from California. Their adventures in Iowa food can be found at:, Faceook & Twitter. 

cristenThe Bauder’s Pharmacy Peppermint Bar, Iowa State Fair
The most memorable time of the year for me is in August at the Iowa State Fair. At the Fair I get to exhibit baked goods, show hogs with my family, see friends I don’t see often and submerge myself in the pinnacle of Midwest festival food culture on a little less than 500 acres on the east side of Des Moines. I love the Fair, I’ve worked for the Fair, I’ve attended every single day of the Fair in the past 10 years, no lie.  Since the 1950’s my Grandparents have had the same camping spot there too. I obsess about the food quite a bit throughout the year and there is one specific Fair-time treat that never slips my mind.  It is “The Bauder’s Pharmacy Peppermint Bar.”

This year on a chilly February day I set out to make my own version of this rich yet refreshing treat, and I’m pleased to say it was spot on!  Making custard based ice cream from scratch and the addition of delicious peppermint candies was what put this confection over the top.  I hope you share this recipe with your family and make it to the Fair to enjoy this pretty-pink cold ‘sandwich’.  You’ll squeal!  (The Bauder’s Pharmacy Peppermint Bar is found at the Bauder’s Pharmacy Trailer outside the west end of the Agriculture building at the Iowa State Fair). 

Cristen Clark is a kitchen loving-contest cook Mom of two residing in the Midwest with her husband Mike and quite a few feisty pigs.  She has a love for all things ‘baked’ and a passion for reliving heritage food memories.  She blogs tales of her family’s agricultural life and outlines contest winning recipes at her blog Food & Swine. Connect with her via Facebook and Twitter as well.

Jenny HeadshotThe Coffee Corner, Washington
I chose to share a great coffee shop we have in Washington called The Coffee Corner.  Owners Gina and Mike are terrific and they brew and blend up great caffeinated drinks. I love their blended drinks. Gina always asks me what flavor I want and sometimes I tell her to surprise me. I am never disappointed!

Several coffee clubs meet there daily. When the coffee clubs have left for the morning it’s a nice place to sit, sip a little java and read a magazine. If you don’t need a jolt of java they also serve up great fruit smoothies, too. Here is my nod to their great icy blended drink.

In kitchen with Jenny smoothieJenny R. Unternahrer is a stay at home mom of two girls. She’s been married to her husband for over 21 years.  She loves to cook and share recipes! Check out her recipes at or Facebook.

Kelli headshotZoey’s Pizza, Marion
Zoey’s Pizza, located on the corner of 7th Avenue and 10th Street in Marion, IA, is a must-visit, classic pizza joint in the heart of Marion’s Uptown District. The atmosphere is that of a retro diner, and the pizza, appetizers, and famous “Zookie” are out of this world. Beware: the pizza is not for the faint of heart. They are loaded down with cheese and toppings (and therefore, calories!), and it’s recommended to order conservatively.

Seating is very limited inside Zoey’s, and on a Friday or Saturday you won’t find a seat anywhere. In fact, calling in a pizza to-go on a weekend might require at least a 90 minute wait. However, arriving early – around 5 p.m. – might earn you a seat or a to-go order within 30 minutes. City Square Park is just across the street, and many times we’ve ordered a pizza to go and enjoyed it in the park.

kelli pizza photo Our favorite pizza to order is a small New York Thin Crust half pepperoni and pineapple, half beef and green olives. Plus a side of cheesy garlic bread with marinara on the side.

Kelli is a city homesteader who blogs about she and her husband’s self-sufficiency pursuits, gardening, cooking {mostly} from scratch, and urban agriculture at The Sustainable Couple. Find her on Facebook.

Coffee Cat

Coffee Cat, Mason City
If forced to choose an absolute favorite place in Mason City, I’d choose Coffee Cat. I never get tired of sharing why it’s my favorite coffee shop. For one thing, it’s an independent coffee shop attached to a bookstore owned by one of the most sincerely nice people in the city. 

Coffee Cat sells homemade Chai tea and I order a cup each visit. It’s more like the Chai at Verdant Tea in Minneapolis, MN than those cloying powdered mixes or liquid concentrates. They’ll offer to sweeten it with honey or vanilla since it’s got a spicy kick. Although they don’t serve savory foods, they make their own baked goods and frosting from scratch. I’ve seen Guinness chocolate cake around Saint Patrick’s day and even vegan bars.

The Coffee Cat’s music could be my soundtrack. Cat schedules a lot of live music and their background music is perfect for writing. I knew I was in the right place when I heard the Alabama Shakes.

Do you have any burning questions you’d like us to answer next? Feel free to leave a comment below. 


  1. Monica Jertson Cateron

    What a FUN post !! Now I want to go to all these places and try these foods 🙂

    • Jeni Flaa

      Thanks for contributing. I want to try them, too.

  2. Jenny.U

    This was fun. Great nods to fantastic places in Iowa!

    • Jeni Flaa

      Thanks for participating:)

  3. Beth Ann Chiles

    Great post!!! I loved seeing all these great places and now I want to go on a road trip to visit all of them!!! The more I follow these food blogs the more I want to eat!!! Yum! Great idea for a post that involves so many great Iowa bloggers!

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