Restaurant Guide

Restaurant Guide Index:

(List of Recommended Restaurants from Various Sources)

Arizona: Phoenix | Tucson

Arkansas

California: Los Angeles | Orange County | San Bernardino/Riverside | San Diego | San Francisco/Bay Area

Colorado: Denver

Idaho

Iowa

Kansas: Kansas City

Louisiana: New Orleans

Missouri: Kansas City | St. Louis

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Mexico: Albuquerque | Las Cruces

Oklahoma: Oklahoma City | Tulsa

Oregon: Portland

Texas: Austin | Dallas/Fort Worth | El Paso | Houston | San Antonio

Utah

Washington: Seattle

Wyoming


This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others. I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.


Geographic Coverage: This list came about as a result of search tools that were available on the old Urbanspoon.com web site so that I could compile a list of what I thought might be the best restaurants in any city, region, or state. The “best” is subjective, with a high priority given to ethnic restaurants and regional specialties in each state (it is what I would look for when traveling, and I do not claim anything more than this).

Urbanspoon was purchased by Zomato.com, and I found that the former search tools were no longer available (nor is there anything similar on other web sites). As a result I am planning to limit the geographical coverage to the states I was able to research while Urbanspoon was on line. Of course I use other sources to complete the list, but the skeleton of it was only possible while Urbanspoon was available.

The following are states I have researched on Urbanspoon with the plan to eventually include in the Restaurant Guide, but which are not yet published:

Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin


Note: Steve’s Restaurant Reviews (the ones I have personally visited) are found  Here

Restaurant Guide–Iowa

Restaurant Guide Main Index


  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

Amana

Millstream Brau Haus–741 47th Ave. (German).  Recently opened in the building that used to be Colony Inn (which many said was the best restaurant in Amana). People like the food at Millstream, but I’m not sure if is traditional Amish like Colony Inn was. (10-14-17)

Ronneburg–4408 220th Trl. (German) Open daily (closes early at 7 pm on Sun).  People give it better reviews than Millstream, and say the German food is traditional as it is in Germany, but most people here get the family style meal to get the best out of the experience. Note: Ox Yoke Inn which is next door is similar but has more choices on the American side of the menu (if you don’t want German food). (10-14-17)

Ames

Botanero Latino–604 E. Lincoln Way (Colombian) Closed Sun.  The food seems to be excellent with dishes which are served in very few restaurants in the US. However, it is a small place run by one man, and service can be slow. (10-14-17)

Cafe Beaudelaire–2504 Lincoln Way (Brazilian) Open Daily.  Probably the best thing about this restaurant is that it specializes in Brazilian sandwiches, etc. that are not expensive, making it easy to come back and try other things. The Brazilian hamburger is a favorite of customers. (10-14-17)

Grandpa Noodle Gallery–926 S. 16th St. (Chinese) Open Daily.  This place has real honest to goodness Chinese noodle dishes. The main negative the reviewers have is the price (but it doesn’t seem too bad for healthy fresh food). (10-14-17)

Taste Place–2512 Lincoln Way (Chinese) Closed Mon.  Reviewers say this is the most authentic Chinese food in Iowa (it looks to be Sichuan style with some dishes served in hot chile oil). (10-14-17)

The Cafe–2616 Northridge Pkwy. (American) Open Daily.  Upscale restaurant that looks a little bit high priced. It looks like an excellent place for breakfast. (10-14-17)

The Spice–402 Main St. (Thai) Closed Sun.  Seems to be legit Thai food, but on some dishes you should tell them it want it the authentic Thai way (usually this involves making it more spicy). Panang curry, ginger dishes, and basil dishes are especially recommended. (10-14-17)

Trio–223 Welch Ave. (Indonesian) Open Daily.  I couldn’t pass up including an Indonesian restaurant, even though the menu looks limited. It looks as if some of the dishes are Americanized, and if you want something more authentic (which would probably be a lot more spicy) they can either prepare it that way or suggest a dish that would be what you want. (10-14-17)

Burlington

La Tavola–316 N. 4th St. (Italian) Closed Sun.  Italian home cooking–reservations only. Some reviewers say the food is bland (I have found authentic Italian to be more “bland” than American style, but to me it’s just not over-spiced). (10-20-17)

McConnell Cafe–208 N. 4th St. (New American) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun).  Popular for breakfast–quiche is recommended (so it’s more on the high end side of the food scale). (10-20-17)

Cedar Rapids

Bistro Tazio–588 Boyson Rd. NE (Italian) Closed Sun.  People describe the flavors as “fresh,” which is a good sign for Italian food (salads do not get high marks, though). (10-20-17)

Little Bohemia–1317 3rd St. SE (Czech) Closed Sun & Mon.  Food seems to be good, but people say the service is sometimes not good, and prices are high. (10-20-17)

Pho Mai–2315 Edgewood Rd. SW (Vietnamese) Closed Mon.  Seems to be the highest rated Asian restaurant in CR. (10-20-17)

The Lost Cuban–209 3rd St. SE (Cuban) Closed Sat evening & Sun.  Reviewers say it’s not just a novelty, but really good Cuban food. The Cuban sandwich is a good place to start (especially at lunch). (10-20-17)

Clear Lake

Seven Stars Family Rest.–2309 3rd Ave. S. (American) Open 5 am to 8 pm daily.  Good quality diner style food. Hot beef sandwich is the specialty. Coconut-raspberry cake is very popular. (10-20-17)

Clive

Coaches Kolaches–8527 University Blvd. (Czech) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun).  These are not fruit kolaches, but sausage, ham, cheese, etc. that you can eat for breakfast, lunch, or a snack. They are said to be quite good. (10-20-17)

Council Bluffs

1892 German Bier Haus–142 W. Broadway (German) Open Daily.  Mainly a bar–the German food is limited but good. Reviewers describe the food as “country food.” (10-20-17)

Davenport

California Pho–3559 W. Kimberly Rd. (Vietnamese) Closed Tue.  Very popular and highly rated restaurant. Many like the vegetarian pho–even those who are not vegetarians. (10-20-17)

Exotic Thai–2303 E. 53rd St. (Thai) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  NE Thai style (Isan). (10-20-17)

Village Corner Deli–1030 Mound St. (Sandwiches) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun).  They pay as much attention to the bread as to the meats, and this is one thing that makes them popular. (10-20-17)

Des Moines

A-Dong–1511 High St. (Vietnamese) Closed Mon.  Authentic Vietnamese with a large menu. (10-20-17)

Gazali’s–1205 25th St. (Lebanese) Open daily except Sun evening.  Authentic food. Has specials of halal meat (depending on what is available). Family run and does not dumb down the food to appeal to a mass market. (10-20-17)

Local Bites Food Court–700 Locust St. (Food Court) Open Mon-Fri (breakfast & lunch only).  I found this by searching for Indian food (India Pointe is here). I don’t know what other restaurants/food stalls are here, but they seem to give you good food at low prices (but you will get it on paper plates). (10-20-17)

 

Dubuque

Bierstube–1301 Rhomberg Ave. (German).  Wienerschnitzel, cabbage soup, red cabbage, beef rouladin, bratwurst, chocolate cake, and ice cream are recommended (but schnitzel is particularly popular). (10-20-17)

Lina’s Thai Bistro–2055 Holliday Dr. (Thai).  Good flavor and spices, but some say the meat is obviously from factory farms and poor quality (so vegetarian meals may be recommended). Most say this is the most authentic Asian food in Dubuque. (10-20-17)

Fort Dodge

Hacienda Vieja–217 S. 25th St. (Mexican) Open Daily.  Urbanspoon indicated it was authentic, but not so much on Yelp. To me it looks better than average (especially for the Midwest). (10-20-17)

Iowa City

Bao Chow–201 S. Clinton St. (Dim Sum) Closes at 7pm Mon-Fri, 2 pm on Sat, and closed all day Sun.  Only serves Chinese style dumplings, but they are said to be very good and a wide variety is available. (10-20-17)

Oasis Falafel–206 N. Linn St. (Middle Eastern) Open Daily.  Falafel is the signature dish, but other items such as hummus, kafta, etc. are good also. I like the fact that vegetarian meals get as good reviews as the meat items. (10-20-17)

Soseki Cafe–227 S. Dubuque St. (Japanese) Closed Sun.  A full menu Japanese restaurant with good ramen, gyoza, etc. as well as sushi. (10-20-17)

Thai Spice–1210 S. Gilbert St. (Thai) Open daily except Sun lunch.  Very popular and overwhelmingly good reviews. (10-20-17)

Le Mars

Bob’s Drive-Inn–Hwy 75 S. (Hot Dogs) Open Daily (some sources say it’s closed in winter).  Hot dog with loose meat is the specialty. Also has other items such as taco salad and chicken strips. (10-20-17)

Ottumwa

Appanoose Rapids–332 E. Main St. (Steaks) Open daily except Sun evening.  Tenderloin is the specialty. Burgers, sides, and drinks are also good. Menu includes items such as chicken marsala. (10-20-17)

Juanita’s–537 Church St. (El Salvador).  Small restaurant with authentic Central American food that is very popular with customers. (10-20-17)

Remsen

Golden Pheasant–44028 Hwy 3 (Steaks).  Many say it’s the best steak in the western Iowa/Omaha area. Located just e. of Le Mars. (10-20-17)

Sioux City

Da Kao–800 W. 7th St. (Vietnamese).  Authentic with good food, according to many. Many say the pho lacks flavor, but they like other dishes such as Vietnamese pancakes (and they order the pho because it’s the best in the Sioux City area). (10-20-17)

Diamond Thai–515 W. 7th St. (Thai) Closed Mon.  Small family run Thai that is cash only unless you spend over $15. Reviews are mixed but mostly good. People do not complain about it being too spicy or not spicy enough, but rather that the curry is runny (but noodles and stir fried dishes seem to be popular). (10-20-17)

Note: South Sioux City, Neb. has the best reviews for Thai/Lao food (Thai Laos Kitchen) and Mexican food (Mi Rancherita)

Spirit Lake

Gingham Inn–100 Hill Ave. (American).  Specializes in pan fried chicken. Peach pie is also recommended. Reviewers say skip the salad bar unless it comes with your meal. (10-20-17)

Storm Lake

Giovanni–723 Lake Ave. (Italian) Open daily except Sat lunch.  I don’t put many Italian rests. on the list but this one seems to be worthy. It’s a place in a small enough town that the owner can put his best effort into every meal and apparently give a large number of them something very memorable. (10-20-17)

Lakeshore Pho–1411 E. Lakeshore Dr. (Vietnamese).  Reviewers say it is also Thai, and that the pad thai is probably the best dish here. Pho is beef and it looks as if they don’t have other varieties (chicken, vegetarian, etc.). (10-20-17)

Little Vientiane–805 Flindt Dr. (Lao) Closed Wed.  Good reviews for the food and many customers say it is authentic. From looking at the photos, though, I am guessing that if you really want authentic Lao style you need to tell the server and order it that way. This definitely seems worth a shot for Lao food. (10-20-17)

Waterloo

Newton’s Paradise Cafe–128 E. 4th St. (American) Open daily except Sun evening.  Typical Iowa cuisine, but it’s locally sourced. BLT is popular. Best time to come seems to be breakfast (opens 6am). (10-20-17)

West Des Moines

Cafe Saraj–4940 Franklin Ave. (Bosnian) Closed Sat & Sun.  Not listed on most review sites, but I think it is open because it is on Google. Bosnian salad, Zeljanica (phylllo dough stuffed with spinach and cheese), Bosnian gyro, moussaka. (10-21-17)

Heavenly Asian Cuisine–225 5th St. (Chinese) Closed Mon (and closed from 2:30 to 4:30 pm).  Authentic Chinese food (described as Sichuan style but I think it may also be northern Chinese). Tangerine chicken is one of their popular dishes. (10-20-17)

Mi Patria–1410 22nd St. (Ecuadorian) Closed Sun.  Good food–said to be authentic by those who have lived in Ecuador. Possible pitfall is that some of the food may be Peruvian and not as good as the Ecuadorean dishes. (10-20-17)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

 

Sources:

Chowhound (Iowa)

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (Iowa)

Zomato (Des Moines)

 

Restaurant Guide–Nebraska

Restaurant Guide Main Index


  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

Bellevue

Adana’s–3604 Twin Creek Dr. (Turkish) Open Daily.  Reviewers say it is authentic Turkish food. It is served fast food style, though, with meals served in styrofoam containers. (5-30-17)

IPho #1–2403 Towne Center Dr. (Vietnamese) Open Daily.  Some say it is excellent, and some say the quality and menu choices are excellent but some items are lacking in the Vietnamese herbs and flavoring they should have. Still, though, it is inexpensive and good. (5-30-17)

Korean Grill–1408 Harlan Dr. (Korean) Closed Sun.  Reviewers say it has a true Korean taste. (5-30-17)

Quick Bites Soul Food–105 W. Mission Ave. (Soul Food) Closed Sun.  Reviewers say the food has very good flavor and maintains a consistent quality. (5-30-17)

Columbus

Restaurant Vallarta–1153 23rd Ave. (Mexican) Closed Mon & Tue.  This seems to be the most authentic Mexican restaurant in town, but it only serves tacos, tortas, etc. (not plate or combination dinners). (5-30-17)

Fremont

Huey’s Smokehouse BBQ–2204 N. Bell St. (BBQ) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.  One of the best barbecue restaurants in Nebraska–a good place to experience Nebraska style BBQ (which I think is close to Kansas City style). Brisket, turkey, ribs, and pulled pork all get excellent reviews. (6-1-17)

Savannakhet–507 N. D St. (Lao).  This is not strictly a Lao restaurant (it has several types of Asian cuisine). However, Lao food is the specialty, and it gets very good reviews (pad thai, lap chicken, curry chicken, and spicy Thai chicken are recommended). (5-30-17)

Gering

Tea Garden–3485 N. 10th St. (Thai).  Reviewers say the Thai food is authentic, and the other food is very good (Chinese, Japanese, even an American breakfast with biscuits and gravy). (6-1-17)

Grand Island

Farmer’s Daughter–105 N. Walnut St. (American).  Described as food that a person’s grandmother would have made. Popular for breakfast, but lunch is said to be equally good (I don’t know if it’s open for dinner). Hot beef sandwich is especially recommended. (5-30-17)

Royal Indian Cuisine–3337 W. State St. (Indian) Closed Mon.  This is the restaurant in Grand Island with the best reviews on Yelp. Reviewers say it is big city quality. Serves Indian and Nepali food. Has a lunch buffet, as well as lunch specials. (5-30-17)

Hastings

Odyssey–521 W. 2nd St. (American) Closed Sun.  Has the best reviews in Hastings on Yelp. Steaks and hamburgers seem to be the most popular items, but menu has a lot of other choices. (5-30-17)

Kearney

Suwannee Thai–1420 W. 24th St. (Thai) Closed Sun & Mon, and closed Sat lunch.  Good food with fresh vegetables. Most don’t seem to want food spicy or order it that way, so I don’t know if those who want it Thai spicy can get it that way. The problem here seems to be one person in the kitchen turning out orders when there are often more customers than the kitchen can handle. (5-30-17)

The Flippin’ Sweet–203 E. 25th St. (Pizza) Open Daily.  This seems to be the most popular restaurant in town with locals, because they say it actually has flavor (as opposed to what passes too often for good food in Nebraska). The Flippin’ Sweet Burger Joint is also very popular in town. (5-30-17)

Lincoln

Ajora Falls–313 N. 27th St. (Ethiopian) Open daily except Sat lunch.  This is a one man operation who serves the food as if you were visiting his home (you can customize your order and if there is one item you particularly like he’ll give you more of it). Some people seem to think the flavor is so good it really doesn’t matter what you order. (5-30-17)

Amu Manu Ramen Bar–121 Centennial Mall S. (Japanese) Closed Sun.  I am not quoting the reviewers exactly, but what I understand is that this is probably not great ramen by west coast standards, but on a cold day on the Nebraska plains this soup makes an excellent meal. (5-30-17)

Daffodil Mediterranean–5500 Old Cheney Rd. (Persian) Closed Mon & closed Sun evening.  Serves Persian food, and not just kabobs (the plate dinners look very good from the photos). (5-30-17)

Hub Cafe–250 N. 21st St. (New American) Open 7:30 am to 2:30 pm (closed Mon).  This is a “fresh and local” restaurant with both higher prices and higher quality than most other places. Has some interesting items such as Moroccan mint tea, avocado and preserved lemon toast for breakfast, gyro, huevos rancheros. Breakfast is served all day; lunch available after 11 am; brunch on Sat & Sun. (5-30-17)

Imperial Palace–701 N. 27th St. (Chinese) Open daily except Sat lunch.  Has a “secret” menu with authentic Chinese food (just ask for the Chinese menu). Seems to specialize in spicy food (northern Chinese and Sichuan style). (5-30-17)

The Oven–201 N. 8th St. (Indian) Open daily (dinner only).  This is not a buffet restaurant–you order from the menu, and they emphasize quality over quantity. Has specialties from Bhutan as well as Indian food. Malai kofta has good reviews. Several reviewers recommend the vegetarian Thali (sampler plate). (5-30-17)

Vung Tau–2708 Y St. (Vietnamese) Open 10 am to 7 pm (6 pm on Sun)–closed Mon.  Reviewers say the pho is better than in Omaha. Also serves vermicelli bowls, and apparently has other items (but I could not find a menu on line to verify this). (5-30-17)

Norfolk

El Rodeo–107 W. Norfolk Ave. (Mexican).  Serves authentic Mexican street tacos. This and burritos are the most popular items. (6-1-17)

North Platte

Tempura–221 E. 6th St. (Japanese) Closed Mon.  Sushi restaurant that also serves Bento boxes and Chinese food. All have good reviews, but the Chinese food is made to American tastes. (6-1-17)

Ogallala

Golden Village–105 E. 1st St. (Chinese) Open daily except Mon evening.  Probably Peking is the restaurant that serves off-the-menu authentic Chinese food, but I am not sure (so I’m including the name and address of this restaurant in case it is the right one). (6-1-17)

Peking–112 E. A St. (Chinese). A post on Chowhound indicated that there was a Chinese restaurant in town that served authentic Chinese food if you requested it (it may not be on the menu). There was no name given, but it is the one “on the east side of town” (both Chinese restaurants are actually on the east side of town). Reviews on Yelp seem to indicate it is Peking, but I’m not sure. (6-1-17)

Omaha

American GI Forum–2002 N St. (Mexican) Closed Mon. This is a non-profit veteran organization that serves either authentic Mexican food or very good Tex-Mex (according to different reviewers), but in any case they say it is very good, tastes homemade, and is cheap. Hours are erratic (apparently because of being a non-profit and being staffed by volunteers), but it is open much more often than it is closed. (6-1-17)

Canton House–4849 N. 90th St. (Chinese) Closed Mon.  Authentic Chinese restaurant with dim sum (Shanghai dumplings are included in the dim sum menu). Has a lot of menu options as well (this is a restaurant with hanging ducks and other traditional Chinese touches). (6-1-17)

Crystal Jade–7255 Cedar St. (Malaysian) Open Daily.  Serves several Asian cuisines, but Malaysian food is the specialty. Good dishes include amazing chicken and lemak. Has pad thai which sounds different from the Thai version, but it does not have great reviews. (6-1-17)

Gerda’s–5180 Leavenworth St. (German) Breakfast & lunch Tue-Sat; dinner Wed-Sat.  On many people’s list of the best restaurants in the city. The menu changes daily and they have specials every day. Has a bakery and these items are quite popular as well. (6-1-17)

Laos Thai–4520 S. 24th St. (Lao) Closed Sun.  Cash only, but has very low prices. Has several types of curry and has a few dishes not found in many Thai or Lao restaurants in the US. Reviewers say some of the curries are more like a thin soup (so ask about unfamiliar dishes before ordering). (6-1-17)

Lithuanian Bakery–7427 Pacific St. (Bakery) Open 8 am to 6 pm (4 pm on Sat); closed Sun.  Popular for their sweets, but also serves sandwiches and other lunch items. The Napoleonas torte is their specialty. (6-1-17)

Mother India–3572 Leavenworth St. (Indian) Closed Sun & Mon.  The favorite restaurant in town for many who appreciate the delicate herbs and spices of India. This is a no-frills restaurant which is very small and does not have a buffet (they have a large take-out business). The biggest downside for some is that it is cold in the winter and hot in the summer (but an outdoor patio is also available in the summer). (6-1-17)

The Drover–2121 S. 73rd St. (Steaks) Open daily except Sun lunch.  This is a popular old-school Omaha steakhouse with good reviews. Whiskey steak is the specialty (most people say it is very good, and enhances the flavor). Down sides for some people are the service, prices, and side dishes. The salad bar somewhat makes up for the side dishes, though. Steaks run about $45. (6-1-17)

Upstream Brewing–514 S. 11th St. (American) Open daily (open late night).  Some say that if there is such a thing as typical Nebraska food, this is the place to find it. Pot roast, meat loaf, beer cheese soup, burgers, and steak with mushroom sauce are popular. (6-1-17)

Scottsbluff

El Molcajete–1013 E. Overland (Mexican).  Reviewers say it has good food with red and green sauces (not Tex-Mex). I’m not sure it is completely authentic, but it certainly seems to be the closest you will find within a number of miles in NE and WY. (6-1-17)

South Sioux City

Mi Rancherita–1512 Dakota Ave. (Mexican) Open Daily.  Reviewers say it is authentic with dishes such as mole verde, pozole, etc. Drinks are excellent as well (horchata and fruit drinks). (10-20-17)

Thai Laos Kitchen–1215 Dakota Ave. (Lao) Closed Wed.  Red curry gets raves but many other dishes are popular as well. They can make it as spicy or non-spicy as you want (spice level 1 to 10 with 5 being what most people would consider spicy). (10-20-17)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

 

Sources:

Chowhound (Nebraska)

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (Nebraska)

Zomato (Omaha)