Locally-owned Iowa restaurants open thread

My family will be taking some day trips and overnight trips around Iowa this summer, and we prefer to eat at good, locally-owned restaurants, if possible.

Please post a comment if you can recommend any place, and mention significant details such as what kind of food they serve, if it is kid-friendly, if they source food locally, and so on.

Here are some examples:

The Waveland Cafe is a classic diner in Des Moines on University Avenue near Polk Blvd. They serve breakfast all day, and it’s a kid-friendly place, but it gets crowded for lunch, especially on weekends.

India Star on 56th and Douglas in Des Moines is our favorite Indian restaurant in the area. The food is classic north Indian and not very spicy. There are plenty of options for vegetarians. If you want to eat there with small kids, try the lunch buffet, because otherwise it can be a long wait for your food.

The Phoenix Cafe in Grinnell serves great food and sources many ingredients from local farmers.

The Red Avocado in Iowa City also includes a lot of locally-sourced food on its vegetarian menu.

Where are some other good, locally-owned places to eat in Iowa?

  • Restaurants

    The Juice Co. in Urbandale is a juice/smoothie shop near the Hy-Vee on 86th Street. They use a lot of organic ingredients and also have wheatgrass shots if that’s your thing. If I had to recommend a smoothie I would say go for the Mucho Mango!

    Also, Mojo’s on 86th Street. They try to use a lot of local ingredients including vegetables from surrounding farms and cheeses made themselves or from farms. They also buy meat from local farms and are a part of the Buy Fresh Buy Local restaurant program.  

    • thanks for those tips

      I don’t live far from there, but I’ve never tried either of those places. I am trying to get my kids to eat more fruit, so smoothies are on my agenda.

  • In Elkhart

    If you happen to be in north DSM metro, I would recommend Main Street Pizza in Elkhart.  They have good brick-oven, thin crust pizza, and they may have some other items on the menu as well.  It’s pretty much a take-out joint, maybe with a small counter to eat.  But there is a playground close by, so maybe a picnic with smaller kids would work.  The young guys that run the place are very nice.

  • Ames - The Cafe

    My favorite restaurant in Ames has always been The Cafe. It’s on the north side of town. They change their menu a lot, but always use fresh, local ingredients. Last I saw, they even have their own large garden outside the restaurant where they grow some of their own food. They have a website at www.thecafeames.com so you can check out their current menu. I was impressed every time I went there.

    Also, seconding India Star, my favorite eatery in Des Moines!

  • Johnson County

    There are so many good local restaurants in Iowa City, that I can’t even begin to list them all, so I’ll stick to the ones with a local, organic emphasis.

    Devotay – 117 N Linn St.,  www.devotay.net, Chef Kurt Friese was a founder of Iowa Slow Food.

    Atlas Grill – 127 Iowa Ave.,  www.atlasiowacity.com.

    Motley Cow – across the street from Devotay, phone 688-9177

    Oasis Falafel – 206 N. Linn St.,  Mediterranean food.  Its neither local nor organic, but go anyway because its fantastic.

    Hamburg Inn #2 – 214 N. Linn St.,  classic political destination

    All of the above are within walking distance of each other.  Here are a few others worth mentioning:

    New Pioneer Coop Deli – 1101 2nd Street in Coralville (on the Strip)  great hot table every day, with in-store dining.  The same food, but no dining are at the original Iowa City location, 22 S. Van Buren St.

    Lincoln Cafe – 117 1st Street W. Mt. Vernon, IA 52314. Phone: (319) 895-4041.  A Linn county location, but this is a great place that is very local.

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