Roadside Inn has been feeding patrons and keeping the highway roadhouse tradition alive since 1936. In the kitchen, cooks whip up classics such as wings, ribs, and pizzas topped with sausage, onions, and heaps of mozzarella cheese. But the main attraction here is the Famous Giant Loin. First, cooks bread and deep fry a belief-beggaring, enormous cut of pork tenderloin. Next, they downright humiliate a flour-dusted bun?which looks goofily small in comparison?by forcing it to try to hold the tenderloin. From there, diners can customize the sandwich by choosing any number of fixins. True to it's name, the Famous Giant Loin has become something of a local celebrity?and one that bloggers and radio hosts love to rave about.
Like any good roadhouse, Roadside Inn keeps the party going with a full bar and a massive dining area that can accommodate large parties. But for folks who want to take the party with them, cooks spin their culinary creations at catered events, including birthdays and graduations.
When George Rivera-Davis first tasted coffee from beans grown on his uncle?s farm in Panama, he was amazed?it tasted nothing like the brown liquid he?d been taught to call coffee in Des Moines. Inspired by the delicious brew, he ventured into the coffee business. Now, George and his wife, Jan?herself a certified tea blender?grow their own coffee in Panama with the aid of their family, bringing gourmet brews to Des Moines through their award-winning coffee shop and caf?, Grounds for Celebration. Grounds for Celebration?s coffee connoisseurs roast beans onsite before brewing fresh cups of java, blending espresso creations, and flavoring lattes with Monin syrup and Ghirardelli chocolate. Thirsty patrons can also opt for yerba mate, chai, and smoothies, or venture into Jan?s area of expertise and gulp tea in varieties that range from gunpowder green to ginger peach.
While sipping from steaming mugs, patrons can also munch croissants and cinnamon rolls baked fresh each day. At midday, they fortify themselves for afternoon paperclip jousts with lunch sandwiches, salads, and wraps. Some take their time to savor natural, from-scratch gelato while sitting amid the caf??s local art and connecting devices to free WiFi.
The cooks at Quinton's Bar & Deli know the ingredients that make a good Reuben?corned beef, sauerkraut, melted Swiss, and housemade dressing. But they also know the Reuben's extended family, which is why their menu has a section entirely devoted to the sandwich. The Rachel exchanges corned beef for turkey, whereas the Patsy switches in grilled navel pastrami. They can even combine two or three of the meats to create a Combo Reuben with twice the cheese.
Sandwiches in general happen to be the deli's bread and butter. Their most popular is the TAC, which stands for turkey, avocado, and cream cheese. Other options include the beef and brie, whose house-seasoned roast beef is covered with imported cheese, and the Aloha chicken, stacked with grilled pineapple and served in the pocket of a Hawaiian shirt. Burgers make an appearance as well, featuring hand-shaped patties from Bud's Meat in Riverside, Iowa.
And if you'd like some soup with your sandwich, Quinton's serves up the combo with a twist, ladling the soup inside bread bowls. A sizable selection of beers, wines, and spirits?including cocktails with homemade ginger beer?wash down bites.
Throughout the year, shipments of live crawfish arrive at Fat Tuesday's doorstep. Newspapers spread across tables, customers pull up their sleeves, and baskets of boiled crawfish and corn arrive from the kitchen before the crack of snapping shells resounds through the restaurant. Accompanying the meal is a variety of drinks such as sweet tea and lemonade, and beers such as Blackened Voodoo and Abita.
In between their regular crawfish boils, the kitchen crew members whip up what they refer to as a "small but mighty" daily menu of Cajun specialties. Cooks layer poboys with fried alligator, oysters, and catfish, and pots of seafood gumbo and crawfish ?touff?e simmer on stovetops. Plates pair with Cajun craft beers beneath glimmering purple, yellow, and green streamers throughout the New Orleans?themed dining room. Testing their patrons? stomach capacities, the chefs challenge them to the occasional poboy-eating contest. The contestants must polish off a 2-foot-long poboy within 40 minutes while simultaneously whistling the sous chef's favorite blues song.
There's a dish to satisfy every taste at Spaghetti Works, where diners can customize meals to their hearts’ and mouths’ content. Plates of fettuccini or whole-wheat mostaccioli can be enjoyed with sweet italian sausage, beer-cheese sauce, and a wide variety of other toppings. Meanwhile, the restaurant's cooks also prepare classic Italian dishes, such as homemade lasagna and shrimp scampi, and craft gluten-free pizzas and pasta bowls. Diners can cap meals with beer, wine, a cocktail, or more than 20 flavors of Italian sodas.
Known as a family-friendly establishment, Spaghetti Works delights both children and adults with its quirky decor. All three locations feature red-checkered tablecloths and vintage model T trucks, the backs of which hold salad bars with all the fixings. And at all three locations, guests can admire the setting sun from an outdoor patio—a sight almost as beautiful as that of a kitten hatching from its shell.
It's usually Mullets' mascot that first catches guests' eyes, flashing its gill-to-gill grin from its post-top perch. Then there's the big neon sign, which further befits the establishment's roadhouse atmosphere. Situated at the confluence of the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers, Mullets draws in patrons with pub staples such as burgers, sandwiches, and pizzas as well as plentiful seafood options that include catfish, bluegill, crawfish, and frog legs. Servers can bring these dishes out to the wood-paneled dining room or up the stairs to the two-level outdoor patio, where banners for the Chicago Cubs and Boulevard Brewing Company ripple in the wind like the tongue of a skydiving dog. The staff encourages patrons to make their own marks on the pub’s playful atmosphere by posting photos of their mullets—whether haircuts or state-fair-winning fish—to the Mulletin board.