From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery uses twin spatulas to blend custom servings of ice cream and creative mix-ins to fit customers’ exact specifications. Founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone began under the hot Arizona sun, eventually spreading its frosty fingers to encompass more than 1,400 locations worldwide. Despite the size of the company, each location’s staff keeps up the handcrafted quality, making ice cream onsite every day and using those signature spatulas to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
It's a cozy family restaurant, but The Garden Grill serves up contemporary, elegantly plated dishes that rival those of any fine-dining establishment. The menu of upscale casual cuisine draws on global inspirations: Old-World italian pastas, including an italian-sausage rigatoni; Mexican classics, such as fish tacos; and hand-cut steaks. Pizzas sport both traditional and creative toppings, such as the Pacific pizza's mascarpone-cheese sauce, shrimp, scallops, mushrooms, green onions, and mozzarella. Because the menu runs the gamut from filet mignon to sandwiches, The Garden Grill is an ideal backdrop for all sorts of occasions—be it a romantic dinner date with a special someone or a casual business lunch with the puppet you've been hired to voice.
As reported by the DesMoinesRegister.com, Pickett's pub could be carved from the timber of an enormous tree, with stacked log walls, a fireplace, and a menagerie of mounted moose heads. Though moderately unobtrusive from the road, diners are greeted to pool tables, video games, darts, and a large horseshoe-shaped bar where mixologists sling beers as well as concoctions of mixers and fruity schnapps. Pickett's also grills up juicy full-pound burgers and daily specials such as jumbo shrimp and full-pound top sirloin steaks.
As its name implies, The Corn Patch Restaurant celebrates the Heartland roots of American cuisine with a menu of pork chops, freshly breaded chicken, and hand-cut steaks prepared according to recipes known only to the chefs and family owners. The most famous of these is undoubtedly the creamy, house-made potato soup, which accompanies every meal only after diners sign an oath to never speculate on its secret recipe. To further honor their down-home roots, the owners have named some of their most popular dishes after friends and family, including such favorites as Lucy’s chicken breast and Dennie’s Famous Reuben.
Midwest Black Angus beef, free of hormones or antibiotics, joins with creative ingredients such as A.1. sauce and chipotle aioli to create more than 15 unique burgers at Legends American Grill. These burgers embody a variety and thirst for excitement that radiates throughout each of the grill's central-Iowa locations. There, nestled amid deep-umber booths or brick walls, diners watch sports flicker across flat-screen televisions, rooting on their team and showing disdain for the ref’s decision to wear white pants after Labor Day. But if the score is disheartening, fans can dig into the menu to cheer themselves up. Hand-cut Creekstone Farms steaks offset surf entrees such as salmon in béarnaise sauce or grilled mahi-mahi in a sweet-and-spicy thai sauce. Comfort-food favorites such as meatloaf and fried chicken also make an appearance, pairing with cocktails and beers served by the bottle and pint.
Inspired by trips to the state's northwestern lakes, Okoboji Grill conjures the wayfaring spirit of summer vacation with hearty American comfort food. Chefs marinate chicken strips in beer before hand-breading them in a secret blend of spices, crown crispy onion strings with Iowa-raised pork chops, and stack thin-sliced meats into towering club sandwiches and edible replicas of the Chrysler Building. Okoboji Grill also culls recipes from international cuisines, adding an American take to greek gyros, housemade tzatziki sauce, and italian bruschetta and pastas.