Nominated for Best Family Restaurant on CityVoter's 2011 A-List, Steamboat Garden has been serving up affordable family food since 1933. Today, guests at the boat-shaped restaurant can peer through its bright red portholes to watch as the friendly staff fills tables with steaks and seafood, breaded pork loin sandwiches known as Tug Boats, and seven incarnations of a signature hamburger that has been a Falls Avenue favorite since the 1940s. Between bites, diners sip old-fashioned floats made with 1919 draft root beer and then send instant photos of their empty plates to mom by accessing the restaurant's WiFi with a laptop or aluminum foil helmet.
Southern Smoke Shack's culinary artisans cake fresh cuts of quality meat with dry rubs concocted from family recipes, slowly smoking the porcine and bovine delicacies that appear on the menu over select wood pairings and slathering the creations with house-made sauces upon request. Cherry-smoked bourbon baby-back ribs seal in their succulent flavor with a rub, as well as a delicate glaze of 4 Brothers bourbon normally reserved for adult-back ribs, decorating tables for dinner (half rack, $9.99; full rack, $18.99) or lunch (lunch rack, $5.99). The smoky sweetness of mesquite radiates from the texas brisket sandwich ($5.99–$8.99), and the pork of the smokestack sandwich arrives buried beneath strata of roasted peppers, jack cheese, and diablo sauce ($5.99–$8.99).
Spread across more than 12 acres, the wild-west-themed farm gathers visitors of all ages to engage in a menagerie of year-round and seasonal activities. In a re-created Western town, guests explore a horse-riding arena, livery, general store, and saloon where they can sing and perform in period plays foretelling the futuristic invention of parachute pants. Authentic stagecoach and chuck wagons take a central role in special events, and in keeping with seasonal themes, farm staffers send guests on haunted hayrides in the fall, bobsled and sleigh rides in the winter, and horse-drawn speedboat tours in the summer.
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.
When Craig and Lea Culver created the first Culver’s restaurant in 1984, they wanted to serve homemade burgers like Craig’s mom used to make. These burgers—now known as the ButterBurgers—are made with fresh, Midwest beef patties, and served on a toasty, buttered bun. The burgers are also what helped put Culver’s on the map—there are now more than 500 locations scattered across 19 states. At each restaurant, patties are cooked right on the grill. The other main hallmark of Culver’s menu is its rich, creamy frozen custard, which you can have drizzled with hot fudge or use as a foundation for a signature Concrete Mixer and have it decorated with Oreos and Butterfingers.
Spearheaded by a duo of cousins, Pita'z fuses traditional Lebanese flavors with American dishes. The meeting of culinary traditions yields burgers draped in gyro meats, pitas crowded with philly cheesesteak fixings, and cowboy ballads that rhyme “tzatziki.” The chefs also extend their culinary services to catering for large parties and gatherings.
At Fruitzen Frozen Yogurt, taste buds entwine with frozen yogurt rich in live active cultures. Made with real yogurt instead of a powder mix, their froyo provides a healthy alternative and comes in flavors such as white chocolate mousse and sea salt caramel pretzel, with 12 nonfat and low-fat options, including no sugar added options, and a non-dairy sorbert, and a variety of toppings, including fresh strawberries, raspberries and pineapple.