Since this is my first “Must Eat Meal” post, let me explain. There are tons of websites out there that talk about foods you HAVE to eat if you go to particular places. So, we (by which I totally mean me…) thought it would fun to try a food that was unique to each state we went through. In researching what we should eat, I used multiple websites and tried to pick something that more than one site claimed was the absolute must have. I ended up picking a snack for each state too, since sometimes the biggest vote getter was more of a snack food. And sometimes, we didn’t do the food for a particular state this trip. Usually, if I know we have to go back to a state for a future trip (like Minnesota – we just skimmed the bottom of the state), I don’t feel bad putting it off until we can get a better representative of the food.
So, in Iowa, there were really 2 options for must have meals. The one I didn’t go with was the walking taco. Really? This doesn’t scream Iowa to me. Apparently it was invented at the Iowa State Fair, so that gives it some credibility, but they serve it every other Tuesday at school here (and I am NOT exaggerating) and the kids would kill me if I made them eat them on our trip. So, I went with what I traditionally think of as “Iowa Food”: the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. For those not in the know, a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich is basically a pork loin pounded out to super thin and about the size of your face, then breaded (or sometimes battered, but that’s not right in my opinion), fried, and served on a bun. You can’t throw a stick in this state without hitting one. There a ton of websites out there that tell you which is the best, so I picked one close to our route, and we ended up at the Belmond Drive-In in Belmond, IA.
If you read my Disney posts, you’ll already know that when I write about restaurants, I use a FAST system (Food, Atmosphere, Service, Tips).
This was definitely not a health food place! But, it was a pretty typical diner menu for a small midwest town. The mission here was a breaded pork tenderloin. They were voted best one in 2014 by the Iowa Pork Producers, so I had high hopes.
You can see from the picture, that both M and I ordered the tenderloin. I got fries (which ended up mostly going to one of the kids) and he got a salad. I have to say, this was a really good tenderloin sandwich. The breading was crispy, but not overly greasy. It wasn’t tough or gristly, which tends to be a problem with some tenderloins. It was plenty big, but not one that could feed a dozen people like some places. I still only ate about half, and C finished it off. The bun was really nothing special, and it was pretty simply topped with onion, lettuce, tomato, pickle, ketchup, and mustard. It didn’t disappoint, for sure, but the best in the state? Meh…I don’t think so.
Atmosphere: It’s a diner. Long skinny room, formica tables, hard chairs. Nothing special. There were quite a few people there, and most of the tables only sat 4, so we were lucky to get one of the 6 tops so we could all sit together. We were clear at the back. It was clean, which really is the most important thing.
Service: The service here was very friendly. You could tell they were used to locals, but that didn’t stop them from treating us like we belonged. They just knew everyone else’s names. The food came out quickly, which we really appreciated since we were just starting out on our road trip.
Tips: I don’t know that I would drive out of the way to come here, and I can’t imagine why most people would be driving through Belmond. But, if you do happen to find yourself here at some point in time and are looking for something to eat, it’s worth a stop.
After lunch, it was time to hit the road.