I-80 road food?
June 27, 2012 7:40 PM   Subscribe

Driving from Sacramento to Chicago along I-80. Any must-stop restaurants along the route (breakfast/lunch/dinner), without too much of a detour?

I've checked Road Food, by the way, but except for a Basque restaurant in Elko and a Czech restaurant in Omaha, all of the listings tend to be focused on burgers or, as you head into the Midwest, pork tenderloin. Something a little more interesting would be welcome. Assume omnivorousness.
posted by mudpuppie to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Skip the Czech restaurant in Omaha and go to the Crescent Moon instead. The Crescent Moon is notable for two reasons. First, it has an amazing amount of interesting beers on tap. Not that you should drink and drive -- but if you wanted a beverage with dinner it might be ideal. Second, the Reuben sandwich was invented in the Blackstone Hotel across the street and the Moon has the best Reuben ever. Warren Buffet has been known to visit the Moon as well.

Omaha's historic Old Market area also offers a variety of restaurants. You can walk around and see what looks good. Ted and Wally's in the Old Market has great ice cream, but sometimes the line is out the door.

If you get hungry before then, pull off at exit 426 along I-80 between Omaha and Lincoln and go to Mahoney State Park. I think that there's a $2 entry fee but it's worth it. Head towards the Lodge, which has a nice restaurant with an excellent view of the Platte River. You can also stretch your legs by climbing to the top of the very tall, very scary observation tower. It sways in the wind. (If you wanted to stay at Mahoney, or plan a longer visit, they also have an outdoor chuckwagon cookout with bison stew.)

Oh, I almost forgot! There's also a dairy store on the University of Nebraska/Lincoln campus. They make all the cheese/ice cream right there. Flavors include maple bacon and others. Served by enthusiastic UNL students.
posted by Ostara at 7:59 PM on June 27, 2012

Take a look at Bambara in Salt Lake City.
posted by Picklegnome at 8:14 PM on June 27, 2012

tasty taco in des moines, there are a few locations.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:24 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

someone asked something similar at chow - it got a pretty good list in response: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/704429

other than the Atlas in Iowa City (which I just personally like), not much is leaping to mind...

in Nebraska you could keep an eye out for a runza joint (like this one) - I grew up on 'em, only we called them bierocks and we had to make them (no restaurant had them) - definitely local, definitely unique, not something you'll find elsewhere
posted by hms71 at 8:44 PM on June 27, 2012

In Salt Lake, go to either Red Iguana or Settebello.
posted by The World Famous at 8:47 PM on June 27, 2012

I would skip the Basque in Elko in favor of the Martin Hotel in Winnemucca, but then, my dad used to own the Martin and now my cousin does.
posted by bricoleur at 9:01 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try to stop at a Runza, an unusual fast food chain with lots of locations along I-80 in Nebraska. The runza sandwich is truly unique, and their onion rings are really good.
posted by me3dia at 9:11 PM on June 27, 2012

If the Czech restaurant you're thinking of is the Bohemian Cafe, then, well, maybe. The Bohemian Cafe is the place my grandfather's doctor forbade him to go after he was diagnosed with heart trouble. (He ignored his doctor, to no good effect.) Czech food is kind of heavy, with lots of sausage and sour cream. It could be memorable, though.

Seconding the Omaha's Old Market as a place to stop and walk around. It's only a few blocks off your route, and has a number of good places to eat, all within a short walk. M's Pub isn't exactly road food, but delivers at a higher end.

A few block farther South of the Old Market is the Durham Museum, a converted train station that has an authentic Soda fountain that serves lunch and some mean ice cream sundaes and malts.
posted by dws at 11:01 PM on June 27, 2012

Hah! bricoleur, I was just coming in here to say I'd had an interesting and tasty dinner at the Martin Hotel when I went through Winnemucca 7 years ago. I don't know what it's like these days but if it's similar, I recommend it.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:10 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I second Omaha, you can skip Lincoln. Omaha has pretty good dining options for a city of its size. The Old Market is pretty nice and there are a number of places to relax. Friends have been giving me rave reviews of Dario's lately. The Bohemian Cafe would also be great though, however the food is heavy as mentioned above.
posted by Jurbano at 2:32 AM on June 28, 2012

Northeast of Iowa City is Lincoln Cafe in Mt. Vernon. If it's too pricey, you can always visit their wine bar, which has great pizzas.
posted by interiority at 8:43 AM on June 28, 2012

The Amana Colonies in Iowa are a short dodge off I-80, and are recommended if (at breakfast) you want a great cinnamon roll the size of your head, or if you want a down-home meal served family style; the Ox Yoke Inn (pic) is the one I remember best. The Amana Colonies also feature a brewery and several wineries; at the latter, you may have a chance to sample some unusual wines, including dandelion wine.
posted by carrienation at 11:15 AM on June 28, 2012

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