All posts by Brian McMillin

Feature: Bogie’s Steak House (Albia, Iowa)

Bogie's Steak House (Albia, Iowa)

If you’re looking for a quality steak, one of the best Southeastern Iowa destinations is Bogie’s Steak House.

My wife and I almost always order the extraordinarily tasty steak sandwiches, along with a baked potato and can of Coke.  For an extra couple bucks, you can take a plate through their reasonably-well-stocked salad bar.

Even though I have always enjoyed dining at Bogie’s, I’m obliged to note it isn’t for everyone – vegetarians would have minimal choices and the atmosphere leaves something to be desired if you’re on a romantic date.  Nonetheless, for hearty home-cooked meals, a trip to this Albia, Iowa, eatery is highly recommended.

Continue reading Feature: Bogie’s Steak House (Albia, Iowa)

Feature: EV Malt Shop (North English, Iowa)

EV Malt Shop (North English, Iowa)

My wife and I really like corn nuggets, and the English Valley Malt Shop in North English, Iowa, is one of the best places to get them.  In addition, this little restaurant serves other fryer food and sandwiches, along with a variety of ice cream creations at reasonable prices.

My favorite part of the dining experience, however, is the atmosphere.  While the booths and tables are nothing special, a strong sense of community prevails when you enter the restaurant.  Students are working behind the counter, local memorabilia appears on the wall, and a bookshelf contains a bevy of high school yearbooks to peruse.

Continue reading Feature: EV Malt Shop (North English, Iowa)

Feature: Canteen Lunch in the Alley (Ottumwa, Iowa)

Canteen Lunch in the Alley (Ottumwa, Iowa)

Best. Hamburger. Ever.  I’ve had good hamburgers over the years, but nothing beats the delicious loose meat sandwiches they serve at Canteen Lunch in the Alley, located in downtown Ottumwa, Iowa.

Situated under a parking ramp, the one-room yellow brick building features about a dozen stools around the U-shaped counter.  Once seated, one of the ladies from behind the counter will bring a glass of water and take your order.  Regulars will reel off their order in a few seconds – a ‘cheese everything’ sandwich features cheese, ketcup, mustard, onion, and pickles.

If you’re going through (or traveling anywhere near) Ottumwa, the Canteen is a stop you won’t want to miss.  Make the most of your meal by ordering a milkshake and trying a slice of pie to top things off.

Continue reading Feature: Canteen Lunch in the Alley (Ottumwa, Iowa)

Feature: Smokey Row (Pleasantville, Iowa)

Smokey Row (Pleasanville, Iowa)

Smokey Row has been a favorite of mine since we first discovered their original Pleasantville location several years ago.  I love the nostalgic atmosphere of the coffee house/soda fountain, which features wood floors, brick walls, and retro booths.

My wife and I originally made Smokey Row a destination for soda, as they were one of the only places in southeast Iowa to serve ice-cold glass bottle of Mountain Dew.  Unfortunately, the nearby bottling plant ceased operation of their returnable bottle line in 2005, so we had to look to other menu items for our more recent visits.

It turns out the desserts we’ve tried have been top-notch.  You can’t beat the ‘Green River’ from the soda fountain, and the food options make for a great, informal lunch.  If you aren’t planning a trip to Pleasantville soon, you can find Smokey Row locations in Pella and Oskaloosa, too.

Smokey Row Headquarters on Urbanspoon

Feature: Cordova Park Tower (Near Knoxville, Iowa)

Cordova Park Tower (Near Knoxville, Iowa)

A few years ago, Amanda and I ventured to the Cordova Park Observation Tower for the first time.  Located near Lake Red Rock in Iowa, it’s a fun summer destination.

The observation tower was first opened to the public in 1998, after the addition of 170 spiral steps and a viewing platform to an old water tower.  The climb is rewarding; at the top, you’ll enjoy a ridiculously good view of Lake Red Rock and the surrounding area on a clear day.

Finally, a fun piece of trivia.  According to the Red Rock Area website, the Cordova Park Observation Tower features the longest continuous fiberglass staircase in the world.