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Hungry in the Hawkeye State: What to Eat in Iowa

You really out to give Iowa’s food a try.

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Eat Well in Iowa

With seemingly countless rows of corn and wheat, more cattle than people and the most pork in the country, Iowa has a long and rich tradition of excellent food. Opt for farm-fresh classics or creative local concoctions to experience the best of the local culinary scene.

By Nick Lucs

Illustration by Hello Neighbor Designs

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Photo: DarcyMaulsby

Breaded Pork Tenderloin

Iowa produces the most pork in the country. According to the Iowa Pork Producers, there are around 20 million pigs in Iowa at any given time. Breaded pork tenderloins are a staple to Iowans, especially during the Iowa State Fair when fried slabs of meat are about the size of your face and stand zero chance of fitting into a bun. For those in search of fried pork when the Iowa State Fair isn’t happening, head for The Lucky Pig in Ogden, or Nick’s, in Des Moines.

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The Original Maid-Rite Sandwich

A messy culinary rite of passage, the Maid-Rite sandwich is Iowa tradition, made with just the right combination of spices and meat. First created in 1926 by Fred Angell, the sandwich was declared to be “made right" by a happy customer, and the name, Maid-Rite, was history. Since then, this ground meat sandwich — topped with mustard, ketchup, onion and pickles — has become an edible icon, available at locations throughout the state.

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Nutty Bars

Sure, ice cream cones have their time and place, but those visiting Okoboji, one of the state’s top lake destinations, should opt for a Nutty Bar instead. The Nutty Bar Stand has been a summer tradition since 1945, serving Iowa’s beloved Blue Bunny vanilla ice cream on a stick, dipped in chocolate and covered with nuts. They also make homemade root beer, root beer floats and other summertime favorites, including ice cream cones.

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