Not all food is created equally and not every food is available in every location, sometimes you have to take a road trip when a craving hits. Living in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area has many perks but easy access to delicious foods is not one of them. Thankfully all that stands between us Iowa folk and a decent meal is a little travel so we planned a foodie road trip making sure we stopped at all of our favorite spots along the way.
Without a doubt, the number one food my husband loves and misses from Illinois is Mexican food, specifically burritos. The first time I ever stepped foot in Illinois, he immediately brought me to get a burrito, he had been talking about these things being the size of my head and how delicious they were since I met him in Florida where there was nothing like it.
We both love Mexican food so much that we even had a local Mexican restaurant cater our wedding, much to the dismay of some of our more traditional guests. He introduced me to burritos and tacos, topped with salsa verde and before I knew it Mexican food was both of our favorites. Our favorite spot to grab a burrito is a small Mexican restaurant in the industrial town of Rockdale, Illinois.
They have steak burritos like no other, stuffed full of perfectly seasoned diced steak, onions, cilantro, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and cheese.
Their steak tacos come with the same perfectly seasoned diced steak as well as onions and cilantro. If you go out the right day, you can take advantage of one dollar tacos.
There just isn’t anything like this place here in Iowa, we have tried every Mexican restaurant around here, believe me nothing comes close.
The salsa verde is worth a road trip all by itself but it compliments the tacos and burritos nicely so be sure to try it out if you visit.
Joe’s Hot Dogs
When I first moved to Illinois, I enjoyed eating at Joe’s but never realized how hard a good hot dog would be to come by until we moved to Iowa. I grew up in New Jersey, the land of Sabrett hot dog stands, where you can get a perfect hot dog in any parking lot you happen to drive by that day.
Joe’s offers sauerkraut dogs as well as traditional Chicago dogs, being from Jersey, there is nothing like a good sauerkraut dog in my opinion.
I can’t even locate a hot dog place in the Cedar Rapids area that has sauerkraut, so this road trip was desperately needed.
Joe’s Hot Dogs is located in Joliet, a town with just as much good food as it has crime activity in the area. We moved away due to all of the home invasions, gang activity, and murders happening nearby, but we sure do miss the food.
If you find yourself in the area, get a hot dog and a bag of fries at Joe’s. You will be glad you dodged the bullets to do so.
Baba’s Famous Steak & Lemonade
I have never really understood why this place has famous steak and lemonade in its title. Their lemonade isn’t the best thing on their menu and I don’t think they even serve steak there, I could be wrong. I may have missed these items on the menu while looking over my shoulder at the crime-riddled road this restaurant is placed on called Jefferson Street.
The gyros are my daughters favorite and the burgers are piled so high with toppings that my husband calls them heart attack burgers.
If you have ever had White Castle before then there is no description needed on why we would be willing to take a road trip just to get some burgers.
This is another location that I frequented as a kid growing up in New Jersey, much like Harold & Kumar, we went to White Castle a lot when we lived there.
The location in Joliet is the closest one to us which is why we made the road trip, it was the smartest travel decision really but this location is also the dirtiest of all White Castles I have ever been to, so maybe hit the drive-thru if this is the location you stop at.
The milkshakes alone are worth the drive in my opinion, but you can’t visit a White Castle without eating a couple of sliders. I wish there were more locations nearby, there are none in Iowa and before you leave a comment telling me about the store bought ones, I am well aware that you can buy a microwaveable version from the grocery store but I am not in the habit of eating hard bread and greasy radiation.
That just won’t do, so sometimes you need to cross the Mississippi to get a good burger.
I would be more than happy to open my own White Castle in Iowa if I was allowed but this franchise opportunity does not exist here in Iowa due to the location of suppliers is what I have been told. If it did, I would be opening the cleanest and most delicious location in all of the country, people would take food road trips just to visit my location, believe that.
There are so many pretty things to be seen on this side of the Mississippi and the drive through Eastern Iowa is beautiful.
Until the Cedar Rapids area gets all of the delicious foods we miss, we will continue to take these foodie road trips and travel whenever these cravings hit. Be sure to follow on social media so you can see where we travel to next.