Food programming is one of the fastest-growing segments of reality TV. It’s no wonder producers of these programs flock to Iowa, a place known globally for feeding the world.
Black Market Pizza
Featured on the Travel Channel's "Man vs. Food," Black Market specializes in converting open-face sandwiches to Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Favorites are the Iowegian (sausage, bacon and ham), the Iowa Chop (served with cornbread or sweet potato crust), the Reuben and Bacon Cheeseburger. Watch it.
Ox Yoke Inn
Located in a National Historic Landmark home, the Ox Yoke Inn's family-style dining and honey apple pork dish were featured on "Pork Paradise," a segment of the Travel Channel's "Food Paradise" series. Ox Yoke uses old-world German and American recipes passed down from four generations of the Leichsenring family. Watch it.
Original Location in Muscatine, 70 locations
Founded in Muscatine in 1926, Maid-Rite was among America's first fast-food restaurants and the first chain to offer a drive-through window. The chain earned a spot on the Travel Channel's "Bizzare Foods" series for its unique loose meat sandwich - a generous helping of ground beef sprinkled with secret seasoning and served on a steamed bun. Watch it.
A chain of four restaurants in the Des Moines area, Jethro's has been featured on the Travel Channel's "United States of Bacon," "Food Paradise" and "Man vs. Food" all for one sandwich: the Adam Emmenecker, named for the MVP of the 2008 Drake University basketball team. This behemoth includes a pork tenderloin, an Angus steak burger, slabs of Texas brisket, applewood bacon and fried cheese, finished with buffalo chicken tenders. The entire sandwich is smothered with cheddar cheese and white cheddar sauce and served with a pound of waffle fries. Watch it.
B&B Grocery, Meat and Deli
Home of the Killer Sandwiches, the B&B is a turn-back-the-clock neighborhood grocery store. Featured on the Food Network's "Outrageous Foods," B&B's Killosal sandwich includes deli meat, four burger patties, a giant pork tenderloin and cheese.
Iowa Machine Shed
Des Moines & Davenport
Recognized by the Travel Channel's "Food Paradise" as having the best breakfast in America, the Machine Shed prides itself on being a tribute to the American farmer. Known for chocolate covered bacon and monster cinnamon rolls, the Machine Shed brings the nostalgia of mid-century farming to life with farm tools and seed corn signs adorning the walls and wait staff clad in bib overalls.
Iowa 80 and Gramma's Kitchen
A buffet of home-cooked comfort food and 50-foot salad bar are the centerpieces of the Iowa 80, located in the world's largest truck stop just off I-80. Showcased on the Travel Channel's "Food Paradise" segment on great truckstops, the show also featured Gramma's Kitchen, just across the street. This restaurant has earned acclaim for its homemade meatloaf and pork tenderloin sandwiches. Watch it.
High Life Lounge
This bar on the edge of downtown Des Moines is a throwback to the sixties, complete with shag carpet, vintage wallpaper and wood-paneled walls. Featured on the Travel Channel's "Man vs. Food" program, the High Life's food and beer offerings remain true to the era. The menu features deviled eggs, Spam and egg sandwiches and good old-fashioned pot roast.
El Bait Shop
The show "Taverns, Lounges & Clubs" describes El Bait Shop as a "mancave on steroids." It has the largest selection of American microbrews in the world and great bar food to boot. Stop in for a seasonal flight of beers and check out the always-rotating menu.
This popular eatery is not for the faint of heart. Showcased on the "United States of Bacon," Zombie Burger serves up a sandwich called the Walking Ched (as in cheddar cheese). The sandwich features a bun made from deep fried macaroni and cheese. Inside the bun are bacon, a burger patty, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and more macaroni and cheese. Watch it.
Fong's Pizza blends Chinese buffet favorites and pizzeria flavors. Their Crab Rangoon Pizza is a customer favorite and was featured on the Cooking Channel's "Pizza Paradise." Fong's unique pizza combos include Thai Chicken, Fongolian Beef and Moo Shu Pork. But if you want to become a true Fongolian, make sure to try on the kamikaze helmet! Watch it.
Cactus Bob's BBQ Corral
Take the "Showdown Challenge" and try to eat a sandwich smothered with "showdown sauce" in less than 10 minutes and sans any heat-cooling drinks. The challenge was featured on "Outrageous Foods" and dares challenge-takers to "take the heat" of the world's hottest pepper.
Creme Cupcake + Dessert
Featuring a flavor schedule for every day of the week and new monthly cupcake flavors, Creme Cupcake + Dessert is a perfect cure for a sweet tooth. Looking for something more indulgent? Stop in to the Dessert Lounge, where Creme mixes up innovative desserts and top shelf classic and exotic cocktails. Creme is one of the Iowa bakeries featured on "Cupcake Wars."
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Featured on "Cupcake Wars" twice, Ames' Cupcake Emporium serves more than 100 delicious flavors, including the adventurous Sweet Chili Mango and Fried Ice Cream to the more traditional SnickerYourDoodle and Death by Sprinkles. The Cupcake Emporium also serves a full lunch menu of sandwiches, sides and soups.
Bringing the atmosphere of New Orleans to Iowa is Chef Ben Halperin and his wife Jeri. Augusta Restaurant offers made-from-scratch comfort food with a Cajun flair. The restaurant has been featured in the Chicago Tribune and on Iowa Simple Pleasures.