I am an Iowa native. How can you tell?

  1. I’ve eaten eight ears of sweet corn for my entire dinner on multiple occasions.
  2. I wear a John Deere hat multiple times a week.
  3. I am terrible at identifying good food.

That last one is perhaps most telling. My favorite restaurant has been one of the following at different times in my life: Applebee’s, Golden Corral, The Iowa Machine Shed and Culvers.

This isn’t entirely my fault. The first time I had “prime” quality steak was as a senior in high school across the Mississippi River in Illinois, because Iowa doesn’t have prime steak. When I interned in New York, my mom paid my friend to take me to a different ethnic restaurant each week so I could try new food.

We Iowans are great at eating large quantities of perfectly adequate food, but we’re very bad at finding great food.

Think this is just some generalization? Here’s what the two biggest cities in Iowa voted as the top restaurants in different categories:

City Category Restaurant Rank
Des Moines Seafood Long John Silver’s 2
Des Moines Burgers Applebee’s 2
Des Moines Chicken KFC 1
Cedar Rapids Chinese Hy-Vee (grocery store) 1
Cedar Rapids Coffee Starbucks 2
Cedar Rapids Italian Olive Garden 1
Cedar Rapids Mexican Carlos O’Kellys 1
Cedar Rapids Steak Texas Roadhouse 1
Cedar Rapids Wings Buffalo Wild Wings 1

That’s the Iowa I know and love.

And now, to watch a video that explains both my favorite state, my favorite highway and my favorite food.

(h/t @mikjones24)

About Kevin Trahan

Kevin mostly covers college football and college basketball, with an emphasis on NCAA issues and other legal issues in sports. He is also an incoming law student. He's written for SB Nation, USA Today, VICE Sports, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.