Supper clubs are a long-running Midwestern dining experience, but being a Nebraska native, it’s a foreign concept to me. After reading a book about the history of supper clubs and some of the restaurants that are still open in Iowa, I’ve been inspired to learn more about them and, who knows, maybe visit a few!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of “Iowa Supper Clubs” in order to review the book. This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking the link, I receive a small referral stipend. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.
“Iowa Supper Clubs”
As long as I’ve known Megan Bannister, I’ve known her to be a knowledge foodie based in Iowa. It made since that she’d write a book about restaurants (she’s written a post about awesome Des Moines restaurants for me, after all).
“Iowa Supper Clubs” sets out to, first, explain what a supper club is (a relish tray isn’t a requisite, but “You know it’s one when you see it”). Then she dives into the history of supper clubs in Iowa.
My favorite part of the book covers the supper clubs in Iowa that are still open. (And if we’re being honest, the information about the ones that serve ice cream after-dinner drinks.)
The nostalgia and community-oriented nature of supper clubs reminded me a lot about my own book, “Lost Restaurants of Omaha,” only in Megan’s book, there remains a few long-running establishments you can visit today. And I intend to do so.
So, read on to see which supper clubs I’m dreaming of visiting!
Iowa supper clubs I want to visit
The following is a list of Iowa supper clubs I found in Megan’s book that are still open in Iowa, starting with the ones closest to Omaha. Priorities, right?
Note: These supper clubs may be operating under reduced hours and with social distancing restrictions in place. Call before visiting! (Not that you’ll be able to make a reservation, just so that you can know if they’re or offer curbside takeout)
- Redwood Steakhouse (Anita; 77 miles from Omaha)
- Archie’s Waeside (Le Mars; 123 miles from Omaha) – This particular supper club has the distinction of winning a James Beard Award.
- Maxie’s Restaurant and Lounge (West Des Moines; 130 miles from Omaha)
- Jesse’s Embers (Des Moines; 132 miles from Omaha)
- Ced-Rel Supper Club (Cedar Rapids; 242 miles from Omaha)
- Northwestern Steakhouse (Mason City; 255 miles from Omaha) – Northwestern Steakouse stands out because it’s got an interesting Greek twist to it.
- Lighthouse Inn Supper Club (Cedar Rapids; 270 miles from Omaha)
- Signature’s Supper Club (Northwood; 274 miles from Omaha)
- Moracco Supper Club (Dubuque; 334 miles from Omaha)
- Breitbach’s Country Dining (Balltown; 347 miles from Omaha) – While clear across the state from Omaha, Breitbach’s has the honor of being the state’s oldest food and drink establishment. It’s also ranked among Iowa’s best restaurants.
Midwest supper clubs I want to visit
Inspired by Megan’s book, I began to seek what some of the classics around the Midwest were. Fodor’s even had a list. Iowa (and its abundant supper clubs) is just the tip of the iceberg lettuce wedge.
After creating my list of Iowa stops, I pondered what a Midwest supper club road trip would look like. I also pondered what my waist would look like after said road trip. Let’s not get into those details.
Note: These supper clubs may be operating under reduced hours and with social distancing restrictions in place. Call before visiting!
Starting first with the state that’s possibly most famous for its supper clubs: Wisconsin. I’m sure I’m missing a few giants, but among my Wisconsin supper club list are:
- Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge (Milwaukee, Wis.)
- Sullivan’s Supper Club (Trempealeau, Wis.)
- The Roxy Supper Club (Oshkosh, Wis.)
Oh, sure, there are more, so check out “Wisconsin Supper Clubs” if you want more insight into the state’s supper club fascination.
And, then one of my favorite states to vacation in, Minnesota, has its share of lovely options. By lakes, no less. Here are a few ones on my radar:
- Bar Harbor (Brainerd Lakes area)
- Fisher’s Club (Avon…and supposedly you shouldn’t miss the breaded walleye fish fry)
- Crooner’s Lounge and Supper Club (Minneapolis)
And last, but certainly not least, are some of the supper clubs of Illinois. I got a taste of supper clubs in downtown Chicago at the Tortoise Supper Club. A few other classics I’d like to visit:
- Millie’s Supper Club (Chicago)
- Timmerman’s Supper Club (East Dubuque – and said to have a beautiful sunset view overlooking the Mississippi River Valley)