While we don’t own a TV, the ManBeast has become a fan of Man vs. Food (thank you internet TV!). Sometime shortly after Thanksgiving he mentioned wanting to travel down to Iowa to go to Jethro’s to have an Adam Emmenecker sandwich. Des Moines is the closest place the show has visited, and as it was only a 5 hour drive from Madison; we decided it was doable. While Jethro’s didn’t exactly fit my gluten free dining needs, who am I to deny the ManBeast the chance to eat a crazy big sandwich? He’s changed his eating habits a great deal so that I can eat safely, and I compromise by being okay (and supportive!) with his beer hoarding tendencies and his desire to try new foods.
Our plan was to drive down last Friday morning, arriving for lunch at Jethro’s, check into our hotel, and then have a gluten free dinner for me. I found us a great last minute deal at Extended Stay that only cost us $40 for the night. Not only the cheapest I could find advertised for Des Moines, but also pretty decent thanks to a small kitchenette and a quiet/warm/clean place to sleep.
Our drive did indeed take 5 hours; there was absolutely no traffic. But there were a bizarre number of cars wrecked on the side of the highway, including one tractor trailer on it’s side in the middle of the median. We stopped at a HyVee in Altoona to buy a camera. I wasn’t able to find mine before we left and the ManBeast wanted pictures. Being the people we are, the ManBeast checked out their beer selection, and I checked out their gluten free section. Now I know, if I ever find myself in Altoona, I could live quite comfortably, as their gluten free section rivals many even here in Madison (though Woodman’s on the west side still has them beat).
We found ourselves at Jethro’s right at the tail end of the lunch crowd. The ManBeast’s comment about his sandwich was that the food itself wasn’t anything special, though the buffalo chicken tenders on it were quite tasty. He was able to finish about 2/3 of the sandwich, which is pretty impressive. He’s requested we return during biking season so he can do the actual challenge. I had some sort of salad, which wasn’t anything special, but I didn’t get glutened, so I guess that’s a plus.
For dinner, I picked out Shane’s Rib Shack from the options available on Urban Spoon. I knew going in that Shane’s was a chain, but it had such great reviews and a gluten free menu. And I LOVE ribs. What I didn’t know was that this is the sort of place you walk in, place your order at the counter, and they bring the food out to you. I was a bit disappointed, as I wanted a more sit down, waiter/waitress, order food sort of place. But my ribs were damn tasty and I didn’t get glutened. The ManBeast didn’t order anything, as he was still full from lunch, but he concurred that the bite of my ribs he had was good.
So, one can be gluten free in Des Moines, Iowa, and live a decent life. If our budgets were a bit more, there were other restaurants I would have loved to try, but considering I wasn’t the focus of this food adventure, I was quite pleased with the foods available to me. And quite pleased that I didn’t get glutened.