Some folks have misconceptions about Northwest Iowa’s population center, but I would actually rank Sioux City 3rd in the state (behind Des Moines and Iowa City) as the best city for a fun restaurant, bar and entertainment scene. Once a major manufacturing center, Sioux City slowly lost its industry base over the past two decades. It’s remade itself into the entertainment hub of the tri-state area, bringing in a Hard Rock Cafe Casino, improving on the restaurant options on 4th Street, and adding in the new Pearl Street bar district. It’s also home to some of the best authentic Mexican food in the state. Spending a night out in Sioux City has become a great experience – here’s what Starting Line and the locals recommend when in town:
Rebo’s – Starting Line’s personal favorite restaurant in the entire state, Rebo’s serves up a unique mix of Mexican, Caribbean and Cajun fusion food. The Tijuana Trainwreck is incredible and their pizzas are pretty good too. There’s no other place like it in Iowa – a must-stop.
1107 4th Street, Sioux City, IA 51101
La Juanita’s – Perhaps Sioux City’s most famous eatery, Esquire magazine voted it as having one of the United States’ “life changing burritos.” Called simply La Jua’s by most locals, you watch the workers shave down huge hunks of meat behind the counter as you stand in line. The little carrots you get with your meal is a nice touch too. The Democrats’ local office was right next door in 2012. Whatever you do, however, do not go there right at noon – you’ll be waiting forever. The perfect spot for a late-night taco after drinks.
1316 Pierce St, Sioux City, IA 51105
El Fredo’s – Northwest Iowa’s best pizza joint. Everyone raves about their homemade sauce, which is just the right level of spicy. The place has a nice family-style feel to it. A large room in back has hosted quite a few political events over the year.
523 W 19th St, Sioux City, IA 51103
Milwaukee Wiener House – A Siouxland lunch institution for generations. This joint is a classic coney hotdog joint. You can get coney in a few different options, I recommend chili and mustard (not much of an onions guy). Don’t let the long line over the noon hour discourage you, the line moves fast and part of the experience is to watch ‘em put together you lunch.
301 Douglas St, Sioux City, IA 51101
Miles Inn – Sioux City has a lot of great neighborhood bars, and Miles Inn is definitely the best of them. A good place to hang out and watch the game, they also pour their beer into glass chalices. You can get a cheap, tasty meal here with their “Charlie Boy,” a loose-meat sandwich. This bar is a perfect spot to hang out with co-workers after a long day on the campaign trail.
2622 Leech Ave, Sioux City, IA 51106
Jerry’s Pizza – The other great pizza joint in Sioux City for over 50 years. They’ve got four locations in the SUX metro. Classic cracker crispy crust that comes in a unique old school paper box. Stop in at any location… but for reporters staying in at your hotel or if you’re working in your campaign HQ with hard working volunteers you are in luck, they deliver. They deliver pizza greatness.
Diving Elk – A new bar along the 4th Street corridor, the Diving Elk offers a diverse upscale menu. If you’re looking for a wide selection of craft and specialty beers, this gastropub is where you want to be. The interior is an interesting mix of urban and rural themes, with a mounted elk’s head looking down over a modern-looking bar.
1101 4th St, Sioux City, IA 51101
Luciano’s – If you’re covering a GOP event while in town, this is where you should stop by afterwards to hear how Sioux City’s top Republicans felt about it. Run by Ray Hoffman, a former Iowa Republican Party chairman, it’s a pretty classy joint you might not expect so far from Omaha and Des Moines. The best place in town for well-made cocktails. They also have a wine store next door that offers up an impressive selection.
1019 4th St, Sioux City, IA 51101
Jitters – Like doughnuts? Okay, that’s a stupid question, everyone does. This coffee shop’s signature fried doughnuts have quite the loyal following among Sioux City residents, considered the best in town. Jitters also has good wraps for lunchtime.
306 Virginia Streert, Sioux City, IA 51101
Tacos El Guero – Another good authentic Mexican restaurant in Sioux City. They offer Cuban-inspired tortas and popular shrimp tacos. It’s on the edge of the Pearl Street district, so you can walk down here for a cheap taco after losing most of your money at the casino down the street.
525 Pearl St, Sioux City, IA 51101
Trattoria Fresca – A nice Italian restaurant in the middle of downtown.
416 Jackson St, Sioux City, IA 51101
Marty’s Tap – Just a simple, fun neighborhood bar on Court St, in a somewhat rough part of town. A younger crowd here that comes for the pool tables and patio in back. Behind the bar is their $2 cooler, filled with off-season specialty beers – one of the better deals you can find. Starting Line has been offered to share a joint from some chill bar-goers here a surprising number of times, so if that’s your thing…
1306 Court St, Sioux City, IA 51105
Prince’s Tavern – Another good neighborhood hang-out, this one a favorite of folks on the west side.
1920 Center St, Sioux City, IA 51103
Local Festivals – Sioux City is home to a number of diverse ethnic communities thanks in part to its meatpacking history, and they often hold fun festivals and events with authentic food throughout the year. While you’re in town, make sure to check the local events calendar for what’s going on. The Greek, Jewish and Hispanic communities are among some that hold great festivals.
by Pat Rynard