Iowa’s Best Burger Carries on Chuckwagon Tradition

Guest blog post by Brooke German, Iowa Beef Industry Council

Image by Larry D. Moore

Image by Larry D. Moore

Chuckwagons first became popular among Texas ranchers after the Civil War. As cattlemen moved their herds across the western United States, they were often on the road for months at a time. An inventive Texas rancher, Charles Goodnight, modified a Studebaker wagon by adding a “chuck box” to the back of the wagon to create a makeshift kitchen.

Around 150 years after the original chuckwagon made its debut on the western plains, the Chuckwagon Restaurant in Adair started serving up great beef. The restaurant is a favorite for the coffee drinkers in the morning, and the lunch crowd is also mostly locals. In the evening, however, travelers on I-80 between Des Moines and Council Bluffs often stop for supper.

The burgers served at the Chuckwagon are 6-ounce, hand-pattied Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 10.55.54 AMCertified Angus Beef®. Cooked on a flat top with house seasoning, they’re made to order and served with toasted buns or grilled bread. Customer favorites include the bacon cheeseburger and the Chuckwagon, a burger served on grilled bread with sautéed onions, mushrooms, bacon, tomato and Thousand Island dressing. Served alongside homemade fries and a classic milkshake, the meal is hard to beat!

The restaurant, which is clearly visible from Interstate-80 on exit 76, is open from 8 am to 10 pm during the summer. (It’s open 8 am to 9 pm year-round.) Burgers start around $9, but the “Burger of the Week” is $2 off. Breakfast is served all day. Seating capacity is 112 and a patio was added in 2015, so there isn’t usually a wait. However, the Chuckwagon Restaurant is happy to take reservations.

The Best Burger contest is sponsored by the Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. Nominations are collected during February and March, and the 10 restaurants with the most nominations are visited by a secret panel of judges. This year’s winner, the Chuckwagon Restaurant, continues a tradition of quality beef that will not disappoint!