Iowa Food

This is How We Go Clubbing: Iowa Supper Clubs by Megan Bannister

Like many folks, my first interaction with Megan Bannister was on social media awaiting new blog posts from her travel adventures on Olio in Iowa. Also like many of her fans, I would someday meet her in person, and by spending a little bit of time with her, I could tell that the passion she puts into her writing is genuine. That was Clear Lake in May of 2018 over dinner, beers, and a lot of stories with many other fellow bloggers. It was the inaugural conference for the Midwest Travel Network, and everyone was eyeing the future & discovering a new bevy of networks for all of us. It was very exciting to hear the announcement at another meetup in Medora, North Dakota of her first book getting published just over a year later. Then, the day came when my mailbox had a fresh copy of a fun and very necessary book on a historical culinary concept that was so unique to the Midwest called Iowa Supper Clubs.

The long awaited road trip season is approaching for so many of us. There’s much to see, discover, explore, experience, and taste this year. Megan’s book is one of the ways you can make all of that happen. One historic supper club at a time through the metro areas of Iowa and the countryside blacktops.

Imagine an unofficial road rally where you found prime rib nights with some of the most classic servers you can think of bringing out your entrees. A whirlwind through Cedar Rapids, the Dubuque area, and Des Moines where most of the surviving iconic Supper Clubs still thrive today. Or perhaps a random road trip to North Iowa’s Mason City and Western Iowa’s Le Mars in the rural reaches of our state. Where were some of the bygone locations of once popular Supper Clubs? Megan has those listed for all the history lovers that search for the old buildings no matter how far off the beaten path it takes you.

Still not sure what a Supper Club is? Don’t worry! Megan knows just how to explain what they are, what they specialize in, and how much they’re loved by locals and travelers like herself. You may even put the book down and start gazing at your map. Perfectly acceptable!

Megan’s book is something I’ll pick up again and again to give myself a reminder of where I can plan a trip and have it headlined by a Manhattan or Highball with a comforting seafood special or fresh relish tray. These were the joints our families talked about and frequented for decades. Even the ones that have closed many years ago seem to open-up by listening to the detailed memories their regulars still have. Megan figured out a way to keep them all relevant even if a vintage cocktail glass or slab of ribs will never be placed on their tables again. And she made dang sure to point out how great the still operating Supper Clubs are today.

I want to seek out every establishment listed in Megan’s book. Cut into a steak and think of the history it helps to preserve. I want to sit at their bars and observe the locals while absorbing all their banter, one-liners, ribbing, and anecdotes. I want to hear the table beside me to say “go for it” when I’m on the fence about dessert, knowing full well a notch on my belt is about to get relieved. I want to grasp Iowa more than ever and I know our Supper Clubs are a near perfect place to do so. I now have a book that encourages me to support these important institutions even more that’s written by a friend of mine.

Thank you, Megan, for yet another bolt of inspiration we all needed. It comes in the form of a feel-good past and the unknown future, but it’s all tasty. I just need to know one thing….Is it okay to mix a Grasshopper and Pink Squirrel together or will the bartender just move on to another customer? This is the info The Iowa Gallivant needs to know!

Told you I’d get that map out!

Be sure to click on the link and order your own copy of Iowa Supper Clubs!

2 thoughts on “This is How We Go Clubbing: Iowa Supper Clubs by Megan Bannister

  1. I haven’t met Megan yet…though I know I will have the chance! She mentioned Jitters once in Mason City and won me over, because I happened to be friends with Scott and (at one point in my life) spent every day in his shop writing and sipping on that sweet nectar of the gods – Good Ole Joe! Cup of Joe that is! Anyways, great post JayJay and I can’t wait to meet you on the T-bone trail this summer my friend! – Dan – Country Pilgrim 😉

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