Iowa Food · South Central Iowa

Beyond Tulips & Into the Cellar: Pella for the Food Scene & Hardworking Locals

*It was the first ever visit, not to mention first ever Gallivant to Pella in my entire life! This Iowa spring time tradition was finally on our calendar and we were very happy to see this beautiful city. Our visit here was hosted by Visit Pella, Iowa; and some of the products, meals and services featured were complimentary. The views expressed in this blog post are of our own. Let’s Gallivant!

You want road side attractions? Here’s your roadside attraction! Dutch-style, baby!

Pella, Iowa: Marion County

Can somebody please explain to me why it took so long for me to get my rear end to Pella because I sure can’t. Well, it took way too long to make this trip happen, but I finally got my finest Dutch clothes together and made sure to bone-up on all customary traditions and language to make sure I knew what I was doing. I actually did none of that because we let the locals guide us and that little tradition came in more handy than ever. Hey, I do research! But I knew Pella would be vibrant and that includes the building and all those tulips. The hardworking Pella locals were everywhere we went and this blog post is absolutely dedicated to them. The 2021Gallivants have begun and Pella was happy to lead this charge. And the first battalion in Iowa’s tulip nation brought hot dogs!

What better way to start a day in your first trip to Pella? Hot dogs and golf!

Nederlanders Tap & Golf….I mean….Oh boy. Gourmet all beef hot dogs, chili fries, and a host of beverages to go with them! All that and you can play a round of golf on their state of the art indoor simulators. You can even pick courses from around the world! Or you can just practice your swing with the driving range option. That’s how you can stay active and eat hot dogs at the same time. They have the technology! Let’s see what we ordered…

How does a basket of these beauties look! Hot French fries topped with rich cheese sauce and meaty chili. What was the fork for anyway?
The Dutch Dog! All beef hot dog with local chopped In’t Veld’s Pella style ring bologna, Gouda cheese, and topped with mayo. Beefy, juicy, and just perfect for an opener in Pella.
This guy is a pro at this golf simulator. You didn’t need to see my ugly swing. I want you to enjoy this blog post.

That was a perfect way to “sample” a piece of Pella upon arrival. I wish there were more local hot dog havens, but I’m good with making the trip to Pella for another round if we had to. And another round of precious Pella meats. This city has two historically amazing meat markets within a short walk of each other and the first one we stopped at played an important role in that hot dog I destroyed.

That window front is basically my anual Christmas list.

In’t Veld’s Meat Market specializes in some delicious products with a meaty and cheesy showroom to welcome you in. We took a huge package of their famous dried beef home because I finally made it to Pella and was enjoying it by the pound. Quite literally too. You know what else we managed to bring back with us?

Giant meat sticks!

The Pella meat scene brings in folks all year. You can find meaty Pella inspired products in grocery stores all over the state of Iowa and that includes selections at In’t Veld’s Meat Market. And whoa, baby, look at the size of those meat sticks! As you can see, there’s plenty of Dutch-style cookies for the sweet tooth. Remember, this isn’t the only meaty destination nearby….

Another staple and another Pella meat shop known far and wide all over Iowa and beyond. Ulrich Meat Market!
Jerky the size of your average elephant ear.

This was the jerky lovers haven. There for it was my happy place and I happily tore into that beefy strip several times during the day. Ulrich Meat Market is truly a taste of something historic in Pella with the jerky having a tender texture and not hard to chew at all. Very beefy in flavor and I think it ranks up there with Pella’s famous Dutch letters when it comes to the taste of this town. How’s that for a snack! Let’s keep moving on and get a cold one or two…

Sometimes its a lot of fun to be a cellar dweller. You’ll see why!

Every now and then you find a bar and you want to back a truck up and take it home with you. The Cellar Peanut Pub is known for being “Iowa’s Best Great American Beer Bar” and one afternoon trip here I could see why. Owner-Marty Duffy was one of several behind the bar pouring Iowa craft beers non-stop. He’s proud of the talent he has staffed up here at his pub in Pella and at their Newton, Iowa location. To say it was busy here would be an understatement. It was slamming. These craft beer pros kept up and even had time to keep the conversations going with the customers.

They have several choices in beer, but it’s always a good idea to go with one of their house brews. From Gezellig Brewing Co! Brewed in Newton, Iowa and co-owned by the Pub Mama herself here at the Cellar Peanut Pub.

I spent time trading stories with Marty and the crew with a lot of memories of my own time in the bar and restaurant industry. Through washing glasses, serving drinks, filling glasses, washing glasses, cleaning tables tops, pouring beer, cleaning glasses, cleaning the bar, filling glasses, washing glasses….Well, they still managed to keep all of us entertained and l absolutely treasured my time here. There’s more than just getting a beer expeditiously. I cherish an establishment that brings its own character and makes you feel like a local from the get-go. I couldn’t take the pub with me back to Iowa City but I could make Marty feel real-real special…

Marty likes hugs! But he LOVES awkward hugs! This was the Pella I wanted to find and it was right here at the Cellar Peanut Pub. Well, done my new beer buddies!

Let’s go for a walk and see what we can find for dinner! And while we do that we can do a little site-seeing. And I don’t care who you are. You’re going to find yourself magnetized to the tulips. And I like bright colors! Seriously! You should see how many sprinkles I put on my ice cream.

Did those tulips open up just for us? Probably not, but I like to think they did.
That jerky really made those tulips pop.
Now, everyone get together…Ok you two in the back quit playing around. Smile on 1, 2,…The folks on my left! Scooch over an inch or two…Noooo my left! Ok, we’re ready annnnnd….Please, fix your pedals on the right…My right….Geez your left!
Pella is full of wonderful ways to take a sunny constitutional through town. Even when the tulips hibernate for the year. Do tulips hibernate? I’m checking our R&D department for that info.

You can stay very active in Pella and that step counter of yours will be putting in some overtime because the city has a way to keep you pleasantly roaming around. From flower bed to flower bed, windmill to windmill, and store front after store front. Downtown Pella keeps you shopping, dining, and exploring! Afterwards, however, it was time to check-in… and grab some take-out!

Just a short drive from downtown is the Country Inn & Suites. Our hub for all the R&R we wanted and needed.
I took one look at the couch and cushy chair and knew what needed to be done in our suite. Pizza, hamburgers, and Chinese food. And that’s just what we made happen. This is going to be fun!
Dutchfix is one of the authorities in burgers around here. They were nominated for Iowa’s Best Burger and we weren’t going to turn our backs on that.
The Gouda Burger! All beef patty with smoked Gouda cheese, bacon, mayo, ketchup, mustard, lettuce and pickles! I’m a condiment lover and this burger was my saucy little buddy. Don’t worry, Marty. You’re still my buddy too.
We asked the locals where we should go for noodles and it was the Oriental Express all the way!
Creamy crab rangoons and a big portion of Lo Mein noodles with a lot of chicken and veggies. If you’re on the endless search for deeeee-lish rangoons then Pella’s Oriental Express needs to be on your short list, my friends.
Pepperoni and lots of rich mozzarella cheese on our pie from George’s Pizza & Steakhouse! Another restaurant that locals steered us to and another hardworking crew seeing the spring surge in business. We destroyed this pizza with the sauce on our cheeks as the international sign of pizza appreciation. That means job well done, George’s!
I wonder if I can make this into an alarm on my smart TV? (Thank you, Pella because that was the first time I’ve ever typed “smart tv”)

Wow, that was quite the taste of Pella and we enjoyed it with our large flat screen TV playing the baseball game while enjoying the comfy furniture in our suite. We love it when the proud citizens tell us how much they enjoy their local businesses and it makes us want to support them even more. Good golly, that food was great! And you may have guessed it. Time turn in because we have a workout coming in the morning.

Cordova Park and it’s 106 feet of observation waiting for you near Otley.

Lake Red Rock is one of Iowa’s largest lakes and its loaded with recreational opportunities for you and your whole family. Or a group of friends and that boat one of them may have. See, it was a good thing you were college roommates 20 years ago! Camping, cabins, and nearby hotels can keep you getting back on the water during your entire stay in the Red Rock area. Let’s get to the top of that old water tower turned observation deck.

The view is amazing from Cordova Park and you’ll want to see Red Rock’s beautiful bluffs for yourself. Whether it be from here or on the endless trails all over this lake area. I recommend seeing the beauty of this big’ol lake from as many vantage points you can find over a long stay. By the way…Don’t forget to bring two US quarters with you when driving out to Cordova Park. You’ll need them to get up to the observation deck. Don’t forget!
Walking up an old water tower made me hungry for breakfast. Back to Pella and one last meal before hitting the road. I hope there’s copious amounts of butter where we’re going.
Back to Downtown-Pella and into the Windmill Cafe!
I was right! We have a place that knows how support the dairy industry! Look at those buttery pancakes!
Biscuits and gravy has made another appearance on The Iowa Gallivant and I couldn’t happier.

It was our final meal of our Pella visit at another popular eatery. Tables of the Windmill Café were filled with full coffee cups, hot breakfast, and a lot of customers enjoying the morning. The servers, bussers, cooks and everyone employed by the Windmill Café were quickly getting orders to every place setting. Breakfast fare might just be my all-time favorite food and I can’t tell you how much enjoy seeing a hot plate of biscuits and gravy urging me to come back to town someday. Those peppery little devils have their way of doing that.

We can always find reasons to head back to everywhere we go. Wyatt Earp…I’m coming for you next time in Pella!

This blog post is for all of you in Pella that worked in every manner of hospitality and service while we were there. I saw the travelers and tourists back in full force and I was proud to see how the workers of the city handled themselves in the trenches. I saw leadership exude from a high schooler at Dutchfix that came out more naturally then some folks I’ve seen work restaurants for decades. The humor in between constant rushes at the Cellar Peanut Pub was as refreshing as the beer. The family keeping the crew together, at George’s, and leading the charge through non-stop tickets coming in made me miss the kitchen life I worked in for almost 25 years. The smiles from behind the counters at the meat markets were as visible as the giant strips of jerky and meat sticks they displayed. These are my people. I don’t mind saying that I get emotional thinking about these folks here in Pella and others in the same roles all over the country. They’re open for business and spearheading the efforts to keeping tens of millions of us traveling customers fed, lodged, replenished, and entertained. You all just keep kicking butt with what you’re doing in your own unique ways. Pella, we finally made it in. And there is no way I’m waiting another 42 years to return. I’m proud to say I now know many of you and this was an unforgettable Gallivant. Keep that Dutch in your step all summer!

Like Visit Pella, Iowa on Facebook

Scroll through events and updates on the Visit Pella, Iowa website

Be sure to check out the Red Rock Area website

Book your room at the Country Inn & Suites-Pella website

That’s last call for us, Pella. Looking forward to another round very soon. My bowl of peanuts runneth over…

5 thoughts on “Beyond Tulips & Into the Cellar: Pella for the Food Scene & Hardworking Locals

  1. It’s about time, geesh! Pella is definitely a gem. Glad you enjoyed your time here. Come back and see us again. You need to try out the bakeries and more restaurants!

  2. Thanks for coming to visit and for the great write-up. It’s a pretty incredible place. The bakeries and ICE CREAM are a must for your next visit. 😉

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