I am bad with money. I spend it too quickly, and on unnecessary things. This is especially true in Decorah, because THERE ARE SO MANY GOOD RESTAURANTS.
The town of Decorah is a huge reason for why I chose Luther. There are a lot of small midwestern liberal arts schools with good music programs, but there’s no town like Decorah. I haven’t eaten at every place in town, but I’ve been to pretty much every place that I’m interested in.*
The following list is based on several factors: mostly quality of food, but also cost, location, and general atmosphere. Many might disagree with the order of this list, but here it is - Eric Jaques’ Top 5 Best Eats of Decorah.
Koreana is a restaurant on Water Street that serves Japanese cuisine, and it is primarily a sushi place. I had never had sushi before coming to Luther, but it quickly became a favorite food of mine. In the past month or so, Koreana has reached a new level of excellence for me. I learned how to use chopsticks (it’s not that hard!). Until recently, I had been eating sushi with a fork or my hands, which were both disastrous. Chopstick ability makes Koreana so much better. The only downside to Koreana is that it’s a little pricy. I can’t go nearly as much as I would like to, because I can’t afford to do so. The bill for me is typically between $12 and $20.
2. Whippy Dip
The Whippy Dip isn’t exactly a restaurant, it’s an ice cream stand. I’m including it anyway. They serve soft-serve, not hard ice cream (the Sugar Bowl is the place for hard ice cream), and they have excellent shakes and malts in a huge variety of flavors. The stand is open April through October. Whippy Dip is a bit of a Decorah tradition, and it’s often included on visit day schedules for students thinking about attending Luther. Honestly, the thought of having Whippy Dip right now is making me very sentimental. It’s a special, delicious place. It’s also a 5-minute walk away from campus.
3. The Co-op
The Oneota Community Food Co-Op is part grocery store, part café, part coffeeshop. They have delicious panini**, and as many bottled organic health drinks as your heart could possibly desire. They always serve a pickle spear on the side with their panini, and it is literally the best pickle in the world. These pickles aren't for individual sale, and every time I eat one it’s like I’ve forgotten how good they are. It also smells awesome in the Co-op.
Classic cool coffeeshop. Magpie is an independently owned coffeeshop that also sells sandwiches. I’m a big coffee drinker, and they make the best mocha in town. Their chai latte and London Fog are also off the chain. On the downside, like any coffeeshop, they’re pretty overpriced. A drink from Magpie is best used as an occasional treat, not a daily stop. It is also a great study spot.
McCaffrey’s is one of Decorah’s “nicer” restaurants, and it’s a great place to take someone on a date. It has some nice vegetarian options (my girlfriend is a vegetarian, so this is important), and it’s not TOO expensive. They claim to have the best pizza in Iowa, or something, and it’s pretty great. They also have great pasta dishes and some sandwiches. About the same price range as Koreana, but it always seems like more.
1.Mabe’s - A greasy, historic, and delicious pizza place.
2.La Rana - Another nice date restaurant, like McCaffrey’s, but a little too expensive.
3.T-Bock's - A sports bar with great burgers and other things, apparently. I’ve only had burgers.
4. Don Jose - Good Mexican food, served in massive portions.
*The exception would be Rubaiyat, which is ridiculously expensive.
** “Panini” is actually the plural of the singular “panino”. Don’t challenge me on this.