My wife & I just returned from a 5-day trip to Des Moines & Chicago, and had some good eats along the way:
WED 8/1 - We arrived in Des Moines about 1:30pm, and by 2pm we were sitting in Smitty's having a king-sized Pork Tenderloin. Based on the numerous threads & postings here at RF, and in the book, we had high expectations. We were underwhelmed. I think it was the combo of pickle/onion/mustard - it just didn't send my taste buds dancing like I had hoped it would. Maybe w/ some different condiments, or a tastier breading on the pork.
THUR 8/2 - Our hotel in West Des Moines/Clive was right next to a Maid-Rite franchise, so we had to try it for lunch. We were again underwhelmed. Perhaps we should've visited the location in Newton IA (noted in the Sterns' book). It was good, but overall it was a bit bland. I'd probably eat it over a McD's cheeseburger, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.
FRI 8/3 - After partying until 3am the night before (after a family wedding) and then driving all afternoon from Des Moines to Chicago, we were pooped, but Jill wanted some deep dish pizza. We were staying in the Mag. Mile area, so we walked over to Lou Malnati's on North Wells for dinner. All in all, it was good, but not spectacular. Jill got a pepperoni w/ extra sauce, while I had a sausage/mushroom. I've never been a huge fan of deep dish, as I've always thought it was too much bread/dough. I like the simplicity of a thin-crust w/ near-equal layers of crust, sauce & cheese. Next time we're in Chicago, we're going to try the Pizza Pot Pie from the Chicago Pizza & Over Grinder Co.
SAT 8/4 - After spending the morning walking through the Museum of Science & Industry, we went back to our hotel and then walked a few blocks up to Al's Italian Beef (the location across from the huge McD's and near the Hard Rock Cafe). Now THAT was some good eats! Jill got the classic beef while I got the beef/sausage combo. The sandwiches were outstanding and I would go out of my way for one of those again. The fries were also excellent - fresh-cut and perfectly fried.
For dinner on SAT 8/4, we had a great meal at Gene & Georgetti's. Not exactly Roadfood, but a great dinner nonetheless.
SUN 8/5 - Lunch at the airport consisted of a couple of CSD's from one of the places in the food court. I'm sure they wouldn't rate highly in a poll, but they certainly hit spot when the spot needed a good hitting.