We headed out the morning of April 15th. Had I known ahead of time that this year I would not procrastinate on my income taxes as I traditionally do we might have headed out a few days earlier. Oh well...we were underway.
Courtney Levenhagen, the daughter of the owners of the Suzie-Q Cafe in Mason City, IA was doing a social studies school project. She e-mailed me asked me about my source information how I ranked the Suzie-Q the second best tenderloin. I told her that came from me right here on Roadfood.com here. http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/tm.aspx?m=338704
You'll soon see why and we decide a return visit was in order.
It was magic! Our first stop was at the Suzie-Q Cafe in Mason City, IA. We got there a little after 1:00 PM and everyone was waiting for our pre-announced stop. Unfortunately, Courtney was in school. How often do you stop at a 10 stool diner (I counted them) and get a magic show of card tricks and disappearing sugar from Levey the Great, Troy Levenhagen, the owner. He also conjured up a great tenderloin. I tried his newest creation, the Spic-N-Span Melt consisting of a deep-fried tenderloin served with melted cheese, grilled fresh onions combined with reconstituted onions on buttered toast. It was a cozy, friendly place and fun to banter with complete strangers. I also took a picture of another patron's regular battered tenderloin on a bun. Nancy had the BLT hoping to eat a little lighter while suffering through a head cold. We also sampled, without bun, their grilled tenderloin and one of their newest creations, the "Cow Pie", a battered and deep-fried Oreo cookie coated with powdered sugar and caramel sauce. We would like to have sampled some other stuff. Another patron ordered a Ribeye burger while we were there. It was a combination Ribeye steak and hamburger. So much food, so little stomach.
While we were there a KIMT TV video crew rushed over and interviewed me at the diner. I doubt I made the news cut being not so photogenic, tongue-tied and admitting I was originally from Indiana.
There was a Tea Party protest just a block away and when I checked their web site that was the video news.
The Suzie-Q Cafe is worth a stop. It is unique in its size and being a Valentine prefabricated diner built in the 40s and transported to the site from Wichita, Kansas. It first opened in 1948. Here is a diner history... http://www.kshs.org/diners/history.htm
Get used to me weaving architecture in with food in my reports. I'm an architect.
First stop of our trip - the Suzie-Q Cafe in Mason City, Iowa
The Suzie-Q is a 10 stool Valentin Diner. Here's looking from the entrance.
Here is standing in the corner and looking back toward the grill and kitchen
Troy Levenhagen, Owner and the Great Levy preparing a Spic-N-Span tenderloin
Our cook and waitress sporting the "Rated #2 in the Nation" tee shirt. I recommend they go with Rated #1 in Iowa
even though the Iowa Pork Producers Association hasn't yet gotten around to discovering them.
This is the Spic-N-Span deep-fried pork tenderloin sandwich
This is the new Spic-N-Span Melt, a tenderloin with cheese, reconstituted onions and grilled onions on toast
This is a sample tasting of the grilled tenderloin without the Spic-N-Span
The Suzie-Q Cafe BLT
The rest of the menu
The new items included a Ribeye burger
Finally for dessert, the "Cow Pie", a battered and deep-fried Oreo cookie with powdered sugar and caramel sauce
From there we drove on to Lake McBride State Park in Iowa near Solon and camped. One tenderloin per day was enough so we were not too tempted to make a return visit to nearby Joensy's self-billed as the "Biggest and Best in Iowa".