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Red Barn

613 W. Washington St., Exira, IA - (712) 268-2645
Posted By Michael Stern on 10/19/2012 10:09:00 AM
South of Audubon on a country road across from a row of feed silos, the Red Barn is a Roadfood gem that serves breakfast, lunch, and supper and is a gathering place where locals come to chat over coffee between meals. It's a tiny place, about the size of a house trailer with a third of its interior occupied by the kitchen. There are four tables, two with seats for six, so it is common, especially at lunch, for different parties to share space with one another. Nearly everyone who eats at the Red Barn knows everyone else, but as strangers we felt completely welcome and at ease.

We found this place while on the tenderloin trail, and sure enough, the BPT here is ravishing. It is wider than its bun, but not ridiculously so, and it is thick enough to be really juicy inside its snug, savory crust. When we visited, it was mid-August, so the standard battery of pickles and onions was supplemented by a couple of lovely slices of fresh garden tomato. The larder also was well-stocked with rhubarb, and the rhubarb crisp we had for dessert, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, was a dessert to remember.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Tenderloin
Custard
Loosemeats
Pea Salad
Rhubarb Crisp
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Location, location, location! In the shadow of a bunch of grain bins in the heart of western Iowa's farmland, the Red Barn is the sort of destination that makes traveling the Roadfood way so rewarding.
"Location, location, location! In the shadow of a bunch of grain bins in the heart of western Iowa's farmland, the Red Barn is the sort of destination that makes traveling the Roadfood way so rewarding."
Michael Stern





One of Iowa's great tenderloins -- crisp, juicy, hugely satisfying. And garnished with slices of garden-fresh tomato.
"One of Iowa's great tenderloins -- crisp, juicy, hugely satisfying. And garnished with slices of garden-fresh tomato."
Michael Stern


The Red Barn menu calls this a Maid-Rite. To the north it more likely would be referred to as loosemeats or a tavern.
"The Red Barn menu calls this a Maid-Rite. To the north it more likely would be referred to as loosemeats or a tavern."
Michael Stern


There is pea salad in other states, but it is nowhere so prevalent -- or so perfectly composed -- as in the cafes of Iowa.
"There is pea salad in other states, but it is nowhere so prevalent -- or so perfectly composed -- as in the cafes of Iowa."
Michael Stern


A cup of custard. Nothing could be plainer or more perfect.
"A cup of custard. Nothing could be plainer or more perfect."
Michael Stern


A view from one of the Red Barn's 4 tables shows the counter and the semi-open kitchen.
"A view from one of the Red Barn's 4 tables shows the counter and the semi-open kitchen."
Michael Stern


Rhubarb crisp topped with ice cream: a glorious balance of tart and sweet.
"Rhubarb crisp topped with ice cream: a glorious balance of tart and sweet."
Michael Stern



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