If you look through the Sioux City Yellow Pages for the Miles Inn, you won’t find it under R for Restaurants. It is listed under T for Taverns. This makes sense in two ways. First, and most obvious, is that it is, in fact, a tavern – a place people come for long, leisurely afternoons or evenings sipping beer, watching the overhead TV, and kibitzing with each other. Built in 1925 by bricklayer John Miles, it is a sturdy edifice that sells suds by the case as well as by the draught. The only hot food you can get in this place is one fantastic sandwich, which the sign on the wall calls a Charlie Boy. That’s Reason Number Two that its listing under Taverns makes sense, because the Charlie Boy is known by many Sioux Cityans as a tavern.
In Northwest Iowa, taverns are more popular than hamburgers. Dozens of restaurants serve them, and each has its own twist on the basic formula, which is ground beef that is gently spiced and cooked loose so it remains pebbly when put upon a bun. A scoop of meat is generally garnished with pickle chips and mustard, most often with cheese; and the sandwich is almost never served on a plate.
Miles Inn’s definitive taverns (named Charlie Boys after Charlie Miles, who was founder John Miles’ son) are served in wax paper that you unwrap and use to catch any drippings. They are well-fatted with a concentrated beef flavor that even a sirloin steak cannot match. (Do you agree with us that the one meal that most fully satisfies the deepest hunger for beef is a great burger, even more than a great steak?) Two or three Charlie Boys make a wonderful lunch; and the proper libation is plenty of draft beer from the tap.