America’s Byways: Iowa’s Loess Hills Scenic Byway

5 STOPS | 127 MILES | 2 hr 13 min

Loess Hills

The Loess Hills Scenic Byway through westernmost Iowa is describes as “truly an American treasure.” The trip from Omaha, Nebraska, to Sioux City, Iowa offers Roadfood adventurers a bevy of unique local eats.


The three restaurants below offer large variety in the city of Omaha. Deep fried grilled cheese sandwiches, seafood and strip steaks are each offered at one of these restaurants.

  • Anything made from beef is a good item to order off the menu at Johnny’s Café. The standout dish was definitely the “Omaha Strip Steak” which is aged on the premises and comes with an excellent side of hash browns.
  • A variety of items are offered at Shirley’s Diner. Breakfast includes omelets, pancakes and French toast. There is a sandwich and burger menu for lunch. The standout dish here is their “cheese frenchees” which are grilled cheese sandwiches that are dipped into a cornflake batter and deep-fried. They taste even better than they sound.
  • Joe Tess Place is all fish, all the time. The most memorable of which is their fried carp, fried catfish and fish sandwich, which is a fried piece of carp between two slices of rye bread. For those not in the mood for carp, they offer other items such as grilled salmon.

Sioux City

These two restaurants serve two similar sandwiches, both are fantastic. Try them yourself to determine which is better.

  • Named after the son of the founder, the “Charlie Boy” sold at the Miles Inn is a spin off of a regional dish known as a “tavern”. The Charlie Boy consists of ground beef that isn’t packet into a patty, so that it remains pebbly, along with pickle chips, mustard and cheese. Classically served on a hamburger bun, the Miles Inn also served a Charlie Dog which is on a hot dog bun.
  • The “Tastee Sandwich” and “onion chips” are the two staples served at Tastee In & Out. Onion chips are simple but delicious. They are made from bite-sized pieces of onion that are deep-fried. The Tastee Sandwich is made from loose ground beef, that is generously seasoned, and topped with pickles and onions.

Johnny’s Cafe

Johnny’s has been Omaha’s steak house since 1922, a grand-scale restaurant where beef rules: steaks, chops, ribs, liver, even sweetbreads and chicken-fried steak.


Shirley’s Diner

Shirley's is a heartland cafe serving the unique Nebraska cheese frenchee: a grilled cheese sandwich dipped in corn flake batter and deep-fried.


Joe Tess Place

Joe Tess sells deep-fried carp, crusty and moist. Have it with crunchy disks of fried potato -- a unique, vintage taste of Omaha, Nebraska.


Miles Inn

In Northwest Iowa, taverns (loosemeats) are more popular than burgers. They're at their best at the Miles Inn, which calls them Charlie Boys.


Tastee Inn & Out

Tastee Inn & Out is a drive-in serving the northwest Iowa beef sandwich known as a loosemeats, plus delicious fried onion chips with creamy dipping sauce.