If you’re traveling across I-80 west of Des Moines, Iowa be sure to make Elk Horn your stop for grabbing a bite to eat. Or, if you’re looking to satisfy your Danish tastebuds then this is definitely where you need to be for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Great places to eat can be hard to find but you’ll find many in this charming rural town. I was able to sit down at a variety of places to eat during my visit to Elk Horn and here’s my favorites!
Larsen’s Pub: 4206 Main St Elk Horn, Iowa | Facebook
If you know me then you probably know how much I absolutely love a good tenderloin. I seriously could order a tenderloin every time I go out to eat. So, to find out I would be eating at Larsen’s Pub where their tenderloin was named the #1 tenderloin in Iowa by the Pork Producers… I was truly in heaven!
A husband and wife team, Larsen’s Pub has grown from a catering business into a restaurant that literally blew up overnight thanks to their award winning tenderloin. Although, the Larsen’s do still cater events due to their sought after eats.
Not in the mood for a tenderloin? That’s ok! Larsen’s Pub offers a variety on their menu such as a belly buster fish sandwich, breaded sea strips, philly steak sandwich and their highly recommended chicken sandwich. Every sandwich comes with a side of your choice: mac salad, potato salad, shoestring fries, steak fries, waffle fries or their famous cole slaw. Or, head to the bar and order one of their appetizers and grab a drink like their 1919 Root Beer on tap or their perfect margarita.
People drive for hours to enjoy the famous tenderloins and delicious eats at Larsen’s Pub. It’s worth the visit just to read their menu! I’m not giving anything away but it’s definitely a menu I’ll never forget! I loved this pub so much that I even grabbed some meals to-go to take home for my family to enjoy.
Pleasant Thymes Tea Room
Pleasant Thymes Tea Room: 2108 Pleasant St, Elk Horn, Iowa | Facebook
When we arrived at Pleasant Thymes Tea Room I felt like I had been transported into a fairytale upon meeting the delightful owners, Bill & Sherry. The only thing missing from Sherry was her wings because I honestly felt like she was a fairy spreading pixie dust to brighten the day. She was truly the most delightful and welcome host.
As a little girl Sherry grew up having tea parties with her grandmother. When her grandmother passed away she made a promise to herself that she would continue having a tea party every day for the rest of her life. About a year ago her and her husband opened Pleasant Thymes Tea Room to keep having tea parties and to share the tradition with other families.
Upon entering the tea party room you will quickly notice the incredible detail Sherry takes when creating the table settings. Everything is perfect! You’ll find a variety of delicate china, tea sets and beautiful decor. She then informed us she would be serving us a 4-course breakfast including her signature raspberry soup, salmon quiche, lemon scones and her patented Danish ice cream!
After finishing our meal we had the perfect ending to our visit. Bill sang and played his violin, while Sherry accompanied him on the piano. It was truly the best treat and such an honor to listen to them doing what they love.
Pleasant Thymes Tea Room is the perfect cozy & charming place for jam sessions, engagements, anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, business meetings, baby and bridal showers. They offer brunch, lunch, high-tea, special events in the evenings, and fine-dining once a month. Sherry also takes orders for cakes, pies, scones, and aroma marmalade. It is an experience you will always remember with happy moments of magical happenings.
The Flour Mill
The Flour Mill: 4234 Main St Elk Horn, Iowa | Facebook
I was excited to visit Elk Horn’s pizza place and Italian restaurant, The Flour Mill. Upon entering you could smell the aroma of freshly baked pizza and I was excited to get a taste since Italian food holds a special place in my heart. It’s a small, cute restaurant that’s perfect for stopping in with friends for a bite. You’ll find a variety on their menu including appetizers, salads, subs, pasta and pizza.
For my drink I definitely wanted to try something local so I selected the local Countryside Vines and Wines Rhuberry wine. It was the perfect compliment to my meal. We were first served their bruschetta cristinies – salsa, diced tomatoes, red onion, garlic and basil served with thin, sliced toasted baguettes.
My favorite was next – fresh homemade ravioli filled with frikadella (Danish sausage), along with their homemade red or white sauce! I think I finally decided the red sauce was my favorite but they are both so scrumptious!
And then came the homemade, fresh pizza! As if I could stuff anything else in my mouth at this point but I pulled through! I just had to try this pizza. They served us Frikadella pizza and the chicken bacon ranch. Both very delicious but the chicken bacon ranch was my favorite!
To finish our meal was cranberry and cheese stuffed pastry. Yes, please! So heavenly! It’s the perfect ending to a delicious meal at The Flour Mill. And paired perfectly with my glass of wine.
The Danish Table: Hygge Kitchen
I’d definitely say The Danish Table: Hygge Kitchen is a hidden gym in rural Iowa. Whether you’re looking for authentic Danish food or your American favorites, it is a must visit. We had the opportunity to eat there for breakfast and dinner. It did not disappoint!
Once you step foot in The Danish Table you’ll immediately understand the term hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), the Danish expression is an attitude towards life emphasizing finding joy in everyday moments. It celebrates coziness, warmth and family!
The Danish Table is most definitely hygge! The décor is perfection and the staff made us feel like family.
For dinner I suggest starting with their Danish meat & cheese board or masked cauliflower – a fresh, stunning cauliflower head topped with crème dressing, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes and shrimp.
For your main meal you should try the fried pork belly or fish & fries. The fried pork belly is the Danish National Dish served with boiled potatoes and parsley gravy. The fish & fries is breaded haddock served with house made French fries & remoulade. In Demark, a type of Flounder called “Plaice” is used for this dish and is hard to find in the Midwest. The fish was full of flavor and literally melts in your mouth. It was a favorite of mine for the night!
No visit to The Danish Table is complete without trying shots of their Aquavit and Dill Aquavit! Too strong for my liking but very popular across the table. You can even purchase in store.
I was beyond excited for breakfast to finally try Aebleskiver, a Danish dessert, like doughnuts. Served with jam, sugar and honey or eaten alone, these definitely lived up to all the hype. They were delicious and our table was served bowls and bowls of them. My favorite way to enjoy them was drizzling them with syrup. They much reminded me of pancakes and they were absolute perfection!
Of course, my morning view was pretty incredible of the Danish Windmill!
Don’t let the CoffeeGirl name fool you, although you can get delicious coffee, they also serve speciality drinks, breakfast and lunch. It’s the perfect stop to grab your favorite drink and a light lunch before heading over to the shops in Elk Horn with your besties. Be sure you grab a cookie, or two, while you’re there because they are to-die-for!
While enjoying my chicken salad wrap and tea I had one of the best views in town, the Danish Windmill! CoffeeGirl is right across the main road from the windmill in a cozy little house turned coffee shop. It’s the perfect spot for enjoying a cookie and warm cup of joe while taking in the gorgeous view.
If you aren’t able to make it Elk Horn, no worries! CoffeeGirl has two other locations: Harlan, IA and Atlantic, IA. They also have the ability take their speciality drinks on the road with their mobile coffee shop!
The Norse Horse Tavern
The Norse Horse Tavern: 4224 Main Street Elk Horn, Iowa | Facebook
If you’re looking for a light lunch or a place to kick back some drinks with friends, The Norse Horse Tavern is the perfect place for you. The owners took two condemned buildings on Main Street in Elk Horn and created an impeccably done nordic theme at The Norse Horse Tavern.
For lunch I had the Norse Salad which was just what I needed after a few days of stuffing my face in Elk Horn. You’ll find a variety of soups, salads, sandwiches and specials on their menu.
They are always looking to create new menu items and had us try their new butternut squash soup. It was perfection and I highly suggest it the next time you find yourself at the eatery.
They also sent a few of their popular chocolate chip cookie skillets to the table. Pure heaven in our mouths! It’s a must order and definitely a table share because it’s so big! It’s a chocolate chip cookie served in a cute small cast iron skillet, served straight from the oven topped with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and almonds.
Be sure you head to the room off the main entrance to get a selfie with the amazing nordic paintings on the wall. There’s even paintings they found under wallpaper that they were able to save for all of us to enjoy!
The Kringle Man
Bringing the area daily Danish deliciousness is James Uren at The Kringle Man. Around town at many businesses you’ll notice the baked goodness available for purchase. James was kind enough to invite us into his bakery where he bakes kringles daily. Kringle are pastries with a long history in Denmark, and are still popular items in modern Danish bakeries.
The unique and delicious Kringle are very popular in Southwestern Iowa. You can find the Kringle in 9 delicious flavor options with almond is the original time-honored filling and still a favorite amongst locals. The 9 flavors include: almond, apple, apricot, blueberry, cherry, peach, raspberry, strawberry and strawberry/rhubarb.
Located on Main Street, you’ll smell the goodness of Kringles as you walk by. If James happens to be there be sure to step inside and he’ll have a smile on his face welcoming you to learn all about his magical baking.
James uses puff pastry dough for his Kringle. It’s rolled so thin it has to be folded and buttered 27 times to allow the dough to get that light flaky, buttery, airy texture we all love. He also adds almond paste that is sweetened to a delicious flavor.
Countryside Vines and Wines
Just a few short miles from Elk Horn you’ll find the most beautiful family owned winery amongst the rolling hills, Countryside Vines and Wines. Started by Allan and Carol Petersen in 2001, the winery continues to be family owned. Son-in-law, Loren Christensen and their daughter, Jennifer Christensen became owners of the winery in 2016. Besides the gorgeous vineyard, you’ll find a restored one hundred year old barn on the Petersen farm that had been built in 1913.
We got a private tour by Loren and learned how all the wines are made and how they use their beautifully restored barn. Not only do they make 20 different kinds of wines, they also hold events at their barn. Loren enjoys playing music and they have made the loft into an amazing space for events.
Although this isn’t necessarily a place to eat near Elk Horn, it is the perfect place to start your afternoon with a wine tasting. You get to choose from a selection of their wines. I decided Rhuberry would be a great wine to take home and I purchased a bottle while I was there.
Don’t worry, you can order their wine online!
Great Places to Eat in Elk Horn, Iowa
Just by taking a walk down Main Street in Elk Horn, Iowa you’ll find a variety of great places to eat from traditional Danish to American and everything in between. You’ll be amazed at what this small town has to offer and the view is incredible.