Munch Madness Round I: You wanna peach of me?
After a week of anticipation, the time has come. The moment you have all been waiting for is here.
It is time for Guthrie County restaurants to go toe-to-toe in a battle for the ages, all in the quest of being named the champion of the people’s choice competition, Munch Madness. And it is time for you, the culinary connoisseurs of the area, to decide who deserves to be in the winner’s circle, and who doesn’t quite make the cut.
This week marks the first round of competition, in which a field of 16 non-chain local eateries will quickly get chopped and diced down to an elite eight survivors, who will continue their tasty journey into round two. It will not be an easy fight. The restaurants that live to dine another day will have to dig deep, and pull out every weapon in their arsenals, from secret recipes to sizzling two-for-one specials.
Time for happy hour? Not any time soon, and not while this war rages on. Drinks will be shaken, reservations will be made and take out menus will fly.
Let’s take a look at this week’s match ups.
Zipp’s Pizzaria vs. Owl’s Nest
When it comes to heavyweights in the world of zesty sauce and cheese combinations, Zipp’s Pizzaria in Adair is Goliath, ready to crush other pizza venues with its host of homemade offerings. The menu even has a section showing off the house made items, including homemade pizza dough, alfredo sauce and three types of sausage. And it doesn’t hurt that the eatery was dubbed the champion of the statewide Travel Iowa 2016 Pizza Pie Madness bracket contest.
But the pizza joint’s first opponent of Munch Madness, the Owl’s Nest, is no stranger to cheesy deliciousness. From cheddar and bacon topped tater tots, to cheese covered nachos and deep fried cheese balls, the Panora hot-spot knows how to make traditional bar food sing. And when it comes to bar selection, and drink prices, it can’t be beat.
Who’s the cheesiest of them all? Only you can decide.
Hilltop Cafe vs. PJ’s Drive In
It will be a clash of the titans between Guthrie Center’s Hilltop Cafe and PJ’s Drive In in Panora. Both restaurants feature a hearty helping of good old fashioned drive-in fare, from creative burgers and fries to crispy onion rings and chicken strips. Where their paths diverge is in the early morning hours, when Hilltop serves up plates of french toast and crackling bacon for breakfast.
Only time will tell if Hilltop’s breakfast menu will be the thorn in PJ’s side, or just not enough to take the cake. Pancake that is.
Prime Time vs. Just Ethel’s Bar and Grill
We couldn’t have found a better battle of the bars than these two haunts, even if we tried. Prime Time in Guthrie Center and Just Ethel’s Bar and Grill are 15 miles apart, but a perfect storm in the making. Salads, sandwiches, dinner specials, oh my!
May the best bar win.
La Villa vs. Incredibowl
On opposite corners of the ring, and from opposite areas of the globe, comes this unique pairing. Bringing all the heat from Mexico is Guthrie Center’s La Villa, slinging two-for-one margarita nights and a bang-for-your-buck lunch special. Not to mention their fried ice cream. And their sparring partner in this competition is a mash up of all the best things the States have to offer. Incredibowl in Guthrie Center is more than just a place to take down pins with friends. It packs a punch with its double bacon cheeseburgers, pork loin sandwiches and jalapeno cheddar corn nuggets.
No matter who comes out on top, it’s sure to be a spicy tournament.
Cabbage Rose Restaurant vs. Billy Vee’s
If you’re searching for true comfort food, look no further than Cabbage Rose Restaurant. From classic biscuits and gravy to chicken fried chicken and barbecue ribs, it’s the central hub in Guthrie Center for some down-home, just like your mama made it cooking. However, Billy Vee’s in Panora is no slouch in that department. Sure, they play it close to their vest and stick to their Italian roots with a roster of unique pizzas. But a closer look will reveal they also dish out herb crusted rack of lamb, prime rib, lasagne and pasta alfredo. Bellissima!
The title of home-cooked cuisine queen is up for grabs. It’s just a matter of who wants it more.
44 Drive In vs. Los Altos
Around the corner, or south of the border? That’s the question that will be answered in this match up. Sure, Los Altos might mean “the tall ones.” But will the Mexican restaurant in Stuart be able to tower above its competition? Will their all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesdays be able to stand up against the classic burgers, fries and patty melts being slung at Panora’s 44 Drive In?
Winner winner, chicken dinner. No matter which way you sway, you’re sure to go home happy.
The Links Restaurant and Lounge vs. The Port
Both of these restaurants are just a hop and a skip away from the scenic Lake Panorama. What must be decided is who will represent the summer vacation destination moving forward in Munch Madness? What a cruel twist of fate that there can only be one. They both have appetizers galore, and more sandwich options than you can shake a stick at. Will the list of flatbread pizzas at Lake Panorama’s The Links give the upper hand? Or will the extra seafood appetizer options at The Port in Panora turn its opponent into a fish out of water?
The battle for Lake Panorama takes turf wars to a whole new level, and the title is on the line.
Menlo Cafe vs. Pine Room
It’s been described as an excellent small town eatery, a welcome change from fast food and “like coming home to find that your aunts, neighbor and grandma have fixed all their best recipes for you and brought them to a 70’s cafe.” But for now, we’ll just call this competitor the Menlo Cafe, located in its namesake town of Menlo. That is, until we find out if it has the chops to face off against Guthrie Center’s Pine Room, and end up victorious. The cafe is home to small-town cooking, complete with homemade desserts and huge sandwiches. While the Pine Room is the spot to be for pool, darts and karaoke, and of course, mixed drinks, pizza and sandwiches.
When all is said and done, which restaurant will be on the chopping block?
All right, folks. The ball is in your court now. It’s up to you to decide who should move on to the next round. Voting can be done online, at our office at 205 State St. in Guthrie Center.
The outcome of Munch Madness is up to you.
Editor’s note: The Munch Madness series, and the commentary in it, is completely fictitious, and is meant to be interpreted as such. The articles to come over the upcoming weeks, and the results, are not a reflection on any of the restaurants in Guthrie County.