Places to Eat in Decorah, Iowa
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March 3, 2022

Places to Eat in Decorah, Iowa

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There are lots of reasons to visit Decorah, Iowa, and delicious places to eat rank right up there on the list! We try somewhere new every time we visit, but there are lots of favorites we must go to every time as well.I'm sharing a list of several of the places we've tried and love.


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If you’ve never been to Decorah, Iowa, I highly suggest it! It’s in the northeast corner of the state and looks like it should belong in Europe somewhere! The topography is so beautiful with bluffs and a deep river valley. Plus, so much nature to enjoy—trees, plants, and trout streams!It’s a definite must-see in the midwest.

We’ve been going to Decorah for the last 12 years and have hopes of owning a little property there, within the next few years. There is so much potential in having an Airbnb up there, I think it would be totally doable for us! Plus, we’d always have somewhere to stay, whenever we want to visit. *sigh*

In case you’ve never been to Decorah before or maybe just are not as familiar as we are, I’m sharing some of our favorite places to eat while visiting. Hopefully you’ll find a new favorite from the list or maybe it will remind you of a place you used to go but haven’t for a while!

One of our favorite things to do on any vacation is to try all the local coffee shops! I mean, of course there is an occasional Starbucks along the way, but we really do try to avoid them, instead focusing on finding the locally owned, really great coffee shops—with delicious coffee and, hopefully, a tasty bite to eat as well!

Decorah is not short on coffee…it’s a college town, after all. We do have two favorites that we tend to visit each time (and multiple times if we’re lucky).

Magpie Café & Coffeehouseis the spot we’ve been going to the longest. They have a latte there that I love called the White Zombie. It’s white espresso with white chocolate and then your choice of milk. It’s so delicious. Their hours are a bit more limited than the other shop on our list, so we always make sure to plan our visits accordingly. Magpie also has a good-sized menu for breakfast and lunch items, so we normally have our breakfast there at least one day.

Our other favorite stop isImpact Coffee. Jason actually orders beans from them somewhat regularly, which is a nice little reminder of vacation, once we’re back at home. Impact has lots of drinks to choose from, including some adult beverages. They also have delicious waffles with tasty filling combos, like cinnamon sugar butter, Nutella & banana, or apple butter, brown cheese, and maple syrup—that last one might sound like a weird combo but trust me…it’s amazing!

We normally leave Decorah to back home on a Sunday, and we hit up Impact Coffee for our caffeinated drinks (we both got breves last time) and waffles. We split the waffles, so we can try more flavors.

Both coffee shops have plenty of places to sit and have good atmosphere. If you’re in Decorah, hopefully you’re on vacation, but you could totally take your computer to either place or get some work done as well!

Java John’s Coffee Houseis another spot in town with good coffee and some food as well. We honestly don’t come here as much as we did when we first started visiting Decorah. It’s a cozy little shop, though, so you should still add it to your list to try!


I will never not say yes to pizza and there are three of my favorite places to have it in Decorah! Depending on how long we stay, we’ve been having to decide between at least two of them and I don’t like that. I say that we have to decide between two because the third is open only seasonally…so we always make time to go when they’re open!

Mabe’s Pizzais an institution—it’s been around since 1953 (the year my parents were born)! They have classic thin crust pizza with a delicious red sauce and tons of different toppings. Our favorite to get there is called Around the Garden—sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, ground beef, and cheese. Oh, my goodness…I’m wanting some right now!

The other pizza place we’ve been enjoying in more recent years is calledHigh Wide and Handsome. Their pizza has a thicker crust and tons of specialty topping combos. One of my favorite things to get there is their garlic swirls. It’s their delicious pizza dough filled with cheese and some sort of garlic magic, rolled up, and sliced + baked cinnamon roll style…for lack of a better description. The swirls are served with red sauce and are almost a meal in themselves. They have specialty versions of them, but I prefer the original!

Luna Valley Farmhas been hosting their pizza nights for around 4 years. Set in the most idyllic location outside of Decorah, this has quickly become one of my favorite things to do while visiting the area. What’s not to love… beautiful views, delicious wood fire pizza, and the sweetest purveyors! I love watching the owners build a thriving business, which also includes selling their own pasture-raised meat and glamping on their property. We’ve yet to enjoy that, but hopefully will be on the ball enough next year to get a spot booked. All the reservations were filled this year within hours of the books being opened! It would be amazing to sleep in a tent, enjoying the Decorah, Iowa weather!

Pizza isn’t the only star in Decorah. There are some good burgers to be had too! I think of hamburgers as being as much a universal food as pizza (unless you’re vegetarian of course…). If ever you’re trying to decide what to eat, burgers can usually be something that a group can land in agreement on.

T-Bock’s Sports Bar and Grillis a restaurant/bar with plenty of delicious options on the menu to keep everyone happy…including salad! It’s the burgers for me, though. They’re all made from fresh ground beef and the menu includes several gourmet burgers options…even one that has peanut butter on it! The portions are big enough too, that you just might have some left over for a late-night snack or another meal. Also, they have sweet potato fries, which always get a vote from me—why don’t more places have them??

There are other places in town to get hamburgers in Decorah, but either we haven’t been there yet or I’m going to mention them in another list…so stay tuned!


I don’t know about you, but we like to have at least one fancier option to choose from when we’re on vacation. A lot of times, we go out of town to celebrate something special, so it’s nice to have a restaurant that can have a bit of a nicer feel to it, with more upscale menu options. That’s not to say that we don’t love a good dive restaurant (hello, fried bar food), though, but I must give a shout out to two of our favorite “fancier” restaurants in Decorah.

Rubaiyathas been on our favorites list from the very beginning of our treks to Decorah. Not only is it home to the most delicious food, but they also have an extensive wine list, and the staff is extremely knowledgeable in both areas! We used to primarily enjoy Rubaiyat’s Sunday breakfast, but they are currently not serving that. So instead, we’ve taken the opportunity to enjoy their delicious dinner menu.

On our last visit, I had the Caesar salad with blackened chicken. The salad was huge, so I took most of it home and it actually held up! I’m sure the owners wouldn’t recommend doing that…so we’ll just keep that between us. Jason enjoyed a huge pork chop with potatoes and veggies on the side. They also have delicious pasta, seafood, and dessert options!

The restaurant is owned by a local couple, Andy is the chef and Kim is the hostess, wine aficionado, and doer of all things. She is always so kind to us, remembering us against the crowd, even though we may only make it in once or twice a year. We were sad to realize it had been over two years, considering they were closed during Covid.

La Rana Bistrohad been a sleeper gem for us until last year sometime. I don’t know why, but it just didn’t ever end up on our radar, but I am so happy that it did! It’s a lovely little spot, open for lunch and dinner service (reservations recommended), that reminds me of something you would find in Europe. The food is simple, but so delicious, with a smaller menu, focusing on seasonal items. During the summer, they had a tasty steak salad that I couldn’t get enough of. During our last meal there, Jason enjoyed a Reuben sandwich with tomato soup, and I had a burger with brie and honey mustard. They also have small plates (on their dinner menu), as well as yummy desserts.

There are a couple of spots that I wasn’t sure where to put, so I just decided to give them their own category. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that my love for queso runs deep, so of course, I need to include a Mexican restaurant into the mix. There is also a good greasy spoon in town, which is always a good choice!

Don Joseis (I believe) the only Mexican restaurant in town. We don’t end up here every trip, simply because we can eat Mexican food anytime that we want to at home. We don’t want to waste an eating out opportunity on something that is common for us. Queso is never a bad choice, though, so even if you just order chips, salsa, and queso to go, you’ll be happy!There are a few breweries in town, and beautiful parks abound, so as long as the weather is nice, you could picnic it up!

Family Table Decorahis just a good old fashioned greasy spoon. They have all the things you want and a lot of things you probably shouldn’t eat…as in, so delicious, it can’t be good for you! This is a great spot to go, as well, if you have a group that can’t decide or land on one type of food. With such a large menu, there is something for everyone. Also, it’s a good spot for breakfast—oh the pancakes…


Who doesn’t love a little something sweet after dinner…or really anytime for that matter? Decorah has a few dessert gems to offer and you will want to visit!

The Whippy Dipis another Decorah institution. It’s a classic hut style ice cream shop, open seasonally, and there is almost always a line when it’s open. They have soft serve ice cream cones, sundaes, malts, milk shakes…you name it! My go to has historically been a peanut butter and chocolate malt or vanilla soft serve in a cup with krunch kote. Going to The Whippy Dip is the quintessential summertime experience to me—people gathering to have some yummy soft serve ice cream, catch up with each other, and just enjoy the weather!

The Sugar Bowlis a newer-to-us spot too. We’ve always been loyal to The Whippy Dip, but for some reason decided to break out of the usual a couple of years ago, and we’re both so happy we did! Considering my new low carb eating plan, it’s been so nice to have a sugar free option or two for ice cream! The Sugar Bowl has revolving sugar free flavors that are actually really good! Jason usually goes for an ice cream sandwich made from their amazing monster cookies—they’re to die for.

Kozi Pie Shopis brand new in Decorah and absolutely did not disappoint. They serve real food too, but we were only in it for the pie. Pie and ice cream are Jason’s two love languages, so he was so excited about this spot opening. We tried peach, coconut cream, and French silk this time around. Again, I’m trying to be good with my eating…so Jason ate the lion’s share…and he wasn’t sad about one bite of it.

Beyond the Bar Bakeryis another sleeper spot, if you’re not in the know. She’s been open since 2012 and makes from-scratch baked goods, including one-bite cakes (cake balls). Everything we’ve had from there has been delicious, but my favorite is the chocolate caramel shortbread bars. I’m drooling just thinking about them.


Honestly, I can’t write much about this because we don’t drink! Well, I will have one now and again, but Jason doesn’t at all. I know there are breweries that serve food (and I’ll share the one here we’ve been to), but they’re just not usually on our list of places to go. We’re not in the norm, though, so I’ll list a few here for you, in case that interests you!

Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.has had extreme growth since we first starting coming up to Decorah. They used to be in what may have been an old Pizza Hut then but have since grown exponentially and have a huge brewing operation outside of town. They do serve food and have a large dining area, as well as a big patio. We’ve had sandwiches and pizza there and both were good!

Other breweries and places to grab a drink include:

Pulpit Rock Brewing Company

Convergence CiderWorks

Dixie’s Biergarten

PIVO Brewery(Just outside of Decorah)


I seriously had to go make myself an early lunch as I’ve been writing all of this because I was getting hungry thinking about all the delicious food we’ve enjoyed in Decorah, Iowa! One of our traditions the night we get home from Decorah, or anywhere we’ve traveled and bring home leftovers from, is making a smorgasbord of the different leftovers! It gives me a break from cooking after traveling and it’s also a fun reminder of all the great meals we had while away!

My heart is seriously set on finding a small piece of real estate to buy in Decorah, Iowa. We love everything the area has to offer and even have a few friends there already! Until we make that happen, though, we try to visit a few times a year, enjoying new experiences and making new memories each time we go!

I hope you find this list of places to eat in Decorah, Iowa helpful, although, I highly suggest you just get out and do some exploring for yourself—that’s how we found a lot of the places I’ve shared! We love the area and need to plan some longer trips up north, so we can experience more of the restaurants that Decorah has to offer!

If you’re looking for places to stay in Decorah, Iowa, I have a couple of posts with details for our favorite cabins as well. You can find more info aboutBear Creek BungalowandKnotty Pine Guest House on the blog. We also enjoyThe Retreat at Rendered Unique—a Decorah, Iowa Airbnb right on Water Street—the main drag in town, where most of the action is!


I would love to hear if you try any of these restaurants when you’re in Decorah, Iowa…or maybe you have a favorite there that I didn’t list! If you follow me on Instagram, share to your stories and be sure to tag me so I can see! You can find me on Instagram at @hilaryprall.

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