We were back in Central Iowa late this past summer and the hotel we were staying at had a pretty mediocre selection of breakfast items. I knew of a place over in Grinnell that I'd seen on previous visits there, a place called the Frontier Cafe. I suggested we stop in there on our way back to the Quad Cities and my wife had no problem with that at all.
The Frontier Cafe is located on Main Street in downtown Grinnell. (see map) When we were paying our tab at the front counter, a man who appeared to be the owner told me that they opened in 2011. I asked him what the building had housed before and he said that before it was the Frontier Cafe it was a Mexican restaurant for a very short time. Before that, it was a fiber optics company. And before that, it was a longtime hardware store.
When he told me that, it immediately triggered a memory of a night some 35 years ago when I saw guy on a motorcycle - who shouldn't have been on a motorcycle mainly because he was drunk and it was only the second time he'd ridden the bike - crash through the front window of the hardware store wiping out the Weber grill display. Of course, it didn't help that my buddy was egging the guy on to "get on it". The guy let out a big "Yahoooo!", jammed on the throttle, then proceeded to lose control and plow into the plate glass window. He wasn't seriously injured and he fled the scene. But he was arrested at the hospital later on in the early morning hours when he had to go in and get stitched up from hitting the glass. It was one of those surreal things where you stop for a moment and say, "Did that just really happen?" It continues to be one of my all-time favorite stories to tell of a night of fun and debauchery in my youth.
Well, then again, I guess you had to be there...
The interior of the Frontier Cafe is pretty basic. It features a number of booths throughout the place with a couple three tables for larger groups. Antique-style lights hang from what appears to be the original tin ceiling. We were seated in a booth in the middle part of the restaurant near the kitchen and given menus to look over.
The menu at the Frontier Cafe isn't anything fancy or extensive. It's your basic breakfasts - omelets, skillets, pancakes, waffles, etc. It's primarily a good ol' American Heartland breakfast.
Because of that we didn't get too complicated in our orders. Cindy ordered the gyro skillet with egg whites. It was a pretty large breakfast with a pile of egg whites on a bed of gyro meat mixed in with hash browns and grilled onions. She said it was "good", good enough for what she wanted for breakfast that day. There was no way that she was going to be able to finish everything she had on her plate.
I went with a sausage, mushroom, American cheese omelet with a side of corned beef hash. The omelet was good sized - the length of it was as wide as the plate it was served on - with an abundant amount of sausage and sliced mushrooms inside with the cheese. The corned beef hash was your basic canned variety, somewhat salty and a nice sized portion for what I got. My breakfast, too, was pretty good - not earthshakingly good, but, once again, good enough. And there was a lot of it.
The food at the Frontier Cafe was a good value. It's wasn't great, but it was far from bad. The service was good and quick. The restaurant was comfortable, but not fancy at all. This was a good ol' Midwestern breakfast place where you get a lot of food for the money you pay. If you're looking for a good and quick sit-down breakfast in the Grinnell area with a lot of food, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Frontier Cafe.