Exploring the expansive grounds of Clover Woods Camp and Retreat Center between Luther and Madrid in Boone County will cause you to work up a real appetite. Luckily for me, just up the road in tiny Luther, IA (population 122), I found a brand new restaurant along Highway 17 that left me very impressed...and full.
Whatcha Smokin' BBQ and Brew has been open less than a year, but it's clearly already drawing a large fan base - and not just locals. This food, Texas-style BBQ, is good enough to road-trip for and there were plenty of "out of area" license plates in the lot.
I showed up just after noon on Saturday and the place was reasonably full. There is plenty of parking and some fun elements as part of the grounds, like an old truck with a motorcycle in the back.
Next door, is another new business I have never seen before - BFE Vintage, which appears to specialize in motorcycle restoration. Both buildings look basically new and so if they are tied together, I want to applaud the owner for making a significant investment in the community of Luther. If they are not tied together, I certainly applaud both owners for working to breathe some extra life into this great small-town. I know a lot of small towns across Iowa would kill to have two nice businesses like this open next to each other.
On this particular Saturday, the weather was still relatively warm and so Whatcha Smokin' was able to open up some of the garage doors, which adds to the industrial feel of the place. There were a mixture of seating options, several televisions, and a very casual atmosphere. There are also two halves to the building - one of which is a bar and seating and the other which had an ordering/pick-up counter, the kitchen, presumably the smoker, and some additional seating.
The picture above and below are from the north side of the building.
Both Iowa and Iowa State were playing at the same time and so naturally, both were on competing televisions. As a Cyclone fan (and because I was a party of 1), I found a spot at the bar with a good view of Iowa State's victory over Texas Tech.
The picture above and two below are the south half of the building, which is the side I sat on.
I ordered the one-meat Pit Master Plate, though numerous items on the menu looked extraordinary. I got the smoked pork loin and that came with two sides - and so I chose the baked beans and the potato salad. In addition to that, it came with toast, cornbread and honey, and pickles. To get a better look at the menu, visit their website.
I have to admit that I do love BBQ and I have a pretty high standards, but this certainly exceeded them. I can judge a BBQ joint by their meat, but it's often the other elements like potato salad and baked beans, that really make or break it. They certainly passed my test! I would strongly encourage a visit and maybe consider them if you have some catering needs.
I am looking forward to a return trip - there's plenty more on that menu that I cannot wait to try. If the question is, "Whatcha Smokin'? The answer is very delicious.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Boone County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this website.