Located just off the highly trafficked Highway 75 in Merrill in Plymouth County is Emma Rae's Cafe, a darling little spot that offers a memorable and delicious small town dining experience.
The cafe is located in an old brick building on the main street. There's still even a small metal door where the coal to heat the place would have, at one point, been shoveled in.
Merrill has a population of about 750 people as of the last census and there are a few businesses in town, including a few on the Main Street.
However, given that Merrill it is located between Le Mars and Sioux City, both larger cities, the community is probably a bit more bit more of a bedroom community these days. Yet, no matter the size, every town needs a good meet up spot where folks can gather for a good meal, a hot cup of coffee, and to get their fill of all of the latest news and gossip.
Emma Rae's is definitely that spot for Merrill.
Earlier in 2019, I was in Merrill to catch up with a good friend and we decided to have lunch at Emma Rae's. Their Facebook page says they offer, "Food so great you'll lick your plate". Another website for the town advertises the food as, "Food's so great, you'll scrape your plate!"
Either way, that's some good self confidence.
On this particular Saturday, Emma Rae's was offering a biscuits and gravy special and our waitress raved about it. That was enough to sell us on it.
It was as good as advertised. One of the best plates of biscuits and gravy I can remember.
Additionally, we filled up on bottomless coffee. I always love a small town restaurant that has an eclectic collection of coffee mugs. My mug was from the 1990 school reunion and my friend's was from a local bank.
The walls were filled with a unique and seemingly random collection of artwork, photos, license plates, antiques, memorabilia, and more.
There is a bar with a few stools, but otherwise the space is filled with an assorted mix of tables and chairs.
I know they offer more of a regular menu, but I don't think I ever even looked at it because the biscuits and gravy sounded just too good to pass up. I'm sure they also offer other regular specials. I guess all the more reason to stop back!
Whether you prefer to lick the plate or scrape the plate, Emma Rae's would be a good option if you are passing through this very beautiful area of our state.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Plymouth 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.