Even though Calhoun and I have been down here in Southwestern Minnesota for almost three whole months we've only been out to eat twice! One was Perkins - it was breakfast desperation our first morning down here, the other was Smokin' Jakes, in Arnolds Park, Iowa.
The restaurant was a recommendation of Jemmerson, the incredible handy-man who's working on our house. Calhoun was sold on it when Jemmerson mentioned that Jake's offers a daily lunch special, controlled by "Bar Time" that is around $4.00.
So, a chilly night a few weeks ago Calhoun ventured out to Jake's. I'm sure it's a lot more crowded in the summer, but it was really chill and generally a great place to have dinner.
First of all, as we are discovering much to our pleasure, there are great beer specials in the Lakes area. We got a pitcher of beer, served with handled Bell jars, for around $7.00. Well, you just can't pass that up.
Second, the decor was awesome. It's fun to eat in Minneapolis and St. Paul restaurants that are refined, with well thought out decor in a very "designed" atmosphere. But there was no "design" at Jakes, and it wasn't filled with chintzy stuff collected by some corporate employee assigned to search for nostalgia at local antique shops - the place rang with authenticity. Huge bar signs, milk cans, random stuff. Loved it. And, the booths were awesome.
Finally, the food was pretty good. I can't remember the prices off the top of my head, but I had a half-rack of ribs (as Jemmerson and many Yelp reviewers recommended) and Calhoun had the roasted chicken special. It wasn't anything fancy, but it's exactly what you can can hope for from a BBQ joint in northern Iowa - a lot of well flavored food. All and all, a great place! I'm sure we'll be going back.