Iowa Byways: Taste The Delaware Crossing Scenic Byway
Although the thirty-six mile Delaware Crossing Scenic Byway is one of Iowa’s smaller byways, it is full of opportunities to experience locally crafted foods, unique historic sites and diverse recreational opportunities. Traveling this byway, you will weave in and out of rolling hills full of beautiful vistas. Follow the Iowa Byway signs through Delaware County along paved and gravel roads through the communities of Hopkinton, Delhi, Delaware, and Manchester, as well as the unincorporated towns of Lake Delhi and Buck Creek. With coffee shops, bed and breakfasts, a brewery, tea room and an ice cream parlor, these small towns and villages exude hometown charm that tastes great!
The Delaware Crossing Scenic Byway Board has worked hard to develop publications and tools that help you understand where to go, what to do, and of course, what to eat during your trip! These include the Delaware Crossing Scenic Byway Guidebook, which provides several itineraries that make it easy to have fun as well as a detailed attractions map that provides all the information you need to make sure you don’t get lost unless you want to. Some great local food options were the inspiration for the newest publication, to be released summer 2015, the Delaware Crossing Scenic Byway Culinary Passport and “Taste The Delaware Crossing Scenic Byway” poster series, which provide information about several fun food options, including several favorites in Manchester, the largest community along this scenic byway.
Widner Drug in Manchester, a drug store, gift shop and eatery, which has been likened to a famous drug store in South Dakota, boasts thousands of gifts and household items, as well as a 1950s ice cream parlor. The store and ice cream parlor, owned by Robert and Monica Sack, is a great diversion on a hot day. Local favorites include the chicken salad croissant and the Reuben sandwich, always made to order, but travelers are particularly fond of the fresh, local, rhubarb shake, which is made from the Sack’s own rhubarb. This delightful treat is seasonal, but visitors that love rhubarb return year after year to indulge. I was hooked the first time I tried it. I never imagined putting rhubarb in a shake but, now that I’ve tried it, I can’t help but stop in and satisfy my craving for it every time I’m in Manchester! My love of Widner’s rhubarb shakes was one of the reasons the scenic byway board captured the ice cream parlor in one of our promotional posters that encourages visitors to “Taste the Delaware Crossing Scenic Byway”.
The Franklin Street Brewing Company, also in Manchester, provided the inspiration for another byway poster. Directly across the street from the whitewater course in Manchester, this locally owned and operated taproom and brewery is known for their small batch craft brews. Founded by brothers Kyle and Chad Sands in 2012 in a renovated historic Masonic lodge building, this hot spot boasts several varieties including Devil’s Backbone, a dark, full-bodied stout with a hint of chocolate and Big Frank, a lighter Pilsner brewed with ale yeast to give it a twist on a centuries old style. Although they don’t serve food, the Sands brothers invite patrons to order food delivered from nearby restaurants or to bring food with them to enjoy with a pint of one of their award winning beers. If you are looking for a more in depth experience you can ask for a tour of the brewery, which is sure to bring out the true brewmaster in you. If you would rather relax with friends, stop in on trivia night to tease your taste buds and test your knowledge.
Fresh soup, salads, sandwiches, tea and desserts inspired the selection of The Bread Basket in Manchester for the culinary passport and poster program. A popular stop for the local ladies, this delicate tea room is also a great place for anyone that wants to enjoy a picnic at the nearby Manchester Fish Hatchery before trout fishing in Spring Branch stream. You can call ahead and then grab your order at the pick-up window before heading out to the hatchery. Owner Jackie Mormann recently added the pick-up window to make it convenient for her customers, but also because she knows her food is a great option to traditional “take out”. She noted that instead of the standard carry-out of burgers and fries, “our customers love picking up tasty homemade options. We make our soup and bake our bread fresh daily.” If you’re picking up a lunch to picnic, you’ll be pleased to find that The Bread Basket is one of only two places in Northeast Iowa that offers Iowa wine from the family owned John Ernest Vineyard. Many John Ernest Vineyard wines are 100% made from grapes from the family’s own vineyard and all of their wines are fermented on site in Tama.
Jackie is proud to offer free smells with her great tastes. She notes that, “Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t comment on how good it smells in the tea room. It might be the smell of fresh bread just out of the oven or cinnamon rolls and cookies baking that you smell once you enter. Combine that with the smell of fresh coffee brewing and you know you are at The Bread Basket.” The most well-known baked item contributing to happy noses is the fresh cranberry orange bread, which you can purchase by the slice or the loaf. Scenic Byway Coordinator Mallory Marlatt noted that she stopped in to try the cranberry orange bread by the slice but it was so good she left with a loaf. She also favors the “localness” of this family restaurant noting that whenever she can Jackie incorporates local food into their menu. She and her husband Randy and son Blake raise Black Angus beef on their family farm just south of Manchester and have a large garden that provides many of the ingredients for the restaurants daily specials, soups, salads and sandwiches. Jackie incorporates their own local beef because she “wanted to bring that great taste of local beef to The Tea Room.”
The soon to be released Delaware Crossing Scenic Byway culinary passport and posters encourage you to “Taste the Delaware Crossing Scenic Byway” at twelve locally owned businesses. With their unique local food options, these three Manchester businesses are definitely a great place to start. Marlatt notes, “Our Scenic Byway Board, made up of local food enthusiasts themselves, has done all the legwork to make sure visitors know the best places to find great tasting and fun local food options while they explore the byway. We believe one of the best things about traveling our byway is that you experience things you’re unlikely to find anywhere else, and that includes rhubarb shakes!”
WHEN YOU GO:
Find maps and more information about all of Iowa’s Byways at: IowaByways.org
Widner Drug: Widnerdrug.com
Franklin Street Brewing Company: FranklinStreetBrewing.com
The Bread Basket: TheBreadBaskeMmanchester.com
Northeast Iowa RC&D: NortheastIowaRCD.org