Iroquois Café

For the first Best Bites column of 2021, Tinker Parker visits Iroquois Café.

Before Christmas, Dave and I took a ride to Watseka to deliver some Christmas presents. Afterward, we did a bit of exploring in town and then off to the wilderness. OK, not exactly the wilderness but a lovely drive through the country to a little hamlet, Iroquois.

Iroquois is small, quaint and what I find to be a pleasant little village. We stopped at a favorite local restaurant, Iroquois Café, for breakfast.

The building is small-town, old-fashioned and the ambiance charming. As I walked in, I noticed the bar and a few tables and booths. The walls were decorated with signs, antiques and memorabilia. I could imagine farmers and neighbors gathering there in the morning, drinking coffee, eating breakfast and discussing grain prices, weather and family.

I felt immediately at home since it reminded me of Whitaker Elevator when I was growing up. There the farmers gathered inside to talk or play cards. My son, Tim Markland, a youngster at the time, would hang out there and come home with some great stories.

We found a booth and were greeted by our server, who knew everyone there and didn’t need a pad or a fancy computer to take our order; she was on top of it. We splurged since it was the holiday season and ordered a Bloody Mary.

I have to say, it was one of the best I’ve had in years; simple, but oh, so good. I’m somewhat of a purist when it comes to Bloody Marys. I can explain why in a short story — please indulge me.

Some people require to have their drinks delivered with an entire meal on a stick, but I go for the taste. Years ago, some of our family met in Chicago to attend the theatre. We dined at Mike Ditka’s. Most of us ordered the loaded Bloody Mary, which came with everything they could find in the kitchen.

My sister-in-law, Angie Hasselbring, Watseka, ordered hers with the condiments on the side. Now, think science. A tall glass of Bloody Mary, with a loaded skewer, appears full; but, remove the skewer, and the liquid drops. Angie not only had a full glass but a small plate filled with all the goodies. Lesson learned. Now back to Iroquois’ food.

Choosing a breakfast entrée was a tough decision; pancakes, omelets or eggs? We both ordered the Irish omelet. The portion was generous, with enough left for another meal. Dave also ordered the hash browns along with toast. The omelet was excellent; eggs were fluffy and not overcooked and loaded with bacon, sausage, cheddar cheese and caramelized onions.

The sandwich selection varied from the standards like the BLT, pork tenderloin or grilled chicken. There were some different sandwiches that I would like to try, such as the grilled pork chop, chicken Malibu or their famous Bunkum burgers. This is their signature burger made with ground chuck served on a salt and cracked pepper seeded bun.

They have some exceptional appetizers like spicy macaroni and cheese bites, whiskey onion rings and the famous Bunkum fried breaded pickle spears. Can’t make up your mind? Get the combo platter with a taste of everything.

Their specials’ board on the wall changes daily with spaghetti, roast pork and dressing and much more. There is also a variety of homemade soups daily. If you enjoy comfort food like mom used to make — they have it! Homemade meatloaf, pan-fried chicken and more. Check out their daily specials on their Facebook page — it’s impressive.

Many readers have recommended Iroquois Café to me. I agree with them — the food is terrific, the staff is friendly, the service quick and the prices very reasonable. When I return, it’s the Bunkum burger, whiskey onion rings and purchase one of the T-shirts!

Iroquois Café is located at 101 S. Main St., Iroquois. Call 815-429-9098. Find them on Facebook and check out their daily specials.