Iowa Public Television


Rusty Duck Restaurant, Dexter, Iowa

There area lots of places to get a good burger.  But for a great burger, Dan Kaercher found an eatery that's earned a "Best of" title.

There are lots of eateries to get a good burger but for a great burger one that has earned the title best of we traveled to Dexter in Dallas County.  White poles, dark chocolates and big burgers.  They are all part of a community that has been called the original one horse town. 

 Kaercher: You know over the years I heard my father-in-law, the late Bob Wilcox, mention so many times stopping in the 1930s on his way from Council Bluffs and Des Moines at Drew's Chocolates in Dexter.  For close to 90s years since 1927 these scrumptious sweets have been concocted in the same location using original recipes and equipment.  Each treat is lovingly and individually fork dipped in chocolate.  The result is a reputation for delicious and gorgeous candy.  Drew's chocolates is just one of the many well worth your time stops along what is known as the White Pole Road, an important part of Iowa's History, running right through Dexter and marked by symbolic white poles.  In the early 1900s Iowa's roads were getting a bad rap as some of the worst in the Midwest.  Mud and snow often made them impassible.  The solution a 380 mile river to river route built out of existing dirt roads.  The White Pole Road was a predecessor to the U.S. Highway System and allowed travelers a shorter straighter pathway across Iowa. 

Even though state and federally funded highways exist now, those old white poles can still be spotted roadside.  They continue to lead to interesting destinations such as this historic market just outside Dexter.  In July of 1933, Blanche and Buck Barrow were involved in a shoot out at Dexfield Park.  An abandoned amusement area that once existed here.  Buck was killed while Blanche was captured.  This picture show Blanche being pulled away from her dying husband.  Their infamous companions Bonnie and Clyde however escaped.  I have just scraped the surface of sites to see along Iowa's White Pole Road.  Hit the road yourself and let this route lead you to adventures in small town Iowa.  My main stop in Dexter is at the Rusty Duck to sample the winner of the Iowa's Best Burger Award.  Over 200 restaurants vied for the honor but Brad Waldron's Rusty Duck established in 2004 took the prize for one impressive looking burger. 

 Waldron:  The particular burger that one it this year was the bacon cheeseburger.  We grind our own meat.  We use top sirloin ribeye trimmings for my steaks and we grind it ourselves, patty it.  There is really nothing that we do any different.  It is just that you know it is the same burger I have been serving for years.  After we make the cheeseburger we put about 10/12 pieces of bacon on it and it is stacked pretty good.  You know it is definitely a dinner. If you can't eat it you can definitely take it home and eat it the next day.

 Kaercher: 10 to 12 pieces of bacon?  I mean wouldn't two be enough?

 Waldron: No, two wouldn't be enough.

 Kaercher: This small town eatery has a nice warm atmosphere and packs in customers that are regulars and some who just stop in to try the award winning burger.  In fact when the Rusty Duck first won the award, burger fans packed the place.  We were selling probably, oh gee about six or seven hundred pounds of ground beef a week and it was just - it was crazy.  I mean, I have never sold so many burgers in my life. I waited in eager anticipation for the arrival of my award winning bacon cheese burger.  Now wait a minute - how am I suppose to bite into something that big?

 Waitress:  Smash it.

 Kaercher: Smash it?  Ok.  Thanks for the tip.  Ok, so here is what I was told to do.  Oh my goodness, the juices are just tumbling out of there.  Oh dear.  For as much praise as Brad has received for his burger the Rusty Duck menu is actually quite extensive including an award winning tenderloin and lots of other dishes.  The customers here order a variety of menu choices. 

 Customer:  There is nothing on the menu that we have tried that we really haven't liked. 

 Kaercher: And I think it is pretty safe to say that no one walks out the door hungry.

 Waldron:  We have pretty good sized portions on everything.  Like our hamburgers are 14 ounce, pork tenderloin is 10/12 ounces.  We go through quite a few to-go boxes. 

 Kaercher: I know my meal left little room for anything else which seems to be a common customer feeling. 

 Customer:  We have never tried dessert.

 Customer:  There's definitely never room for dessert. 

 Waldron:  We don't serve a dessert because we tried that in the past because when they are finished, you know they're pretty full. 

 Kaercher: To-go boxes stream out the door at a healthy pace.  Carry-outs are common here at the Rusty Duck.  If you are hungry and looking for an outstanding big burger or another delicious selection stop in Dexter.  The original one horse town with more than one unique attraction.


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Tags: Dallas County Dexter food hamburgers Iowa IowasSimplePleasures relaxation restaurants Rusty Duck Restaurant tourism travel


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