A travel journal
to Sioux City by Elli Metz
Quote: Once called "Little Chicago" due to its mob activity, this "dirty little river town" has come into its own. Places you won't want to miss in Sioux City, Iowa.
If you will be there other times of the year, do take time to see the waterfront park, KD Station, and the new 4th Street Historical District. Wander around and you'll find interesting shops tucked away in places that look incongruent to the surrounding areas. And you have to eat at Steven's Tasty In and Out.
Things are less expensive than in a larger city, but since Sioux City would like to think of itself as a metropolis, it's nowhere near as cheap as travelling to a smaller town. Hotels will be cheaper in South Sioux City (in Nebraska) than in Sioux City proper, as will most other amenities.
The inside of Minerva's looks like a combination of IKEA and a Tuscan winery. Everything is wood from the floors to the ceilings, and wine-colored accent pieces with greenery makes you feel transported. It could be below-zero outside, and it wouldn't matter in here -- the open wood-burning stove and dimmed lights set so great of a mood that you won't care what's outside.
The menu features a lot of processed gourmet items. If you've been to other Tuscan restaurants (Mario's in Riverside, CA comes to mind), the food here will seem a bit bland and white-bread. If this is your first time, though, you'll be blown away.
Things you must order:
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 3, 2001
Marketplace Mall, 29th & Hamilton
Sioux City, Iowa
Restaurant | "Daily Grind"
The Daily Grind has a decently full menu of coffee-based drinks (many of them are very sweet, be careful when adding sugar), and a list of sandwiches based on local streets. (The Upper 4th, for instance, is turkey with cranberry sauce, a supposed nod to the culture of the area of town, while the Nebraska Street is Roast Beef since the actual Nebraska Street is where the stockyards are. Kitschy, to say the least, though marketing may be difficult.)
For the area, the place is razor's edge -- they just got chai, for instance, for those looking for the next big thing in beverage consumption. Don't mention to the real M. Coy behind the counter that it's old news elsewhere. She gives withering looks that could put a chill on Hell.
Prices are reasonable for the area -- again, Sioux City is trying to assert itself as a megalopolis on the plains, and prices things accordingly. Persons from the coastal areas will find them roughly comparable to city prices, $6 for a sandwich, $4 for large drinks.
While staying in Sioux City, this is a reasonable facsimile to a coffeehouse, though it's not someplace to travel cross-country to see.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 3, 2001
Daily Grind -Barnum
511 4th Street
Sioux City, Iowa 51101
Restaurant | "Karousel"
This place is a Sioux City tradition. After a long night of drinking and line dancing, retiring to the Karousel (which is, of course, 24 hours) to have breakfast is as normal as brushing your teeth in the mornings. It's just something you do. (Though the opening of the 24-hour Perkins downtown has cut into its business somewhat.)
Prices are reasonable, but high for the area. You can easily spend $8 or $9 on breakfast, which is nearly unheard of in this part of the country. Since the majority of the business comes from the heavily-inebriated and the night-owl set though, there is little complaint.
While here, do try the club sandwich. It is fried in butter, but has less grease than, say, the burgers, and tastes like nothing you've ever had before.
Must be the corn-fed beef.
1334 W Sarpy Road
Sioux City, Iowa 68743
Actually, that's not completely true: KD Station is trying to be a family fun center, with displays about history to make it educational. There's miniature golf, a great costume shop, an area-4-star mexican restaurant, a blues club in the basement, and even a bowling alley. (Each is owned separately, so you'll have to pay separately, which is a pain if you've got several kids or a lot of time to kill.)
The problem I've always had with KD Station is simple: it's creepy. I mean give-you-goosebumps creepy. The displays on the wall of the time after the explosion include other artifacts like disembodied men's shoes that were knocked off dead men by the explosion. Parts of the building are uninhabited, and the elevator makes strange sounds. Great for a visit on Halloween, but for a first date, this place would be like taking her to a well-kept morgue.
Once they've developed it a bit more, gotten better lighting, and sealed off the old blast zones, KD station is going to be a great asset to Sioux City. Right now, though, it falls just a bit creepily short.
KD Station: Packing Plant Makes Good
2001 Leech Avenue
Sioux City, Iowa
Attraction | "Uncle John"
Up until the recent move of Uncle John to the new (and very hip) historic 4th street district, the store remained the same. With the addition of CDs instead of 8-tracks, of course. A mural on the ceiling was added to occasionally, showing the greatest rock artists of all time around the perimeter. The other side of the shop sold t-shirts and incense instead of drug parphenalia (and even a little bit of that anyway, with the disclaimer that it was for legal tobacco use only. Of course.)
Now that the move has taken place, all the character that once had this little shop wrapped up in charm has started to dissipate a little. Instead of creaky wooden floors and crumbling plaster, there's shining high-gloss floors and a coffee bar. They still sell all the same merchandise, but without the closed-in cramped feeling and the $1-for-4-strip photo booth in the corner, it feels more like a watered-down, trying-to-be-hip Borders Books, selling only music.
I still love this place, but I love it for what it -was-, not for what it is. As a standalone, a visitor would probably still find it to be one of the best places for style in Sioux City (they're so retro, they're hip), but for those of us who knew the Uncle John of before...this is a greyed-out trip.
Uncle John's Johns LLC
1101 4th Street
Sioux City, Iowa 51101
The music is always loud, the drinks aren't watered down, and there's pool tables and video games for the ones too shy to dance. Unlike some of the big-city gay clubs, there's not a huge overtone of sexuality -- it's all about having fun and drinking until the bar owner can buy a boat.
The best part is that there are always activities going on here. My friend Mark (the person I hung out here with) dragged me there at least twice a week (it wasn't much of a struggle) for things like bikini jello wrestling and midwest drag show finals. For some of these events, there may be a small cover -- never more than $5 in the whole time I was here.
The atmosphere is relaxed, and the people are great. I'd recommend this as a place to go at night for anyone -- gay or straight.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 6, 2001
Kings and Queens
Across from the old Orpheum on Pearl
Sioux City, Iowa