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61 Chop House Grille crowned Iowa's Best Burger

The “crown” for Iowa’s Best Burger in 2013 goes to the 61 Chop House Grille in Mediapolis, where the owners serve the Angus Black Crown Burger, a hit whether you are looking for “juicy and flavorful” beef or have a fun upscale burger in mind.

The Angus Black Crown Burger was specifically created to enter this year’s Iowa Best Burger contest, say chef Terry Reis and his wife Lori Denney. Iowa’s Best Burger starts with a fresh 8-ounce Certified Angus Beef patty that is char-broiled to medium.

The other ingredients combine to show off the distinctive beef flavor, Reis says. “I really thought about the simplicity of this burger as I developed the recipe.”

While you might think the additions to the burger contradict that statement, when you sink your teeth into the sandwich, you know we are talking beef first and foremost. Other burger ingredients include a made-from-scratch beer cheese sauce, a slice of pepper Colby Jack cheese, and thick-sliced applewood-smoked bacon, all served on a buttery egg bun. No lettuce, tomato or pickles are needed for this hamburger.

This was not Reis’ first foray into developing a burger he hoped would catch the judges’ eyes and taste buds. In 2011, 61 Chop House Grille also reached the Top Ten designation with “The Barn Burger,” which is layered with Swiss and American cheeses, a secret “barn sauce,” and topped with a haystack of home-made onion straws. The menu prominently features this year’s winner, along with the 2011 entry and four other burger variations. With one side, all the burgers range in price from $6.95 to $8.95.

Denney, who manages the marketing for the restaurant says “Being involved in Iowa’s Best Burger contest helps us generate activity here.” The 2011 contest increased their hamburger sales by 40 percent and helped identify them as a destination restaurant in a town with a population of 1,600. They regularly draw customers from the Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids, Mt. Pleasant and Washington.

That’s just the kind of result that the Iowa Beef Industry Council wanted when it started the contest, says Michelle Baumhover, IBIC director of consumer marketing.

“One thing we wanted to do is drive more beef-eating consumers to restaurants from February to April, which is typically a slow time of year for restaurants,” she said. “This helps our partners—the restaurants—in selling more beef, which is what the beef checkoff is all about.”

This is the fourth year of the Iowa Best Burger contest. During this year’s contest, more than 6,320 nominations were received. Those nominations named 349 Iowa restaurants in 170 Iowa communities.

The other Top Ten nominees were (alphabetically): Ankeny Diner, Ankeny; B&B Grocery, Meat & Deli, Des Moines; Elm’s Club, Creston; First Street Grille, Keosauqua; JB’s Bar & Grill, Marcus; Rosco’s, Norwalk; Sam’s Sodas and Sandwiches, Carroll; The Ritz, Arnold’s Park; and Zombie Burger, Des Moines.

The Top Ten restaurants were those with the most nominations. They were then each evaluated by a secret panel of judges who rated the hamburgers based on taste, appearance, and proper serving temperature.

Last year, the winner was the Coon Bowl III in Coon Rapids. Other previous winners include Sac County Cattle Company of Sac City, 2010; and Rusty Duck in Dexter, 2011.

To learn more about the contest, you can visit or “friend” the Iowa Beef Council’s Facebook page.

The 61 Chop House Grille is located at 213 Wapello St. (also Highway 61) in Mediapolis, Iowa. The phone number for 61 Chop House Grille is 319-394-9222, and the website is

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association represents 9,600 beef-producing families and associated companies dedicated to the future of Iowa’s beef industry. ICA’s mission is “Grow Iowa’s beef business through advocacy, leadership and education.”

The Iowa Beef Industry Council is funded by the $1-per-head beef checkoff. Checkoff dollars are invested in beef promotion, consumer information, research, industry information and foreign market development, all with the purpose of strengthening beef demand.

Date: 5/27/2013


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