- 2601 Adventureland Drive, Altoona, IA, 50009
- Overall User Rating:
- (2 ratings)
- 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday, 9:30 a.m.-midnight Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.
Preliminary visit — not yet rated.
I admire Jethro’s, the Drake-area barbecue restaurant, for many reasons, but most of all because the place exudes a super-casual, good-time vibe without descending into that loosey-goosey, “what do you expect, it’s a barbecue joint” kind of sloppiness that some casual joints try to get by with.
It’s great to see, then, that Jethro’s new Altoona outpost, Jethro’s Barbecue and Jake’s Smokehouse Steaks, is an equally tight ship.
Atmosphere: The former Godfather’s restaurant has been completely retooled inside, and somehow, owner Bruce Gerleman and team have made a décor of flat-screen TVs and neon beer signs surprisingly inviting, even to sports-bar non-fans like myself. The shiny hardwood floors help, as do windows overlooking green space on one side and Prairie Meadows on the other.
Menu: Options include all kinds of smoked meats in both dinners and sandwiches, along with burgers, fried catfish and some signature sandwiches (such as the amazing-sounding smoked chicken Philly with caramelized onions, roasted peppers and aged cheddar cheese).
Unlike the Drake-area Jethro’s, the new venue also offers smoked steaks, as well as smoked prime rib on weekends.
Best bites: Your search for the best fried cheese in central Iowa is over. Flaky squares of golden-brown goodness arrive crispy-crunchy on the outside and liquidy-oozy — with aged white cheddar cheese — on the inside. You’ll never look at a frozen-and-fried cheese-stick the same again.
Beef lovers should consider the cold-smoked steaks, which are smoked for 45 to 90 minutes at 90 degrees over hickory wood, then refrigerated, hand cut and broiled. Our state-of-the-art rib-eye brought a smoke-grilled, flavor-packed, rifely marbled meat-fest. The pink and lusciously smoky ribs — with their grainy salt-sugar-spice rub and just enough flab to keep them moist — also won raves.
Beware the sneaky super-creamy sauce that envelops the jalapeño corn side dish — it’s screaming hot (in a good way). Sweet potato fries — hot and flaky-crisp — merit the $1 upcharge.
Next time I’ll skip: Does anyone in town do an exemplary mac-and-cheese? I certainly didn’t find it here — this one brought a saucy overload that was more about white sauce than cheese.
Service: I visited one week after opening, and while the place was packed, we experienced absolutely no glitches — just exceedingly good-natured, A-team service.
Bottom line: It’s always great to be in the hands of pros.