Sample some of the food unique to the Q-C. To help you out, here's a mouth-watering list of food that sez Quad-Cities in a really delectable way.
Whitey's ice cream
When newbies visit the Q-C, they wind up at Whitey's for a true taste of the Quad-Cities.
It all began with one store opened in 1933 by Chester "Whitey" Lindgren. The Moline-based company has expanded to 11, nine in the Quad-Cities. Since 1988, Whitey's availability has grown with its pre-packaged ice cream sold in numerous grocery stores around Iowa and Illinois.
Much of that growth has occurred under the co-ownership of brothers Jon and Jeff Tunberg, whose father, Bob, purchased Whitey's from Lindgren in 1953.
Whitey's has won acclaim in an international travel magazine and was featured on a nationally syndicated TV show.
BBQ and ribs from Jim's Rib Haven
James “Rib King” Robert Overton Sr. established Jim’s Rib Haven in Rock Island back 1968. He was the first African-American man to own and operate a restaurant in the Quad-Cities.
Jim was a Quad-City icon and was featured on the Food Network.
The eatery's legendary secret sauce is to die for.
How good is it? One rib lover traveled 3,000 miles just to get a rack of back ribs.
Packed in dry ice, ribs and barbecue sauce have been shipped as far away as California, Arizona and Hawaii. One person even took some ribs to France.
Said one out-of-towner: "Jim's Rib Haven is a restaurant for those who want to eat the best BBQ ever eaten in the Q-C. The meat is tender, you can help yourself to as much sauce as you want. The place is simple with no frills. My tip is to use the napkins as a bib."
Jim's is located at 531 24th St.
Ross': The Magic Mountain
Nothing says Quad-Cities more than a Magic Mountain from Ross' Restaurant, a longtime fixture in downtown Bettendorf now located at 18th Street and 53rd Avenue in Bettendorf.
That culinary climb features a slice of grilled Texas toast covered in loose ground beef and piled with a mountain of French fries or hash browns and smothered with cheddar cheese sauce.
The Magic Mountain has long been a staple of the late-night crowd and is definitely "uniquely" Quad-Cities.
Machine Shed cinnamon roll
Huge, one-pound cinnamon rolls topped with buttercream frosting are a signature dish at the Machine Shed located on Northwest Boulevard at I-80. Forget the calories. These have to be tasted to believe. And the experience is one of culinary delight.
As one of its customers said on the “Food Paradise” TV segment honoring the Shed for “best breakfast,” the rolls “are too big to be true.”
Roll-making is a four-hour process, sometimes longer, that typically begins between 1 and 2 a.m
Chief operating executive and chef Jeff Grunder of the Davenport location told the Quad-City Times, “They are a meal. A table of four will order one.”
Chocolate from Lagomarcino's
It’s always chocolate — in some delicious shape or another — when the Lagomarcino name is mentioned. It could be chocolate-covered cherries, or chocolate Easter eggs that are the size of footballs, or gooey rich chocolate sundaes.
Two Lagomarcino sweet shops in the Quad-Cities compete for calories ... neither one is sweeter than the other. The Moline store is the senior place, where it began in 1908. The newer one is in the Village of East Davenport.
The legacy began when Angelo and Luigia Lagomarcino left the hills outside Genoa, Italy, to open an ice cream parlor and candy kitchen at 1422 5th Ave., Moline. Step into the place today and it looks much the same as in 1908.
Chocolate runs in the blood of family members. Three of the Lagomarcino offspring — Tom Jr., Beth and Lisa — returned to the business after college and careers in other fields.
Harris Q-C style pizza
You can't live in the Quad-Cities without tasting Quad-City-style pizza. And it all began with Harris Pizza.
"Here's what's different about Harris Pizza in 50 years — nothing," said its president, Kathaleen Harris Mosley, of the business begun by her parents, Leonard and Mary Harris.
The malt crust, a thin layer of slightly spicy sauce and pork sausage under a heavy layer of cheese and scissor-cut in strips was a style invented by her mother.
"She had probably never seen a pizza before," Mosley said.
There was hardly any competition around in 1960 when her parents opened their first Harris Pizza at 3903 14th Ave., Rock Island.
Now the "Quad-Cities style" has been copied elsewhere in the Q-C, the country, and even in Chicago, which already has its trademark deep-dish style.
Boetje's Mustard born in Rock Island
"I hope the people of the Quad-Cities realize there's a national treasure in the mustard world in their backyard," says Barry Levenson, curator of the National Mustard Museum.
Little did Fred Boetje know when he began selling his Stone Ground Dutch Mustard door-to-door in 1889 how popular the condiment would become.
Boetje, a German immigrant, thought American foods were too bland. So he began mixing up the spicy concoction in his garage in Rock Island not far from where Boetje's is manufactured today.
And a thumbs up to that.
The mustard became so popular that Boetje started a business to manufacture and distribute the product. Today, it is sold in 30 states.
Boetje's is a mixture of vinegar, water, salt and ground mustard seed, which gives the condiment its bite.
The mustard won a gold medal in 2008 at the World Wide Mustard Competition and has been in the top three ever since, according to Andy Burnham, director of sales and marketing at Boetje's Foods.
The condiment is a favorite on steaks, sandwiches, hamburgers and in marinating.
Filling Station tenderloins
Only one word can describe these tenderloins at the Filling Station. Huge. No, the Filling Station is not a gas station, but their tenderloins are as big as car tires.
While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, their 1/2 lb. fried pork tenderloin breaded in special seasoned cracker meal is served on an 8-inch toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and mayonnaise. The bun doesn't even begin to cover the meat. And it tastes as good at it looks.
Opened in 1971, the restaurant and bar located at 305 East 35th St. in Davenport features quality pub grub.
Happy Joe's Pizza
Another pizza joint? Yes, it's the "happy" one that invented the "taco pizza."
"Happy" Joe Whitty took a chance crumbling up taco chips and spreading them over pizza at his Happy Joe's location at 1414 W. Locust St., Davenport in 1974, two years after he started his pizza chain. He threw in tomatoes, lettuce and refried beans and spiced up the meat just enough.
It's a recipe as they say, that's often imitated, but never copied.
"Now everybody is trying to sell taco pizza," Whitty said. "In 1974, people thought I was crazy when I came up with it."
Now with the taco pizza is by far the company's biggest seller.
Ganzo's for authentic Mexican food
Ganzo's Mexican Restaurant has been serving up authentic Mexican food for the Quad-Cities for three generations.
The Davenport family-owned business is located at 3923 N. Marquette St., Davenport.
Popular is the taco bar and the huge menu — there is something for everyone. The eatery also has a paleo menu which features healthier options. Prices are reasonable and the portions are large enough for even the biggest eater.
Ganzo's huge Cinco de Mayo celebration shuts down the street in front for the business for this annual party.