The Kinseth Hospitality Companies, located in North Liberty, IA, owns and operates multiple hotels including the Holiday Inn in historic downtown Dubuque. The Holiday Inn is full of energy and has been going through many renovations and improvements. Some of these include hotel room upgrades, new carpet and draperies, exterior improvements, and a complete restaurant remodel. The former “Beefstro” restaurant is now the River Rock Kitchen and Tap. The ribbon cutting and grand opening with the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce was March 15.

Norm Granback, the hotel’s General Manager for the past nine years, took time to share with me the journey that the restaurant has undertaken to become the River Rock Kitchen and Tap. Norm is very excited about the new restaurant and the menu. He personally taste-tested all of the menu selections that comprise today’s menu. The restaurant designer was Peter Zakas, who is based out of Atlanta, and the menu consulting came out of Chicago. The inspirations for the restaurant and the menu came from the mighty Mississippi, local entertainment, state colleges, and the tri-state area in general.

The ambiance of the restaurant strikes you the moment you walk through the entrance, which is comprised of large river rocks. This feature continues through the entire restaurant with earth tone colors and comfortable seating. The bar is the center of the restaurant. The beers on tap are all craft beers from the tri-state area. A brew menu features the name of the beers, what brewery they are from, where the brewery is located, as well as a short description of the beer and the alcohol content. Domestic beers are available by the bottle. If craft cocktails and spirits are more your taste, the menu features signature cocktails and a selection of Moscow Mules as well.

The River Rock Kitchen and Tap also has an extensive wine list. Eight of the wines on the menu are part of the restaurants “Winemotion” system. Norm is very proud of this state of the art wine preservation system and River Rock is one of only three restaurants in town that feature this system. What makes this wine preservation system so unique is that it keeps the wine fresh and at the perfect temperature through the use of argon gas and a closed system. This in turn keeps oxygen from reaching the wine and tainting the flavor. The eight wines, which are part of this system, are available in one ounce to nine ounce glasses. Wine flights and beer flights are available for tasting.

The Main Street patio features a fire pit, comfortable seating, and tables. It is the perfect place to sit and relax with a cocktail and an appetizer after a long day of work. Happy hour is every Monday through Friday from 3:00-6:00 p.m. and features half price cocktails, half price beer, and half price house wine, as well as a featured appetizer for only $6.

One of the most popular appetizers on the menu is the guacamole. The guacamole is prepared tableside and is only comprised of the freshest ripe avocados, garlic, onion, lime, jalapeno, cilantro, and tomato. The avocados are scooped, mashed, and mixed with the other ingredients to your specifications, whether chunky or creamy, and then severed with freshly made tortilla chips and a side of fresh salsa.

The starter menu has many options to begin your dining experience. The Iowa Cheese Curds, which are hand battered in a craft beer batter and served with housemade spicy ketchup, are a favorite. If you prefer something on the lighter side, the Shrimp Ceviche is sure to please.

The rest of the menu definitely has something for everyone. Selections are not only delicious, but are created for sports enthusiasts and casino lovers alike. The Cy’s Hot Wings are for the Iowa State supporter, Bucky’s Pork Belly for the Wisconsin Badger fan, and the Hold’Em 1/2 pound Burger is dedicated to the casino-lover. One of the college-inspired menu items that I strongly recommend is the Herky’s Mac and Cheese. This is an adult version of the comfort food at its best. The penne noodles are cooked to perfection, covered in a creamy sauce, and served in a crock with a side of buttery garlic bread. The cheesy and gooey noodles may be topped with grilled chicken, grilled Scottish salmon, grilled shrimp, or braised short ribs.

If ribs are your favorite, try the short ribs on top of your Herky’s Mac and Cheese, or order the Chipotle Barbecue Baby Back Pork Ribs. These fall-off-the-bone ribs are available in a half or full slab and are not only thick, but meaty and slathered with the perfect sweet, yet spicy, smoky sauce. The expertly prepared ribs are served with your choice of side and Iowa Corn Bread. The Iowa Corn Bread melts in your mouth and is served with a maple butter that will have you licking your butter knife.

Other popular menu items include the Amish chicken, steaks, Heritage Breed Double Cut Pork Chop, and the burgers. All of the burgers at River Rock Kitchen and Tap are hand pattied and made with an 80/20 blend of USDA Choice Angus beef, seasoned with salt and pepper. One burger that caught my attention was the Play All Day Sunrise Burger. This is not your standard burger by any means! The patty is topped with crisp hash browns, Chorizo, cheddar cheese, and of course a sunny side up fried egg. The toasted bun absorbs the creamy yolk of the egg and it glazes over the hash browns and complements the spice of the Chorizo. The fresh cut, perfectly salted French fries work well to sop up the yolk that drips off the sides.

For the first time in eight years, the restaurant is open for lunch from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The lunch menu features many of the same items as the dinner menu, including salads, sandwiches, and wraps. All of the salads may be made into a wrap, served with your choice of fresh cut fries, chips, side salad, or a cup of soup. The comfortable atmosphere and excellent service make the River Rock Kitchen and Tap and excellent choice to entertain business professionals and gather with friends or co-workers. If you are in a hurry, call ahead to place a lunch order for carry out.

Don’t forget about the most important meal of the day! The River Rock Kitchen and Tap has eggs, skillet recipes, omelets, and griddle favorites like French toast and pancakes, as well as wholesome selections like fruit and oatmeal available for breakfast.

The menu is continuously evolving and more exciting selections are being added. Stop down today for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And when you go, be sure you tell them that Heather sent you. Happy dining friends and neighbors!

Fast Facts
River Rock Kitchen and Tap
450 Main St.
Dubuque, IA 52001
(563) 556-2000

Family-friendly restaurant open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Reservations not required, however suggested for large groups.

Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday 7:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.

Monday-Friday 11:00 a.m.-Midnight
Saturday 11:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.

Heather Hutchinson-Schuster
Heather Hutchinson-Schuster’s love for writing and food comes from many days spent cooking and dining with friends and neighbors. She invites you to share in some of her favorite restaurant experiences each and every month in her column. If you have a personal favorite restaurant that you would like to share with her, please email suggestions to


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here