The magnificent eastern Iowa landscape has been immortalized in many paintings over the years. One of these paintings is Stone City Iowa by Grant Wood. This was Wood’s first major landscape painting and dates back to 1930. Grant Wood’s Stone City Iowa painting depicts growing crops and his interest in the little village that the painting was named for.
Grant Wood loved the Stone City, Iowa area so much that he ran a summer artist’s colony from 1932-1933. Today people love traveling along the Grant Wood Scenic Byway to visit Stone City and the rich history of the limestone structures built from the Dearborn Quarry in the late 1800s. One of those buildings was the General Store built in 1893. When looking at Grant Wood’s painting, the General Store is in the lower left hand area just to the right of the train bridge that crosses the Wapsipinicon River. Through the years, the General Store has served as a post office, rail depot with quarry offices on the second floor, and was later known as the Dearborn General Store which operated from 1910-1972. The store went through a few owners and is now owned by Tad Larson and operated as the General Store and Pub.
Tad Larson, a native of Stone City, remembers as a young boy visiting the General Store when it was actually a store. Tad always loved the limestone building and its history and decided to purchase the property in 1996. The General Store operated as a true pub in 1997 and served a very limited menu of pizzas, nachos, burritos, and some sandwiches. Larson eventually updated the kitchen, remodeled the restaurant, and expanded their menu in 2008. The building was expanded in 2011 to accommodate larger bathrooms and more space in the restaurant.
Each year Tad sends his chefs to the Vegas Food Show to get new menu ideas. The fusion of unique flavors is something that Head Chef Kyle prides himself on. Creative pizzas are one of his strengths. A favorite specialty is a thin crust pizza with garlic mashed potatoes and chunks of prime rib covered with two kinds of cheese. The feature pizza the night I dined at the General Store and Pub was a thin crust pizza with a beer cheese sauce, prime rib, roasted red peppers, bacon, mozzarella cheese, and Muenster cheese. The crust was flakey and the flavors fused together to create an outstanding combination to be enjoyed with one of their rotating micro-brews, drafts, or bottled beers.
Besides a great selection of beers, General Store and Pub also offers wine, spirits, and specialty drinks. The Wapsi-Rita is a favorite. The bartenders start with a frosted mug, sugar or salt the rim to your liking, fill the glass with the ocean blue concoction, and garnish the drink with a lime wedge and a couple of brightly colored gummy worms for effect.
The bar and kitchen staff worked together to create a unique Breakfast Shot which has quickly become the General Store Pub’s favorite. The shot glass is filled with equal parts Jamison Whiskey and Butter Scotch Schnapps. Mixed together, this tastes somewhat like maple syrup. The shot is served with an orange juice chaser topped with a crispy strip of thick cut bacon.
Another beverage the General Store has perfected is their version of the Moscow Mule. The Stone City Mule is made with Grabbie’s Ginger Beer (your choice of original ginger, raspberry, or orange), lime juice, and vodka served in a 20 ounce copper cup. The end result is a fun, cold treat perfect to enjoy on their back deck overlooking the Wapsipinicon River.
While enjoying the view, grab a bag of day old bread to feed the carp swimming in the river below. Tad shared with Julien’s Journal that since the fish are fed on a regular basis, the DNR has declared the fish domesticated and they cannot be caught.
Starters like The Tacklebox, which includes a large assortment of waffle fries, Fungus Amungus (butter battered, deep fried button mushrooms), Earl Rings (onion rings Stone City style), and River Rocks (white cheddar cheese curds) and Bait Bucket (consisting of waffle fires, Fungus Amungus, Earl Rings, and River Rocks) will not only make adults smile, but kids, too. There’s plenty to share around the table. Another favorite is The Quarry Nuggets. These are tasty, golden nuggets of cornbread filled with sweet corn, deep fried to perfection and served with either a traditional honey or a spicy honey that has the perfect bite to it. The Mack and Jack Bites is a relatively new item. They are beer battered mac n’ cheese bites with pepperjack cheese and bacon, fried golden brown and served with a creamy ranch dipping sauce.
The General Store and Pub also has award winning menu items. The Tadburger (named after owner Tad Larson) was voted “Best Burger in Jones County” and is a half pound all beef patty, grilled to perfection, and topped with a fried egg, bacon, American cheese, peanut butter, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickles on top of a brioche bun, served with your choice of waffle fries, perfectly seasoned kettle chips, coleslaw, or cottage cheese. The combination of egg, peanut butter, bacon, and burger are absolutely amazing! Another popular burger is the BerryGoudburger, which is topped with smoked gouda, bacon, caramelized onions, and a Raz-Q barbeque sauce. All of the burgers on the menu are available in either half-pound beef or turkey patties.
Other sandwiches available include traditional fair with Stone City flare. The Jackhammer is known to be the best hand breaded Iowa pork tenderloin around! They claim that the secret is in the hand breading which consists of frosted flakes and Ritz crackers covering the perfectly pounded pork tenderloin. The golden fried pork-t is served with a soft brioche bun, is as big as a plate, and has a great seasoning mixed in the flake crust.
Green salads with tasty toppings and numerous dressing choices are available for lighter eaters and the General Store kitchen staff are able to accommodate gluten free requests by offering unseasoned and non-marinated meats on the salads. Along with creative and traditional pizzas, gluten free crust pizzas are an option, as well.
After an evening of drinks and dining, who doesn’t need dessert! At the end of each meal, the wait staff brings out skewers and complimentary marshmallows to roast. There isn’t a campfire – instead the servers bring out a wheel of wood that has a mini fire pit in the center with flames gently glowing. A shot glass of either Bailey’s Irish Cream or Rumchata accompanies the marshmallows. After soaking the marshmallow in the shot glass and skewering them, gently roll them over the flames in the mini fire pit and enjoy a perfectly toasted marshmallow treat!
Each Wednesday a special menu is offered at the General Store and Pub. The Wednesday menu does feature some of their regular favorites but also some other offerings. From the second week in January through Lent, every Friday night features a fish fry. Every Saturday night, the General Store and Pub serves prime rib and the first Friday of each month is BBQ rib night. The BBQ ribs are an all-day process and Tad said he would put his ribs up against any award winning ribs.
Sunday at the General Store and Pub features an open mic night beginning at 4:00 p.m., and a couple times a month, live music groups perform on the stage in the main floor dining area.
In addition to the main floor dining area, the lower level features an impressive bar with a refurbished and updated icebox cooler and more dining tables. Outdoor seating is available on the front patio/lawn area or the two wooden decks off the back of the building.
The General Store and Pub is rich in history and full of stories. Take a drive and see what inspired Grant Wood and create your own story at this fantastic, family friendly restaurant.
The General Store and Pub
12612 Stone City Rd.
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Wednesday 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Thursday 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. (kitchen closes at 9:00 p.m.)
Friday & Saturday 11:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m. (kitchen closes at 10:00 p.m.)
Sunday 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. (kitchen closes at 9:00 p.m.)
Call ahead for parties of six of more