The 2016 Iowa’s Best Burger has been found in Adair at The Chuckwagon Restaurant. The Chuckwagon embraces the rich history of Adair through its restaurant and menu offerings.

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) and the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) announced the winner on Monday, May 2, during a live broadcast in Adair. The two organizations have teamed up to sponsor Iowa’s Best Burger contest seven times. This year, Iowans submitted more than 6,000 votes nominating 311 restaurants in February and March. Those votes were used to select the Top Ten restaurants. The Top Ten were then independently visited and judged based on the hamburger’s taste, appearance, and proper serving temperature (160 degrees).

“The judges found that the burgers at the Chuckwagon were juicy and full of flavor,” says Brooke German, Director of Marketing for IBIC. “They use a toasted bun on every burger, and their homemade house seasoning helped to enhance the flavor of the burgers.”

The burgers at the Chuckwagon are 6 ounce, hand-pattied Certified Angus Beef® and grilled on a flat-top grill using their own house seasoning. They are made-to-order with toasted bread or grilled buns. Popular burgers include the bacon cheeseburger and the Chuckwagon, a burger served on a grilled bun with sautéed onions, mushrooms, bacon, tomato and Thousand Island dressing. Served alongside homemade fries and a classic milkshake, the meal is hard to beat.

The restaurant’s owner, Kim Reha, is a lifelong resident of Adair. She purchased the restaurant at the age of 22. Although she considered a career as a surgical technician, she knew that her passion was in the restaurant business. At that time, she already had eight years of experience working in restaurants, and the hands on learning has served her well.

The restaurant, which Reha has owned for eight years, is a former Happy Chef. Over time, she has made improvements, including an interior renovation in 2012. In 2014, Reha changed the name and the menu, launching her now-famous “Endless Homemade French Fries” and hand-pattied burgers.

“The name ties into Adair’s annual celebration, Chuckwagon Days, and seemed to fit really well with the menu,” explained Reha.

Reha lets her food shine. The Jesse James Burger, a double 1/3 pound bacon cheeseburger with all the fixings, topped with BBQ sauce and mayo speaks for itself.

“We are excited to crown the Chuckwagon Restaurant as our 2016 Best Burger winner,” state Katie Olthoff, Director of Communications for ICA. “They do an outstanding job of showcasing the great beef product with each of their great-tasting burgers on behalf of Iowa’s beef farmers.”

The restaurant, which is clearly visible from Interstate-80 on exit 76, is open from 8 am to 10 pm during the summer (8 am to 9 pm year-round). Burgers start around $9, but the “Burger of the Week” is $2 off. Breakfast is served all day. There is a seating capacity of 112 and a patio area was added in 2015, and they are happy to take reservations, too.

Other restaurants that made the Top Ten with the Chuckwagon Restaurant are (alphabetically): Ankeny Diner, Ankeny; BW’s Burgers, West Des Moines; Down Right Delicious, Clarinda; Elm’s Club, Creston; First Street Grille, Keosauqua; PerXactly Bar & Grill, Maquoketa; Rides Bar & Grill, Fort Dodge; The Ritz, Arnolds Park; and Vaughn’s Café & Bakery, Clarinda.

Previous winners in the contest are: 2015 – The Cider House, Fairfield; 2014 – Brick City Grill, Ames; 2013 - 61 Chop House Grille, Mediapolis; 2012 - Coon Bowl III, Coon Rapids; 2011 - Rusty Duck, Dexter; and 2010 - Sac County Cattle Company, Sac City.

Source: Iowa Beef Industry Council