Argo Corners: Longtime restaurant offers best of rural America

Argo Corners: Longtime restaurant offers best of rural America


• Argo Corners, 23941 Territorial Road, LeClaire. 563-289-5214,

Argo, Iowa, is conveniently located in the middle of nowhere. It's close to the Quad-Cities, on Territorial Road, seven miles west of LeClaire, but most of us have never heard of it. It is rumored to have once been a stagecoach stop between Davenport and Clinton.

At the four-way stop sign in this unincorporated town sits the appropriately named Argo Corners. This gem of a place reminds us of a bygone era, when the term "fast food" referred to your first cup of coffee.

Argo Corners got its start as Argo General Store in 1946, when Shorty and Irene Bowker opened a store that offered groceries, sandwiches, feed, hardware and gas — and an outdoor movie projector that was used to show movies on the side of the adjacent barn on weekends. It was the one-stop shop in Argo, and it still is today.

Their nephew, Kenny, inherited the store in 1967, after the passing of Shorty and Irene. It sat empty, except for the apartment in the back, for 19 years. In 1986, Kenny opened it back up as a sandwich shop and general store.

When Kenny became ill in 2012, the fate of Argo General Store was uncertain. Longtime customers Jack and Shirley Wilson, who lived a mile away, could not bear to see it close, so they bought the store. They doubled the size of the kitchen, remodeled the building to add new bathrooms and more space, and opened as a restaurant only, with the name of Argo Corners.

The drive to Argo Corners will remind you of the undeniable beauty of rural America and its rolling cornfields. You will feel welcome the moment you walk in the door. Locals, farmers and the friendly waitstaff will be there to greet you.

Our convivial waitress was Dana. One of the treasures that came with the restaurant was a longtime employee, breakfast maestro Bree, who comes in at 4:30 a.m. and gets the place ready for the morning crowd.

The breakfast menu features all-American fare. Most of the breakfast items are under $7, and a three-egg omelet rings in at $4.75. The extensive menu offers french toast, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, country-fried steak, and the Argo Haystack — layered toast, hash browns, bacon or sausage, and two eggs smothered with gravy.

The most popular item is the Special, which features two eggs, hash browns or American fries, bacon or sausage, and toast. Our sunny-side-up eggs, served with crisp hash browns and bacon and whole-wheat toast, made us proud to live in the USA.

You should definitely order the thick-cut bacon. It is sourced from Preston Meats in Preston, Iowa. It was cooked just the way we like it — semi crispy. Who needs a bacon fest when you can have some of the best with a side of eggs?

The items on the lunch and dinner menus are all served in baskets with fries, and everything costs under $10. There are seven different ways to have a hamburger patty, breaded or grilled tenderloins, chicken sandwiches, BLTs, fish filets, breaded shrimp, mini-corndogs, chicken strips and shrimp baskets.

Since we rarely make them at home, we like to enjoy patty melts when we eat out. This one began with a hamburger patty, which was topped wth both American and Swiss cheeses and grilled onions, then sandwiched between slices of rye bread and grilled until crispy on the outside.

Jack's favorite sandwich is the grilled tenderloin. A huge tenderloin is a staple of Iowa fare. Since August is not the month for a diet, we opted for the breaded and fried tenderloin. The basket-size sandwich can be ordered plain or with everything, and the order includes a side of fries. It was served cut in two, and it could easily be shared for only $8.50.

To complement the basket menu, Argo Corners serves bottled or canned beer and single-serving wine.

If you are asking yourself, "Where in the world is Argo Corners?," it is time to find out. Check the Facebook page for daily specials.

This quintessential restaurant, representing the best of rural America, is a short drive away. You can almost hear the sound of the stagecoach passing by.

He said: Always worried about my health, but bacon is both low-carb and gluten-free! The locally sourced, thick-cut, cooked-to-perfection bacon at Argo Corners is my kind of diet.

She said: A good old-fashioned patty melt sandwich is always a favorite. Argo Corners' melted American and Swiss cheeses, grilled onions and hamburger patty, fried on a grill, is my kind of diet.


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