A southeast Iowa restaurant is the home of this year’s winner of Iowa’s Best Burger. The Cider House of Fairfield was selected for the honor by the Iowa Cattleman’s Association and Iowa Beef Industry Council.
The director of marketing with the Beef Industry Council, Brooke Young, says they had 4,000 burgers nominated from 286 eateries. They narrowed the choices to 10 in March.
“We had some top secret judges go out and judge all ten restaurants — and based on the judge’s scores and comments — we were able to determine the winner,” Young says.
The burgers were judged on the hamburger’s taste, appearance, and proper serving temperature of 160 degrees. The four owners of The Cider House — Clint Stephenson, Hopi James, Cole Fishback and Annalisa Thompson — first thought about their pub-styled restaurant as a way to showcase the hard apple cider they were producing.
Stephenson, who used to be a vegetarian came up with the idea in 2013 of opening the burger restaurant to showcase the cider. They gutted and renovated a former barbershop and turned it into The Cider House.
“They were very, very excited and very honored to be named,” Young says. “They just opened their business, so they’ve been open for about a year now. Just hearing their story about their business and the story behind why they even opened the business is just very inspiring.”
Stephenson started eating beef when he returned to Fairfield and reconnected with his friend and farmer, Tony Adrian. The two had known each other since fourth grade. Adrian convinced his friend to give the beef from his farm a try, and The Cider House features the beef exclusively from Adrian Family Farms. “They have about six burgers on their menu — anything from a Daus Kraut burger to a plain butter burger. And the unique thing about their burgers is that they are so juicy and flavorful, you don’t really need a whole lot of condiments on the burger,” Young says.
Last year’s winner of the Best Burger was the Brick City Grill in Ames and the 61 Chop House Grille in Mediapolis won the award in 2012. The Cider House in Fairfield is open Tuesday through Saturdays. The burgers are each for 12 dollars and all come with a choice of home-made potato salad or triple cooked fries, and refrigerator pickles.
(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City/Photos courtesy of the Iowa Beef Industry Council)