Goldie’s in the Grand Outdoors

Goldie’s breaded pork tenderloins are legendary. Grab one to go and enjoy it in the nearby Community Park.

Writer: Wini Moranville

As part of my Iowa staycation this year, I’ve decided to “make it new” by enjoying picnics in places I’ve never picnicked before—an adventure made even more pleasurable with great fare from restaurants found near the destination.

Last week I headed to Goldie’s Ice Cream Shoppe in Prairie City. While the dining room is currently shuttered, the pickup and drive-through windows are wide open.

We could have taken our lunch to the nearby Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge, which offers picnic tables adjacent to the currently closed visitors center. However, these tables currently sit in direct sunlight. For a shady option, we headed to Prairie City’s spacious and delightful Community Park, which has plenty of picnic tables under trees and open-air shelters. You’ll also find a basketball court, volleyball net and disc golf course.

For lunch, we split one of Goldie’s famous hand-breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches (they snagged the Iowa Pork Producers Association’s award for best-breaded pork tenderloin a few years back). With almost cushy-soft meat, Goldie’s version truly puts the “tender” in tenderloin; add to that an ultra-crisp and crunchy fine-crumbed breading, and you’ve got a tenderloin worth driving for. Also recommended: the secret-recipe homemade potato salad, a sweet-tinged yellow-mustard version flecked with bits of onion, egg, homemade sweet-pepper relish and celery seed.

After lunch, we walked a trail at the Wildlife Refuge. One of the things I love when I travel is to feel a remarkable strangeness in my surroundings. At some points, when the vista offered nothing but sloping tallgrass prairie dotted with songbirds, wildflowers and butterflies, I felt that sense of wonder. And it was only 30 miles from Des Moines.

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