The way to Balltown

By , August 11, 2017 8:00 am

Balltown is a tiny town (population 73!) in Iowa, located twenty-two miles southeast of Guttenberg. Why would we possibly be interested in going there with Gina and family?!

2014 Balltown visit!

Well, because of two inside jokes. A few years ago, when we were visiting Guttenberg for Independence Day, my mom suggested we go to the fireworks show in Balltown. I asked “how do you get there?” meaning, “what road do you take/what direction is it from here?”

But my mom interpreted that as “what is the road like to get there?” and started doing big arm/hand signals to indicate hills, then curvy roads, then curvy roads on hills. We found it hilarious, and have to tell the story, including all the wild arm movements, to everyone who visits Guttenberg. (I know, inside jokes are never funny when you explain them.) So, despite never having been to Balltown, Gina, Steve, and Luca have been making Balltown jokes for years, and were interested in going.

And the second reason? Ha – Steven, Gina, Steve, and I planned out all of the meals for this trip and told my mom she got a “wild card” that she could pull at any time (except on my birthday) and we’d do whatever meal she wanted. She pulled the wild card after breakfast on Wednesday the 2nd and said we’re going to the Balltown diner for lunch. Sounded good to us!

And bonus reason number three – it’s called Balltown – snicker, snicker, hee hee.

The diner in Balltown is the main attraction. And here’s your history lesson – Balltown has the “oldest continuously operating restaurant and bar in the state of Iowa,” having been open since 1852. It’s called Breitbach’s Country Dining, and it’s been in the family since 1852! Cool!

They’ve had some bad luck in recent years, though. On December 24, 2007, an explosion in the basement caused the entire original building to burn down (no one was hurt)!

Construction started in March of 2008 and the new restaurant opened in June of that year, and was even more successful than before… until late October 2008 when it burned down by ANOTHER fire (again, no one was hurt). What the heck?! They rebuilt again and the restaurant opened in August of 2009. And hasn’t burned down since, phew. My dad and I thought it was funny that the state fire marshal was there the day we visited, though.

But how is it the “oldest continuously operating restaurant and bar in the state of Iowa,” if they had to close twice to rebuild? They never fully closed. During construction, they used a building across the street for a bar and a few tables! And there you have it, ha ha.

I didn’t take any photos of the restaurant but you can find them on their website. I was surprised how modern it was – I was expecting it to be more like a diner, but the space was really nice (and new, duh, since it was built in 2009). Everyone said they really liked the food (I only had a baked potato since I ate such a large breakfast). We ordered a few pieces of pie (they are known for them) and I can confirm the raspberry was tasty!!!

Balltown also has some gorgeous scenic overlooks over the valley down to the Mississippi River and the Wisconsin valley on the other side.

Photographer photographer

It’s great for photo ops!

We made a few stops on the way back – the first was at the Blessed Mother Shrine grotto built in to the bluff of North Buena Vista,

and the second was at PromiseLand winery, just outside of Guttenberg. On Sundays in the summer the winery picks people up in downtown Guttenberg and gives them a tractor ride (I think) to the winery for live music and drinking. We missed that on Sunday, so I was happy we still got to check the place out.

A few of the wines they make were from Iowa grapes. We brought home a red and a white – sweet, of course. Now I can think of this trip when we drink them!

7 Responses to “The way to Balltown”

  1. Mica says:

    This reminds me of how Harrison and I always wanted to take the T in Boston to “Ruggles” because of the name. I’m glad that Balltown didn’t disappoint though; it seems really charming! I just looked at Breitbach’s website and menu. It definitely has that home-town feel and appeal!

    • kilax says:

      Ha! What is in Ruggles?! I hope you get to go sometimes 🙂

      It did! And the waitstaff was so nice and friendly – I think the owner waited on us!

  2. Shelley B says:

    Well that wasn’t the inside joke I was expecting to hear when you said “Balltown” – hehe, I’m a 13-year-old boy deep inside.

  3. Chaitali says:

    Ha, I was waiting for the Balltown joke too 🙂 That is a small town, but it looks very pretty.

    • kilax says:

      I really let you guys down!!! Ha ha ha.

      It is so pretty over there!!! I’d love to have a house overlooking that valley.

  4. Amy says:

    Love it! Sounds like such a fun day out!
    Great pictures, too 🙂

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