on Thursday, March 16, 2017
There are a few places in Waterloo that people told us we HAD to feature on an episode of Travel Waterloo, and D&K Hickory House was tops on that list. No better way to close out our second season than a trip to a Waterloo mainstay.
Hickory House opened in 1952 and it has remained in the same family for those 65 years. The recipes for soups, salad dressings and the barbecue sauce are family secrets they have used since the restaurant opened. And at some point in those 65 years, perfection was achieved.
Hickory House serves dinner, but that doesn’t mean that the staff hasn’t been there since early in the day prepping the food and making sure everything is exactly what their regulars have come to expect.
The atmosphere is perfectly throw-back. It is comfortable and welcoming. You’re going to see some of Waterloo's history on display, with dozens upon dozens of John Deere tractors all around you. There are also some antique toy trucks that showcase Rath Packing and Waterloo Industries. It is a fun trip down memory lane. Customers have brought many of the items on display as gifts, in fact.
One of the most surprising, but best, things we learned was that the Hickory House staff has incredible longevity. Wait staff has been part of the “family” for years…decades. There are staff members who have been with Hickory House longer than I’ve been alive, and that’s a rarity in restaurants. But when everyone, from staff to guests, is treated like family, it shouldn’t be surprising.
I could gush about the food. But instead watch the episode. You’ll get a better sense of how impressed I was, and how impressed we all were. Rather, I want to draw your attention to a couple really fun and unique attributes. The drink menu features a lot of old school cocktails and ice cream drinks. You can order a Rusty Nail, a Pink Squirrel, or both. The relish tray (pickles, carrots, celery and olives) is served before the meal and is a great treat. It is something I’ve heard many people comment about, right after they tell you Hickory House features the “best ribs anywhere.” And finally, your dinner is complete with the signature finger bowls. You’re served a bowl of warm water to use to rinse your hands, ensuring that you’re not taking the sauce with you unintentionally.
A couple of quick tips for your Hickory House experience: Come hungry. Like grandma’s house, you’re not going to push away from the table without being full. Also, you can (and should) take home a bottle of the homemade barbecue sauce. And it is cash only. If you forget, there is an ATM on site, so you won’t have to wash your own dishes.
D&K Hickory House315 Park RdHours: Tues-Thurs 4:30-9pm; Fri-Sat 4:30-10pm
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- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau