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Elm’s Club named top 10 finalist in Iowa’s Best Burger contest

Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 10:18 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 10:26 a.m. CDT

Who has Iowa’s best burger?

This year, the answer to that question will require a stop at Elm’s Club, 108 N. Elm St., in Creston. The hometown restaurant owned by Mike, Donna and Gus King was named a top 10 finalist Monday morning in Iowa’s Best Burger contest hosted by Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

Donna King, co-owner of the Elm’s Club, said the restaurant has received a lot of local support since the contest began in February.

“It all started when someone nominated us and the (contest organizers) sent us a packet notifying us,” King said. “That really got us excited that someone thought we had the best burger in Iowa. So the staff has really been trying to bring it to people’s attention just to see what would happen. We’ve been keeping our fingers crossed and hoping we could make it into the top 10.”

Contest organizers said they received more than 6,320 nominations that named 349 Iowa restaurants.

The top 10 finalists are 61 Chop House Grille (Mediapolis), Ankeny Diner (Ankeny), B&B Grocery Meat and Deli (Des Moines), Elm’s Club (Creston), First Street Grille (Keosauqua), JB’s Bar and Grill (Marcus), Rosco’s (Norwalk), Sam’s Sodas and Sandwiches (Carroll), The Ritz (Arnold’s Park) and Zombie Burger (Des Moines).

“The top 10 nominations are scattered throughout the state,” said Scott Niess, chairman of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “The nominations covered restaurants over 170 Iowa communities. That response shows that Iowans and Iowa restaurants know that burgers will always be a popular item. Restaurants love to make burgers and their customers love to eat them.”

Elm’s Club was purchased by Mike and Donna King in 1976. Mike’s brother Gus became a partner in the business in 1987. Their establishment is a hot spot for locals during lunchtime.

Their burgers are fresh, never frozen, and the patties are hand-prepared each morning. Donna King said they use a 53 percent whole grain bun and produce on the burgers is sliced fresh everyday. Elm’s Club was also honored by the Iowa Pork Association in 2003 for their tenderloin sandwich.

What now?

Nominations for the fourth-annual Iowa’s Best Burger contest were made through March 18.

The top 10 restaurants received the most votes during the contest. They will now be visited by a secret panel of judges who will evaluate the hamburgers based on taste, appearance and proper serving temperature.

Iowa’s best burger will be announced the first week of May.

To continue to learn more about the contest, you can visit or “friend” the Iowa Beef Council Facebook page. You’ll also find a map showing the locations of the top 10 restaurants.

Last year, 4,250 nominations for the Best Burger title were received. The winner was the Coon Bowl III in Coon Rapids. Other previous winners include Sac County Cattle Company of Sac City (2010) and Rusty Duck in Dexter (2011).

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