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Food & Wine says Whatcha Smokin’ in Luther has the best BBQ in Iowa


Everyone seems to have an opinion about barbecuing. Last week, Yelp published its list of the best barbecue restaurants across the country. Now, Food & Wine magazine has put together a list of the best barbecues in every state.

“Pitmasters are like photographers: the very best equipment can only get you so far. If there is passion, heart and something like love and dedication, it will come out,” the magazine said.

In Iowa, the magazine gave props to Whatcha Smokin’ BBQ + Brews, the barbecue restaurant in Luther.

“Whatcha Smokin BBQ seems a bit slick at first, but has quickly become one of the closest things Iowa has to a true, rural barbecue pit stop,” the magazine wrote, specifically mentioning the sandwich with pulled pork. “It very quickly comes down to the meat, starting with chunks of bark-studded pork simply piled onto a bun without sauce, which is kind of a big deal for this part of the world.”

Indeed, in 2020, Whatcha Smokin’ won the best pulled pork sandwich competition held by the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

What’s on the menu at Whatcha Smokin’ BBQ?

The restaurant has been serving Central Texas-style barbecue that has been smoked daily since Steven Perlowski and Tanya Doyle opened the 2,400-square-foot restaurant off Highway 17 in 2017. In 2021, Gwen Page purchased the barbecue restaurant.

Last year, the restaurant brought Iowa Twinkies to the Iowa State Fair, where the bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with pulled pork, corn and cheese were sold and served next to the Iowa Craft Beer Tent. The dish competed for Best New Food honors with The Bacon Box’s Grinder Ball and fried bacon brisket mac-n-cheese grilled cheese from What’s Your Cheez, which took top honors as voted on by fairgoers.

At Luther, diners can sit on the patio, feel the breeze as the garage doors roll up, view the motorcycle memorabilia and order from a grain bin.

Specialties here include double-smoked sausage, Iowa pork loin, brisket and pulled pork or chicken, as well as sides like camp beans, jalapeno cream corn, cornbread and cheesy potatoes. In the evening, Whatcha Smokin’ serves burnt ends, smoked turkey and prime rib as a specialty.

Where to find Whatcha Smokin’ BBQ & Brew

Place: 403 Iowa Avenue, Luther

Contact: 515-257-7490 or

Opening hours: Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 8pm

Susan Stapleton is the entertainment editor and restaurant reporter at The Des Moines Register. Follow her on Facebook, Xor Instagram, or message her at [email protected].