Oh, rural America small town, how I love thee.  Your folks are friendly and you can see the stars at night.

However, your small town cafes can be SO hit or miss with the vital ratio of Taste of Food to Amount of Grease.  But almost always, without fail, you can find a McDonalds, a Subway, and if you’re lucky, a Pizza Ranch.  


Pizza Ranch was founded in 1981 and has grown to over 150 locations, primarily in the midwest.  There are  more than 40 of them in a 100 mile radius of Spencer, Iowa, so I figure we pass at least five each trip we take.   Google tells me Pizza Ranch is headquartered in Orange City, IA, so I guess that makes sense.

Honestly, don’t even bother with the menu – just hit the buffet.  I pretty much break every one of my food rules here, but you do what you gotta do.


I always start with the salad bar.  My favorite Pizza Ranch salad combo is the iceberg/romaine mix, cheddar cheese, bac’n bits, a little hardboiled egg, sunflower seeds and Ranch dressing.  No messing around with fancy arugula and prosciutto here.  Don’t forget to add a cheesy breadstick or two – you won’t regret it.


Next up, get your pizza.  You’ll find old friends like pepperoni and supreme, but if you don’t see your favorite, they’ll make it fresh for you. Again, a breadstick or two here is a must.  And try the hot marinara on the side.  Honestly, the pizza isn’t that great.  At least, the crust isn’t.  Toppings and cheese are kind of hard to mess up in my book.  But, it’s definitely not bad.  And it’s hot, it’s fresh, and it’s hands down better than driving another 2-3 hours before you get home to an empty fridge. 


If you’re a fried chicken lover, don’t forget to grab a piece.  They’ve got mashed potatoes and corn and everything.   Or, be like me and take a piece, eat all the crispy coating off the meat and then complain about how you haven’t gone to the gym in 3 weeks.


Don’t miss the dessert pizza.  Fruity with crumble topping or cinnamon-streusel, take your pick.  But definitely pick one.  Or two.

The whole thing’ll cost you $10.  And you may have to unbutton your jeans in the car.  Totally worth it.