Davenport & LeClaire: Day Three in the Quad Cities
Day three in the Quad Cities has just wrapped. Are you still with me? I hope because I have much more to share about this wonderful group of cities in Iowa and Illinois.
The morning focused on the art in Davenport, Iowa. Davenport is another beautiful river city where several known names began. The two that most stand out in my mind are Buffalo Bill Cody and Daniel David (DD) Palmer. We can thank DD for the Palmer Method in chiropractic care. Since I’ve owed much to chiropractic treatment for the past 20 years, it would be great to return to the area and focus solely on the Palmers.
We began at the Bix Beiderbecke Museum. This is a small but fascinating museum celebrating the life of the Jazz musician. Although Bix might not be as known as Louis Armstrong or even Dizzy Gillespie, he was a close friend and inspiration to both. Armstrong even has a chapter about his friendship with Bix in his autobiography. Born and raised in Davenport, people come from all over the world to see his grave, celebrate his legacy, and visit this museum. It’s a must-stop for anyone who appreciates Jazz.
The Figge Museum in Davenport
Next up we went down the street to the Figge Museum. When I first read we would be visiting an art museum in Davenport, I thought, ok, this will probably be a modest, cool little spot. I could not have been more wrong. The Figge is on par with the Getty and LACMA. Opened almost 20 years, the Figge has four floors with an incredibly diverse collection of approximately three thousand works.
For starters, they have one of the largest collections of Haitian art in the USA. Their strength in Mexican Colonial art is also one of the largest outsides of Mexico City. Being inclusive is one of Figge’s top priorities. Many artists in their collection include people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ community.
Given we are in Iowa, it’s fitting Figge has a beautiful exhibit dedicated to Grant Wood. He may be most known for American Gothic, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Wood’s Americana style captures much of what I got a glimpse of in the Quad Cities.
Another “Iowa” moment was their unique and rather tongue-in-cheek Corn Zone installment. Created by Michael Meilahn, the Corn Zone consists of oversize blown glass ears of corn, all suspended from the galley’s ceiling.
Blown Glass and Pizza
Speaking of blown glass, our next stop took us to glass blowing shop, Hot Glass. Joel Ryser was a retired teacher who understood the power of healing through art. He took his skills and educational background to launch the non-profit. Some of Joel’s glass blowers include veterans and at-risk youth. Joel’s son, Logan gave a demonstration and it left me wanting to explore this art form further.
By now, we were getting hungry. Good thing I had an appetite as lunch was a buffet-style of Quad City pizzas. Talk to anyone, and they will probably tell you “their” pizza is the only kind to have. Think Chicago or New York style. But, have you heard of Quad City-style pizza? What makes it unique is malt in the crust, tomato sauce made with spices like red chili flakes or cayenne pepper, toppings placed under the cheese, and being cut into strips instead of triangular slices.
If you’re wondering, what’s she doing eating malt pizza crust?! Don’t fear, friends. Our incredible hosts at Visit Quad Cities got me the QC treatment sans the gluten. Two popular takes in town are Happy Joe’s Taco Joe pizza and QC Pizza’s Sour Pig. While the Taco pizza I’d heard of, the latter was new to me. Instead of Canadian bacon and pineapple, QC Pizza subs out the pineapple for….wait for it….sauerkraut. This sounded not good to me, but it works.
Since everybody loves a cold one with pizza, several local breweries joined in on our luncheon to sample their brews. I enjoyed trying some incredible gluten-removed beers from Twin Span Brewing. Look for more on Twin Span when my Gluten-Free Guide to the Quad Cities drops!
Strolling in LeClaire
Up next we moved on from Davenport to visit the quaint town of LeClaire, Iowa. LeClaire may be tiny (under 5,000 in population) but like all of Quad Cities, they’re known for many things. They have several antique stores and one that a few people may know: Antique Archaeology. Better known as the home of the History Channel’s American Pickers. It was wild to see some of their current “pickings.” Most of the clientele seemed to be there as fans of the long-running series.
We soon were greeted warmly at Mississippi River Distilling Co. While there we got a behind-the-scenes tour of how their process goes. Since Iowa is all about grains, it’s not a surprise that their distilled grains are all sourced locally. I was most excited at their 100% corn whiskey. Say what?! Stay tuned as I will explain more.
I’m going to admit: I felt tired by the time we returned to the hotel. I’m so grateful for incredible opportunities, but I do often feel it. During these visits, we usually average an hour or so break in between touring. Despite my fatigue, Mexican food sounded great, and little did I know how good it would be.
Dinnertime at Los Charros
For dinner, we headed to Los Charros. Upon entering, I was surprised at how cozy and simple it was. Our previous restaurants had contemporary flares. Los Charros is more unassuming. The cuisine? Anything but that.
Los Charros is all about family. They are one of the oldest Mexican restaurants in the area, and all food is prepared in-house. Mostly by the owner, Marco Rocha, himself. The entire staff is hospitable and goes out of their way to ensure satisfaction. Something as “familiar” as a street taco was bursting with flavor and spice.
Following our wonderful experience with Los Charros, it was time to hit the hay. Onward to day four with the Quad Cities! xo