Iowa Gallivant Returns to Storm Lake

(story by Dana Larsen…pictured above…JayJay Goodvin and daughter Gigi followed the “T-bone Trail” to Storm Lake’s Plaza Mexico Wednesday)

The jovial Iowa Gallivant speaks of two-lane county roads with reverence, and the mom and pop diners with almost a spiritual zeal.

Since 2014, he’s been criss-crossing the state in pursuit of epic eats, building an online following of thousands of fans. On Wednesday, his travels brought him to Storm Lake, for meals at Plaza Mexico and The Regatta.

The Gallivant – aka JayJay Goodvin, often accompanied by daughter Gigi, is on an endless roadtrip. What started as a scrapbooking project turned into a career in food blogging, speaking and promoting. Currently he’s on the “T-Bone Trail,” retained by the Western Iowa Tourism Region, uncovering some of Iowa’s best beef dishes and touring/boosting the communities as he goes.

How many gallivanting meals have been digested over the years? “Hundreds, maybe thousands,” the Iowa City-based traveler muses. “Maybe I should try to figure that out someday.”

Does he remember the worst meal he’s ever been served? You bet – but he isn’t revealing it. That would be negativity, and that’s not The Gallivant’s vibe.

The state’s best chow? He thinks a while, and decides you’d have to narrow that query down. He reels off a litany of out-of-the-way eateries where he’s had the best pizza, the best Chinese food, the best ribeye. Rather than choosing a best-of-the-best, he likes to say that his favorite destination “is the next one.”

The greatest cuisine is seldom found in a fancy, expensive restaurant, he reflects, and never, ever in a big city. “I’ve never been excited about urban food. I specialize in small-town Iowa, and all the best meals I’ve had are in those little, locally-owned places,” he says. As for his daughter, she’s just happy to find there’s her go-to fare nachos on the menu, and the possibility of a waterslide. “Storm Lake is one of our favorite places to visit. The view from The Regatta is just unforgettable,” JayJay says.

The Gallivant isn’t even close to calling an end to his journeys. “It’s about food, but it’s really about the splendor of Iowa. There are so many special places. There is a kind of spiritualism in getting away from the beaten path, seeing the prairie preserves, the wildlife, and traveling the gravel roads. I think of those as the things I must do in life. It’s the anthem of Iowa, the hymn of the insects and the birds, and it’s a real special part of the traveling.”

He also likes to visit with the farmers and ranchers who create the food, but often go without recognition for it. “They are the real spirit of Iowa,” he says.

While the food reviews may draw the headlines, the strategy is to draw attention to the natural resources, the history, the landmarks and attractions that make the state unique.

The legacy of his reporting around the state, The Gallivant hopes, will be to encourage others to travel and see more of the state than they otherwise would. “Once you get off the interstates, you see this state in a whole different way.”

Check out Goodvin’s travels in the region – and his culinary experiences – at The Iowa Gallivant website and Facebook page.



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