Fireside Grille Serves Comfort Food with a Side of Creativity

crab rangoon pizza

“Off the Menu” is an Altoona restaurant feature sponsored by Elder Corporation. Thank you, Elder Corp, for supporting local businesses!

One evening, Brett McAllister, owner and manager of Fireside Grille in Altoona, decided to have a friendly competition with his staff. Each chef would cook up a one-off pizza, and they would promote their pizzas during Thursday specials to see whose creation sold the best. There weren’t any rules—as long as what came out of the oven was delicious, you couldn’t go wrong—and the resulting pizzas were off-the-wall experimental, with interesting new ingredients and combinations of flavors that hadn’t been seen at Fireside.

The winner, which was turned into a regular menu item and later developed into a burger, was the Crab Rangoon Pizza, a marvelous comfort-food concoction with cream cheese and sauteed crab topped with homemade wantons, chives and Asian sweet-chili sauce. Customers loved the unique pizza—only a handful of restaurants in the Des Moines metro have attempted a similar dish—and it became an overnight hit.

Another evening, Brett and his staff were back in the kitchen, trying to solve a problem. The Iowa State Fair was coming up, which meant that all the customers who normally dined at Fireside would be heading to the fair, leaving many local businesses relatively empty. They needed a way to tap into that festive atmosphere and keep their customers coming back.

Their solution? Bring the fair to Fireside.

Combining many of the classic flavors you might find at the Iowa State Fair, a new sandwich was born: The Pride of Iowa. This best-selling burger is basically an entire farm between two buns, a mountain of deliciousness piled high with grilled tenderloin, ham and bacon—and topped with egg (over easy) and a hearty helping of melted cheese. It is, in other words, the most “Iowa” sandwich of all time. It’s no surprise that it became a hit with visitors and locals alike around the State Fair season.  

The Crab Rangoon Pizza and the Pride of Iowa Burger are just two examples of what makes Fireside Grille one-of-a-kind. On the surface, the place is simply a great spot for comfort food, whether you’re fueling up before shopping at Outlets of Des Moines, enjoying a celebratory burger after hitting the jackpot at Prairie Meadows, or satisfying the late-night munchies after some good times at the local brewery. But it’s the restaurant’s willingness to play outside our expectations—to bring new twists to old favorites, to introduce unexpected flavors to standard comfort fare—that gives it true character.

Experimental, charming, delicious and just a little off-beat. Fireside is, without a doubt, one of those quintessentially “Altoona” places that you have to hit the next time you’re in town.

About Fireside Grille

What: The delicious center of the comfort-food universe, Fireside Grille serves up creative twists on old favorites. Think wings, burgers, pasta, salads and other crowd-pleasers. Check out the menu!

Where: 8th Street Southeast, Altoona, IA

Hours: Monday-Sunday, 11AM-2AM

Catering: Hosting a business meeting or wedding in the Altoona area? Fireside has you covered. Contact the Fireside team today for a free quote (free tastings also available).

If you’re hungry for more local restaurant features, check out our behind-the-scenes look at Jethro’s ‘n Jakes Smokehouse Steaks in Altoona. 

Thank you to Elder Corporation for sponsoring Off the Menu, the visitor’s guide to Altoona’s deliciously different dining spots! Elder Corporation literally lays the groundwork for some of the biggest excavation projects in Iowa. You can learn more about Elder Corp here.