12 hours in the Quad Cities

by Emily McFarlan Miller

The last time I saw Lewis, we were in Chicago eating Quad Cities-style pizza, a thing that does not exist. I know this because Lewis lives in the Quad Cities, and he said he had never heard of it. One of the PR folks at one of the schools I cover for The Courier-News also has lived in the Quad Cities. He said he thought it had to do with the sausage. (Evidently, it has to do with the way the pizza is cut — into long, thin strips, rather than pie slices or squares — and the admittedly delicious inclusion of malt in the crust.)

We also were agreeing Joel and I should visit the Quad Cities on a Thursday night in February, when Lewis would be playing music at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa. And one Thursday night in February, the last Thursday night in February, that’s what we were doing.

  1. Figge Art Museum, 225 W. Second St., Davenport, Iowa. It’s no secret Joel and I judge a city by its art museums. We didn’t get to see any art at the Figge, though. Not even the gallery of Art and Devotion in Viceregal New Spain. Just its cafe, where Lewis was playing and everything on the menu inexplicably came with a side of ranch dressing. But I can vouch for the Quad Cities’ fine taste in music: One little old lady threw a crumpled $5 bill at Lewis and told him he was “delightful.”
  2. Jim’s Rib Haven, 1600 Tenth St., East Moline, Ill. Skip the pizza. If there’s one thing to eat while in the Quad Cities, it’s Jim’s Ribs, according to Lewis. The appeal of gnawing tough meat, dripping with messy sauce, off the bone is somewhat lost on me, I’ll admit, but the guys were in heaven.
  3. Rozz-Tox, 2108 Third Ave., Rock Island, Ill. ROZZ-TOX SERVES BROOKLYN EGG CREAMS. EGG CREAMS! Also, Ovaltine! But the thing Lewis brought us here for was Redband Stout by the Great River Brewery, based in Davenport. Redband tastes like equal parts coffee and beer, kind of like Coke Black. Remember Coke Black? It tasted like equal parts coffee and Coke. I never really decided if that was a good thing or a bad thing. It just was. Coffee-beer aside, Rozz-Tox is a genuinely cool, avant-garde place — a “cultural space” that combines café, bar, music venue, art gallery and bookshop — based on a genuinely cool, avant-garde manifesto.
  4. Village Inn, multiple locations. (Not pictured.) Village Inn is your typical Baker’s Square knockoff, brunch and pie and bottomless cups of coffee. But they had me at Eggs Benedict… on a potato pancake… southwestern style, with avocado and carnitas. I hear there is free pie Wednesdays. I also hear there is an open mic Wednesdays at RME in Davenport that features some pretty “delightful” music. Which means this likely won’t be our last visit to the Quad Cities.

Photos taken with Retro Camera. Click to embiggen.