Hotel & Restaurant Spotlight: Ox Yoke Inn, Amana, IA

Lori Erickson
| February 15, 2024 | 4 Minute Read
Dining area of the Ox Yoke Inn with bar and tables. Ox Yoke Inn

Amana natives William and Lina Leichsenring opened the Ox Yoke Inn (above) in 1940 in what was formerly a kitchen house (until 1932, the Amana Colonies were a communal society whose members ate together at long tables three times a day). They sold Amana ham and pork sausage, as well as chicken dinners for 65 cents.

A plate of mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and grilled chicken. Ox Yoke Inn

Over the ensuing decades, five generations of the Leichsenring family have continued to operate the restaurant. Open for lunch and dinner—as well as brunch on Sunday—the AAA Three Diamond restaurant’s menu features hearty German and American dishes (above). Specialties include sauerbraten (tangy marinated roast beef), kasseler rippchen (smoked pork chops) and several varieties of schnitzel.

If you’re dining with a group, order your entrée family style, which means you’ll get refillable sides of cottage cheese with chives, salad, a vegetable, potatoes and gravy, bread, and the restaurant’s own Ox Strawberry Jam (pickled beets and sauerkraut are available upon request). These side dishes are shared by everyone at the table.

A chocolate cream pie topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Ox Yoke Inn

Be sure to save room for the restaurant’s homemade pies and desserts. In addition to a wide array of fruit pies, the Ox Yoke serves up pie varieties such as rhubarb custard, sour cream raisin and chocolate cream (above). Or order an entire pie to take home, which is another popular option for diners.

The restaurant’s original 1856 building has been added to through the years, creating five dining rooms as well as the cozy German-style Bierstube Bar in the basement. In the summer, the outdoor Biergarten offers al fresco dining.

As you dine, you’ll be sampling history as well. The Ox Yoke has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is the oldest operating restaurant in the Amana Colonies. Antiques like beer steins, clocks and cooking utensils fill the restaurant. The restaurant even has its own museum: a room filled with vintage pieces that provide additional insights into the origins of the restaurant and the history of the Amana Colonies.

AAA Inspector Notes:

“This traditional, family-style restaurant has been serving German and American cuisine since 1940. Favorites include fried chicken, roast beef, ham, steaks and seafood. Featuring a wonderful antique-style décor and a well-stocked gift shop, this spot is a great choice for families.”

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