Published on October 15th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler

Buzzard Billy’s fries up gator

This is probably the closest you’ll ever get to eating a dinosaur.

Iowa has plenty of dishes derived from cows, pigs and chickens, but you won’t find as many menu items utilizing alligators. It’s a popular meat in the South, but rarely does it make it this far north up the Mississippi River.

Fried alligator dinner at Buzzard Billy's. Zach Boyden-Holmes/Juice

Fried alligator dinner at Buzzard Billy’s. Zach Boyden-Holmes/Juice

Buzzard Billy’s alligator is 100 percent tail meat, farm-raised in Georgia. It’s a farm that also sells a lot of chicken that goes to McDonald’s. The chicken bits that Mickey D’s doesn’t buy get fed to the gators. Could McGator sandwiches be in the future? Nah, probably not.

“It tastes very similar to chicken,” said Buzzard Billy’s manager Joe Tinker, 30. “A lot of people assume it will have a seafood flavor, but it really doesn’t.”

As you might expect, reptile meat is a little tougher than poultry. But Buzzard Billy’s tenderizes the meat so that you don’t feel like you’re eating a pair of alligator boots. The result is a soft, fried pile of white meat.

“It’s one of the most popular things on the menu,” Tinker said. “Everyone wants to try it. It’s something new.”

Buzzard Billy’s serves the dish as an alligator platter, a large serving of fried alligator, hush puppies, fries and coleslaw or a smaller appetizer-sized serving of just the fried meat.

Fried alligator

Find it: Buzzard Billy’s, 615 Third St.

Cost: $14.99 (platter), $7.99 (appetizer )

Info: 515-244-2889;

About the Author

Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler

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