As if the open, relaxed, friendly atmosphere wasn’t enticing enough, the triple-stacked sandwich dripping BBQ sauce proved the way to the heart is through the stomach. It’s a good thing a roll of paper towels in its neat tabletop holder was within arm’s reach.

The delicacy was a Swamp Donkey — a house specialty — a one-third-pound beef patty with American cheese, topped with smoked brisket and onion rings.

Oh, yeah, and there were waffle fries on the side.

The Buck Snort is a family establishment quickly finding its way into the heart of Oakland in southwest Iowa. There are buckets of crayons hanging at kid height on the counter and games on the tables. Five television sets are strategically placed around the room in between hunting trophies.

“We try to be community and family oriented,” says owner Bud Johansen. “We want customers to feel at...