Whether you’re from Eastern Iowa or just visiting, chances are there’s a fantastic restaurant you’ve never tried right around the corner. So get out there, support local and enjoy what the area has to offer! Don’t know where to start? Give these CR and IC restaurant itineraries a try.
First stop: Bea’s Cafe, 2727 6th St SW, Cedar Rapids, located in the former Riley’s location. It’s buzzing, which is always a good sign. Order eggs Benedict — opt for classic with Canadian bacon, or salmon. The hollandaise is rich and creamy, the salmon serving is very generous and the hashbrowns on the side are made just right. It’s definitely a great way to start the day.
If you’re craving something sweet after breakfast, why not a Donutland donut? Lu’s Deli, 1010 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids in NewBo is a great spot to get your fix. Order a few of your favorites; the old fashioned sour cream and raspberry bismarck receive high marks. Just a few steps down the block is Kismet Coffee & Bloom, 1000 3rd St SE Ste 1, Cedar Rapids, a new obsession for caffeine and floral enthusiasts alike. They have the best homemade chai latte, and what do you know? It pairs great with donuts!
Meet up with some friends at LP – Streetfood, 302 3rd Ave SW, Cedar Rapids. No matter how often you go there, it is impossible to get tired of it. Their menu is unconventional and creative, and they always deliver both great taste and service. Gyros, poutine and foot-long corn dogs — there’s something everyone can enjoy. And of course, you can’t leave without dropping by a local brewery. A Yard Sale IPA from Lion Bridge Brewing Co.59 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids will round off the afternoon just right.
Before your last stop, take a break, recharge and make room for more food. Eating is hard work! Then head over to it BAR ITALIAN, 450 1st St SW, Cedar Rapids for some Italian fare and craft cocktails. The atmosphere is elegant and inviting, and the food checks all the boxes. Dote over short rib-stuffed ravioli or sample the four-hour braised lamb leg, which is nothing short of exquisite. Their cocktails pair beautifully with the food — the pear and pomegranate Paloma and smoky Manhattan get two thumbs up — and their Salted Caramel Crème Brûlée is the perfect note to end on. Delicious! — Jav Ducker
It’s sunrise; protein up and eat a serving of veggies while you’re at it. Deluxe Cakes & Pastries, 812 S Summit St, Iowa City, has some of the greatest quiche you’ll find anywhere, with a rich and buttery croissant crust that tempts you to ask the table beside you if they’re going to finish their flaky last bite. The quiche has a wonderfully seasoned flavor with that eggy texture in every mouthful. Deluxe has a delicious bacon and cheese quiche, but the veggie variety is beautifully flavorful, too. Fuel up with some coffee and start getting those afternoon plans ready for that curious belly of yours.
It’s going to be a long day so keep the momentum going. Shakespeare’s Pub and Grill, 819 S 1st Ave, Iowa City is a southeast Iowa City neighborhood treasure with great beers, a full bar and a long menu of made-from-scratch meals. The Black & Blue Steak Salad brings fresh greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette and is finished with blackened steak, plenty of blue cheese crumbles, onions and crunchy homemade croutons. Please, oh please, have the bartenders mix you a killer Bloody Mary, too.
You’ll need just a little something to get you through the afternoon until the dinner bell rings. Zip on over to Dodge Street Coffeehouse, 2790 N Dodge St, Iowa City, to see what scones they have ready. They do an amazing job creating different flavored scones as well as other sweet and savory baked goods on the daily. It’s one of the best places for a quick and delicious afternoon snack, and a quick and delicious shot of espresso. Have the talented baristas brew that fresh-baked scone a caffeinated sidekick.
Mosley’s Barbeque and Provisions, 525 S Gilbert St, Iowa City has some of the greatest happy hour specials of all time. Several selections of adult beverages, including craft beers, are available from 3 to 6 pm and 9 pm to midnight on a buy-one-get-one-for-a-penny special. Yes, you read that right. Order some cold ones and start to eyeball that menu for whatever you’re going to eat. The smoky aroma that hangs heavy around the restaurant will eventually lure you into getting a tasty partner for those penny drinks. Ask if they have some of their incredible smoked chicken wings ready and let the happy hour roll on!
When it’s time for dinner, order an icy bottle of Kirin Ichiban and get to know some of the local sushi experts. Oyama, 1853 Lower Muscatine Rd, Iowa City is nestled in the north building of the Iowa City Marketplace and have been creating some of the area’s best sushi for more than a decade. They have an expansive menu that includes awesome plates of gourmet entrees like hot pots, noodles, tempura, hibachi delights and more. Good luck making a quick decision at Oyama.
If you’re planning on staying out until the bar lights turn on, then you’ll need another bite. Mesa Pizza, 114 E Washington St, Iowa City, stays pretty busy all night and always has a great selection of wild flavors and generously sized slices ready for your enjoyment. Imagine if the mind of Willy Wonka was put into a pizza maker’s head and let loose in the kitchen with tons of fresh dough and copious savory, spicy, saucy and seemingly endless ingredients to top a pizza with. That’s Mesa Pizza, baby! — Jay Goodwin
This article was originally published in the 2022 Bread & Butter dining guide.