10 Unique Restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Explore the Best Dining Spots With a Twist

by Jen
Unique Restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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In our guide, we spotlight the unique restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, showcasing spots that offer more than just a meal. From eateries with one-of-a-kind themes to kitchens serving up dishes you won’t find anywhere else in the city, we’ve got you covered. Prepare to uncover the most distinctive dining experiences Cedar Rapids has to offer.

Welcome to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a city that’s a hidden treasure for food lovers. Here, the streets are lined with unique eateries that promise an adventure for your taste buds. Imagine a place where every meal is a journey.

From cozy spots that exude Midwest charm and feel like a trip to Ireland to quirky cafes where your coffee comes with a side of history, Cedar Rapids has it all. And it’s not just about the flavors; it’s about the stories these places tell through their dishes.

You’ll also stumble upon spots that are as much about fun as they are about food, where you can play a game while waiting for your burger or sip a craft beer in a place that feels like you’ve stepped into another world.

Cedar Rapids is a beautiful place in Iowa that invites you to explore, to sit down at a table and share a meal that’s out of the ordinary. So, let’s get ready to dive into the heart of Cedar Rapids, where every restaurant is a doorway to a new experience.

The top restaurants to visit in Cedar Rapids, Iowa right now

Unique Restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa: 12 Incredible Cedar Rapids Iowa Eateries

From hidden gems to culinary wonders, we’re guiding you through the city’s most distinctive dining spots. Get ready to explore flavors and experiences that set Cedar Rapids apart.

1. Olde Brick House

Stepping into Olde Brick House feels like a journey to Ireland itself, without leaving Cedar Rapids. This unique spot brings an authentic Irish pub experience to Iowa, complete with traditional decor and a menu that blends Irish classics with American favorites. Opened in August 2023, it’s the first of its kind in the area, following the success of its Minnesota siblings.

The interior boasts about 20,000 pounds of mahogany wood, stained glass, and custom booths, creating an intimate atmosphere. The design, inspired by numerous pubs in Ireland, aims to transport guests far from the Midwest. The menu, largely made from scratch, offers dishes like bangers and mash, corned beef, and shepherd’s pie, ensuring a genuine taste of Ireland.

Unique restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, like Olde Brick House, stand out by providing an experience. With entrees priced between $15 and $35, the restaurant is accessible for various occasions, whether a casual outing or a special date night. The drink selection impresses with exclusive scotch and Irish whiskeys, alongside imported beers, all served in a venue that balances quality and atmosphere perfectly.

Olde Brick House is one of the unique restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Olde Brick House offers an authentic Irish pub experience, blending traditional decor and a unique menu.

2. The Map Room

The Map Room stands out in Downtown Cedar Rapids for its globally inspired burgers and artisan cocktails, all served in a cozy, map-adorned setting. Since its opening in 2017, it has become a beloved spot among locals. The restaurant’s decor, featuring maps on every wall, complements its international cuisine theme. The decor makes it a vibrant place to dine, especially in the summer on its popular patio.

For those seeking unique restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for dinner, The Map Room is a treasure. It’s perfect for both lunch meetings and relaxed evenings, offering a happy hour and daily specials starting at 4 p.m. The menu is a testament to the owners’ love for travel, with each dish reflecting a journey. From the Kentucky Punch, a signature cocktail, to the diverse burger menu, there’s something for every palate.

The Map Room excels in creating dishes that blend cultures. Must tries include the Cusco fries, a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian flavors, and the Busan naan, combining tender pork with kimchi and bulgogi aioli. Burgers, the restaurant’s specialty, offer over ten unique choices. This includes the Saigon and Napoli burgers, each bringing a piece of its origin country to Cedar Rapids.

The Map Room offers globally inspired burgers and artisan cocktails in a cozy, map-adorned setting.
The Map Room offers globally inspired burgers and artisan cocktails in a cozy, map-adorned setting.

3. Cobble Hill Eatery & Dispensary

Cedar Rapids gets a taste of New York City’s fancy dining in Cobble Hill Eatery & Dispensary, thanks to Chef Andy Schumacher and his wife, Carrie. Chef Andy learned to cook in New York and brought his big-city recipes back to Iowa. They opened Cobble Hill in 2013, and it quickly became known for its great food and cool vibe.

If you’re looking for fine dining in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Cobble Hill is the place to be. This restaurant got noticed by the James Beard Foundation for its awesome food and lovely setting. Every month, the menu takes you on a trip around the world with dishes from different countries, all made with care and skill by Chef Andy.

At Cobble Hill, the meal starts with drinks and continues with dishes served by friendly staff who know their stuff. Favorites include homemade meatballs, a special sausage with pretzel, and a standout dish of short rib sauerbraten, soaked in marinade for two days. Don’t skip dessert – the black forest cherry cake and a unique donut are must-tries.

Cobble Hill Eatery & Dispensary brings the taste of New York City with its renowned food and cool vibe.
Cobble Hill Eatery & Dispensary brings the taste of New York City with its renowned food and cool vibe.

4. The Hip Stir

Some of the coolest restaurants in Cedar Rapids are just a couple of minutes’ drive away, including The Hip Stir, located in Marion. The Hip Stir has quickly captured the hearts of food lovers looking for a unique dining experience.

Behind this new spot are the creative minds who introduced us to Bricks and Local Pour, bringing another must-visit location to the area. With its speakeasy vibe, complete with barrel booths and vintage lamps, The Hip Stir offers a cozy yet exciting atmosphere for all who step inside.

The menu is a testament to creativity, featuring dishes like the mammoth-sized Callahan wings with a tangy-spicy sauce and a hot fried chicken sandwich that gets a unique twist from kimchi sauce.

The Bigger Better Burger #1, with brisket patties and pickled fresno chiles, is a journey in itself. And you can’t visit without trying the pork belly steam buns, a perfect harmony of crispy, crunchy, and tangy flavors.

With a selection of craft beers and creative cocktails, there’s a drink for every taste. Though not in Cedar Rapids, The Hip Stir is a culinary gem in Marion that’s absolutely worth the short drive, adding a distinctive flavor to the local dining scene.

The Hip Stir in Marion, minutes from Cedar Rapids, captures food lovers with its unique dining experience.
The Hip Stir in Marion, minutes from Cedar Rapids, captures food lovers with its unique dining experience. | Image Source: https://www.facebook.com/

5. Black Sheep Social Club

Nestled in the historic Great Furniture Mart building, Black Sheep Social Club blends an industrial vibe with a cozy atmosphere. Since its opening in April, it’s not just the place’s history that’s drawing crowds, but its innovative menu too.

Lunch at Black Sheep offers a mix of appetizers, soups, salads, and sandwiches that promise something beyond the ordinary. By evening, the menu expands to include hearty entrées, perfect for any appetite. The restaurant’s commitment to doing things “a little bit differently” shines through in every dish, with a focus on local and responsibly sourced ingredients.

Among the best places to eat in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Black Sheep Social Club stands out for its culinary creativity. The Duck Fat Fries, a crowd favorite, are a must-try. Imagine Yukon Gold potatoes fried in duck fat, topped with Gruyere cheese, Black Sheep bacon, and a unique blend of seasonings, served with chicory aioli. It’s a dish that turns even the simplest ingredients into a memorable feast.

Whether you’re here for the innovative salads or to indulge in the fries again, Black Sheep Social Club offers a dining experience that’s worth every visit.

Black Sheep Social Club blends an industrial vibe with a cozy atmosphere.
Black Sheep Social Club blends an industrial vibe with a cozy atmosphere.

6. Quarter Barrel Arcade & Brewery

Quarter Barrel Arcade & Brewery is a unique spot in Cedar Rapids that combines the joy of arcade games with the pleasure of dining. Located in a building with a rich history, this place has quickly become a favorite for both locals and visitors. It’s not just the games that attract people; the food and drinks are big hits too.

The venue boasts an impressive collection of nearly 40 video arcade and pinball machines, offering endless entertainment. Whether you’re a fan of classic games or looking for a new challenge, you’ll find it here. The fun atmosphere is perfect for families, friends, or anyone looking to have a good time.

Among the fun places to eat in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Quarter Barrel stands out. Their menu features Neapolitan-inspired pizzas with a sourdough crust, delicious sandwiches, and pasta, all made with seasonal and local ingredients. Don’t miss their themed trivia events, where “Ma & Pa Quarter Barrel” bring their trivia expertise to the table.

Quarter Barrel Arcade & Brewery offers a unique blend of arcade games, dining pleasures, and popular food and drinks.
Quarter Barrel Arcade & Brewery offers a unique blend of arcade games, dining pleasures, and popular food and drinks.

7. Pedaler’s Fork

Calling all bikers! Pedaler’s Fork in northeast Cedar Rapids is a place with a story. It opened in a spot that once faced challenges, including a fire and the pandemic. Yet, with determination, it transformed into a vibrant restaurant. The name nods to its bike-friendly location and the previous bike-themed venue, aiming to be catchy and fun.

This eatery is among the themed restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, offering a unique blend of dining and biking culture. With a menu that includes everything from mac & cheese bowls to Asian and Italian dishes, burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and salads, there’s something for everyone. The highlight? A whopping 108 beers on tap, making it a paradise for beer lovers.

Pedaler’s Fork isn’t just about great food and a vast beer selection. It’s about creating a community space where everyone feels welcome. Whether you’re stopping by after a bike ride or looking for a cozy spot to enjoy a meal, this restaurant offers both a fun atmosphere and delicious options.

With beer flights and 25-cent beer samples that support local charities, dining here feels good in more ways than one. It’s a testament to resilience, community, and the joy of sharing a good meal and cold beer with friends.

Pedaler's Fork, overcoming fire and the pandemic, is now a vibrant and catchy bike-friendly restaurant.
Pedaler’s Fork, overcoming fire and the pandemic, is now a vibrant and catchy bike-friendly restaurant. | Image Source: https://thepedalersfork.com/

8. Brewhemia

Standing out as one of the unique places to eat in Cedar Rapids, Iowa is Brewhemia. This cafe, born from a vision to blend the best of American coffee culture with a European twist, has quickly become a local favorite. Since its transformation in 2013, Brewhemia has been a place where community, culture, and cuisine meet.

Brewhemia isn’t just about your morning cup of joe. It offers a full breakfast and lunch menu, featuring everything from artisan sandwiches to gourmet breakfast burritos, recognized as one of the top 25 in the country.

The cafe also boasts a full bar, where local craft beers, wines, and spirits are served alongside innovative coffee drinks. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic espresso or something more adventurous like their signature Irish Coffee, Brewhemia has you covered.

What truly sets Brewhemia apart is its atmosphere. Located in the vibrant New Bohemia district, the cafe is housed in a historic building, adding to its charm. With rotating art on the walls and a bustling vibe that mirrors a big-city cafe, Brewhemia is a place where every visit feels special.

Brewhemia in Cedar Rapids stands out as a unique and local favorite where community, culture, and cuisine converge.
Brewhemia in Cedar Rapids stands out as a unique and local favorite where community, culture, and cuisine converge.

9. Taco Gato

A fresh take on dining, Taco Gato blends Mexican, Tex-Mex, and Southern American flavors. Despite its name suggesting a taco-centric menu, Taco Gato offers a wide variety of dishes that go beyond the ordinary taco. From the decor to the menu, everything about Taco Gato is designed to surprise and delight.

The restaurant’s interior is as unique as its menu, with cats and whimsical items decorating the space. It’s a cozy spot in downtown Cedar Rapids where every corner has something interesting to see. Taco Gato opened its doors on April 18, quickly becoming a place people talk about.

Among the best restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Taco Gato stands out for its inventive approach to cuisine. Appetizers like fried chorizo huarache and homemade chicharrones nachos start the meal with a bang. Main dishes range from a Hot Brown Burger with poblano gravy to fried cactus Parmesan.

The Taco Bento box shines, mixing fillings with beans, rice, and creamy chipotle sauce. Taco Gato mixes Southern and Tex-Mex for a fun, tasty twist. Its drink menu features cat-themed cocktails and DIY agave shots, making Taco Gato an experience, not just a meal.

Taco Gato offers a fresh take on dining, blending Mexican, Tex-Mex, and Southern American flavors beyond the ordinary taco.
Taco Gato offers a fresh take on dining, blending Mexican, Tex-Mex, and Southern American flavors beyond the ordinary taco. | Image Source: https://khak.com/

10. Tornado’s Grub & Pub

Tornado’s Grub & Pub stands out in Cedar Rapids for its unique blend of history, hearty meals, and a laid-back vibe. Tucked in a 1914 building, this spot is a hit for its history and charm. Its unique menu has burgers named after tornado scales, and the laid-back vibe invites diners to enjoy checkers.

The menu is a treasure trove for food lovers, with options ranging from Southwest chicken egg rolls to spicy and savory burgers like the F4. Beyond burgers, guests can enjoy a variety of dishes, including fresh salads, po’ boys, and hot bagels, ensuring there’s something for every palate. The cold beer, served in a bottle for that extra touch of nostalgia, perfectly complements the rich, flavorful dishes.

Tornado’s Grub & Pub captures the essence of Cedar Rapids’ community spirit and culinary creativity. It’s a place where you can unwind, enjoy a hearty meal, and feel right at home among friends and family. This cozy dive bar, with its rich history and welcoming atmosphere, is a standout among fun restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, offering more than just a meal but a memorable visit every time.

Tornado's Grub & Pub is one of the unique restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Tornado’s Grub & Pub stands out for its unique blend of history, hearty meals, and a laid-back vibe. | Image Source: https://www.yelp.com/

Frequently Asked Questions About the Unique Places to Eat in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Got questions about eating out in Cedar Rapids? Our Cedar Rapids Iowa restaurant guide FAQ section has all the answers you need.

What food is Cedar Rapids known for?

Cedar Rapids is famous for its hearty Midwestern cuisine. The city loves its corn dishes, given Iowa’s rich farming heritage. You’ll find sweet corn served in various ways, from grilled on the cob to mixed into salads and salsas. Another local favorite is the pork tenderloin sandwich, a must-try for anyone visiting. It’s a breaded and fried pork cutlet, often bigger than the bun it’s served on. For the best food in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, these dishes are a great start.

Where can I find Cedar Rapids Iowa’s best restaurants?

To discover the best restaurants, start in the vibrant New Bohemia District. This area is known for its eclectic dining spots that serve everything from gourmet burgers to artisan coffee. Downtown Cedar Rapids also offers a wide range of dining experiences, from upscale eateries to casual cafes. For a comprehensive list, a Cedar Rapids Iowa restaurant guide would be your best bet, offering insights into the city’s culinary scene and helping you choose based on cuisine, ambiance, and price.

What are some scenic places in Cedar Rapids Iowa to eat?

For dining with a view, Cedar Rapids offers several scenic places to eat. Restaurants along the Cedar River offer beautiful waterfront views, especially during sunset. Another option is dining in the historic Czech Village, where you can enjoy meals with a backdrop of charming European-style architecture. Parks and green spaces in the city also host food trucks and outdoor dining events during warmer months, allowing you to enjoy good food in the midst of nature.

Where can I find cheap eats in Cedar Rapids Iowa?

Cheap eats are easy to find if you know where to look. The New Bohemia District and Czech Village offer a variety of affordable dining options, from food trucks serving up tacos and burgers to cozy cafes with hearty breakfasts and lunches. Many local pubs and diners offer daily specials that are both delicious and budget-friendly. For the best deals, check out local guides or apps that highlight discounts and specials at eateries around the city.

Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with historic charm and vibrant cultural shops.
Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with historic charm and vibrant cultural shops.

What makes a restaurant a hidden gem in Cedar Rapids Iowa?

A hidden gem restaurant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is one that’s off the beaten path but offers an unforgettable dining experience. These spots might be tucked away in quieter neighborhoods, offering unique dishes that reflect the local culture and ingredients. They’re the places loved by locals for their charm, quality of food, and warm service. Discovering these requires exploring beyond the main tourist areas, asking locals for recommendations, or diving into community-focused social media groups.

What are some unique Cedar Rapids Iowa restaurants?

Unique restaurants offer dining experiences you won’t find anywhere else. This includes eateries with themed decor, such as a retro arcade bar or a restaurant that doubles as an art gallery. There are also places that specialize in fusion cuisine, blending traditional Midwestern flavors with international dishes. For a truly unique meal, look for restaurants that source ingredients from local farms, showcasing the best of Iowa’s produce in their menus.

What tips do you have for first-time visitors to Cedar Rapids restaurants?

For first-time visitors, exploring the culinary scene can be a highlight of your trip. Start with local favorites to get a taste of the region’s cuisine. Don’t be afraid to ask locals for their recommendations; they’ll likely point you towards the best restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Also, consider timing your visit to coincide with local food festivals or dining events, offering a chance to sample a variety of dishes at once. Lastly, explore different neighborhoods for a diverse dining experience, from the historic Czech Village to the trendy New Bohemia District.

What should I look for when choosing a restaurant in Cedar Rapids?

When picking a place to eat in Cedar Rapids, consider what kind of dining experience you’re after, especially if you’re staying in Iowa. Do you want a casual meal or something more upscale? Check out online reviews and menus to get a feel for the food, atmosphere, and price range. It’s also a good idea to see if the restaurant sources ingredients locally or offers any special dishes that reflect the area’s culinary traditions. Lastly, don’t forget to check the location and hours to make sure it fits with your plans.

Final Thoughts On Unique Cedar Rapids, Iowa Restaurants

Wrapping up our Cedar Rapids Iowa restaurant guide, we hope you’ve found inspiration for your next meal out in this vibrant city. Cedar Rapids is a place where every meal can be an adventure, from classic Midwestern dishes to innovative cuisine that blends local flavors with international flair. Whether you’re craving a hearty breakfast, a quick lunch, or a fine dining experience, Cedar Rapids has something to offer.

The top restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for all types of travelers
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