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LV Recommends: Red Vespa

Brick walls, industrial piping and stamped metal bar backing greet you when you enter Red Vespa in Solon. The vibe of the place is chic, cozy rather than cramped, with an open kitchen that lends a comforting transparency to the inner workings of the pizzeria. The telltale aromas of tomato and mozzarella mingling with basil […]

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LV Recommends: The Pig & Porter

Though the flood of 2008 devastated sections of Cedar Rapids, the rebirth of the downtown, Czech Village and New Bohemia districts make the losses easier to take. Post-flood, a restaurant renaissance has occurred. Diners less than enthused by chain restaurants are now spoiled for choice with new eateries featuring creative menus and eclectic beverages. The […]

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LV Recommends: Le Gourmet

By Ashley Chong I went over the phrases I would say in Korean, double-checking for any blatant errors in how I addressed the owner or how I pronounced the words. But when it was my turn to order, my carefully constructed phrases were instantly replaced with nostalgia when I suddenly noticed the row of pastries […]

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LV Recommends: Dumpling Darling

Dumplings — adorably bite­-sized pockets of dough packed with various fillings — excel in convenience. At Dumpling Darling on Dubuque Street in Iowa City (their brick and mortar location shared with Pops Old n’ New BBQ), an order of Korean-­style dumplings is steamed and ready to eat in about five minutes or less. But the […]

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LV Recommends: Sauce Bar & Bistro

When people ask me to recommend Italian food in Iowa, it prompts a string of questions that usually culminates in, “Do you mean real Italian, or, like, sickly sticky cream sauce and overcooked pasta like you’d get at a chain Italian restaurant?” Usually, thankfully, they mean the former, in which case, I often send them […]

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LV Recommends: Sun Café

Recently, my good friend suggested we venture away from downtown to find some good Vietnamese fare. Always the connoisseur of all cuisine, I trusted him. Sun Café (1681 S 1st Ave., Iowa City) didn’t disappoint. The first thing I noticed was the display of perfectly ­roasted hanging ducks in the rotisserie case. Recently, there has […]

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LV Recommends: Black Sheep Social Club

When Black Sheep Social Club recommends reservations, they aren’t kidding. The new Cedar Rapids restaurant hummed over the lunch hour on a recent Tuesday. Located in the former Great Furniture Mart building on First Street downtown, the social club opened for business Apr. 19 and has generated plenty of conversation among the city’s foodies. The […]

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LV Recommends: Wild Culture Kombucha

Iowa poet Cole Highnam muses upon Wild Culture’s fermented teas in the form of a lyric essay, “I will not spoil my health with lesser brightness.”   [dropcap]H[/dropcap]ow long have you been in the kombucha game? It wasn’t that long ago that this mysterious bevy went mainstream. Example: the word is a spelling error according […]

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LV Recommends: Trumpet Blossom Café

If you’re anything like me, you know there is no greater tradition than brunch. It’s the perfect midday gathering of friends to top off your weekend. You get a satisfying meal, drink(s) and above all: bacon. My friends and I were a perfect example one recent weekend. After visiting Trumpet Blossom Café and trying an […]

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Must-visit restaurants, bars and breweries within a day’s drive of Iowa City

There are many quirky, surprising and downright delicious dining opportunities within a day’s beautiful drive of Iowa City. Here’s a guide to get you started. “The jewel of the prairie,” Grinnell’s small but mighty liberal arts college campus is well known for sating the fiendish needs of area cultural enrichment junkies with world-class lectures, gallery […]

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