Five tried and true restaurants with a history and reputation as impressive as their offerings.
302 E Bloomington St, Iowa City
This Northside Iowa City landmark has a hefty fanbase of regular diners. The restaurant’s front windows display the kitchen at work and on the inside, the big booths provide a prime seat for watching the show that takes place in the small, open kitchen. Watch the prep cooks in their paper hats toss the dough, pile on ingredients, and slide the pizzas into the oven from your snug booth. This Iowa City institution has remained true to their Italian roots using generations-old family recipes to create thin crust pizza baked in stone hearth ovens. With only pizza on their menu and just two special combinations, Pagliai’s consistently delivers delectable pizza in a comfortable, no-fuss environment. And speaking of delivery; try again. Pagliai’s does not deliver.
4307 Center Point Rd NE, Cedar Rapids
No gimmicks. No frills. No crazy toppings. Just classic donuts made fresh daily. Inside this retro bakery you’ll find clear cases housing a variety of colorful fried treats. Fill a box with an assortment of whatever catches your eye––bismarcks, twists, fancies, old fashioneds; they make ‘em all. Don’t skip the Blueberry Cake Donuts. Though their blue tint both inside and out might turn you off, go ahead and take a big bite, you won’t be disappointed. Recently a Little Village staffer has been kind enough to supply our Iowa City office with Donutland on the regular and I’m pleased to report those blueberry donuts taste the same today as they did 30 years ago.
690 10th St, Marion
A trip to Zoey’s is nostalgia-fueled and sends me straight back to elementary school. A mainstay in downtown Marion since 1991, its bustling corner location has outlasted many a long-time business in the area––R.I.P. Marion Maid Rite. Approaching from the west along 7th Avenue, you’ll catch a view of the large-scale mural on the outside of the building. This signature mural has been a focal point of the restaurant long before it was cool and hip to have a commissioned work on your walls. There’s usually a bit of a wait for pizza, but at Zoey’s the pies are invariably delicious so loyal fans don’t mind waiting their turn.
3847 1st Ave SE, Cedar Rapids
A reliable steakhouse, Winifred’s has been on the Cedar Rapids culinary map since 1983. Executing elegant French dishes like escargot and frog legs alongside raw oysters and lobster bisque, the menu at Winifred’s touts selections of both the surf and turf variety, offering plenty of house-aged beef for those who prefer land animals. The passing years have not changed much at Winifred’s, but that should not be interpreted as a stain on their reputation. For those special occasions, you can trust this stalwart restaurant will deliver a meal to remember.
6905 Mt. Vernon Rd SE, Cedar Rapids
This nautical-themed supper club has been a Cedar Rapids staple for literally decades. Originally a rural inn in the prohibition era, much of the menu has remained the same for years. Diners know exactly what to expect down to the regularly scheduled jazz combos to the “fall-off-the-bone” BBQ ribs. This restaurant is proof that it’s not necessary to follow the hottest food trends of the year to be a restaurant people frequent. A friendly staff and reliably good food and drinks go a long way.