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Best of the CRANDIC 2019: Food & Drink

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The results are in! Browse the winners of Little Village’s 2019 Best of the CRANDIC competition in the Food & Drink category, representing voters’ favorite restaurants, bars, growers and innovators in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City area.

Best Restaurant

Cobble Hill Eatery & Dispensary

219 2nd St SE, Cedar Rapids

“No other restaurant compares. One of the best restaurants in the country. Andy Schumacher also does a great job of training young chefs.”

— Brett S.

Chef Andy Schumacher at Cobble Hill in Cedar Rapids — Jav Ducker/Little Village

Shout-Outs!

Cafe Dodici

“Nice, romantic spot with really good food at reasonable prices.”

— Todd C.

Caucho

“They go above and beyond to give an exceptional hospitality experience. The food and drinks are all made from scratch. They’re one of the few places in the country that keep the tradition of fresh corn masa and nixtamal alive, and do it extremely well.”

— A.L.

Chez Grace

“It’s a once- or twice-a-year thing for us, but it is so worth it. The ambiance is amazing (cracks me up that this elegant little restaurant is in a strip mall in Coralville), the food is outstanding, and David, the owner/chef/sommelier/server, is one of a kind.”

— Kaci C.

Lost and Found Provisions and Spirits

“It’s exactly what this city needed—fresh take on tasty food items, and a creative mind behind it all. The owner is by far one of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met! (And their brunch is to die for!!)”

— Bethany C.

Trumpet Blossom Cafe

“It’s the only restaurant you can walk in and get vegan, mostly organic, delicious food. No worries that it won’t be prepared vegan. Good service and atmosphere, and always a yummy signature cocktail.”

— Erin H.W.

Vesta

“They consistently have excellent food and excellent service. The salmon BLT is a standard, the elk stroganoff is a knock-out and the bread pudding with balsamic ice cream is the stuff dreams are made of.”

— Cara I.

Winifred’s Restaurant

“The food is great, soft jazz playing in the background and it’s quiet so that you can easily converse with your dinner partners.”

— Jan F.

Zeppelin’s Bar & Grill

“I have NEVER had a bad meal or service. The menu selection is fabulous and it is not a run-of-the-mill chain.”

— Michelle T.

Best Chef

Samuel Charles, Rodina

1507 C St SW, Cedar Rapids

Q&A with Chef Samuel
Frankie Schneckloth/Little Village

Phoebe and Samuel Charles opened Rodina in Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village in January 2019, designing a menu in the spirit of the slow food movement — what Samuel describes as “a state of mind that focuses on local food, local cuisine and decreasing the carbon footprint for getting food from A to B.” Phoebe serves as Rodina’s general manager, Samuel its executive chef.

What was your and Phoebe’s original vision for Rodina? Our original vision for Rodina was a much smaller restaurant, and we were actually in the middle of finalizing architectural plans for a smaller location when the space we ended up in became available. The heart of the vision has remained the same: a family-style experience built to feel aesthetically like walking into your grandmother’s kitchen. Our vision was always to serve simple food in a comfortable environment using local, sustainable and humanely raised products, while trying to raise the bar for what an Iowa dining experience can be.

What opportunities and challenges has Rodina presented to you as a chef? As a business owner? Rodina has given me a platform to collaborate and grow with the local food scene. It has also given me the opportunity to trailblaze our cuisine, which we define as “Midwest comfort food.” Individuals see Iowa as a meat-and-potato state as if it’s a bad thing, and I embrace it and lean fully into the fact that it is. Though I focus on what I consider simple food, it has been a challenge to convince the local community that it is, in fact, simple.

As a chef-owner and a new father, being at the restaurant 100 percent of the time has meant that my personal life comes second, which is a constant struggle. On the flip side, as the owner, nobody can tell me that I can’t bring my son to work.

What menu item would you say is a Rodina signature? Though the accompaniments often change, my heart and soul and the heart and soul of our menu is the Roasted Half Chicken, for multiple reasons. Personally, it reminds me of home. Everything from the smell, the taste and even the sound takes me home. Professionally, chicken is often the afterthought of restaurants, but I’ve always gauged a good restaurant by how they cook a chicken. If the chicken is executed correctly, it will translate into every single thing they do.

Many voters praised the quality, ethics and affordability of Rodina’s food. How are you able to balance the restaurant’s upscale features with remaining accessible? Rodina was never imagined to be a cash cow. This concept was created to bring real food to the average diner. We have no delusions that this restaurant will make us rich. We do it because we believe in its message. Phoebe and I have always intended that this restaurant was meant to be an educational platform for hospitality industry individuals. Start here, learn here and go change the world.

Shout-Outs!

Matt Steigerwald, Rapid Creek Cidery

“His food has a homemade feel to it while never disappointing on innovation and interest.”

— Emily C.

Nathan Woody, Pullman Bar & Diner

“Just sit at the bar and watch the Pullman team work.”

— S.S.

Best Bartender

David Basinger, Rodina

1507 C St SW, Cedar Rapids

“Very intelligent when it comes to everything down to the little details and always has a smile on his face.”

— Dylan C.

David Basinger, bartender at Rodina in Cedar Rapids — Jav Ducker/Little Village

Shout-Outs!

Helen Rousher, George’s Buffet

“Homegirl been killing it for like 30 years.”

— Brycen M.

Tony S., Iowa City Yacht Club

“He’s spunky and fun, always making wonderful creations.”

— Cassie E.

Ernest Zaleckas, Joseph’s Steakhouse

“He consistently challenges himself to elevate his weekly feature cocktail to be more interesting and increasingly irresistible and engaging to the Joseph’s community. Its round of regulars have a particular taste and he understands just what they’re looking for in a unique and quality drink.”

— Isabelle P.

Best Restaurant Staff

Rodina

1507 C St SW, Cedar Rapids

“The name itself means ‘family’ in Czech, and their staff really takes it to heart to make you feel like you’re at home when you’re there!”

— Julie C.

Rodina owners Phoebe and Samuel Charles with bartender David Basinger — Jav Ducker/Little Village

Shout-Outs!

Maggie’s Wood-Fired Pizza

“They are incredibly friendly, considerate, personable and make every trip feel like you’re with family!”

— Kenzie C.

Midtown 1

“They get to know their patrons and their preferences. They’re fun and knowledgeable.”

— Anne T.

Monica’s

“Monica’s restaurant has a wonderfully warm and welcoming service staff that is professional and polished!”

— M.H.

Pullman Bar & Diner

“Awesome people, even better food.”

— Josh D.

Stella

“They care. Immensely. Game day grind is theirs, they own it and pull it off weekly.”

— Cassie L.

Best Food-Scene Game-Changer

Rodina

1507 C St SW, Cedar Rapids

“They’re taking local and sustainable food seriously, while creating beautiful and delicious plates for you to share with loved ones.”

— Julia C.

Rodina serves its dishes family style. — Jav Ducker/Little Village

Shout-Outs!

Caucho

“They do tacos and tequila but like turned way up.”

— Rachel M.

Four Square Meals Food Truck

“What?!? Is that VEGAN food in a food truck? Yes, please!”

— Angela L.

La Vecina Restaurante

“Authentic South American cuisine. No fryers, and love the pineapple on the spit.”

— Diana K.L.

St. Burch Tavern

“The Den at St. Burch is very unique. Nothing else like it around the area!”

— Abby K.

Best Place for a Business Lunch

Goosetown Cafe

203 N Linn St, Iowa City

“With all the natural light and openness of the dining area, this place is the perfect spot to have a lunch where you talk about important things. I feel smarter just by walking in the door.”

— Carla B.

Goosetown Cafe’s Duck Pot Pie. — Zach Berg/Little Village

Best Cocktail Menu

Clinton Street Social Club

18 1/2 S Clinton St, Iowa City

“From classic to classy, their cocktails are on point. The unique atmosphere helps.”

— Matthieu B.

Shout-Outs!

Cobble Hill Eatery and Dispensary

“Like the food menu, the cocktails change with the season, but the Oak Old-Fashioned always on the menu puts it over the top.”

— Chris F.

Goosetown Cafe

“I love that they offer beautiful no- and low-proof cocktails.”

— Sasha A.

Best Restaurant to Take Your Parents

Basta Pizzeria Ristorante

121 Iowa Ave, Iowa City

Basta’s Burrata — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Shout-Outs!

Big Grove Brewery

“Big Grove has something for everyone, not to mention good comfort food. Rack up that beer bill and let Mom and Dad cover!”

— Katrina S.A

Hamburg Inn

“There is something for everything at Hamburg Inn, and the political ephemera makes the parents squirm; great fun!”

— Angela L.

Rodina

“Everyone will find something on the menu to love, the space is cool but in a way your parents will like, and heck, the name means family!!”

— Cindy S.

Best Restaurant for a First Date

Basta Pizzeria Ristorante

121 Iowa Ave, Iowa City

Shout-Outs!

Brix Cheese Shop & Wine Bar

“The ambiance encourages talk and lingering.”

— Mark P.

Hamburg Inn

“I took one to the Hamburg in 1992. We are still together.”

— Laurie

Lincoln Winebar

“Lincoln Winebar in Mount Vernon is perfect for a first date—a little bit of a drive for the non-native Vernonites (all the better for some pre-date chats and scenery), a wine list to die for (or impress your date with), the best pizza in the area (‘What good taste you have.’ -Your date), and then a drive home for a little hand-holding in the car. A perfect date.”

— Ellen W.

Lion Bridge Brewing Company

“Fun atmosphere and reliably good beer and food (so even if the date tanks, it’s a good night).”

— P.H.

Sanctuary Pub

“Fire-lit dinner and drinks but without all the pressure of being so ~*Romantic*~”

— Cooper M.

Best Soul Food

Vivian’s Soul Food

4342 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids (moving soon!)

“Soul food will be forever judged by the quality of the fried chicken, collard greens, and red beans and rice. Vivian’s dominates them all.”

— Chad C.

Jerome and Briana Smallwood of Vivian’s Soul Food in Cedar Rapids — Jav Ducker/Little Village

Best Pizza — TIE!

Pagliai’s Pizza

302 E Bloomington St, Iowa City

Wig & Pen

302 E Bloomington St, Iowa City
363 N 1st Ave, Iowa City
201 Hwy 965 NE, North Liberty

Shout-Outs!

Need Pizza

“The CRUST. The SELECTION. The AQUARIUM.”

— Sydney B.

Tomaso’s Pizza

“I will die on this beautiful, well-seasoned, thin-crust hill.”

— Bridget W.

Best Barbecue

Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack

1940 Lower Muscatine Rd, Iowa City
745 Community Dr Suite F, North Liberty

“So good! Smoked wings and fatty brisket are so delicious!”

— Lisa-Ann J.

Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack began bottling and selling their signature sauces in fall 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Shout-Outs!

Pop’s BBQ

“I grew up in Des Moines, eating some of the best barbecue around. When I moved to the area, I wondered where the best barbecue would be. I found it at Pop’s. Their blueberry habanero sauce is exceptional!!!”

— Harold S.

QDogs BBQ Company

“The pork and brisket are so good I rarely use any sauce. The dry rub is enough. The cornbread is addicting.”

— John W.

Best Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Cuisine

Oasis

206 N Linn St, Iowa City

“The best effing hummus, hands down.”

— A.T.

Oasis Falafel, Iowa City
Oasis Falafel, Iowa City — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Best South Asian Cuisine

Masala

9 S Dubuque St, Iowa City

Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Shout-Outs!

Taste of India

“It’s worth a special trip for the chana poori alone. Scoop the chickpea stew with fried puffy bread. I also appreciate that they have lots of vegan options, and they’re clearly marked on the menu.”

— Cadry N.

Best Latin/South American Cuisine

La Regia Taqueria

436 Hwy 1 W, Iowa City

La Regia Taqueria, Iowa City — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Shout-Outs!

Don Miguel’s Tienda Mexicana

“I can’t say enough about Don Miguel’s. Their food is fantastic. Their space is honest and unpretentious. Their staff are incredibly warm and accommodating and the service is always great. They are my favorite Mexican restaurant.”

— Dylan N.

La Vecina Restaurante

“La Vecina has twists on traditional Mexican food, and is able to pull them off successfully. Everything we’ve tried was delicious!”

— Matthew S.

Best East/Southeast Asian Cuisine

Thai Spice

1210 S Gilbert St #200, Iowa City
725 Mormon Trek Blvd, Iowa City

“I just spent two weeks in Bangkok eating all the Thai food I could find and what amazed me the most was how much it compared to Thai Spice. Nothing can touch the freshness of the seafood in Bangkok — but, Thai Spice is about as close as you’ll get as far as flavor goes.”

— Kyle H.

Shout-Outs!

Nara Thai

“Great Thai spice (like, holy cow). You can taste the love in the food.”

— Phoebe C.

Panda Lin

“Delicious, affordable and such a kind family. Hidden gem. 10/10.”

— Jacob P.

Soseki Cafe

“Freshest seafood, just-right ramen, affordable and fast!”

— Andrea J.

Best African Cuisine

Nile Ethiopian Restaurant

89 2nd St #2, Coralville

“The Nile is such a great place to go. Wonderful food, and it’s always fun to eat with your hands.”

— Rhiannon M.

Best Seafood

St. Burch Tavern

127 Iowa Ave, Iowa City

Best Patio/Outdoor Dining

Big Grove Brewery

1225 S Gilbert St, Iowa City

Shout-Outs!

Mickey’s Irish Pub

“Leaf through your new purchase from Prairie Lights with Scotch eggs and a summer shandy.”

— L.J.Y.

Rapid Creek Cidery

“Seriously, can you beat that view? No contest. The food’s not bad either.”

— Rachel S.

Tin Roost

“Tin Roost is beautiful with the view of the small pond and huge fireplaces.”

— V.I.

Best Restaurant for Delivery

Oasis

206 N Linn St, Iowa City

Best Late-Night Food

George’s Buffet

312 E Market St, Iowa City

“The simplicity of the burgers here contradict the overwhelming joy experienced when you’re consuming one. Especially when you’re drunk.”

— Kyle W.

A George’s burger — Frankie Schneckloth/Little Village

Shout-Outs!

Estela’s Fresh Mex

“I live near them and sometimes go over for a burrito at midnight!”

— Jamie H.

Jianghu Asian Street Food

“The hand-pulled noodles and spicy oil are the best night-cap.”

— Andrea J.

Marco’s Grilled Cheese

“Delicious, fast and iconic.”

— Addie B.

Mesa Pizza

”Whatever your favorite drunk food may be, you can get it here on a portable slice of dough.”

— Tyler S.

Best Fries

Oasis

206 N Linn St, Iowa City

“Hands-down the best fries! I tell anyone who will listen.”

— Bridget T.

Best European Cuisine

Baroncini Ristorante Italiano

104 S Linn St, Iowa City

“I was attacked by birds the whole time I dined on their patio, but the meal was still overwhelmingly positive and memorable. You’ve never had a ravioli with such a deep flavor profile. My eyes rolled further back in my head the longer I chewed. The birds swooped closer and grew louder. My vision blurred, then darkened, then halted. The dew fell all around me the next morning, but I remained dry. It was the ravioli. It had nourished me. It protected me. Baroncini. They have a great bar program and the wait staff is very knowledgeable and cool! My server was fun to talk to and explained every single dish to me because I don’t know the simplest Italian and all the dishes are traditionally named.”

— Kyle W.

Baroncini Ristorante Italiano, Iowa City — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Best Baked Goods

Deluxe Cakes and Pastries

812 S Summit St, Iowa City

“I think about those Russian Tea Cookies on my good days, on my bad days, on sunny days, on rainy days… on the days of the week that end in ‘day.’”

— Kaci C.

Jamie Powers, owner and head chef at Deluxe Cakes and Pastries

Shout-Outs!

Deb’s Ice Cream & Deli

“Deb’s makes a seven-layer bar that is divine. Their baked goods are bake-sale style and super yummy.”

— V.I.

Great Harvest Bread Company, Cedar Rapids

“Delicious, fresh-baked products, made with ingredients you can pronounce. Wonderful staff.”

— Ron A.

Best Cold Treat

Heyn’s Ice Cream

811 S 1st Ave, Iowa City
25 E Cherry St, North Liberty

“They offer over 40 different flavors of delicious ice cream, and they are a local business! How can anyone be more awesome?”

— Noel V.

Heyn’s Ice Cream — Frankie Schneckloth

Shout-Outs!

Aspen Leaf

“Monthly fro-yo flavors, free samples and Saf is the friendliest owner on the Ped Mall.”

— Maria K.

Dane’s Dairy

“Dane’s Dairy twist cone. Nothing says summer evening in IC like a trip to Dane’s.”

— L.J.Y.

Moo Moo’s Ice Cream Truck

“They serve all Iowa-made goodies (even dog treats!) and have the friendliest drivers!”

— Jill F.

Best Breakfast/Brunch

Bluebird Diner

650 W Cherry St #9, North Liberty
330 E Market St, Iowa City

“Pancakes? Eggs Benedict? Biscuits and Gravy? HOW DO I DECIDE.”

— Emma V.B.

Bluebird Diner’s derby pie. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Shout-Outs!

El Bandito’s

“Bandito’s in Iowa City is the best, and remains woefully overlooked—though it’s great to watch suckers spend an hour waiting for Bluebird across the street while I’m enjoying delicious breakfast tacos.”

— Nick K.

Billy’s High Hat Diner

“Amazing food, amazing prices, amazing service, always a friendly and cozy environment. Everything on the menu is dee-lish.”

— R.R.

Deluxe Sunday Brunch

“I’ve driven 100 miles for it!”

— Hiedi L.

Rapid Creek Cidery

“OMG the Dutch Apple Pancake.”

— C.V.

Best Farmers Market Vendor — TIE!

Pavelka’s Point Meats

Hoffman Family Farm & Forage

Best CSA

Echollective

Mechanicsville

“Echollective Farm’s CSA has been such an institution for so long! The variety and quality is excellent, and Farmer Molly is sure to include food justice tidbits in the newsletter, alongside tried-and-true recipes. They are organic in name and practice, and deserve their reputation for excellence.”

— Ellen W.

Shout-Outs!

Shanti Sellz at Walker Homestead

“The biggest reason I almost didn’t sign up for this CSA was because of the drive involved, but now the drive involved (and the beautiful layout of the Walker Homestead) is my favorite part of the CSA.”

— Lucas B.

Morning Glory

“Keeps me in delicious fresh veggies from spring till fall.”

— Meaghan H.

Best Grocery Store

New Pioneer Food Co-op

1101 2nd St, Coralville
22 S Van Buren St, Iowa City
3338 Center Point Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

New Pioneer Food Co-op, Iowa City

Best Produce

New Pioneer Food Co-op

1101 2nd St, Coralville
22 S Van Buren St, Iowa City
3338 Center Point Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

Best Local Farm

Echollective

Mechanicsville

Echollective Farm — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Best Coffeehouse

The Java House

211 E Washington St, Iowa City
1575 S 1st Ave, Iowa City
713 Mormon Trek Blvd

“I have never been disappointed by anything I’ve gotten here and I have been here a lot! They do such a great job of training their staff and they’re attract some super friendly people to work there.”

— Kaitlin S.

“American Gothic + amazing baristas = bliss.”

— Amelia K.

Shout-Outs!

Dash Coffee Roasters

“I was so happy when they came to Iowa City. They hands-down have the best lattes, coffee and matcha in town.”

— Rhiannon M.

Dodge Street Coffeehouse

“You can go through the drive-thru without taking kids out of the car OR you can take the kids to the hip play area and sip your coffee in peace!”

— Krista B.

Lightworks Cafe

“Lightworks is the hippest lil’ do-your-work-with-a-coffee joint in town. The coffee is always fresh and boldly delicious but the food… it has overtaken all of my old go-to breakfast spots as the place to eat breakfast when I do eat breakfast. GIVE ME MORE VEGGIE HASH AND BREAKFAST TACOS!!!”

— August S.

Best Craft Brewery

Big Grove Brewery

101 W Main St, Solon
1225 S Gilbert St, Iowa City

“Ever-expanding lineup and always delicious, with a great brand and gathering space.”

— Jake V.

Zak Neumann/Little Village

Shout-Outs!

Lion Bridge Brewing Company

“Disaster at Meux and Compensation are the best beers in Iowa. And beyond.”

— Erin H.G.

Thew Brewing Company

“Amazing beers without the pretentiousness of most craft breweries!”

— Edward R.

See who else won!


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