Best of the CRANDIC 2020: Food & Drink

The results are in! Browse the winners of Little Village’s 2020 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.

Presented by CHOMP Delivery

Best Restaurant: Rodina

1507 C St SW, Cedar Rapids

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

Rodina’s food is such a great evolution of food in Iowa —the combination of classic dishes from Czech and German culture, produce from local farms, and other staples from local makers makes this place so special and unique to our part of the world and we should cherish it like the treasure it is. — Liz K.

Runner-up: Trumpet Blossom Cafe

Best Cocktail Menu: Clinton Street Social Club

18 1/2 S Clinton St, Iowa City

Speakeasy realness. — Karlē M.

Runner-up: Rodina

Best Chef: Katy Meyer, Trumpet Blossom Cafe

310 E Prentiss St, Iowa City

Katy Meyer, chef and owner of Trumpet Blossom Cafe. — Jason Smith/Little Village

Katy makes magic out of plants. There is a reason she sells aiolis by the deli container…. — Kate M.

Chef Katy cares about our local growers and community, our environment, and the animals with whom we share our time on Earth. And everything she makes is pretty damn delicious, too. — Sara J.P.

Runner-up: Sam Charles, Rodina

Best Bartender: David Basinger, Rodina

David Basinger, bartender at Rodina in Cedar Rapids, 2019. — Jav Ducker/Little Village

One thing that’s constantly apparent about David is his love for bartending. Not only does he always have a smile on his face, he brings immense skill and positivity with him. — Dylan C.

Runner-up: Carlos Amaya, Deadwood

Puts the “tender” in bartender. — Michael T.

He’s everything you want in a great tender. I love his attitude and his service. He’s a really amazing person, just pop in and see for yourself. — Cassie L.

Best Restaurant Staff: Pullman Bar and Diner

17 S Dubuque St, Iowa City

Pullman Diner, March 2020. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Pullman’s staff is the best! Always greeted with kindness and a smile, the waitstaff is attentive and knowledgeable, and if you sit at the bar, watching the cook staff is entertainment in itself. — Sara F.

Runner-up: Rodina

Best Food-Scene Game-Changer: Rodina

Runner-up: Trumpet Blossom

Best Grocery Store: New Pioneer Food Co-op

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

New Pioneer Co-op, Iowa City
Produce at New Pioneer Food Co-op, Iowa City
Runner-up: John’s Grocery

Best Produce: New Pioneer Food Co-op

Runner-up: Iowa City Farmers Market

Best Farmers Market Vendor: Hoffman Farms

625 W Mount Vernon Rd, Mount Vernon

Runner-up: Pavelka’s Point

Best Local Farm: Echollective Farm

879 Echo Ave, Mechanicsville

Echollective puts their money where their mouth is. They offer sliding scale CSA shares for folks with limited resources and donate so much beautiful produce to local nonprofits. — John B.

Runner-up: Kroul Farms

Best CSA: Echollective Farm

Runner-up: Kroul Farms

Best Craft Brewery: Big Grove Brewery

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

Zak Neumann/Little Village

Their Saturday morning drive-through featuring new pours got me through the first months of social distancing. — Em B.

Runner-up: Lion Bridge Brewing Company

Best Coffeehouse: Dash Coffee Roasters

287 N Linn St, Iowa City
120 3rd Ave SW, Ste 2, Cedar Rapids

Pirate Pup Coffee — courtesy of Dash Coffee Roaster

Dash not only roasts the best coffee in the Corridor, but creates some of the most unique coffee drinks I’ve ever had and provides one of the best environments for either lunch or a quick chat. The baristas go out of their way to treat visitors by name and make everyone feel welcome—a testament to the environment created by the owners. Dash has been a great addition not only to the CR and IC coffee scenes, but to our communities in general. — Matt C.

Runner-up: Prairie Lights Cafe

Best Restaurant for Delivery/Takeout: Oasis Falafel

206 N Linn St, Iowa City

Oasis Falafel owners Naftaly Stramer and Ofer Sivan in front of their Northside Iowa City restaurant. — Zak Neumann/Little Village
Runner-up: La Regia

Best Place for a Business Lunch: Goosetown Cafe

203 N Linn St, Iowa City

Goosetown Cafe’s Duck Pot Pie, April 30, 2019. — Zach Berg/Little Village
Runner-up: Pullman Diner

Best Restaurant to Take Your Parents To: Basta

121 Iowa Ave, Iowa City

Runner-up: Rapid Creek Cidery

Best Restaurant for a First Date: Clinton Street Social Club

Not over-the-top fancy, but as a 30-something, just enough classy to say, “We’re adults who like good food, good cocktails and want to be able to have a conversation without having to raise our voice over all of the other people and music in the restaurant.” — Jamie H.

The aesthetic, music, lighting..:. It’s all a vibe. — Andrea P.

Runner-up: Basta

Best Pizza: A&A Pagliai’s Pizza

302 E Bloomington St, Iowa City

Pagliai’s Pizza in Iowa City — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Pizza worth moving back home for. — Liz K.

Runner-up: Wig and Pen

Best Burger: Short’s Burger and Shine

18 S Clinton St, Iowa City
521 Westbury Dr, Iowa City
780 11th St, Marion

Simple presentation but when I leave I feel satisfied for the next three days. — D.T.

Runner-up: Stella

Best Fries: Oasis Falafel

Runner-up: Big Grove Brewery

Best Bakery: Deluxe Cakes and Pastries

812 S Summit St, Iowa City

Deluxe sandwiches — Zak Neumann/Little Village

My guilty pleasure is the Russian tea cakes. When I have a bad day I pick up a dozen and POOF no more bad day. — Alea W.

Every time I’m in Deluxe I want to stuff every single pastry in my mouth. When I’m not there, I wish I were so I could stuff every single pastry in my mouth. — Jav D.

Runner-up: Molly’s Cupcakes

Best Cold Treats: Heyn’s Ice Cream

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

Heyn’s Ice Cream — Frankie Schneckloth/Little Village

No doubt about it. Best scoop in the Iowa City area. Any day of the year. I think I went there on a very cold day this year…when you want Coffee Oreo Ice Cream, you want it. — Jamie H.

Runner-up: Yotopia

Best Breakfast/Brunch: Bluebird Cafe and Diner

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

Bluebird Dinner’s derby pie won peoples choice in the desert category. Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. — Zak Neumann/Little Village
Runner-up: The Dandy Lion

Best Late-Night Food: George’s Buffet

312 E Market St, Iowa City

George’s Buffet — Bill Adams

After a few drinks, completely sober, or somewhere in between, the burgers are always craveable. — Charles B.

Runner-up: Estela’s Fresh Mex

This place came in and blew my previous favorite burrito place out of the water. Open late and delicious. — Jesslyn C.

Best Barbecue: Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack

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

Jimmy Jack’s new bottled sauces, Thursday, Oct 3, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village
Runner-up: Mosley’s Barbecue and Provisions

Best Soul Food: Vivian’s Soul Food

2925 Williams Pkwy SW, Cedar Rapids

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

The catfish at Vivian’s is indescribable. Truly a life-changing experience. — Jennie J.

Runner-up: Sugapeach

Best Latin/South American Cuisine or Market: La Regia Taqueria

436 Hwy 1 W, Iowa City

Street tacos from La Regia Taqueria, 436 Highway 1 West, Iowa City. — Frankie Schneckloth/Little Village

Totally impeccable for learning about and totally enjoying solid Mexican food. Talk about explosion from food truck to commercial empire — wow, La Regia killed it. Led the charge into the Corridor’s new golden age of taco places. Take your family plus a bunch of friends here on a Saturday afternoon and just order all the stuff from the menu that you have never eaten before—it will be awesome. — W.S.

Runner-up: Maestro Empanadas

Best European Cuisine or Market: Baroncini Ristorante Italiano

104 S Linn St, Iowa City

Runner-up: Crepes de Luxe

Best Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Cuisine or Market: Oasis Falafel

How the heck is the hummus that damn good? I can’t live without it! — Phoebe C.

Their hummus is addictive and makes all other hummus jealous. — Sara R.

Runner-up: Tabooleh

Best African Cuisine or Market: MODINA African Market

399 IA-1, Iowa City

Runner-up: Iowa City African and Oriental Market

Best East/Southeast Asian Cuisine or Market (China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, etc.): Thai Spice

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

The BBQ Beef and Pad Bai Ka-Prao with Shrimp from Thai Spice. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village
Runner-up: JiangHu Asian Street Food

Best South Asian Cuisine or Market (India, Pakistan, etc.): Masala Indian Cuisine

9 S Dubuque St, Iowa City

Masala is a genuine treasure and every visit is a delicious delight. — Jane M.

Runner-up: Exotic India

Best Seafood: St. Burch Tavern

127 Iowa Ave, Iowa City

Runner-up: Soseki Cafe

Best Patio/Outdoor Dining: Big Grove Brewery

Big Grove has the biggest and most beautiful patio in the Corridor. The landscaping and design are wonderful, too. — Mikala D.

So many dogs to ogle. — Brooke D.H.

Runner-up: Vue Rooftop

Can’t beat eating with a view for miles around! — Karen P.

Most Commendable COVID-19 Precaution Game: Maestro Empanadas

423 10th Ave, Coralville

A fresh empanada from Maestro Empanadas in Coralville. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Cristian’s empanadas are otherworldly. His chimichurri sauce is the nectar of the gods. He’s incredibly generous and donates food to the community as well. — John B.

Runner-up: Big Grove Brewery

Best Liquor Store: John’s Grocery Store

401 E Market St, Iowa City

DJ Matthews stands in the aisles of John’s Grocery in Iowa City. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Their response to COVID was kind, responsible and on point. — Matt F.

Runner-up: Bootleggin’ Barzini’s

Best Atmosphere: Deadwood Tavern

6 S Dubuque St, Iowa City

It’s where folks in the know go to have fun and get stupid. — Matthew L.

Runner-up: Rodina

Best Gluten-Free-Friendly Options: Her Soup Kitchen

625 S Dubuque St, Iowa City

Barb Farnsworth in front of Her Soup Kitchen in Iowa City, November 2020. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village
Runner-up: Trumpet Blossom Cafe

Best Use of Local Ingredients: Rodina

Runner-up: Big Grove Brewery

Best Chicken Wings: Vine Tavern

330 E Prentiss St, Iowa City
39 2nd Ave, Coralville

Runner-up: 2 Dogs Pub

Best Beer Selection: John’s Grocery

They go out of their way to source a great selection of beers. — Michael B.

John’s Grocery forever and ever and needs to be protected at all costs. — Megz S.

Runner-up: 30hop

Best Wine Selection: John’s Grocery

The wine section of John’s Grocery. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village
Runner-up: Brix Cheese and Wine Shop

Best Sushi: Oyama Sushi and Steakhouse

1853 Lower Muscatine Rd, Iowa City

Runner-up: Soseki Cafe

A quarantine discovery based on a ton of recommendations from the IC Quarantine Facebook group. Their sushi is my silver lining! — Jacki M.

Best Pub Food: Shakespeare’s

Runner-up: Micky’s Irish Pub

Best Dive Bar: George’s Buffet

Runner-up: Deadwood

Best Doughnuts: Daylight Donuts

1681 S 1st Ave, Iowa City

Bags of dounut holes ready to go at Daylight Dounuts. Thursday, May 9, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village
Runner-up: Hurts Donut Company

Best Restaurant to Cure Your Hangover: Bluebird Cafe and Diner

The green chili is the perfect hangover cure. — Ben C.

Runner-up: Hamburg Inn

Pie shake power-up. — Ched W.

Best Tacos: La Regia Taqueria

To say there are better tacos than La Regia is to lie to yourself and to God. — Nick B.

Runner-up: El Banditos

I dream about the Perez Family Tacos. — Stephanie W.

Most Innovative Menu: Trumpet Blossom Cafe

A vegan pumpkin tart from Katy Meyer, chef at Trumpet Blossom Cafe. — courtesy of Jenni Cannella

Everyone should remember Trumpet Blossom for a great place to go with your vegetarian and vegan family and friends or just when you want to try some great food in a fun restaurant. — Justin F.

Runner-up: Rodina

Best Appetizers/Small Plates: Clinton Street Social Club

Runner-up: Brix Cheese and Wine Shop

Best Vegan Options: Trumpet Blossom Cafe

Katy Meyer prepares a dish at Trumpet Blossom Cafe in Iowa City, November 2020. — Jason Smith/Little Village

They have got delicious vegan cuisine down to a T. I bring all my friends who haven’t tried it yet there and everyone loves it; even the non-vegans! — Wendy V.

Give it to me, pickle daddy. — Patrick B.

Runner-up: Oasis Falafel

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 289.

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