Though it opened in 2018, LP Street Food, 3rd Ave SW in Cedar Rapids, looks like it easily could’ve been in its location for 50 years. It fits seamlessly into the ever-expanding Kingston Village neighborhood just west of downtown Cedar Rapids, and the look is more cozy and lived-in than brand new. That fits well with the food, which is as messy as it is tasty.
The street tacos, prepared with black beans, cashews, chorizo and cilantro coleslaw, are best eaten with a firm grip and a tilted head. The ramen comes with do-it-yourself pour-on broth with a strong peanut flavor, which is likely to spill on your shirt while you enjoy the mildly spicy noodles, veggies and pork belly. The poutine was a stand-out favorite — Philly beef is served over tater tots with herbs and a white queso cheese sauce. It’s filling, but the heavier ingredients, like the cheese sauce, are well-portioned to keep the dish from being too heavy.
Right after we arrived at the restaurant, some acquaintances walked through the door and asked if we had ever tried the food. When we said it was our first time, they replied, “Mmm, enjoy,” gesturing as though already digging into the food. The restaurant seems to already have a group of dedicated regulars and a super friendly vibe — like you could ask someone at the next table if you can try their food. There’s buzz about the ramen in particular, perhaps because it’s a somewhat rare dish to find in Cedar Rapids. It seems residents appreciate that it’s not just greasy, basic food that someone would want when intoxicated (although I’m sure it would taste good then, too). They’ve added thoughtful touches, like fresh basil and toasted nuts, to dishes that would otherwise be uncomplicated. The menu is small and curated — it only takes up one page — but there’s also a secret menu that I hear includes corn dogs and oysters (hopefully not together).
Herbs and elevated touches aside, the fried dishes are the stars. The parmesan tots are delicious and pair nicely with the large selection of beers, including many locally brewed options. It smelled like Crunch Berries downtown on the day we visited, so we obviously had to order the only dessert on the menu: a donut served on a stick with tons of cinnamon and a marmalade-type drizzle. It’s only related to a donut in that it’s made of fried dough — its shape is more like a donut disguised as a skewer of vegetables. The portion is generous; I only recommend ordering it if you have a group of friends that will help you conquer it. If you don’t, there’s most likely a seasoned LP Street Food eater at the next table who will lend a helping hand.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 261.