Crossing through the purple entrance curtain into the Map Room is a rewarding experience. Once inside, the modern patron is transformed by the little, nondescript, Cedar Rapids building into a world traveler from another age. The atmosphere at the Map Room is cozy with an old-world feel, the walls lined with world maps from periods when the contents lay only partially discovered.
The menu is suitably diverse, fitting the theme of the restaurant, and neatly combines modern American pub food with world flavors. Platters of fries offer a list of poutine-style options, ranging from the homegrown — beer cheese, chili, chipped beef — to the more exotic, such as the lomo saltado gravy.
An adventurous traveler can explore flavors from multiple continents over naan, from the Italian-themed Campania to the Agra, which is delicious naan smothered in garam masala, paneer, mango chutney and spiced peas.
The main attraction at the Map Room is without doubt the world-themed burgers. Thick, hearty, locally sourced beef is topped with ingredients from all across the globe: goat cheese and hummus on the Marrakesh Burger; green chili, braised pork and queso fresco atop the El Paso; kimchi and aioli on the Seoul. I thoroughly enjoyed the Saigon Burger: mortadella, ham, salami, cucumber cilantro, pickled jalapeños, carrots and radishes — a delicious flavor combination. An expansive list of build-your-own burger options exists as well, for those who desire to create unique, continent-spanning, fusion burgers.
One would not expect a tiny burger pub to provide a great deal of variety, but the Map Room does just that: flavorful combinations from around the globe, tastefully crafted into a (mostly) burger-and-fries platform, all in a cozy, serene setting. Add daily drink specials to the mix and one can experience a wide array of flavors in a single venue.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 239.