Tee’s Liberian Dish brings West African cuisine to Cedar Rapids

Chicken and jollof rice from Tee’s Liberian Dish, 1271 1st Ave SE in Cedar Rapids. — Malcolm MacDougall/Little Village

Teepeu Pewu had been thinking about opening a restaurant for a few years — and made that dream a reality earlier this summer.

Pewu is the owner of Tee’s Liberian Dish at 1271 1st Ave SE, the space that used to house Brewed Awakenings coffee shop. It is the only Liberian restaurant in the area, according to Pewu.

Tee’s Liberian Dish, 1271 1st Ave SE in Cedar Rapids. — Malcolm MacDougall/Little Village

“I feel so wonderful about it. I feel so excited about it,” Pewu said about having the restaurant open, adding that her family gave her the push she needed and has been extremely supportive of the venture.

Pewu did catering prior to opening Tee’s Liberian Dish. As word got out, she began to cook and sell meals from her home. But she found that some customers wanted to have a place to sit down to eat their lunch instead of taking it to go.

The new restaurant serves Liberian cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Entrees focus on rice, meats, different vegetables and a variety of sauces and gravies.

For breakfast, Pewu serves rice bread, shortbread, cornbread and sweet potatoes with gravy. Doughnuts made from scratch are also on the menu.

While there are plenty of options to choose from for lunch and dinner, Pewu said she recommends for everyone to try the jollof rice, which is a rice dish with chicken, onions, sweet pepper and sausage. Pewu said the jollof rice is “common to everybody,” and once someone tries the rice, they will most likely want to try another food.

Her favorite thing on the menu is the cassava leaf and rice, which has onions, peppers and either fish, beef or chicken.

Pewu and her husband Momolu first lived in New Jersey after immigrating to the United States in 2014 during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. They moved to Cedar Rapids three years ago.

Teepeu Pewu, owner of Tee’s Liberian Dish, 1271 1st Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids. — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

Pewu said her mother, who used to do catering in Africa, was the one who taught her how to cook. Pewu was 12 years old when her mother began to teach her how to cook for birthdays, graduations and other events.

“From that, I really started liking cooking what people will eat and be satisfied with what you cook,” Pewu said. “That was what made me love it more.”

“I love to cook. I cook every day, so it’s just part of me.”

Tee’s Liberian Dish is open Monday through Saturday, with Sundays reserved just for pick-up orders. Orders for Sunday pick-up need to be in by Saturday evening, Pewu said.

Breakfast is served from 7:30 to 10:45 a.m. Lunch starts being served by 11:30 a.m. up until dinner.

Cassava leaf and rice from Tee’s Liberian Dish, 1271 1st Ave SE in Cedar Rapids. — Malcolm MacDougall/Little Village
Front of the menu at Tee’s Liberian Dish, 1271 1st Ave SE in Cedar Rapids. The back of the menu includes breakfast items. — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

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