Heading to eastern Iowa? Today I’m highlighting vegetarian restaurants Cedar Rapids + places with vegan options.
Cedar Rapids is the second largest city in Iowa. It was once home to Grant Wood, Ashton Kutcher, and Elijah Wood. It’s also where you can find a number of vegan options – including raw cuisine, tacos, curries, and bowls.
Vegetarian restaurants Cedar Rapids
Rawlicious is a Cedar Rapids vegetarian restaurant across the street from Newbo City Market. The restaurant is mostly vegan, as the only non-vegan item on the menu is honey.
Rawlicious is tucked inside of a Delve MIY, a fabric shop. It’s easy to miss it from the sidewalk, but it’s worth seeking out. At the back of the fabric shop, there’s a bar with seating, plus a couple of tables further in the back.
Some of their menu items include:
Taco salad bowl (above), which is topped with nut meat, tomatoes, guacamole, onions, salsa, cashew sour cream, French-style dressing, and a side of house-made chips.
Raw tacos (below) with crumbled taco meat in romaine lettuce leaves. They are topped with guacamole, salsa, and cashew sour cream. They have a nice little kick of spice and remind me of the raw tacos I make at home.
They also have rotating specials like this soup and salad combo with wild rice & mushroom soup.
The flavors reminded me of the double lentil & mushroom soup I like to make in the winter.
Another special was this raw lasagna, made with raw zucchini noodles and layered with almond ricotta cheese, basil pesto, and mushrooms. It packed a wallop of flavor with every bite.
Everything I’ve tried has had well balanced flavors and was wonderfully fresh. It would be great if the portions were a little bigger.
Don’t leave without getting their strawberry milkshake made with strawberries, nut milk, dates, and vanilla or one of their raw desserts, like this mudslide pie.
Newbo City Market & The Full Bowl
When people come in from out of town, Newbo City Market is a fun place to take them. It’s an indoor market with lots of food vendors, a few shops, and a bar area. In the summer months, they have outdoor music on Friday nights.
It seems the businesses inside of Newbo City Market are always changing. However, there are consistently vegan options inside.
(To see what kind of vegan offerings you’ll find at Dumpling Darling, read this post on vegan Iowa City, where they also have a location. Keep in mind, though, that the menus are a little different.)
At The Full Bowl everything is vegan, except for the option of adding dairy cheese to one bowl (the No Coast bowl.)
The menu changes weekly. However, chana masala and the No Coast bowl are usually on the menu.
The chana masala is delightfully spicy and comes on a bed of brown rice with mint cilantro & mango chutney on top.
The No Coast bowl is made with black beans over brown rice. It’s topped with salsa and house-made vegan cashew sour cream. Avocado can be added for an additional charge.
The Cajun red beans & rice bowl is hearty and packed with red kidney beans, celery, carrots, and seitan sausage.
Vegan options at non-vegan restaurants
Lightworks Café in Cedar Rapids is a non-vegan coffee shop & cafe with vegan options. The breezy space is a lovely option for lunch, where you can easily hang out afterwards, checking emails or catching up with friends.
They’re open Monday through Saturday from 6 am to 3 pm.
Be sure to try their smoked cauliflower tacos with avocado aioli, pickled cabbage, and pico de gallo. The smoked and seared cauliflower has a wonderful depth of flavor. The tacos are served on your choice of flour or corn tortilla. (The flour tortillas are pictured here.)
You can see other things I’ve tried at Lightworks Café on this post about Corridor Veg Week.
Taste of India
Taste of India in Cedar Rapids is located in a strip mall, off the beaten path from other more bustling areas of the city. The interior is nicely decorated with a fountain, low lighting, and relaxing atmosphere.
As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted with a wave of enticing spices. One step inside the door and every member of our group exclaimed, “Well, it certainly smells good!”
Vegan items are marked on the menu; however, there are more options that are vegan as-is or can be prepared that way. So if there is something vegetarian on the menu that interests you, ask your server if it can be prepared vegan.
On their website that they note that a separate clay oven, pots, and pans are used for cooking vegetarian dishes, away from the non-vegetarian ones.
We started with vegetable samosas, which were generously sized and stuffed with potatoes and peas. On the side were the usual tamarind and cilantro chutneys.
Also from the appetizers menu, I asked about chana bhatura. I still dream about the (veganized) chana bhatura I got from Shree Indian Vegetarian in Westmont, Illinois.
While it’s typically served with bhatura, as the name would suggest, and not vegan, they said it could be prepared that way with poori instead. Poori is a fried puffy bread, like a pillow on a plate.
This well-spiced dish was one of the highlights of the dinner.
For dinner, we ordered aloo mutter with potatoes and green peas in a tomato sauce, lentil dal in a sauce with onions and garlic, and pindi chana with chickpeas, ginger, garlic, and onions in a tomato sauce.
We also had fluffy rice and tandoori roti (without ghee).
Everything was balanced in flavor, hearty, and with a good kick of heat. We ordered it medium spicy and were glad that we did. It was just the right amount.
I look forward to visiting Taste of India many more times in the future to sample more vegan items from their menu.
Gumption is a sweet coffee shop with vegan & non-vegan options. Vegan breakfast is a rare commodity in these parts, and Gumption has a few offerings. Although, I haven’t had a chance to try them yet.
Breakfast items include smoothie bowls, breakfast quinoa, and a sweet potato split with a warm sweet potato, peanut butter, bananas, and almonds.
When I visited Gumption, it was at lunchtime. I started with the Not Yo’ Cheese Dip, which is a hearty, Mexican-spiced dip. The thick & tomato-y spread is hearty & filling.
Then for my entrée, I went with a chickpea salad sandwich. The sandwich was very similar to the chickpea salad I make at home. It was toasted and filled with cucumbers and bell pepper.
For a nice evening out, Caucho is a non-vegan Mexican restaurant with warm and inviting ambience. They have a number of menu items that are either already vegan or can be prepared vegan.
The items that are vegan as-is include: curtido, escabeche, guacamole, salsa & chips.
The items that can be prepared vegan with a few substitutions are:
- arroz (omit cheese)
- frijoles (omit cheese)
- grilled cactus paddle (omit cheese & substitute sauce)
- vegan chilaquiles (omit animal products for vegan substitutions including avocado, frijoles, pepita chorizo & grilled vegetables)
- vegan legumbres tacos (omit cheese, substitutions available)
Guacamole is always a win, of course. And the vegan legumbres were nicely spiced and topped with guacamole and pickled onions.
Keep in mind that the chilaquiles dish was devised with non-vegans in mind. So even though there are some plant-based swaps, which I appreciate, I missed a vegan stand-in for the eggs. When I got home with my leftovers, I added tofu scramble to them, and it helped a lot. With a vegan sub for the eggs, they would be top notch.
Caucho gets very busy on Friday and Saturday nights. If you’re going with a big group, reservations are recommended.