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. (But not at the same time.)
It’s also where you can find vegetarian restaurants Cedar Rapids & a number of vegan options – including tacos, curries, pizza, and bowls.
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.
My favorite option at Newbo is a rice & bean eatery and vegetarian restaurant Cedar Rapids, The Full Bowl.
Everything is vegan at The Full Bowl, except for the option of adding dairy cheese to one bowl (the No Coast bowl.)
Like all of the other businesses at Newbo, The Full Bowl is very casual. You just order at the counter, and then find seating in the public areas. But that also means there’s virtually no wait.
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 vegetarian restaurants Cedar Rapids
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, plantains, escabeche, guacamole, salsa & chips.
The items that can be prepared vegan with a few substitutions are:
- arroz (omit cheese)
- frijoles (omit cheese)
- chilaquiles (omit animal products for vegan substitutions of fried cauliflower, cashew crema, avocado, and pumpkin seed “chorizo”)
- calabaza squash tacos (omit cheese, substitute with cashew crema)
Guacamole is always a win, of course.
(The vegan legumbres tacos shown above have been replaced by squash tacos, which also include black beans.)
Caucho gets very busy on Friday and Saturday nights. If you’re going with a big group, reservations are recommended.
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 and low lighting.
Taste of India gets busy on the weekends. So make reservations if you want to get seated right away.
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, and there are A LOT of them.
On their website they note that a separate clay oven, pots, and pans are used for cooking vegetarian dishes, away from the non-vegetarian ones.
Start with vegetable samosas, which are generously sized and stuffed with potatoes and peas. They are served with tamarind and cilantro chutneys. The cilantro chutney is especially fresh & vibrant.
My favorite item on the menu is chana poori. This chickpea dish has rich, round flavors. It’s served with poori, a fried puffy bread, like a pillow on a plate.
It’s in the appetizers section, but it works just as well as a main dish.
David’s favorite is aloo mutter with potatoes and green peas in a tomato sauce.
I also recommend the lentil dal in a sauce with onions and garlic, and pindi chana with chickpeas, ginger, garlic, and onions in a tomato sauce.
Don’t forget the fluffy rice and tandoori roti.
Everything is balanced in flavor with a good kick of heat. (We order it medium spicy.)
There are lots of options for vegans at Cappy’s Pizzeria.
Calzones, deep dish pizza, as well as a New York-style thin crust can all be made vegan.
(Plus, how fun are their repurposed record cover menus?)
The crust and pizza sauce are vegan by default. And they offer vegan cheese for an additional fee.
Start with breadsticks. You can get them brushed with oil instead of butter as a vegan option. Or get them with vegan cheese on top.
Their vegan pizza topping options include: red onion, mushrooms, spinach, fresh garlic, black and green olives, fresh basil, jalapeños, tomatoes, green peppers, artichokes, and pineapple.
They’re also the first pizza place in the area to offer the Impossible Burger for their pizzas. It’s shown above on a New York-style thin crust.
It was on a vegan cheeseburger pizza, which was a special. Fingers crossed they bring it back as a permanent menu item!
Lightworks Café is a non vegetarian Cedar Rapids restaurant and coffee shop with vegan options. The breezy space is a lovely option for lunch. You can easily hang out afterwards, checking emails or catching up with friends.
You’ll likely want to get Siri involved when you’re looking for Lightworks. It’s a bit hidden behind Benz Beverage Depot.
While you’re there, try the 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 black bean tacos are also worth getting. They’re topped with pickled red cabbage, pico de gallo, and vegan avocado aioli.
Other vegan menu items include black garlic Brussels sprouts, fries, fruit cup, chips, and salsa.
Gumption is a non vegetarian Cedar Rapids restaurant & coffee shop with vegan options.
Vegan breakfast is a rare commodity in these parts. 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.
At lunchtime they offer Not Yo’ Cheese Dip, which is a warm dip with Mexican flavors. The thick & tomato-y spread is hearty & filling.
They also offer a chickpea salad sandwich. The sandwich is very similar to the vegan tuna salad I make at home. It’s toasted and filled with cucumbers and bell pepper.
Cedar Rapids vegetarian restaurant, Rawlicious, has closed while they look for a new location. They used to be on this list. I’ll keep you posted when they’re back in action again!
Originally posted January 2018. New & updated options posted April 2019.