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 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.
Also inside of NewBo City Market, you can find non-dairy cheese & Impossible sausage for pizza at Aroma Artisan Pizza.
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 that way.
The items that are vegan as-is include: curtido, plantains, escabeche, guacamole, salsa & chips.
The items that can be made that way 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”)
- hongo tacos (omit cheese)
- Gringo tacos (omit cheese, substitute chorizo with vegan pepita chorizo & 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 is one of my favorite restaurants in Iowa. As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted with a wave of enticing spices.
Their restaurant is unassuming, located in a strip mall. It’s off the beaten path from other more bustling areas of the city. However, 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.
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 gobhi with potatoes and cauliflower. It’s stir-fried with onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, and spices.
For a saucier dish, try 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.
Everything is balanced in flavor with a good kick of heat. (We order it medium spicy.)
Don’t forget the fluffy rice and tandoori roti.
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 non-dairy cheese for an additional fee.
Start with breadsticks. You can get them brushed with oil instead of butter. Or get them with non-dairy cheese on top. They have vegan cheesy bread too!
Their plant-based pizza topping options include: red onion, mushrooms, spinach, fresh garlic, black and green olives, fresh basil, jalapeños, tomatoes, green peppers, artichokes, and pineapple.
They were 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’s great on a vegan cheeseburger pizza, but you have to ask for it. (It’s not listed on the menu.)
For a veg-forward breakfast or lunch, head over to Rawlicious, across the street from Newbo Market.
Rawlicious is a mostly raw, almost vegan restaurant. (The menu is free of animal products with the exception of honey in some items.)
Rawlicious was closed for a few months. However, it has opened back up again in the same space as before.
One plus – this time they aren’t sharing the space as before. Now it’s entirely their own.
The brightly-lit, airy space has stool-seating along the window. It is great for people watching. They also have several full-sized tables in the main dining area.
Most of the salads & entrees are around $14. Here are a few that I’ve tried:
This taco salad bowl is topped with nut meat, tomatoes, guacamole, salsa, cashew sour cream, and house-made chips.
They have crisp raw tacos served in romaine lettuce leaves. They are filled with crumbled taco meat, guacamole, salsa, and cashew sour cream.
They have a nice little kick of spice. They remind me of the raw tacos I like to make at home.
The Southwest ranch bowl includes black beans, olives, tomatoes, avocado, and cashew ranch.
If the weather is cold & gray, and you’re looking for something warm, they also offer rotating soup specials – like wild rice & mushroom or butternut squash.
Don’t leave without getting their strawberry milkshake made with strawberries, nut milk, dates, and vanilla. Or grab an item from their dessert case, like mudslide pie.
For more plant-based options in Eastern Iowa, check out this post on vegan Iowa City. I also have lists for the Quad Cities, Des Moines, Mason City, and Cedar Falls. And be sure to visit Iowa Farm Sanctuary when you get a chance!
Updated August 12, 2021. Originally posted January 13, 2018.