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 a number of vegan options – including raw cuisine, tacos, curries, pizza, 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. They remind me of the raw tacos with walnut filling 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.
My favorite option at Newbo is a rice & bean eatery, 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-vegan restaurants in Cedar Rapids
Lightworks Café in Cedar Rapids is a non-vegan coffee shop & cafe 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.
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 (shown above on a New York-style thin crust).
Gumption is a sweet coffee shop with vegan & non-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.
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)
- 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.)
Keep in mind that the chilaquiles dish on the menu 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 vegan tofu scramble to them, and it helped a lot. With a vegan sub for the eggs, they would be top notch.
(Update: When I messaged them recently, they said they’ll add fried cauliflower to the chilaquiles. I think that would really help! So be sure to ask about that when you order.)
Caucho gets very busy on Friday and Saturday nights. If you’re going with a big group, reservations are recommended.
Originally posted January 2018. New & updated options posted April 2019.