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Five Under The Radar Diners, Drive In’s and Deli’s in Cedar Rapids

They are not necessarily hidden or even off the beaten path, but they are a bit “under the radar”.

If you’re looking for something uniquely Iowa, you need to check out these five gems. These are some of the coolest places around, but they don’t get a lot of publicity.

And for my money these are five of the area’s favorite Diners, Drive In’s and Deli’s in and around Cedar Rapids. Whether you’re looking for the best wings, burger, sandwich, pizza or gyro, these five joints won’t let you down!


Photo: Dave/ Lebowski's
Photo: Dave/ Lebowski’s

1

Lebowski’s Bar & Grill, Robins

 

 

Lebowski’s is located just north of Cedar Rapids in Robins. This classic diner boasts one of the area’s biggest burgers: the Big Lebowski, with a pound of beef, bacon, roast beef and more cheese than a Wisconsin community theater musical. Customers rave over the delicious pork tenderloin sandwich. Appetizer favorites include “over the line” nachos and tasty cheese curds. The vibe is decidedly “chill” (a good thing) and it’s the dining destination of choice for a trendy crowd of Robins, Hiawatha and Marion hipsters.

 

Photo: J. Larson
Photo: J. Larson

2

Nelson’s Meat Market & Deli

 

 

A Cedar Rapids tradition since 1935, Nelson’s is old-school charm and quality all the way. Shoppers value the old fashioned homemade sausages, Black Angus beef and fresh Iowa pork. The deli counter rivals the best in NYC and the hand-packed homemade ice cream is a year-round favorite. The catering truck brings their best to corporate and family picnics and cook-outs. Stop in for lunch and find yourself sitting with notable neighbors who come in for a great deli sandwich and bowl of soup.

 

Google Maps/Street View
Google Maps/Street View

4

Gyro Hut

 

 

This neighborhood drive-in is always busy. The food is tasty and good for the soul. The little Gyro Hut is snuggled off Mt. Vernon Rd just southeast of downtown. The building is so tiny it’s often overlooked. But once you mark the location and try the menu you’ll be back for more. It’s one of the few place you can find authentic gyros of beef and lamb in Eastern Iowa. You’ll  love the Italian Beef and Philly Steak sandwiches. They have great hot dogs too. The Hut also fries chicken wings, perch and catfish dinners.

 

Google Maps/Street View
Google Maps/Street View

3

Mellow Mushroom

 

 

Drew and his crew at Mellow Mushroom in Coralville make some incredible pizza. The Great White pizza comes with feta, provolone and ricotta. The Holy Shiitake is smothered with buttons and bits that will put you in mushroom heaven. The Ribeye Steak and Cheese Calzone is beefy, and also packed with…you guessed it…mushrooms! Fresh salads add a nice flair to an already fine menu of choices. Coralville has a lot of positive things going for it, and the Mellow Mushroom is a perfect fit. Colorful, crazy and very cool atmosphere and great place to take the family!

 

Photo: Emil's Hideaway
Photo: Emil’s Hideaway

5

Emil’s Hideaway, Cedar Rapids

 

 

A guy like Frank Sinatra would feel right at home here. It’s worth navigating to Emil’s Hideaway, this is a classy joint – but it’s really tucked away!  Located just off 1st Ave. next to the Home Depot and behind Taco John’s.  Appetizers include amazing stuffed mushrooms, spicy chicken rangoons, and “redneck nachos”. Sandwich standouts like Apple Turkey Jack and Shrimp Bacon Club are very popular. The menu also features pizza, pasta and comfort food like meatloaf.

 

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