I love going out to eat, but I find myself cycling through an Iowa City restaurant rotation week after week after week. After probably having all menu items at my downtown favorites, I realized I needed to branch out and find some other delicious nourishment not too far from home. The challenge? Find at least one breakfast, lunch and dinner place (all of which happen to be interchangeable and just as delicious) twenty minutes (or so) from town. Whether it be traveling down the wide roads of North Liberty we don’t find ourselves accustomed to downtown or getting a “nice view of all the corn” on the way to Kalona as my grandfather said, it’s surprising what different paths can lead you to.
For a breakfast as good as your grandma serves with kindness to match, head on over to Ronneburg Restaurant at 4408 220th Trail in Amana. The thirty minutes is most definitely appreciated after indulging in the traditionally large, but delicious breakfast.
This $11.95 meal is served family style with fruit, toast of your choice, eggs done your way, smoky ham, crispy, crinkled bacon, griddled potatoes and paper-thin pancakes that still manage to be as moist as fluffy as can be.
When our kind waitress brought out the foot-wide pancake coated with powdered sugar alongside the fruit to start she explained that the restaurant was famous for them, and I can see why. It’s spongy, soft and sweet, and the crispy edges are the perfect surface for the smooth, homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam.
After the pancake comes the eggs, meat and toast, the perfect way to balance out the sweetness from before.
Upon arriving at Sushiya at 745 Community Drive in North Liberty for a late lunch I was immediately greeted by a friendly host, welcoming me with a smile. This positive attitude was carried by everyone working there throughout my visit. Everyone is friendly and polite and seems genuinely proud of their restaurant, and for good reason.
The area is on the smaller side as compared to other sushi restaurants in the area, but not over-crowded. It’s clean, cool and simply decorated. The cool temperature and clean design immediately allowed me to feel comfortable in the atmosphere.
As they had lunch specials going, I chose the sashimi lunch box for $10.50. With a bowl of miso soup to start, the foot-long box was filled with salad, a heaping pile of cold edamame, six pieces of Philadelphia roll and seven cold slices of sashimi. The slices were about a quarter of an inch thick, soft and never stringy, making it some of the most refreshing sashimi I’ve had in the area.
With great deals, friendly staff and great quality food, I will be tacking on an extra fifteen minutes to my drive whenever I crave some sushi.
Kalona Brewing Co. located at 405 B Ave in Kalona is a homey yet modern brewery serving up bar food with a classic twist alongside their original brews.
The restaurant is spacious and rustic yet simply decorated, something I found impressive as rustic decor can often come across gimmicky.
The hop backs and stout tanks used to make the eight beers featured on their menu, along five additional guests, add authenticity of good, homemade product to the aesthetic that is then reciprocated in the food.
The $8 cheese curds are a must. The appetizer is a heaping platter of curds, with a crusty-edged batter, soft in the interior and spiced to perfection.
For the main course, the meatloaf for $12 is my top-pick. The loaf is fresh as can be as it is appropriately filled with herbs to add depths of flavor. The huge two slice portion is worth your buck alongside the pile of the warm, creamy homemade beer mac and cheese and grilled vegetables.
Take those extra twenty minutes to spend your evening beside the tanks and be amongst the hug of a big plate of refined comfort food.