Parlor City Pub & Eatery    Restaurant Spotlight    

Article by Jane Claspy Nesmith
Photography by Justin Fox

Parlor City Pub and Eatery is a cornerstone of the NewBo neighborhood in Cedar Rapids--quite literally. Located on the corner of Third Street and 12th Avenue, it’s a favorite gathering place for locals, and a draw for visitors to the city. Everyone comes to enjoy the huge selection of beers on tap (56 different varieties!), the great pub food, and the wonderful vintage ambiance.

This summer, everyone’s been enjoying Parlor City’s patio seating where you can catch a breeze and enjoy the sounds of summer while having a drink or a meal. The patio got new furniture this year, and new seating area, called the Pavilion, offers a cross between indoor and outdoor seating where one entire wall is an airplane hanger door which lifts to let in the fresh air. With its full bar, stone fireplace, and vintage signs on the walls, the Pavilion is an appealing place to eat. It can also be reserved for events, no charge.

And now the owners, the Jelinek family, have another NewBo venture: the Herda House, where visitors can book an overnight stay in one of Cedar Rapids’ oldest homes. This cozy 250-square-foot home right down the block from Parlor City features a queen size bed and full bathroom. It can be booked on the Airbnb website.

Over at Parlor City, I was most interested in trying some of the new dishes. Last time I visited, Steph Jelinek was supervising the construction of a new kitchen. That renovation is now complete, and the staff loves it. “It’s five times the size of the old kitchen,” she says. “It’s much easier to serve hundreds of plates a night.”

Because there’s more room in the kitchen, Parlor City is able to offer a wider variety of house-made items--pizza dough is now made in-house, for example, and the fries are now hand-cut in house. In addition, more full entrees join the line-up of sandwiches, wraps, and appetizers.

While we waited for our order, I decided to try a seasonal beer--the Ginger Peach Saison. Parlor City offers free samples of any of the on-tap 56 beers, so you can go ahead and try out something new before making an order.

Perfect accompaniments to a beer--or any drink--are Parlor City’s appetizers. We tried the Parlor City Sampler, which featured onion rings, cheese sticks and boneless wings along with two new items: potato skins and breaded pickles. For dipping, there were ranch dressing, marinara sauce, and sour cream. “Everything’s made in-house--except for the sour cream,” said Jelinek. I particularly liked the crisp and salty breaded pickles, and thought that I could make a meal out of the potato skins, which were filled with bacon, cheese, and sour cream.

Of Parlor City’s new entrees, one of the favorites is the Southwestern chicken mac and cheese. It updated the classic comfort food with some fresh chopped tomatoes, olives, onions, and peppers (both sweet and jalapeno) and grilled chicken, along with a cheese sauce that has a bit of kick to it. Because it’s made fresh each time, diners can make a custom order.

We also tried the chicken teriyaki stir fry. Made with lots of fresh veggies--snow peas, bamboo shoots, baby corn, carrot, pepper, and broccoli--and tender chicken, this was a delightful dish, and rather unexpected pub food. “Because we offer this entree, we’ve got fresh vegetables in the kitchen now,” says Jelinek. “You can get a side dish of steamed vegetables with your meal--lots of people enjoy that option.”

You can’t go to Parlor City without having a burger. We wanted to try the newest of the stuffed burgers, the Juicy Bleucy, a half-pound burger stuffed with bleu cheese crumbles and topped with mushrooms, swiss cheese, and an onion ring. This hot and juicy burger was served with a side of the new hand-cut fries served hot and crispy, the way I like them.

I was pleased to find out that Parlor City’s breakfast pizza is served all day. The house-made crust is topped with cheese sauce, onion, green pepper, bacon (you can also have sausage or ham) and four-cheese blend. This is the kind of breakfast I can eat any time; if you come at breakfast time (Saturday and Sunday 8-11) you can also substitute sausage gravy for the cheese sauce base.

All the portions at Parlor City are generous. I saw several diners taking home leftovers, and that’s what we did, too. Others filled their growlers so they could take home 64 ounces of great beer. But we’ll be back, I’m sure. Besides having great food, Parlor City also offers music 5 nights a week, on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Parlor City Pub and Eatery
1125 3rd Street SE Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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