Article by Cindy Hadish
Photography by Justin Fox
A “museum tour” takes on new meaning at Parlor City Pub & Eatery.
Guests who stop by for cold drinks and an expansive variety of food occasionally leave their tables to peruse the historical Cedar Rapids photos, retro advertisements and other memorabilia that line the interior of the popular restaurant and pub in New Bohemia.
“We call it going on a museum tour,” owner Steph Jelinek said. “There’s always something to see on the walls at Parlor City.”
That slice of history – the pub itself is located in the former Iowa State Savings Bank, built in 1906 – is among the many draws to Parlor City.
Live music is another attraction, with a Blues Jam on Tuesday nights; acoustic duo on Thursday nights and bands on Saturday nights, when the pub is often packed with customers. A patio has become a popular spot for bicyclists and others who enjoy dining outdoors.
Business meetings are another option, as Parlor City takes reservations for large groups meeting for breakfast and other occasions.
The social atmosphere and friendly, prompt service are additional factors that keep customers returning for Parlor City’s food and drinks.
Parlor City’s extensive drink menu features 56 beers on tap, with around 15 changed on a weekly basis, “so there’s always something new going on,” Jelinek said. Five different cider flavors, along with a variety of wines and martinis, including classic Manhattans and Cosmopolitans and newer variations, such as a Creamsicle and Death by Chocolate, are among the drink options.
Customers unsure of which stout, IPA, or other brews to try, or who would like to taste a variety of beer, can opt for a flight with four 7-ounce pours of any beer on tap.
While many diners enjoy Parlor City’s traditional bar fare, such as wings, homemade onion rings, nachos and potato skin appetizers, Jelinek said Parlor City’s new barbecue smoker has led to unique menu creations.
One of those is the “Memphis,” featuring thin-sliced hickory smoked pork, topped with house-made coleslaw and served with a choice of sauce on a brioche bun or Weck Roll, a Kaiser-style roll brushed with oil and sprinkled with caraway seed and sea salt.
Our table tried the Brisket Sandwich, the most popular of the new offerings, with sliced beef brisket smoked in-house and served on a Weck Roll. The tender meat sandwich proved to be the most popular item for us, as well, with the only difference being our preference for the barbecue sauces.
My favorite was the sweet cider sauce, which lives up to its sweet name, while others chose the hot & smokey sauce, with a good spicy kick, and the “Carolina,” a mustard-based sauce that was equally tasty.
We also tried the Pork Belly Taco, which demonstrates the leap beyond bar food that Parlor City is making. The taco offers a zesty Asian flair, and if you’re looking for something beyond the norm, this is worth a try, with smoked pork belly on a bed of spicy slaw, chipotlé lime sauce and queso fresco, a fresh Mexican cheese.
Steamed vegetables served on the side, including cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, snow peas and peppers, were cooked and seasoned to perfection, while providing another option for health conscious customers.
Another side dish that stays among the top customer choices are the sweet potato fries. Sweetly seasoned, the hand-cut fries could almost serve as a dessert, with Parlor City going through 500 cups of the marshmallow dip served on the side with the fries on a weekly basis, Jelinek said.
Parlor City’s pizzas also have been surging in popularity, she said, and our table was able to try one of those, as well. Our pizza featured green peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes, offering a traditional version of the favored menu item, with toppings that didn’t overwhelm the medium-thin crust.
For those looking for something beyond traditional pizza, Jelinek said two of the top sellers are the Rueben pizza, with thousand island dressing and piled with mozzarella, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and a choice of turkey or corned beef, and the bacon cheeseburger pizza, loaded with hamburger, bacon, onion, diced pickles and Parlor City’s house sauce.
Pizzas also can be “built” from a wide variety of toppings and Jelinek pointed to stuffed burgers as another top menu choice. The Jucy Bleucy, for example, features bleu cheese crumbles cooked inside a ½-pound beef patty, topped with mushrooms, onions, Swiss cheese, bleu cheese dressing and garnished with an onion ring.
Parlor City’s entire menu, along with a calendar of events, is available on its website: at parlorcitypub.com
Located at 1125 Third St. SE, Parlor City is open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call for reservations at 319.247.0000.