Every day, Orange Leaf’s self-serve fountains dispense fresh batches of nutritious frozen yogurt in more than 60 varieties. In the sprightly lime-green and burnt-orange parlor, customers fill their bowls or bottomless magician hats with flavors ranging from pomegranate to caramel to wedding cake, laying a dulcet foundation for all manner of toppings from the buffet. There, they adorn their creamy treats with fresh fruits, nuts, and syrups. Unlike other ice creameries that try to confuse health-conscious customers by listing nutrition information in arcane units of measurement, such as "a smidge of calories" or "an earful of saturated fat," Orange Leaf prominently displays its yogurt’s impressive low-fat, low-sugar stats.
The flavors of Mexico and Italy might seem like an odd couple, but they find harmony in the kitchen at Papa Juans. Chefs tuck crabmeat into burritos and ravioli and serve chicken with vodka sauce or as part of a fajitas platter. The menus, separated by cuisine, touch on a wide variety of Mexican and Italian classics, from tacos to lasagna. And to celebrate the eatery's home base, the chefs cook barbecue ribs and half-pound hamburgers shaped like Uncle Sam. The popular Chicken Boom Boom pizza culls from each country?s flavors with housemade alfredo sauce, chicken, bacon, pepper jack cheese, and jalape?os.
Spearheaded by a duo of cousins, Pita'z fuses traditional Lebanese flavors with American dishes. The meeting of culinary traditions yields burgers draped in gyro meats, pitas crowded with philly cheesesteak fixings, and cowboy ballads that rhyme “tzatziki.” The chefs also extend their culinary services to catering for large parties and gatherings.
Long John Silver's staff of salty dogs stockpiles baskets with fresh seafood, chicken, and signature hush puppies, all doled out in a fast casual-dining cabin. Exchange Groupons in-store, and receive a punch card valid for five & More Meals. Try a two-piece Alaskan pollock plate anchored by a pair of diamond-filleted fish surrounded by a barricade of miniature igloos (a $5.99 value). Diners can also navigate their nosh-worthy cravings to land, where three, crispy-fried chicken strips await (a $5.99 value). Bountiful tails of butterfly shrimp adorn plates in a 10-part arrangement that lights up mouths with zesty accompaniments of lemon and cocktail sauce (a $6.29 value). All seafood and chicken plates cozy up with sides of tangy coleslaw, fries, and Long John Silver's lauded hush puppies, famous for entertaining diners by chasing silverware around the table.
When guests step inside Zins, they hand their car keys to a greeter who sees that vehicles are steered to a safe spot with the complimentary valet service. Next, they’re whisked to a white-draped table beneath modern chandeliers, where they can consider the menu’s internationally inspired offerings before settling on a perfect combination of small plates or opting for one big one.
Menu headings such as nibble, reminisce, begin, and experience hint at the range of culinary options. Chefs pair local cheeses with a berry reduction and housemade crostini and pan-fry thai crab cakes to dip in peanut sauce. Maple brown butter, sage, pecans, and parmesan coat sweet-potato gnocchi, and classic goulash made with braised Iowa beef zips to tables beside a housemade baguette.
It’s fine-dining cuisine that was almost lost to the community after the June 2008 flood. After the restaurant had been open less than a year, Cedar River overflowed its banks, and Zins was flooded with nearly 4 feet of water. Though the owners were devastated and unsure whether they’d be able to open, a steady stream of volunteers arrived to help them clean up—employees who wouldn’t be able to go back to work, family members, and friends, as well as people the owners had never met before. Moved by the hundreds of volunteers, they vowed to reopen and continue serving their community with renewed vigor. A year after Cedar Rapids had been evacuated, down to the minute, the restaurant opened for the second time.
There's much more to Oyama Sushi than its name suggests. Yes, there are eye-catching platters of thin-sliced sashimi, carefully arranged nigiri, and more than 40 sushi rolls, featuring everything from lobster and avocado to tempura-fried shrimp and honey-wasabi sauce. But another side of the restaurant appears as soon as you walk in: several tables feature gleaming hibachi grills, where chefs sear orders of vegetables, filet mignon, or scallops while dazzling their hungry audience with culinary showmanship. No matter which neighborhood of the menu you're ordering from, dishes are designed to be visually appealing as well as tasty; The Culture Trip's Cedar Rapids guide placed Oyama on its list of Top 10 Restaurants in the city, praising its knack for "turning food into art."
The decor is as traditional as the menu. A torii-style gateway divides two seating sections, and red lanterns decorated with kanji hang from the ceiling alongside kaleidoscopic chains of origami cranes. The blonde woodwork, pale yellow walls, and soft lighting all contribute to an open and inviting ambiance. In addition to its collection of wines and familiar spirits, the bar also displays its collection of Japanese beers and sakes, imported straight from Tokyo via underground tunnel.