In the wake of the Iowa flood of 2008, the building on 303 2nd Street, formerly the space of Sluggers, was gutted and vacant for 17 months until the team at Monica's rented it in November 2010 and slowly began the rebuilding process. They also renovated the space into two dining rooms and added an expanded patio. Classic '50s tunes suffuse all of Monica's dining spaces, including its main room. Both renovated rooms entice diners with the aromas of Italian cuisine and American comfort fare crafted by head chef Rod Bowman and his team. Bowman, who has held court at several eateries throughout the Midwest, serves up such Italian favorites as lasagna, lobster fettucine, and angel hair pasta with seafood or chicken. Meanwhile, hearty American fare such as beef stroganoff, chicken pot pie, and scalloped potatoes and ham delights patriotic palates even more than the kiss each citizen receives from Benjamin Franklin's ghost on the Fourth of July. A selection of premium salads, such as the champagne fruit salad, as well as a full menu page of sandwiches, served on fresh bread or as paninis, rounds out the offerings, which also include open-flame oven-baked pizzas named for local basketball legends and mac n' cheese.
The cooks at Quinton's Bar & Deli know the ingredients that make a good Reuben?corned beef, sauerkraut, melted Swiss, and housemade dressing. But they also know the Reuben's extended family, which is why their menu has a section entirely devoted to the sandwich. The Rachel exchanges corned beef for turkey, whereas the Patsy switches in grilled navel pastrami. They can even combine two or three of the meats to create a Combo Reuben with twice the cheese.
Sandwiches in general happen to be the deli's bread and butter. Their most popular is the TAC, which stands for turkey, avocado, and cream cheese. Other options include the beef and brie, whose house-seasoned roast beef is covered with imported cheese, and the Aloha chicken, stacked with grilled pineapple and served in the pocket of a Hawaiian shirt. Burgers make an appearance as well, featuring hand-shaped patties from Bud's Meat in Riverside, Iowa.
And if you'd like some soup with your sandwich, Quinton's serves up the combo with a twist, ladling the soup inside bread bowls. A sizable selection of beers, wines, and spirits?including cocktails with homemade ginger beer?wash down bites.
The chefs at HuHot Mongolian Grill stand around a giant, round grill, preparing sizzling heaps of stir-fry. Unlike at other restaurants, every serving is different because, instead of the kitchen staff, the customer preps each bowl. The bowls may be brimming with chopped vegetables, seafood, and noodles, or they may be composed entirely of water chestnuts. The spice level of each dish varies based on the eater's preferences; MSG-free sauces range from barbecue to sweet teriyaki to five-alarm Kung Pao Yow! Since HuHot Mongolian Grill is an all-you-can-eat affair, diners get the chance to mix and match different ingredients with each trip to the grill.
At Casa Azul, diners can feast on combination platters consisting of Mexican favorites such as enchiladas, burritos, and tacos, but there also are some unorthodox selections worth trying. Take the molcajete entree, for example, which combines cactus, steak, chicken, chorizo, and shrimp in a bowl made from volcanic rock, or the chihuahua-cheese-topped baked spaghetti and chicken, which combines Mexican food and whatever cuisine spaghetti is associated with.
Sparti's Gyros certainly celebrates its namesake. But like a Greek myth where Zeus is replaced by Mike Ditka, the menu brings together Mediterranean and Midwest culture, listing Maxwell Street Polishes and Chicago-style hot dogs alongside plates of spanikopita and saganaki. Guests can also garnish their meals with creamy homemade tzaziki sauce, and cap off Greek-American feasts with sweet, flaky baklava.
Housed inside a castle-esque building, replete with a towering turret, House of Lords Restaurant and Lounge treats its guests to regal feasts of prime rib, potatoes, and salads in a cozy environment. Guests belly up to the bar for frosty goblets of ale or sip cocktails with steak-house meals in tucked-away booths and nooks lined with bookshelves.