Motley Cow creates hearty comestibles crafted with ingredients sourced as close to Johnson County as possible, a practice which allows the chefs confidence in the quality and lower carbon footprint of their ingredients. Despite being in a larger space, Motley Cow's décor replicates the intimacy and character of its original location with warm red lamps, quirky used objects or materials from the surrounding area, and a parade of singing giraffes outside the grounds every half-hour. Motley Cow's menu delights patrons with a roster of dishes that changes with regard to the seasons and availability. Whet your appetite on house-marinated olives ($2.50/$4.50) or a cup of white bean and bacon soup ($3.50/$7). Locality becomes particularly succulent in the world of entrees: dine on a roasted ruby trout next to grilled spinach and a barley salad with yam, parsley, and pistachios ($19), or a grilled pork chop escorted by seared polenta, queso fresco, and roasted tomatillo salsa ($18). Desserts include a spiced apple biscuit with walnuts, poached cherries, and cream ($6) and a spicy cardamom funnel cake ($7.50).
Only after studying wine literature, discussing options with distributors, and attending tastings do Frank and Abby Bowman decide which reds and whites will join their already massive stock of approximately 200 wine varietals. Their temperature-controlled wine cellar stores nearly 1,500 bottles, which the Bowmans—Linn Street Cafe's owners since 1996—uncork at daily meals, wine tastings, and multi-course wine-pairing dinners. Along with wine pours, their 70-seat restaurant houses contemporary American dishes crafted from sustainable seafood, local farmers' produce, and meats hand-plucked from Iowan gardens. The elegant meals continue to win raves from critics and outlets such as CityVoter, which awarded Linn Street Cafe a finalist position in its 2011 Best Romantic Restaurant competition.
Try Bluebird for breakfast, lunch or dinner. All made from scratch! We do our own baking, we make our sausage, we smoke our meats in house and roast our own coffee. We have a nice selection of beer and wine also. Look for us in the Feb. 2011, Midwest Living Magazine!
Arguably, any meal is made even better with a hearty margarita on the side. With several flavors and top-shelf tequilas at the ready, the crew at Cactus Mexican Restaurant & Cantina mixes up their regular and special margaritas to diners' specifications. Back in the kitchen, chefs create their traditional Mexican plates and American-style Mexican dishes, with appetizers that include a trio of dips and a giant piles of nachos. Meals then graduate to big plates of seafood, burritos, or sizzling fajitas before desserts tempt diners into abandoning their enchilada-only diets for something sweeter.
Yotopia’s self-serve machines swirl out a rotating lineup of probiotic-packed treats, which are available in gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free options and await customizable spoonfuls of candy and fruit toppings. Patrons can dispense silky ribbons of red velvet or chocolate yogurt from an arsenal of silver apparatuses.
With a menu loaded with pizzas and calzones, cheesy breadsticks, and flavorful wings, Gumby's ovens satisfy voracious cravings into the wee hours of the morning. The pizza makers start each day by making mounds of dough by hand, which they decorate with more than 15 inventive toppings, such as alfredo sauce, chicken tenders, and feta cheese, to create specialty pizzas and personalized pies. The same hand-tossed dough serves as a foundation for their famous Pokey Stix, which are smothered in garlic butter, Italian spices, and heaps of mozzarella and parmesan cheese, then cut into strips exactly the length of Abraham Lincoln's foot. To complement the bubbling pizzas, buffalo and boneless wings can be tossed in tangy barbecue, honey mustard, sriracha, or one of four other sauces.
Sometimes the most satisfying meals are the simplest. Leaf Kitchen's cubano sandwich, for example, a semi-regular special with braised pork and melted swiss, was so good that it inspired Little Village's Scott Samuelson to declare, "a part of me [wanted] to check into some private room to be alone with my sandwich and its sauces." And this isn't the only dish that the restaurant's chefs effortlessly elevate. Their rustic cooking spans breakfast and lunch, ranging from sweet and savory crepes to grilled chicken-club sandwiches, focusing on sustainability as well as simplicity. Meals make use of locally sourced produce and meats, and even the coffee is an exclusive blend crafted by a certified organic, fair-trade roaster.
While the cuisine at Leaf Kitchen is minimalistic in design, the dining space is anything but. Midwest Living praised it by remarking that the "eclectic more-is-more interior offers so much to take in that you may not know where to look first." Servers flit among wood and formica tables set with mismatched dinnerware and clustered with turquoise stools and canary-yellow chairs. These vibrant touches find their complement in a retro-inspired soundtrack of jazz, soul, and world music, which gets knees bouncing without the spring-loaded floorboards used by other restaurants.