One of those spots was Little Bohemia tavern on the corner of Third Street and 14th Avenue SE. Serving thirsty — and hungry — customers as a tavern since 1935, the 1883 building was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
After the June 2008 flood filled the building nearly to the first-floor ceiling, it was unclear if Little Bo’s would come back. But after 2 1/2 years of starts and stops and plenty of sweat equity, Jeff Melsha reopened the tavern owned by his parents, Leon “Tunnie” and Diane Melsha, at the end of 2010.
Although it took a few months to get the kitchen fully functional, Jeff brought back Little Bo’s’ famous goulash right away.
When Tunnie bought the establishment in 1978, he had a bit of a struggle to get the goulash recipe from former owner Adolph Kalous. But Adolph’s wife, Stella, used her charm to get him to hand over the recipe.
Jeff changed the recipe when he took over Little Bo’s in the late 1980s by adding carrots and potatoes.
I’ve been hearing about this goulash for years and just had to try it. A huge helping was served over several homemade dumplings. I chose mine with shredded cheese and chopped scallions. Jeff topped it off by sprinkling ground pepper over it.
The mixture of beef and pork gravy, tender beef, potatoes, carrots and caraway seed was certainly more flavorful than the typical goulash of hamburger and macaroni I usually eat.
Jeff also serves “half and half,” half goulash and half chili.
As well as the goulash, the tenderloin is popular at Little Bo’s. It’s so big that it can be enjoyed without a bun, as my friend did last week.
The menu, handwritten on several signs behind the bar, also includes fried onion rings and mushrooms, burgers, a variety of sandwiches, including chicken and club.
I’ll eventually try those, too, as I plan to go there often now that it is open again.
— Angela Holmes
DETAILS: 1317 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids, opens at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday, (319) 366-6262.