After a beautiful Saturday, this week’s weather was a rude reminder of what is in store for us this winter. Cool weather, though, rarely stops me from going out. This time of year I just turn to my cozy, dark, hiding spots throughout Eastern Iowa to keep me warm and well-fed until the weather warms up again.
Inspired by the progressive dinner parties common throughout the holiday season, I’ve designed a progressive evening of my own, focusing on my favorite cozy spots.
Start the night at Little Bohemia’s in the NewBo neighborhood. The oldest bar in Cedar Rapids, Grant Wood and Marvin Cone once drank here. A pot bellied stove warms the space and antique furnishings and mismatched chairs add to the living-room like atmosphere. Pretend you are south of the border with one of proprietor Jeff’s margaritas or order a toddy to warm up for the night. Tip your bartender and head to your next stop: the Six Feet Under Lounge at Daniel Arthur’s.
If you are lucky to snag a spot at the fireplace in the Six Feet Under Lounge, you’ll have a great view of the musicians while you nosh on an appetizer. The friendly and professional staff, who always remember “my drink,” will ensure that your plates and glasses are always full. In this small space, the mermaid décor, haunted tales and music all provide ample conversation starters. The shrimp sampler is a great place to start, as well, just watch for the jalapeno slices, and don’t dare leave a drop of the sauces behind. You won’t go wrong with grilled Brie, or day-boat scallops either. But be sure to save room for dinner at R.G. Books and Vino’s.
When I lived out of state and returned to Cedar Rapids for the holidays, R.G. Books Lounge was always a sure spot for a cocktail to sip as I shared stories with a friend. Tucked away in the Town & Country Shopping Center along First Avenue SE, the bar is attached to Vino’s. So while you sip a Sidecar and relax on the leather couches in the nooks enclosed by book shelves, ask for a menu. Nothing warms you up like a full belly of rich, Italian food and a glass of wine. End with a dessert cocktail like the Irish Russian in Cancun or the Godiva Chocolate Martini. Then hit the road for one last stop: Brewed Café.
The final stop of the night should bring you full circle and satisfy your sweet tooth. Brewed Café is open in the NewBo neighborhood a few blocks from Little Bo’s. A bustling coffee shop by day, it turns into an intimate bar by night. Like a cup of coffee to end a big meal, the white modern rustic interior will give you the little perk you need to end the night right. Choose from a slow-drip coffee, wine or one of the beers imported from around the world. Its dinner menu is divine, so while you are there, make a mental note for your next night out. I always have my fingers crossed that I’ll snag a frosted sugar cookie but the brownies or anything out of the pastry case usually does the trick.
Your evening is now complete, unless dancing at the nearby Chrome Horse or Parlor City is your thing. After a successful night of crawling through the cozy, intimate and delicious spaces in town, you may not even notice the chill in the air.
- Little Bohemia, 1317 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids, opens at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday, (319) 366-6262.
- Daniel Arthurs, 821 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, (319) 362-9340 or Danielarthurs.net
- R.G. Books/Vino’s Ristorante, 3611 First Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, 4:30 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday, (319) 363-7550 or Vinosristorante.com
- Brewed Cafe, 1101 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, (319) 364-0802, Brewedcr.com