You gotta love a locally owned greasy spoon breakfast spot. Luckily, eastern Iowa is covered with them. We gathered up recommendations from across the eastern part of the Hawkeye State, from Black Hawk and Linn counties, to Johnson, Scott, and Dubuque. There’s no better way to start the day than with this list of a baker’s dozen diners and restaurants for grabbing a super tasty breakfast.
North Liberty, Iowa City, Solon
With three locations in Johnson County, Bluebird Cafe is a crowd favorite for a delicious breakfast in eastern Iowa. You can get breakfast all day, too, which is always a bonus. It definitely has a cafe feel, as the staff puts their own unique spin on some of the dishes, especially omelets. Diners talk up their hash browns, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and many other menu items. Plus, Bluebird Cafe offers their own special coffee blend, so grab a bag of beans to go.
If you are in Waterloo, pop into Morg’s Diner for a breakfast that will soothe your soul. Grab a seat at the counter or slide into one of the cozy booths and get ready to eat your fill for the morning. This down-home diner has a retro feel and delicious, generously sized breakfast entrees they have been dishing up since the 1960s. Morg’s is known for its “hubcap-sized” pancakes and a hearty selection of omelets (check out the Denver or meat lovers options), but don’t pass up the hash browns, bacon, sausage patties, or cinnamon rolls on the side.
While the West Dubuque Tap may be known as a popular watering hole with great burgers and fries, locals will also tell you to stop in to try out their breakfast menu. Order a magic muffin—it’s piled high with eggs, hash browns, sausage and cheese. (Hint: You can add gravy as a topping.) Since it’s also a bar, you might add a bloody mary to your order as well. No matter when you order off the small breakfast menu, your tummy will thank you.
If you are a pancake aficionado, make plans to stop by Flips Pancake House, with locations in Davenport and Bettendorf. Known for their next-level specialty pancakes, you’re sure to find unique flavor combinations on the menu, including red velvet, cheesecake, and tiramisu. Plus, they will serve the pancakes for breakfast or lunch, because why stop with the fluffy deliciousness in the morning? While pancakes are their signature dish, Flips also serves waffles, crepes, breakfast skillets, and more. Try Flips’ great selection of espresso drinks on offer.
Next stop on your breakfast tour is Jimmy’s Pancake House in Bettendorf, where they also serve up—you guessed it—fluffy, mouth-watering pancakes that know how to soak up lots of syrup. Open daily until 3 p.m., you can grab breakfast anytime before then. Be sure to check out their Facebook page to see what the pancake of the month is. They also serve all the other breakfast regulars you’d expect like eggs, waffles, crepes, skillets, and more in their newly expanded and renovated restaurant.
Breakfast, but make it fancy. Stop by The Dandy Lion in Iowa City for an incredible flavor experience to start your day. This luncheonette is an ideal spot for a brunch meetup, in fact. The restaurant has a great selection of menu options and plenty of accommodations for those with dietary restrictions including vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan. Try the salmon toast, breakfast burrito, eggs Benedict, the Lodger Special (runny eggs, sausage, pimiento cheese, and tomato gravy atop toast and hash browns), or their house-baked cinnamon rolls. A dandy breakfast indeed.
This contemporary neighborhood eatery and coffee shop is a favorite spot in Marion. They offer up a delicious array of breakfast favorites served all day. Try a breakfast scramble or bowl, a croissant breakfast sandwich, the breakfast hash, or the brioche French toast. And be sure to grab a coffee drink to compliment your meal. The atmosphere at West End is cozy and their patio is great if the weather cooperates. Plus, The Shops at West End are located in the courtyard next door. They’re a fun spot for some post-breakfast retail therapy.
Newer on the breakfast restaurant scene, Morning Story has become another popular spot for those looking for a fulfilling breakfast in Marion—not surprising when bacon gets its own section on the menu (try the bacon flight and thank us later). They have a wide variety of breakfast favorites from the griddle, many eggs Benedict and omelet options, and even a few dishes with a southwest flavor. Make sure to check out their seasonal special menu additions to taste the flavors of the season. And don’t forget to look at their robust drink menu—from standard breakfast thirst quenchers like coffee, juice, milk, and tea to creative non-alcoholic fresh juices, cappuccinos, and espressos or standout mimosas (try a flight) and bloody marys.
When you walk into a diner and nearly every seat is full, you know you’re in for a delicious breakfast. That’s almost always the case at Oscar’s in Hiawatha. This family-owned restaurant is consistently busy—likely due to their famously awesome and friendly service—but the wait is never long and always worth it. You simply can’t leave without trying one of their famous (and huge) cinnamon rolls, which they have been serving up for more than 30 years. Then order up a breakfast combo, an omelet, a sizzling skillet, pancakes, or French toast. While Oscar’s is closed on Mondays, they offer a daily breakfast special throughout the week that is sure to keep you full as you go about your day.
If you are looking for a bit of mama’s home cooking with a small-town Iowa feel, look no further than Richman’s in Bellevue. Located right on the banks of the Mississippi, this popular breakfast spot opens at 5 a.m. daily and serves up traditional, hearty breakfast meals to locals and visitors alike all day long. If the lovely views weren’t enough, the food is everything you’d expect from a classic breakfast diner. The pancakes are truly as big as your plate.
Located on Main Street in Monticello, Darrell’s A Family Tradition has become just that for many people over the years, which is not surprising as a fourth-generation family-owned business. And once you step foot inside, you’ll likely feel like family, too. This popular breakfast spot also opens bright and early at 5 a.m. and serves up a scrumptious selection of breakfast plates. People rave about their three-egg omelets and skillet breakfasts. And while it’s not necessarily a breakfast menu staple, you might just want to grab a slice of pie while you’re there. Take the kids and get them the pancakes—the chef will make them in any shape you request or surprise you. That’s breakfast with a side of family fun.
Located in the heart of Czech Village on the west bank of the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, Lucky’s on 16th is highly recommended as a breakfast stop by locals. Breakfast is served all day and that’s probably a good thing, as there are more options on the menu than anyone could decide on for just one meal. They even have breakfast appetizers (don’t sleep on the cinnamon sugar bites), plus inventive monthly takes on pancakes and eggs Benedict. It’s also a great spot to meet up with a group for brunch and grab a mimosa flight while you catch up with friends.
Located across the street from and inspired by the main Cedar Rapids fire station, Midtown Station is a great little restaurant to grab a delicious breakfast no matter what shift you just finished. Try the rumchata French toast, a Firehouse burrito, or one of their signature eggs Benedict options. You can also build your own omelet or get the Shipwreck (breakfast ingredients tossed on top of a bed of hashbrowns). If you like what you find at Midtown Station, check out their sister restaurant, CzechTown Station, located across the Cedar River and offering up an equally delicious breakfast selection.
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