barrel house

Restaurant of the Week: Barrel House

Barrel House, located in the heart of Downtown Cedar Rapids, is only a few blocks from all the major theaters and entertainment venues in the city, including TCR, McGrath Amphitheatre, the Paramount and the Alliant Energy Powerhouse. Barrel House is an upscale tavern pub that has a little something for everyone, including 16 beers on tap and daily specials. This new-to-Cedar Rapids restaurant was originally established in 2011 and currently has locations in Cedar Rapids, Marion, Davenport and Dubuque and coming soon to Des Moines and Bloomington, Ill.

The atmosphere at Barrel House is very casual, yet fun and inviting. There are many TV’s found on the walls that are always showing various sporting events. The exposed brick, Edison lightbulbs and large kegs hanging from the ceiling give the restaurant the rustic tavern feel. There is also a large mural located behind the bar that depicts a historical picture of barrel makers to tie into the theme of the restaurant. A small patio is located right outside of the building, which is great for those beautiful Iowa days. Because of its location downtown, this is a great spot to grab lunch with coworkers, dinner before a show or catch the latest game on TV. There is ample seating, and the staff is very friendly and accommodating to your needs.

Barrel House is also home to the first robot server in Iowa and the only one in Cedar Rapids. It originally started as an experiment and then eventually became used to assist servers during busy times. Servers program an iPad after placing food on the robot, and the robot immediately takes the food to the designated table. There are also cameras and heat sensors on the robot, so it knows if there is something or someone in its way.

A few noteworthy menu items to start your meal at Barrel House include the lobster dip and the honey lemonade, which is Jack Daniels and lemonade, and the Strawlepeno Martini which includes vodka, jalapeños and strawberry. The dip tastes exactly like a crab Rangoon filling that includes lobster, cream cheese and lots of cheese baked on top. It is served with a side of Rangoon chips for dipping.

If you want a unique salad with a kick, the Firecracker Shrimp Salad is for you. This salad has a bed of lettuce tossed in a light dressing topped with bacon bits, bleu cheese crumbles, cucumbers and tomatoes. It is finished with onion strings and firecracker fried shrimp. The shrimp is lightly fried and has an extra spice. The bleu cheese balances the spice and adds a creaminess to the flavor-packed salad. Another hit is the Carolina Burger, which is served with a side of sweet potato fries. This has a thin and well-seasoned patty, topped with sweet pulled pork, creamy coleslaw and, lastly, onion straws. This burger is packed sky high and has a perfect blend of savory and sweet from the pulled pork. Make sure you get out your napkins for this one!

If you are still hungry, make sure you grab either the funnel cake sticks or the edible cookie dough for dessert. The funnel cake sticks are lightly fried and drizzled with house-made marshmallow cream and chocolate sauce, topped with chocolate chips. This light dessert is a mix between a churro and a s’more. The edible cookie dough does not include eggs and comes by the scoop full. A perfect end to any meal!

Barrel House also serves late-night specials after 9 p.m. that include half-off appetizers and $11 pizzas. Barrel House is open Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight (kitchen closes at 11 p.m.).

For more information on Barrel House, visit

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