mac and cheese

Iowa’s Best Comfort Food Restaurants

From jambalaya and pasta to traditional fried chicken and mac and cheese, these Iowa restaurants specialize in crafting comforting food for the soul.

Cooper’s on 5th

Hidden in historic Valley Junction, Cooper’s on 5th is classy yet cozy. Offering Iowans an upscale, sit-down restaurant, the menu is centralized on modern comfort food and drinks from the first-ever craft cocktail bar in West Des Moines. The menu offers fun, tasty twists on traditional comfort-style meals, like Cajun-spiced meatloaf and curried shepherd’s pie. 

Machine Shed

Since 1978, the Machine Shed (various locations throughout Iowa) has provided award-winning, farm-style comfort food, with a menu featuring your traditional favorites like sweet rolls, hearty chili and classic fried chicken. You can reserve your spot to dine in here, and learn why the Shed has more than 15 awards. 



The Midwestern-style restaurant celebrates comfort food with the smell and taste of home. Rodina in Cedar Rapids works closely with farmers to provide the freshest ingredients for its guests. The menu features traditional Midwest fare like roasted half chicken with red-eye gravy and steamed, local mushrooms. 

Gilroy’s Kitchen

Gilroy’s Kitchen, located in West Des Moines, emphasizes “stylish” American comfort food with dishes like jambalaya pasta, mac and cheese and warm apple pie. The kitchen even offers vegan-friendly comfort dishes with its vegan rigatoni, tempting pizza and sides like baked sweet potato fries and garlic green beans.

Vivian’s Soul Food

Specializing in food for the soul, Vivian’s Soul Food is a family-based restaurant on Williams Parkway in Cedar Rapids. The award-winning, Southern-style restaurant is famously known for its crispy fried chicken, baked mac and cheese and collard greens. 



Inspired by owner Bubba’s childhood, Bubba in Des Moines offers traditional Southern comfort food as well as a curated menu offering a multitude of dishes like shrimp and chorizo pasta, buttermilk fried chicken and chicken crock pie. Bubba also offers vegan-friendly dishes.

The High Life Lounge

This 1960’s-themed tavern in Des Moines is the perfect place to relax and unwind at an affordable price. Diners can dig into traditional dishes from the 60’s, including pot roast, deviled eggs, Spam and egg sandwiches, and liver and onions. Like the food, the drinks at The High Life Lounge are focused on 60’s favorites, with a spotlight on Miller High Life, the Champagne of beers, and Hamm’s Beer.

The Cheese Bar

With its soon-to-be world famous cast-iron mac and cheese, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches and Swiss fondue, The Cheese Bar is the ultimate gateway for all cheese lovers. This warm and cozy bar offers an assortment of to-die-for cheeses and sparkling Champagne and craft drinks to complement.

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