The Map Room is located in the heart of Downtown Cedar Rapids and features internationally inspired burgers and fries, along with artisan cocktails in a cozy and eclectic atmosphere. Opened in 2017, this hidden gem is a fan favorite of the locals.
The décor of The Map Room is features an abundance of maps splashed all over the walls, which fits with the theme of international-inspired cuisine. The patio is always full during the summer months, and it is not uncommon to see a furry friend or two.
This unique spot is a must-go for a lunch meeting or date night. Because of its convenient location and affordable pricing, The Map Room is a great place to conduct work-related meetings over the lunch hour. Work is over and no evening plans? Not a problem, as The Map Room has a happy hour every day starting at 4 p.m., along with daily specials. This casual and warm environment makes for an easy choice for a date night. With a wide variety of burgers, fries and naan, there is something for everyone.
Owners Christina and Mitch Springman have put so much love and thought into each of their dishes and their adoration for travel shines through in each of them. The craft cocktails are not only very diverse, but also simply delicious. The Kentucky Punch is their most famous and consist of bourbon, white wine, mint, maple, lemon and ginger beer. This is a semi-sweet and refreshing cocktail. Other cocktails include a classic Old Fashioned, and a brand new cocktail, Bonfires and Blueberries, which has a smoky flavor that pairs well with the tartness of the blueberries.
For starters, you do not want to miss out on any of their fries or naan menu items. The Cusco fries are highly sought after and is a mix of a Chinese and Peruvian dish. The lomo saltado gravy has a nice zip, and the Aji Amarillo sauce brings a nice color out in the nice, all on top of a bed of perfectly crispy fries.
The Busan naan bread will have your mouth watering, simply by reading the ingredients. The soft naan bread holds tender pork, topped with a crunchy piece of kimchi and bulgogi aioli, which adds a delightful creamy component to this dish.
If you haven’t gotten completely full from either the fries or naan, the burgers are your next go-to item. With over 10 different noteworthy burger choices (including a build-your-own and veggie patty options), the possibilities are endless when it comes to customizing your burger. The Map Room is home to one of the best veggie burgers in town. This is largely because of the house-made aspect, and all vegetables are sourced from local farmers. These patties are made with chickpeas, lentils, black beans, mushrooms and more. This patty is also vegan and gluten free and really highlights those local veggies.
Two burgers to note are the Saigon and the Napoli burgers. The Saigon burger is paired with a side salad that came with miso-ginger dressing. This perfectly cooked and juicy burger has a delicious crunch from the cucumber, carrot and radish, and nice spice from the pickled jalapeño. This burger is a play on a banh mi and derives from the Vietnam and French cuisine. The Napoli burger is served with a side of the crispy and effortlessly seasoned fries. The balsamic reduction adds so much flavor and pairs well with the fresh mozzarella. This burger taste like it is straight out of Italy.
To finish off the meal, you have to get one of the coolest things on the menu—a beer float. Mix any on tap beer or sour with creamy homemade ice cream, and you automatically have the best dessert. Highly recommended is Zach’s Mexican Donut Stout from Singlespeed, with a couple scoops of homemade ice cream in a pint glass. A beer lover’s dream.
When The Map Room first opened, the Springmans wanted to focus on one menu item and have it turn into many different versions, since their kitchen is small. Christina says, “No matter where you go, you can always find burgers and pizza.” Hence, their signature burgers were born. This COVID-friendly restaurant ensures that all staff is wearing masks, there is proper sanitation at all times, and the tables are evenly spaced.
The Map Room is open Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information about The Map Room, visit www.maproomcr.com.
Photo credit: Pilsen Photo Co-op