It’s pretty hard to wash down bar food without a cold beer, but a Hoopla reader suggested checking out Silver Star Saloon and I thought I would dare to try it at lunchtime without a cold one. Snuggled in next to Sushi House (good Honey Roll, great Crispy Ginger Beef, skip the curry), Silver Star Saloon used to be the Mugs & Jugs and has luckily come up with a much better name under new management. The decor nods to the name with corrugated sheet metal on the walls, a diamond-plated bar and a few cowboy decorations, but I think they shop at the same furniture store as all of the other bars in Cedar Rapids. I was hoping to find at least one saddle somewhere. We checked out the appetizer menu to find the normal fare and decided on macaroni and cheese bites. Accompanied by a side of ranch, I’m pretty sure the bites was Kraft Macaroni & Cheese cut into triangles and fried. But that didn’t stop us from eating the entire basket. As we perused the lunch menu, there were a few things I would like to come back and try. Some areas of interest were the back page dedicated to pizza, including a Cheesy Potato Skin pizza, a section on broasted chicken and gigantic breaded salad bowls. Find more reviews like this one here. But, I decided to be really brave. After all, I had to stand up to the challenge of the reader’s recommendation, so I ordered “The Shoe.” As I recall, the description was something like “Garlic bread topped with a half-pound burger, covered in cheese sauce, bacon and topped with fries.” Special name? Check. Iowa classic? Umm, check? The name alone sealed the deal. Among the other orders at our table was a Nathan’s Hot Dog in a chewy, tough bun and a chicken wrap that was a safe order but nothing to order again. What arrived in front of me was nothing short of hilarious. A large man who’d just worked a full day doing manual labor or a group of friends would be best suited to tackle this dish. But I did what I could. The burger wasn’t really seasoned, but I was surprised to figure out after a few bites that that was possibly a strategic move. I dug beneath the cheesy fries and bits of bacon and found the garlic bread hiding underneath. After my first bite of burger meets garlic bread I thought “Why have I never eaten a burger this way before?!” I brushed aside the remaining fries. The seasoning of the garlic bread, buttery-ness and cheese that sneaked through the fries was a great match for the burger. Despite the fact that I only made a small dent, it was a good “we made this up in college one night” dish. For more on Silver Star Saloon go here. Before we left, I asked our waitress if they offered desserts. She told us that with the new management, there are rumors of possible menu revisions to add Western flair and something sweet. If you finish “The Shoe”, there would definitely be no need for dessert. For the time being, though, if after a few Killian’s and Mac & Cheese Bites you are hankering for something more, Orange Leaf is right across the way. — Laura Kaiden


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