Our group was given free pizza on our visit to Charles City. This facilitated my post, but all opinions are honest and my own.
It had been about 10 years since I had visited Charles City, and boy was I blown away on my visit this week. I jumped at the chance to join some of my fellow North Iowa Bloggers on a #FutureReady school tour of the new Charles City Middle School, simply due to the nature of my work, but I was also completely impressed by our other stops! We started our morning at Aroma's Coffee on main street. Now I've been to a lot of coffee shops in my travels across not just the state, but the country. And because I know what I like, I have tried a LOT of chai lattes. I can honestly say that the Aromas vanilla chai easily makes the top 3 on my "Best Chai" list. It was fantastic. In fact, because we met there in the morning and I had to go back and get my car, I went back for a second one before I left town. So what's cool about Aromas, other than the chai, is that they roast all their own coffee beans on site. At the risk of sounding like an idiot, I had no idea that raw coffee is green. They also only sell coffee. It's not a sandwich shop, it's a coffee shop, which means they focus on making truly great coffee for their customers, in addition to roasting the coffee for several other coffee shops in the Midwest, which is super cool.
After our school tour (more on that will be featured on my team blog at work, rethinkredesign.org), we went to Cedar River Pizza. Right now it's a carry-out pizza place, although they're working with Main Street Iowa to develop a really cool, small seating area in the back. So we get to CRP and we're invited to check out the facility, where they make all their own dough for the crust and grate all their own cheese to the consistency that they want, before making everything with fresh ingredients. We got to try a few different types of pizza, including a meat lovers style, and one that had several different kinds baked into one pie. Each month Joel, the owner, comes up with a "pizza of the month" that is not on the regular menu. It's available until they run out, and then he starts thinking about the next idea. Not only is the vibe of this place really cool, the pizza is incredible. After we sampled the pizzas for lunch, I went back to purchase an extra of the Mediterranean to take home for dinner for my family. I'd never had pizza with artichokes and kalamata olives, and it was seriously one of the best pizzas I've ever had.
I told you I hadn't been to Charles City in about 10 years, but I can also tell you it has a lot more for me to explore, and I'll definitely be back this summer!