3419 16th Avenue SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
Sunday – Thursday 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.;
Friday and Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Styles of Pizza: Traditional Thin-Crust, Deep-Dish Pan, Chicago-Style
Sauces: “Original”, Deep-Dish Pan Sauce, Taco, Italian, BBQ, Alfredo, or Nacho Cheese
Of note: Most locations also serve liquor (helps to deal with the kiddie birthday parties in the next room).
Tasty Tidbit: You say it’s your birthday? Happy Joe’s believes that all birthdays are special. Let them know and you’ll get a giant ice cream sundae for dessert.
Review: My most recent trip to Happy Joe’s was about a month ago and I have been putting off writing this review ever since. Why? Simply because I don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to describe what it feels like to walk through the doors and into pizza heaven.
Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream Parlor is a fairly common midwest chain with over 60 locations in six states (Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and Wisconsin). As a child, Happy Joe’s was the first pizza I ever tasted and it’s thanks to them that I’m such a zealot today. Birthday parties, family events, and ordinary pizza nights were all celebrated with the help of Happy Joe’s. In fact, in the early days of dating my future husband, I took him to Happy Joe’s on his very first visit to Iowa. The jury’s out, but I’m pretty sure the allure of returning twice a year for great pizza was a primary factor when he proposed.
Recognizing the fact that we have such a long history together, I thought my Happy Joe’s review might be a little biased. So, I returned with an open mind, a notebook, and a camera to determine once and for all – is it REALLY the best pizza ever?
The menu at Happy Joe’s touts your typical pizza fare, but has some lovely surprises as well. “Traditional” pizza lovers might be taken aback to see such specialty pizzas as Happy Joe Special (ham and sauerkraut), Taco pizza, or a Spaghetti Pizza, but every ‘za here is done deliciously.
Our most recent visit took us to one of two locations in Cedar Rapids. Being closer to the airport (and our first stop after we arrived in town) it’s not the location we’d typically go to, so I was excited to try my objective review on a new joint. We ordered a large Happy Joe Special, a staple for any of our visits, and a Little Joe with onion, pepperoni and sausage. We got there a little after 1:00, right when the all-you-can-eat pizza lunch buffet was ending, and had our choice of tables. (You read that right – an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. Did I say this is pizza heaven or what?) Soda is served at a do-it-yourself fountain and refills are free and unlimited, so I filled up on Cherry Coke and waited patiently.
The pizzas were delivered in about 20 minutes, and looked (and smelled) as delicious as ever. Real cheese is used and the toppings are always fresh (although some are sure to debate how “fresh” sauerkraut really can be). The large, 16″ ‘za was cut into 12 narrow slices – perfect for having “just one more piece” no matter how stuffed you are.
The buttery crust was perfect; crispy but not over-cooked. The sauce, cheese, and toppings were all evenly dispersed, not allowing one taste to over-dominate the others. Even my mom, who doesn’t like sauerkraut, took a bite and commented on how tasty it was.
I have no complaints when it comes to this pizza, and wish all could be this good. The only drawback to dining in comes when you walk by the ice cream parlor at the end and are too darn full for dessert.
Skeptical? Try for yourself. For a $50 delivery charge with a minimum of three large pizzas (it’s cheaper than gas and worth every penny!), you can have Happy Joe’s delivered right to your door.