WATERLOO — A new cafe and bar is adding some international flair to West Fourth Street downtown.
Cibo di Strada features an inviting, intimate atmosphere for traditional cocktails, espresso and latte coffee drinks, and entrees inspired by food from around the world.
“The name itself means ‘Food of the Street’ in Italian,” said owner Tony Eischeid. He recently opened the evening-only spot at 223 W. Fourth St. Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
It’s adjacent to Basal Pizza, Eischeid’s other restaurant, and includes an internal door allowing patrons to move between the two establishments.
Eischeid wanted to evoke a cross between an Italian-style bar and the food scene he has discovered during visits to the Philippines, where his wife grew up.
He was inspired by the availability of food “all times of the night, all times of day” on those visits. Fresh ingredients such as local vegetables and homemade breads are part of the dishes.
The menu includes a total of five cocktails and five sandwich entrees plus three sides to choose from for a meal. Cost is $6-$7 for cocktails and $8-$10 for entrees.
“Every item is from a different country,” said Eischeid. “We messed around with a lot of items. We decided these five would be the best sellers.”
Eventually, the cafe will regularly feature food specials that will bring in even more international flavors. Find the full menu online at cibobar.com.
“The palate is changing in the Cedar Valley,” he added. “People are looking for more options.”
Less than two weeks after opening, the restaurant is already finding an audience.
“We all wanted to try it because we heard it was good,” said Mark Newton, who was there last week with a couple co-workers. “I’ve been impressed. It’s a nice concise menu.”
They had ordered Middle Eastern falafel, banh mi on a Vietnamese baguette and the Italian-style el capitan. Danny Lee complimented the bread, a “normally overlooked” aspect of sandwiches.
“The drinks are good, too,” he added.
Eischeid always “kind of had my eye on the space” since opening Basal a year and a half ago. “I didn’t have a concept in mind,” he said, but his travels started giving shape to the idea. That was particularly true of one trip to the Philippines.
He had the idea for a street food bar where people would feel free to eat, drink and hang out. “More a conversation bar,” said Eischeid.
“Once I came back from my trip, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
That’s reflected in the decor, which creates a warm and engaging atmosphere with touches that are both familiar and new. “A couple of my friends and I designed the space,” he said.
A photo collage near the door pictures scenes from the Philippines. On the opposite wall is the large “Walden” sign that was attached to the building’s facade for decades, a homage to the photography business once located on the block. A painting of a jeepney, or Filipino public transit vehicle, hangs on the back wall.
Behind the bar, the wall is lined with old doors. “It just kind of added texture to the wall,” said Eischeid.
Several repurposed signs are placed around the space, and the lights of an old stoplight are positioned in the front window. A pair of Nike high-top basketball shoes dangle high above the floor from some lights.
Eischeid pointed to the “cafe lights and a lot of plants” decorating the interior. “We want to make it feel like summer and you’re outside, but year round,” he said.