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Best Burgers in Town

BY BEN VERHILLE | SEPTEMBER 19, 2013 5:00 AM

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I’m finally back in Iowa City after a long and awkward weekend in Ames. Congrats to the Hawkeyes, and I hope they got heckled less than I did.  Not like I didn’t ask for a little of it, but like any good college town, there’s never a shortage of smack talk.

Not to say there weren’t good fans; I got to sit in the middle of a group of them, even sharing their jello cups with me. But now that I’m in safe distance, thank Herky I’m home. The Ames downtown had so many people sitting and lying on the ground that our Pedestrian Mall paled in comparison.

This made it extremely difficult to find food at the prime hours of the night. The street vendors had lines with more people than their bars had inside.

I missed Iowa City …

So I came back, and still in the spirit of the gridiron, I thought I would go to our local establishment owned by a Hawkeye-turned-pro kicker, Short’s Burger & Shine, 18 S. Clinton St.

Thusly named after H.D. Short, this establishment began as a shoeshine establishment at the same location in 1920.

Food columnists don’t have a dire need for shiny shoe, but what Short’s has are arguably the best burgers in Iowa City. Not to mention an impressive craft beer section featuring local breweries.

I’ll leave the critique of the beers to a more qualified individual, but what I will do is talk about the reason this venue has been so popular for so long.

Sometimes, when I hear about a really good burger at a hole-in-the-wall, it’s really only made one way. This can be a risky situation, because sometimes you just don’t agree with the ingredients.

Then you’re stuck with this big burger that you have no interest in eating.

Or what if it’s just a plain burger? Oh, cool, you offer lettuce, tomato, AND onion? Sounds like a sweet deal … and what’s the point of a burger if you can’t have a nice beer with it?

This makes Short’s an ideal location for all of these issues. Its menu features additions for the burgers such as prosciutto, guacamole, chorizo, and sauerkraut, just to highlight a few toppings.

Not all together, the menu provides us with 20 different variations of these bold ingredients combined with local, corn-fed Angus beef.

Vegetarians, don’t get too discouraged. Although I probably won’t eat one, they have black-bean burgers here as well.

I went with the Jamaica, a jerk-spiced burger with mango jalapeño salsa and pepper jack cheese. Although delicious, seeing “jerk” and “jalapeño” would imply a little kick of spiciness. The sweetness of the mango overpowered any of the fire offered by the cheese, rub, or toppings of the burger. Even low-spice tolerance eaters can enjoy the flavor here.

Not to say it wasn’t delicious; I ate every last bite of that burger. Only 19 different kinds of burgers left to try.


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