Munching through downtown


Iowa City offers an abundance of culinary choices; here is a selection about where to spend money when you’re in the mood to eat out.

Mesa Pizza
114 E. Washington St. 
A unique place to buy pizza by the slice downtown. Its signature attraction is the abundance of strange topping combinations, including macaroni and cheese, quesadilla, and bacon cheeseburger. The restaurant has ample space to sit if you do not want to take your pizza on the go. Mesa is a late-night spot with a robust and flavorful menu.

Atlas Restaurant & Bar
127 Iowa Ave.
Big burritos and slightly more upscale dining are the highlight of this downtown mainstay. Though not cheap, the food here never disappoints customers. The patio and tasteful interior are perfect for treating yourself and/or a couple friends to a more sophisticated dining experience.

5 S. Dubuque St.
A local sandwich shop you won’t soon forget. Its menu is vast, and the ingredients are of superior quality. Especially potent is the homemade aioli served on several sandwiches and with the fries. Everything here is prepared to order, and the drink selection is quite unusual. It also often sells smaller pastries or day-old scones for cheap at the front counter if you are looking for something a little less expensive.

Jimmy John’s
130 E. Washington St.
Jimmy John’s is a classic of many towns across the country. Jimmy John’s offers fast, consistent dining while staying open late. Prices in-shop are more than reasonable, and the subs come off the line with lightning speed. It is tough to complain about the variety of deli sandwiches it offers.

121 Iowa Ave.
Excellent sit-down and takeout Italian dining downtown. Basta prides itself on the pedigree of its ingredients and the implementation. Especially noteworthy is the brick pizza oven it uses to bake delicious Italian-style pies. Though the prices do not make for everyday dining, it is well-worth checking out.

Joseph’s Steakhouse
212 S. Clinton St.
If you are looking for a good steak house to treat yourself at, Joesph’s fits the bill. The restaurant interior is particularly attractive with tables set through curtain draped rooms. Steak and truffle fries are two excellent dishes you will not regret trying every once in a while.

Donnelly’s Irish Pub
110 E. College St.
Great wings and bar food make up the lion’s share of this downtown eatery. It has custom alcohol-inspired sauces, such as Jameson buffalo, which are sure to leave you with fond memories. Its chicken sandwich is also particularly good. Keep an eye out for its frequent deals and specials to make the most out of every visit.

Quinton’s Bar & Deli
215 E. Washington St.
Specializing in sandwiches and soups, this restaurant is worth a closer look. An attractive patio makes warm-weather dining a particularly fun experience. A jukebox is available inside if you feel like customizing the auditory portion of your dining experience. Its bread bowls are also well-made and appetizing. 

Forbidden Planet
111 S. Dubuque St.
One of the newer restaurants in the area, it offers a unique dining atmosphere not replicated anywhere else in Iowa City. Coin-operated arcade cabinets crowd the back of the restaurant, sending flashing lights and a variety of chip-tune noises rebounding around the restaurant. The front is populated by tables where you can enjoy a slice, or whole pie, of its house-made pizza. It can be a really riotous atmosphere, and is a must-see for anyone who grew up going to a video arcade.

Old Capitol Town Center
It is tough to beat this quick-stop burrito restaurant. Ingredients, including a recently added tofu option, are always good and judiciously portioned. “Burrito bowls,” in which ingredients are served in a paper bowl instead of a tortilla, offer a nice option to anyone not interested in having to handle a traditional burrito. Their salsas are particularly good.

Panchero’s Mexican Grill
32 S. Clinton St.
The burrito’s more local champion is right across the street from Chipotle. Both restaurants offer similar experiences, but there are a few notable differences. Panchero’s makes a point of mixing up the ingredients for each burrito by hand, so you get similar ratio of ingredients in each bite. It also has a signature queso sauce available for those interested. All its tortillas are also prepared right in front of you immediately before your order.

22 S. Clinton St.
A great pizza and sports bar, it offers pizzas for any taste. For instance its Thai Chicken pizza is particularly good, offering an interesting spin on the traditional pizza pie. Big sports games are also regularly broadcast here as a mealtime diversion. Most importantly, though, it boasts the Airliner burger challenge in which participants have 30 minutes to eat a burger weighing in at more than a pound with fries.

Clinton Street Social Club
18 1/2 S. Clinton St.
A beautifully built interior frames this surprisingly affordable high-flying eatery. Everything from appetizers to desserts is guaranteed to satisfy you. Though much of its menu is rather expensive, many items are within reach of a college budget. Its macaroni and cheese is a really affordable standout menu item.

Bo James
118 E. Washington St.
With a great location in the center of downtown, Bo James boasts burger baskets and beer as their major appeals. The menu consists of classic American food – burgers, chicken, clubs, and fries. Their patio is open when the weather allows and there’s usually a game playing on the televisions.

The Mill
120 E. Burlington St.
The Mill offers a great menu and extensive drink menu. They recently unveiled their new summer drink selection, all names after literary figures in honor of Iowa City being a UNESCO City of Literature. The Mill regularly hosts musicians, comedians, and local performers.

11 S. Dubuque St.
Mickey’s is the Irish pub every city seems to have, recognizable by its green décor. They serve sandwiches, burgers, pastas, and salads. The breaded chicken sandwich is a must-have. It has a
calmer environment than many of its neighbors, so it’s an ideal choice for a relaxed meal or casual drink.

Erbert and Gerbert
201 S. Clinton St.
Brand new to Iowa City, Erbert and Gerbert is a sandwich shop known for the interesting names it gives its food. It’s menu includes Comet Candy, Girf, Neptune, and Bornk. Located in the Old Capitol Mall, the new restaurant could be the perfect place to grab a quick lunch between classes.

114 S. Clinton St.
PepperJax offers a full menu during the day, but late at night they switch to just serving Philly cheesesteaks and fries, which is all you need. Inside the restaurant, you can watch the cooks grill your steak and toast your bread while you pick if you want onions, cheese, peppers and onions. It’s great late at night or for lunch.

IC Ugly’s
210 N. Linn St.
IC Ugly’s offers a small menu of mostly pizza and sandwiches, which lets their drink menu shine. They offer daily specials, a dozen beers on tap, and plenty of imports. Twice a month they
host karaoke. Their best feature is their shot wheel; spin the wheel and wherever it lands, that’s the shot you and your table take.

Club Car
122 Wright St.
Located right by the old train depot, Club Car is a bit off the beaten path, but perfect for the south side. It has a daily happy hour, appetizers, a classic jukebox, darts, and pool. It’s a much quieter, more relaxed bar than many downtown.

Though not directly downtown, Shakespeare’s Pub and Grill is another option for students looking to escape from the college cramp you can find sometimes in the Pedestrian Mall. They offer $1 tacos on Tuesdays, which is a price that is pretty difficult to beat.

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