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m
MFKsWolf Sep 6, 2004 08:53 PM

I'm about to have several trips to visit the University of Iowa. What are the best independent restaurants there? I like ecclectic, especially rustic mediterranean, but am interested in just about anything as long as its genuine and not "heat & eat" of the back of a truck.

Pizza?
Tapas?
Wine?
Local Ingredients?
Thai?
Near the Campus?
Late night?
No TVs?

  1. jhojati Nov 13, 2012 05:21 AM

    Does anybody have a suggestion for free range turkeys in the IC area?

    3 Replies
    1. re: jhojati
      corneygirl Nov 13, 2012 06:33 AM

      You could try contacting Salt Fork Farms to see if they still have some. Otherwise, New Pi is probably your best bet (unless you can find another farm).

      http://saltforkfarms.com

      1. re: jhojati
        v
        vitus979 Nov 13, 2012 10:31 AM

        Maybe the Amana colonies?

        Otherwise I suggest a shotgun given how much of a comeback wild turkeys have had in the last decade. :)

        1. re: jhojati
          c
          ctscorp Nov 24, 2012 05:40 AM

          Shoot. Missed you this year, but make a note -- Henry & Ila miller in Kalona. Best turkey I've ever had & now we only go through them. Google for contact info; it might be listed as Miller's Hearth & Home or something like that, but it's really their house.
          Salt Fork's great, too, but this year all Eric's birds were earmarked....

        2. Dapuma Aug 12, 2012 07:24 PM

          Iowa City Sports Bar for Football (Soccer)

          Is there any bar that opens early to show EPL matches (as this season starts this weekend) that has good food beyond the typical pub grub, if it is walkable from the pedi-mall that is a bonus

          I like Sanctuary - however I didnt see TV's in there so unless I missed them that doesn't seem to be the place to see the games

          Online I found The Airliner (opens at 10 which is a bit late for the games) and Sports Column which looked like a typical college sports bar, which isnt really what I was looking for

          Donnelly's Pub is an irish bar, I am not sure if they have TV's for the games or not or what type of Irish Pub it is

          Is there something else I should consider or is there a best place out of these 3 ?

          7 Replies
          1. re: Dapuma
            nogaboga Aug 13, 2012 08:20 AM

            I probably wouldn't go to any of those for a game. My friends usually go to watch games at Joe's and at the IC Vine.

            1. re: nogaboga
              Dapuma Aug 15, 2012 09:39 PM

              Joe's and Donnely's are both 2 blocks away so either will do - 2 Dogs pub is about 3 miles away so from a practicality standpoint I would certainly prefer the first two

              however Joe's doesn't have a website and Donnely's doesnt post a time they open but has a pretty good beer list - can anyone assist there for opening times?

              Also will they put the volume on the games? That is always a deal breaker for me if there is no sound

              Does Joe's care if you bring in your own food? Went to a really cool bar in Wisconsin called The Highbury (other than the name ;p) and they only served beer and you could bring in whatever you wanted to eat, cool atmosphere and cheap hoegardens...had 4 for breakfast for the 8-2 Man Utd Arsenal trashing, was a great bday gift :)

              IC Vine is about a half mile away which could work but location is not as good and their website sucks pretty bad so it seems not worth the extra walk

              I called them the day before "Can you guys serve beer at x AM" No response sounding confused, then I had to ask if there were any service laws about that early on a Sunday...he says come on down you are all set buddy" -- Good Talk

              Thanks for the help everyone :)

              I realize that finding a sports bar to watch EPL with good food is near impossible if not in a huge city, but I always try where ever I go - I will always settle for EPL and good beer, can eat after the game :)

              1. re: Dapuma
                c
                ctscorp Aug 19, 2012 09:36 PM

                99% sure Donnelly's opens at 11... you could call & ask about volume on the tvs; it's not been up when I've been there, but no one's been interested in what's on, either, and they tend to be pretty accommodating of the clientele, depending on time. Joe's technically sells food -- hot dogs & tacos -- so they might be weird about you bringing food in, but again, you could call. I'm very good friends with staff at both places and I promise they'll give you better answers than the Vine... assuming you're not calling at peak bar time (or in Donnelly's case, during a peak food-service time), in which case they'll be mean and hang up on you, and then talk bad about you afterward for good measure. :-)

            2. re: Dapuma
              nogaboga Aug 13, 2012 08:22 AM

              Oops, just noticed the "good food" portion of your post. Scratch those then - Joe's has no food and the Vine has terrible food.

              1. re: Dapuma
                s
                squarepeg Aug 13, 2012 11:00 AM

                2 Dogs Pub, on the east side in a strip mall, opens at 8 a.m. on Saturday/Sunday. They're into football there, so they'll have EPL matches on for sure (they even list it on their website). They have a fairly decent selection of craft beer, but the one time I ate there (granted, the first week they were open about a year ago), the hamburger I had was probably the worst bar burger I've had in Iowa City. That may well have improved - or not - but until I discovered otherwise, I'd count on the sport and the beer, not the food. I could be wrong, but I expect you'll be lucky if there are many other places in town that match the first two (and maybe even just the first), let alone all three.

                1. re: squarepeg
                  Dapuma Aug 23, 2012 08:24 PM

                  Went to 2 dogs Pub, and caught the Sunderland Arsenal game, the owner was there along with about 6 Gunner fans who were all pretty friendly, they have good prices on craft draft beers and the Schalafly Pumpkin Seasonal Ale was great

                  Didn't eat anything there and I didnt think i would be much inclined to

                  We also ended up at Moonrakers and got some burgers there which were very good, glad to see Iowa City avenged the burger disappointment that was Short's. The owner said he also makes all his buns and torta bread in house, so I believe a Torta is up next. My wife had the steak sandwich (which was similar to the one at 126 with a couple slight variations) which she loved and since I gave her some of my burger the day before she wanted her own the following day - We had the mexican style burger there -very good flavor in the meat and the grind was good, I tried the eggplant sandwich was more of a miss to me, it wasn't bad but it didn't wow me or beg me to order it again - the corn soup was very good, the fries were also quite good so far 126 and Moonrakers / Hearth are a win with us

                2. re: Dapuma
                  c
                  ctscorp Aug 15, 2012 08:06 PM

                  Donnelly's has tvs and they'll play what you want them to play. And the food is good, too. Not a fan of the burger, but wings are fantastic.

                3. Dapuma Jun 29, 2012 10:53 AM

                  On a Friday where is a good place that will serve dinner after 10

                  Doesnt need to be fancy or anything just something simple and good

                  Or even something on the way from Cedar Rapids to Iowa City if they serve until 10

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: Dapuma
                    nogaboga Jun 29, 2012 12:36 PM

                    Try the Sanctuary. Their kitchen is open late and the food is considerably superior to the normal bar grub of the late night hours.

                    1. re: nogaboga
                      Dapuma Jun 30, 2012 07:23 PM

                      Sanctuary has a great beer list, nice to see they have a lot of Belgium beers and my favorite beer Aventinus by the bottle

                      Is there anything in particular on their menu that stands out?

                      1. re: Dapuma
                        h
                        hawkeyeui93 Jul 1, 2012 01:05 PM

                        The Pizza Fontina has been my favorite thing on the menu since first frequenting it in my ole college days [circa early-1990's].

                        1. re: hawkeyeui93
                          Dapuma Jul 7, 2012 10:19 AM

                          Pizza fontina was very good as well as many of the beers on draft - lamb slider was forgettable - nice place and half the price of Scottsdale

                          Where is a good lunch spot?

                    2. re: Dapuma
                      corneygirl Jun 30, 2012 10:20 AM

                      Also Pagliai's for pizza and it may be worth calling Shorts to see how late their kitchen is open.

                      1. re: Dapuma
                        Dapuma Jul 7, 2012 01:10 PM

                        Motley cows menu isn't doing anything for us so we are thinking about switching it up

                        We ate lunch at 126 and thought it was good

                        Where else should we give a try? Chef's Table menu looks good but seems like the reviews on the board are less than stellar and it's priced scottsdaleish so if the food isn't going to live up to the hype I would rather spend the money elsewhere and anyone with foie tourchon gets a nod from me :)

                        Thanks

                        1. re: Dapuma
                          v
                          vitus979 Jul 8, 2012 07:58 AM

                          If you like BBQ, Wildwood is good bordering on excellent.

                          -----Where else should we give a try?-----

                          Have you thought about going further afield? Tuscon Moon in Kalona is decent. I thought it was ok, the rest of my group thought it was better than I did.

                          You can get to the Quad Cities in less than an hour and there are at least a few good places there (Red Crow, Le Figaro, Duck City, Indigo Cafe to name a few).

                          1. re: vitus979
                            Dapuma Aug 8, 2012 02:44 PM

                            Tried Short's Burger and Shine

                            Didn't care for the burger it was underseasoned and the toppings were poorly put on the burger / bread to burger ratio was off - I guess the first warning sign would have been on the menu that they state they normally cook the burger med to med well

                            Fries were good, if not great perhaps a touch starchy

                            The beer list looks interesting, not sure I would eat there again but would certainly stop in for a beer

                          2. re: Dapuma
                            Dapuma Jul 8, 2012 10:01 AM

                            So we ended up at Chef's Table last night for dinner and it was pretty solid with a few misses. For the app we got the foil tourchon which really wasn't a foie tourchon it was a couple of slices of foie that we're lightly warmed which were good but not really what we ordered so that was slightly disappointing as I wanted seared foie, however it was well done and had good accompaniments other than the little crosaint which was too hard and it should have had some toast points served with it - next we had the french onion soup which was interesting it was a bit sweet but when stirred together pretty good, it was interesting because there was actually meat in the soup, which is unusual for french onion soup - perhaps I am spoiled because my wife makes really good French onion soup and while good I don't think I would order it again however my wife said she would - and for $6 it is good value and hearty - the main course I got the prime bison and she got the pork tenderloin and belly - the tenderloin bison was really outstanding - not sure where they found some fat on a bison to get this much flavor out of it but it took the meal for me from average to good - I would highly recommend this dish - my wife's pork tenderloin was also very good and cooked perfectly - although the pork belly was not very good and tasted like overlooked bacon - we did not get dessert - cocktail wise it appears this is an alcohol controlled state so it makes sense why there are no craft cocktail places and everyone has an awesome beer list - they did a pretty good job with what they had - also stopped at motley cow for drinks and they did a better job however it looks grim to me for good cocktails here - since individuals can get better stuff than the bars

                            Overall pretty pleased with the food on the first trip.

                            Sorry for any gramatical errors did this from the ipad

                            1. re: Dapuma
                              rozz01 Jul 19, 2012 08:09 PM

                              Good thing you got there, I read today that Chef's Table has shuttered it's doors...

                              1. re: rozz01
                                v
                                vitus979 Jul 20, 2012 11:01 AM

                                Yes, I was in Iowa City yesterday and one of the people I was speaking with mentioned that as well.

                        2. Dapuma May 15, 2012 10:19 AM

                          I finally read the entire thread

                          From what I gleaned the only place around town that is universally loved is Motley Cow?

                          They have foie gras on their mock menu online so that is a good start

                          Augusta may or may not be open still and is good?

                          Baroncini may be good as well?

                          It seems like everything else has pretty mixed reviews

                          The wife may have a position opening in Iowa City so was doing some reseach on the food scene - would be coming from Scottsdale / Phoenix so am used to having many options

                          Is there anything in IC that cannot be had in my area?

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Dapuma
                            corneygirl May 21, 2012 06:29 AM

                            Augusta is still open, I haven't made the drive for a while, but I have always enjoyed it. I doubt you can find consensus on any restaurant any where....

                            That said, the dining scene in IC has grown impressively over the 15 years I've been here and there are some great options (imho Lincoln Cafe rivals any 'big name' restaurant I've been to in NY although I know others disagree). There is great and growing availability of local/seasonal ingredients. BUT, it is a small city and certainly doesn't have the options that you have in a large metro area like Phoenix (where the population is greater than the entire state of Iowa). Go to the farmers market, find farmstands in late summer/early fall, and try some of the places you've read about. There is great food here - but if you want Bahn Mi there are 1 or 2 places to go and if you don't like them you're out of luck.

                            1. re: Dapuma
                              v
                              vitus979 May 26, 2012 06:32 PM

                              >> the only place around town that is universally loved is Motley Cow?

                              I'm not really a huge fan. I've eaten there 3 times and never been particularly impressed. I had better meals at 126, Orchard Green, and Linn Street Cafe. Lincoln Cafe is MUCH better. IMO on an average night Lincoln Cafe is better than anyplace in Iowa City.

                              1. re: vitus979
                                i
                                Iowa_Smitten Aug 22, 2012 06:37 AM

                                Ate at Linn Street Café in Iowa City last night. We were seated right next to the host station although only one other table was occupied and it was early in the evening. The staff gathered around the station and talked loudly amongst themselves (at one time there were four staff members hanging out), cancelling any pleasant ambiance to be had. Not a good practice in respecting your customers. It is a small restaurant but just stepping away to the bar area to talk, limiting exchanges to business, and lowering their voices would have helped.

                                We had not eaten there in a long time, mostly because the service was so slow. Using a Groupon coupon was a way that we could check it out again without being out big bucks. Service this evening was fine and the wait for our food reasonable. Husband's pasta was good, but my sweet pepper side dish was over-cooked and over-salted.

                                With other good dining options in Iowa City, we probably won't return.

                              2. re: Dapuma
                                Dapuma Jun 8, 2012 07:16 PM

                                Just to report back, my wife went to Orchard Green and said that she had a fantastic meal there and everyone was really nice - they were also to pick a nice glass of wine for her that went great with her meal - she said it ranked up there with many of places we frequent in the Phoenix area - so if anyone else is looking Orchard Green gets a thumbs up :) I believe she had scallops and something else, she said the sides served with it were one of the best she has had (although i forget what the side was heh)

                              3. LifeB Apr 28, 2012 11:21 AM

                                Swisher IA, who knew it was the place to be?

                                After taking someone to the airport from Iowa City this morning, I finally stopped in Swisher to try out the Kava House & Cafe. This is something I've been meaning to do for ages but, of course, never got around to until now.

                                The interior is so welcoming and warm with its mismatched chairs and old oak tables. The building is apparently an historic treasure of restored 1914 general store, which probably contributes mightily to that charming cozy feel. It was packed when I went in (c. 10 am on a Saturday) and I think they were already running short on some baked goods. They were serving what looked like breakfast egg and cheese casserole, but I'm afraid I just went with a dark roast coffee and some raspberry rhubarb coffee cake.

                                It was a simple morning repast, but they kindly offered to warm my coffee cake, and with a nice cup of joe from their impressive collection of coffees, I have to say I haven't had such an enjoyable breakfast in some time. The raspberry rhubarb cake was light, fluffy, and moist with chunks of tangy rhubarb mixed in, topped with crunchy toasted pecans drizzled with just enough something or other to hold the nuts together without making it too sweet. It made me happy.

                                I checked out their lunch menu while I was there and they seem to serve a range of interesting sandwiches and things after breakfast, so I'll definitely head up there again to enjoy the atmosphere for lunch. As I was leaving, the owner stopped me to chat, and she mentioned that they bake everything there, roast and slice their own meats, and have music sometimes. For such a little town they are cooking a lot of food, but they were doing great business while I was there.

                                I stopped over at Cedar Ridge on my way out of town to pick up some nice alcohol for making tiramisu next weekend (ended up getting their Lamponcella, thinking of macerating raspberries in it to make a spring tiramisu?), and the cheerful bartender/distiller behind the counter said he goes over to Kava for lunch two or three times a week. He gave them a ringing endorsement too, so yes, I'll be heading back sometime when I feel like going for a little drive out of Iowa City, or finding some newer surroundings to pretend to write my dissertation in, to try the rest of their menu.

                                1. g
                                  Gilgamesh37 Nov 11, 2011 07:03 AM

                                  Is Three Samurai under new management, does anyone know? It's always been one of our very favorite places for weekend lunch (we virtually never go for dinner, find the menu limited and expensive--but the lunch menu is terrific) but the service has gotten steadily worse over the last few months. The last 4-5 times we've gone, the food has been sub-par as well--there's a soup we order freqeuntly, and we've gotten it with missing ingredients twice recently(different ingredients each time). Last weekend they sat a family with two small children right next to us (although there were at least a half dozen other empty tables) which ruined our lunch (it was late in the afternoon and the kids were clearly starving and restless, and the adults were more interested in visting with each other than keeping their kids quiet). Moreover, the food was off again--this time my soup was okay but not great, but my husband's (same dish) was completely lacking in flavor--not sure what they left off this time, but the broth tasted like tap water. So I guess it's off our list for a while, which is a real shame. Anyone know any inside skinny on why it's suddenly going downhill?

                                  That said, I had a truly excellent lunch at Devotay recently--which sort of surprised me, my experiences there haven't been good over the years. But this was incredible--multicourse luncheon done for a group, each course was bright, balanced, delicious and progressed perfectly one to the other. Definitely will be going back.

                                  -----
                                  Devotay
                                  117 N Linn St, Iowa City, IA 52245

                                  1. LifeB Sep 25, 2011 05:54 AM

                                    I am very surprised to see so many ambivalent reviews of Baroncini's! After being away from the lovely Iowa City for and endless two years, I've been trying all my old favorites and investigating all these new options that sprang into existence in my absence. So far I've tried both new Italian places, Basta and Baroncini's, but it seems like the latter is under-appreciated on the board.

                                    Basta first: I went there after the Taste of Iowa City because their offering of homemade sausage stuffed dates piqued my interest. My friend ordered a standby, Margherita pizza, and intrigued by a more traditional pasta than is normally seen in your standard American Italian restaurant, I ordered the Tortelli in Brodo. Both dishes were good, but not impressive. The Margherita came a bit overcooked with the fresh mozzarella separating into strands and fat instead of maintaining its integrity and the basil brown from heat. Obviously a combination of cheese, tomatoes, and crust is going to be tasty, but it did not live up to its full potential. I appreciated the pasta in brodo for being unusual for American Italian, and the slow-cooked meat inside the pasta was rich and flavorful. The key to a pasta in brodo, however, is the broth, which here owed most of its flavor to salt rather than slow cooking with vegetables and the drippings of the roasted meat filling the pasta. So again, it was fine, our waitress was very nice, our table pleasant and well-lit, but I'd like to see a little more care and attention in preparation.

                                    Baroncini's: I knew this was a place that would lavish care and attention on the food as soon as I saw that the walls had been plastered. Any person who cares enough about the details to plaster the walls of his restaurant, I thought, will likely never send forth an over-salted dish. The first night I went, my friend and I split a primi (capelli d'angelo with a broth based sauce and seasonal vegetables) and a secundi (pork scallopine with a lemon cream sauce), with a salad to end. Despite the fact that it can be annoying when customers split dishes, our waiter was incredibly nice and attentive, and the chef brought us our meal himself, already plated separately. We ended up with so much food that I almost felt as though I was taking advantage! The pasta was homemade, and its sauce had been delicately cooked, herbed, and salted to best display the flavors of the vegetables in their broth. The scallopine was crisp, pounded thin, and over perfectly cooked potatoes with a light sauce that enhanced without weighing it down. I found in this meal, and in all my subsequent meals at Baroncini's, all the careful attention to not only the preparation of the food, but also the unique qualities each element brings to the dish, that elevates a good restaurant to a fantastic restaurant.

                                    From the light and airy texture of the fresh mozzarella in their verdure miste and of the mascarpone in their cheesecake, I feel certain they make their own fresh cheeses.

                                    On a subsequent visit, I had a secundi of seared salmon with potatoes on a richly vegetal arugula sauce which was perfectly cooked, provided a pleasing and complex contrast of flavors, and was extremely simple in its ingredients.

                                    The only other local restaurant I would compare it to is the Lincoln Cafe, and perhaps their limited and constantly changing menu could account for that. When you are working with a small menu and adapting it to the season and available meats and vegetables, you are really focusing your attention on those few dishes.

                                    Baroncini's is the closest I could imagine a restaurant in Iowa getting to the dishes and the sensibility of food I've experienced in previous Italian trips, so perhaps its authenticity has put people off. Truly, an American's taste for Italian might be put off by the simplicity of some dishes. They have only been open a few months or so, I think, so I hope people will give them another shot. Or don't, more tables for me!

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: LifeB
                                      i
                                      Iowa_Smitten Sep 26, 2011 05:22 AM

                                      I agree with LifeB about Baroncini. We went there this Saturday. They had flown in lobster and we saw several customers indulging in a whole lobtser served with a chili sauce. I ordered lobster raviolini which was wonderfully creamy and delicious and my partner reported that the swordfish was excellent. We were given a basket of small homemade rolls, served with an aromatic, fruity olive oil. A house salad was very light dressed - the only negative was that the garbanzo beans kept rolling off my fork and impossible to skewer. On a previous visit we had pasta with the best black olives I have ever had. We have never tried the desserts.
                                      The chef/owner, John-Luc, was out in the dining room frequently, serving food or talking to his customers. He grew up in northern Italy and went to cooking school in Italy.
                                      Reservations would be a good idea, especially on weekends, as it is has a fairly small dining room.

                                      1. re: Iowa_Smitten
                                        c
                                        ctscorp Sep 29, 2011 09:17 PM

                                        Gianluca. Italian, not French. :-)

                                    2. g
                                      Gilgamesh37 Sep 24, 2011 06:13 PM

                                      Unless I've missed it, has no one mentioned Azul Tequila, the new(ish) mexican place out in North Liberty? We've been 5-6 times and everything we've had has been really good. Lots of unusual seafood dishes (at least, not your standard mexican restaurant fare). Some of the seafood fdshes (burritos, enchiladas) they could go a little easy on their chipotle/jalapeno cream sauce, but the grilled fish tacos are excellent and today--after a windy, cool kayak outing at MacBride which ended with us putting the boats back on the car rack just as it started to rain--we tried their seafood soup which was outstanding.

                                      1. h
                                        hawkeyeui93 Sep 13, 2011 09:23 PM

                                        I am an alum [1993] and the best place to eat pizza/drink was and still remains The Sanctuary Pub ... Try the Pizza Fontina and enjoy the massive beer list.

                                        1. g
                                          Gilgamesh37 Aug 22, 2011 01:57 PM

                                          Just stopping back to say we had a really disappointing meal at Chef's Table about 10 days ago. They must have solved the bread problem mentioned early on, as the rolls were very good. But the rest of the meal--if I'm paying that much money, I expect the food to be more than just "okay." We had 2 bottles of very reasonably priced wine (between 4 of us) and the bill for my husband and myself was $180. IMO, I can get a far better meal for about half that at Linn Street. The atmosphere was nice (although very pompous and impressed with itself) and I loved the artwork, but I won't be going back.

                                          Any new places anyone can recommend? Has anyone been to the little Italian place on S. Linn next to Chilli Yum Yum Chili (or whatever the dim sum place is called)?

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: Gilgamesh37
                                            p
                                            Pandora Aug 23, 2011 01:06 PM

                                            Agree that chef's table was "okay" food that was rather expensive. Overall everything tasted good, but was not particularly innovative. Bison was cooked perfectly for example, but could have used a little more in terms of presentation. And why does the food at that price point come with a soup or salad? My main complaint was the amateur-ish service. The sommelier was very good, but the waiter and hostess seemed like they were uncomfortable in the surroundings - didn't pull out my chair for me, and felt the need to define everything - ie, the definition of a mignardise, etc.

                                            1. re: Gilgamesh37
                                              nogaboga Aug 25, 2011 06:53 AM

                                              The Italian place got mixed reactions from my group of diners. Those of us who ordered the lasagna were very happy; those who ordered the eggplant pasta dish were very disappointed, mostly since the menu mentioned sausage, but the amount of sausage in the dish was miniscule. The ravioli was just okay. Oh, and the service was horrible - i am convinced that it was our server's first day. If not, they have a problem.
                                              Altogether, for the casual prices we got casual food. Nothing was exciting, though I will go back for the lasagna.

                                              I have had some disappointing meals lately - a badly overcooked fish at Stella that I had to send back, and an overglazed salmon at Tuscan Moon that was definitely not worth the price. Going to Augusta this evening and hoping for the best!

                                              1. re: Gilgamesh37
                                                i
                                                Iowa_Smitten Aug 25, 2011 09:00 AM

                                                My views on places for Iowa City dining places that don't seem to be mentioned much but which we like to frequent:
                                                Oasis - owned by a couple of Israelis. Great falafel and hummus. Very low key.
                                                Deluxe Crepes - assortment of sweet and savory crepes. Fast and tasty.
                                                Basta - interesting pizzas.
                                                Thai Flavors - good service and prices.
                                                Micky's - one of the Mondonaro places. Their sandwich breads are wood oven baked.
                                                La Reyna - best enchiladas suisse, tacos, and pork tamales.
                                                El Bandito - second to La Reyna, but both far above the pack.
                                                Baroncini - been only once - decent food but pricey for Italian.
                                                Bluebird - good hamburgers, hefty meatloaf, excellent vegetarian polenta.

                                                -----
                                                Thai Flavors
                                                340 E Burlington St, Iowa City, IA 52240

                                                1. re: Iowa_Smitten
                                                  corneygirl Aug 25, 2011 11:22 AM

                                                  I could be wrong, but I thought Mickey's was under new ownership. We used to go fairly often, but last experience the food was so bad it was a joke. Used to like the layered dip app, but it wasn't even the same dish. So many corners cut (BBQ sauce not salsa) I felt bad for the servers that had to put that in front of us! Won't go back.

                                                  1. re: corneygirl
                                                    i
                                                    Iowa_Smitten Aug 25, 2011 11:41 AM

                                                    As far as I know, the Mondonaros (Fresh Food Concepts) still own it.
                                                    It features the old bar from Donnelly's Bar and is located a couple of doors down from Prairie Lights Books.

                                                    -----
                                                    Prairie Lights Cafe & Bar
                                                    506 Main St, Tipton, KS 67485

                                                    1. re: Iowa_Smitten
                                                      corneygirl Aug 25, 2011 12:08 PM

                                                      I'm thinking of the same place. It looks the same inside but after a 9-Layer dip that was refried beans, BBQ sauce (I'm not joking) and sour cream for $9. Oh yeah, served in a soup bowl with a side of stale corn chips. I had heard through the grapevine it sold, but I see it's still listed as a Mondonaros establishment.

                                                      Not a huge Mondonaros fan, but at least his restaurants are normally extremely consistent - makes the Mickeys situation more surprising.

                                                    2. re: corneygirl
                                                      nogaboga Aug 25, 2011 11:51 AM

                                                      My impression exactly. My husband had great memories from Mickey's from 10 years ago when he was an undergrad here, but on our last 2-3 visits the food was so disappointing that now Mickey's is off the list.

                                                    3. re: Iowa_Smitten
                                                      p
                                                      Pandora Aug 28, 2011 05:08 PM

                                                      Tried el bandito takeout and really liked it. And I'm thrilled they deliver. The only down side is the prices are a little high, but they give a huge amount of food, so it balances out. I'll have to try La Reyna too.

                                                  2. a
                                                    acespeed May 26, 2011 09:09 PM

                                                    If anyone is looking for a sandwich place, try NoDo. It's in that weird space outside but inside the Ace Hardware on North Dodge. The sandwiches are solid and the guy who runs it is pretty nice. Has anyone else eaten there yet?

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: acespeed
                                                      corneygirl May 27, 2011 09:43 AM

                                                      I love it! Hard to not order the C and P, but when I have managed to I've been pleased as well. I haven't been up there for a while, I'm due for another trip.

                                                    2. m
                                                      mtvernonfoodie Nov 17, 2010 05:52 AM

                                                      Any new restaurants or new restaurants to be in the Iowa City area?

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: mtvernonfoodie
                                                        corneygirl Nov 17, 2010 10:04 AM

                                                        Stella opened up where Taste on Melrose used to be, I haven't tried it yet. I have heard mixed reviews, but I intend on trying it after the holidays. Banditios is a newish mexicanish place that takes up both the old Motley Cow location, and the nasty pizza place that used to be next door. It's mid-priced (10ish entrees - dinner for 2 with alcohol and an app is a little over $50). They get local meat, cook their own beans (not from a can) etc. I think the food is really good, and it fills a niche (I was extremely underwhelmed with the food at Saloon).

                                                        -----
                                                        Motley Cow Cafe
                                                        160 N Linn St, Iowa City, IA 52245

                                                        1. re: corneygirl
                                                          l
                                                          lost78 May 27, 2011 10:20 AM

                                                          Banditos breakfast is only on the weekends and starts a little late, but it's very good. I ate at Stella for lunch and thought it was ok, but I haven't been back.

                                                        2. re: mtvernonfoodie
                                                          b
                                                          BillyBlastoff Jan 18, 2011 05:08 AM

                                                          I'm looking for a new brunch place. Anyone try Red's in North Liberty for brunch? The wife and I ate at Motley Cow a couple of weeks ago and had to retire the restaurant from our list. We were told they had a new omelet chef who could not make an egg white omelet. The service was way too laid back and the wife's cheese grits were not right. Too bad. We used to go there a couple of times every month and a half or so.

                                                          Anyone try Mondo's saloon in the ped mall for brunch?

                                                          -----
                                                          Mondo's Restaurant
                                                          309 S Fremont St, Shenandoah, IA 51601

                                                          Motley Cow Cafe
                                                          160 N Linn St, Iowa City, IA 52245

                                                          1. re: BillyBlastoff
                                                            c
                                                            ctscorp Jan 19, 2011 11:52 AM

                                                            You used to go there often and then one "off" experience made you not go back? That's too bad. I had a great egg white omelet there just last Sunday, so perhaps the chef figured it out?

                                                            1. re: ctscorp
                                                              b
                                                              BillyBlastoff May 26, 2011 09:30 AM

                                                              Actually the wife took a business associate last week for dinner and had no complaints. I plan on going back for lunch soon to try the award winning pastrami.

                                                              I have been going to Bluebird for egg white omelets and have not been disappointed. I still don't get an omelet chef who can't do an egg white omelet...

                                                              Consider my empty "no more Motley Cow" threats the words of a diner scorned..

                                                              -----
                                                              Motley Cow Cafe
                                                              160 N Linn St, Iowa City, IA 52245

                                                            2. re: BillyBlastoff
                                                              i
                                                              Iowa_Smitten May 26, 2011 11:01 AM

                                                              Red's is closed.

                                                              1. re: Iowa_Smitten
                                                                l
                                                                lost78 May 27, 2011 10:10 AM

                                                                Red's Ale House (alehouse?) in N. L. (former owners of Sluggers which was zapped by 08 flood) is open and serving good food with great beer. The brunch, while decadent, has nothing on the Iowa River Power Company brunch, which includes Mimosas and runs only a few dollars more.

                                                                Redhead in Solon is closed, and now is a decent mexican placed called "El Sol."

                                                          2. g
                                                            Gilgamesh37 Jul 15, 2010 01:51 PM

                                                            Ate at Orchard Green for the first time last night (intended to eat at Devotay, but after being seated in the hot, very stuffy, very LOUD dining room and given water, no waitstaff spoke to us for 10 full minutes, at which point we got up and left) . Ate downstairs in the lounge and it was terrific. Quiet, almost empty, same menu as upstairs (with some additional items, like sandwiches and chicken wings). DH had the Cucumber cocktail which was outstanding (and the sort of drink that goes down so easy, you could get loaded without meaning to). We split an appetizer, each had 2 drinks, I had the scallops (really good, and the polenta was especially good, and I'm not usually a polenta person) and DH had the bouillabase, which was more saucelike than souplike, but also wonderful. And we got away for $100 including tip, which I thought was tremendously reasonable. Upstairs is lovely and elegant, but I really enjoyed the lounge atmosphere. Wait staff were attentive without being intrusive, and very nice. We'll definitely go back.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Gilgamesh37
                                                              rozz01 Jul 25, 2010 09:31 AM

                                                              I know I've said this before, but after 10 times there... nothing has ever gone wrong, except me spilling a very pricey cocktail!

                                                            2. j
                                                              jamit Feb 26, 2010 01:47 PM

                                                              Anyone been to Chez Grace in Coralville on the strip?

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: jamit
                                                                c
                                                                ctscorp Mar 2, 2010 12:09 PM

                                                                A friend went and told me it was truly awful and ridiculously overpriced. I'd be interested in more input, too --

                                                                1. re: jamit
                                                                  b
                                                                  BillyBlastoff Apr 3, 2010 07:05 PM

                                                                  I went last night and was very pleased. The lamb loin was excellent, very tender and flavorful without any gaminess.

                                                                  Being seated by and served by the Chef was a wonderfully unique experience. I will absolutely dine there again.

                                                                2. g
                                                                  Gilgamesh37 Jan 29, 2010 01:01 PM

                                                                  Just heard that Taste on Melrose will be closing Feb 14, which I think is too bad. We haven't eaten there very regularly, but every time we've gone we've enjoyed it. It was also a great place, in nice weather, to walk to from the hospital for lunch.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Gilgamesh37
                                                                    j
                                                                    jamit Feb 26, 2010 01:48 PM

                                                                    Will miss it for sure!
                                                                    I heard it was going to be a lunch place.

                                                                    1. re: jamit
                                                                      i
                                                                      IowaBoy Feb 27, 2010 06:56 AM

                                                                      San Diego Chargers and former Iowa field goal kicker Nate Kaeding and a few buddies are going to occupy the building with menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner Prices ranging from 9-15. No name yet. It's the same trio that own the gourmet burger joint downtown. I would think this could be a gold mine with the hospital right down the street and virtually no other eating choices.

                                                                  2. rozz01 Jan 28, 2010 02:42 PM

                                                                    I went to Orchard Green and had a pretty spectacular meal. Have others found this to be the rule with this place?

                                                                    1. corneygirl Jan 7, 2010 09:16 PM

                                                                      Has anybody tried Her Soup Kitchen?

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: corneygirl
                                                                        j
                                                                        jamit Feb 26, 2010 01:50 PM

                                                                        Haven't tried eating there yet but the hosted an event at Muddy Creek and served some great small dishes...soups, sandwiches, etc...was very good so intrigued about give the place a try.

                                                                      2. b
                                                                        BillyBlastoff Dec 30, 2009 10:52 PM

                                                                        I had a great bowl of chili Verde with smoked pork at the Bluebird for lunch today. The flavors were complex and smokey. The chili was very meaty. The more I eat at this place the more I like it. I'll admit I ate the Rubin several months ago and felt it uninspired.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: BillyBlastoff
                                                                          l
                                                                          lost78 May 27, 2011 10:16 AM

                                                                          anything involving the pork/green chili combo is great. All their other food I've found overpriced and bland. We went for dinner and spent well over 50$ on the meal and both left a lot of food behind because it was flavorless. If you're waiting in line to get into bluebird on a saturday or sunday morning, walk across and eat at Banditos for breakfast. You'll never go back.

                                                                        2. m
                                                                          missytee Oct 14, 2009 12:23 PM

                                                                          Why, hello! I just relocated to Iowa City from Chicago (Windy city resident for 8+ years) and am in desperate search of decent dining. I was thrilled when I found this website and promptly made a detailed list of places to venture and try out. (In Chicago, I was a pretty dedicated Yelper, and sadly Yelp here isn't as used.) Thank you to all who contribute!

                                                                          My first venture I decided on Devotay- by the masses it seemed it have decent reviews. I was pleased to find out that the night I went (Tuesday) was half price wine night. The wine selection was decent and our waitress was friendly and very helpful with our selection.

                                                                          We ordered the cheese tray, scallops, mussels and paella (seafood fan). While the cheese tray left much to be desired, the seasoned almonds on the side were the best thing on the cheese plate. When it came to the tapas- OVER SALTED, OVER SEASONED. After our first bite of mussels, we were overwhelmed by salt and cumin. Every other bite had to be with bread to cut the salt. The scallops where not bad, though I would not go back for just those. The paella is tomato based, not a saffron bed. I liked this rendition if it wasn't for the mass SALT poured into the dish. By our FIFTH glass of water, we were done. As my boyfriend put it, "I'll eat it...because we paid for it and I'm starving." We told the waitress of our struggle, and she kindly thanked us for our input and was very apologetic. She mentioned that they have a new cook, and we were not the first to say this to her.

                                                                          While my boyfriend swore this place off, I think I would come back to give it another shot. The atmosphere is adorable and cozy. The dining crowd is electic and warm, and the staff very friendly and kind. I just hope that customer feedback gets to the new chef for the sake of future diner's kidneys.

                                                                          P.S. The night of the dinner, we woke up in the middle of night, parched, and downed ANOTHER glass of water.

                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                          1. re: missytee
                                                                            corneygirl Oct 19, 2009 09:52 AM

                                                                            I had a similar experience the last time I ate there, which was over a year ago. I'm not sure if the new cook thing is valid. The waitress new the food was to salty (she asked if it was salty), but they still served it. For such a long standing place this seems like bad quality control.

                                                                            1. re: corneygirl
                                                                              nogaboga Oct 20, 2009 09:12 AM

                                                                              Yep. I haven't been back there in more than a year myself. The atmosphere is fantastic, but I always end up disappointed by the food.

                                                                              Has anyone tried either Hearth or Orchard Green?

                                                                              1. re: nogaboga
                                                                                corneygirl Oct 20, 2009 10:04 PM

                                                                                Neither one yet. Hearth's menu looks good, but expensive for flat breads - pizza whatever. Taste on Melrose is doing a pizza menu that looks good, and more affordable. I just heard about Orchard Green (ad in the paper), but I'm not sure what they are about.

                                                                                1. re: corneygirl
                                                                                  nogaboga Nov 17, 2009 10:45 AM

                                                                                  Went to Orchard Green last night with hubby. The space is gorgeous - used to be the back room of the Brew Works, and looks absolutely fantastic as a high-end restaurant. Our server was attentive and knowledgeable, our fish and steak were cooked just right, and altogether we had a great time. The food is prepared in a rich and heavy manner, as you would expected from a French restaurant, so I would recommend ordering a light appetizer.

                                                                                  Can't wait to go back and try the duck and the scallops.

                                                                                  1. re: nogaboga
                                                                                    nogaboga Nov 19, 2009 10:35 AM

                                                                                    Oh, and I have a Takanami-related issue that I need to raise and verify.
                                                                                    I was complaining to a friend of how, whenever I go to Takanami for dinner, my clothes end up with a very strong food-smell. I will usually even have to air my jacket for a few days before I can wear it again. My friend said that it's because the place is in non-compliance with some law about a vent that should be installed over the fryer and they don't have it, or something like that. Does anyone know what this is about? (By the way - I love their food and will keep eating there. This is not an attempt to discredit the place!)

                                                                                  2. re: corneygirl
                                                                                    i
                                                                                    Iowa_Smitten Oct 5, 2010 01:37 PM

                                                                                    Hearth has 1/2 price wood-fired oven flatbreads from 4:30-6 on week nights. They are definitely a meal! They also have breaks on some of the other "appetizers" and on wine. A pleasant spot to relax after a day's work.

                                                                                    1. re: Iowa_Smitten
                                                                                      nogaboga Feb 10, 2011 10:22 AM

                                                                                      Not exactly half price. They shave $2-3 off the price. Same with the drinks - not really a happy hour, just a slightly-less-expensive hour. I think that at the moment, nothing beats the Happy Hour deal at the Orchard Green lounge, with its $5 menu.

                                                                                  3. re: nogaboga
                                                                                    nogaboga Jan 5, 2010 11:59 AM

                                                                                    I finally went to Hearth and was definitely impressed. My husband and I shared 5 appetizers and one entrée, and I have nothing bad to say about any of them, especially considering the low prices. I'm excited! I think this is a great new option in town.

                                                                              2. o
                                                                                onebirdgirl Sep 13, 2009 12:15 PM

                                                                                Have lived in Iowa City since '98 and have been checking this thread for the last few years but never posted before today. Wondering if anyone has tried the new BBQ place in Iowa City - out by the Herbert Hoover Highway exit? Looks like it's more of a bar than restaurant, but always looking for good food to add to our list - we do love Jimmy Jack's, but they have such a small selection of sides....

                                                                                Also, tried Bluebird for the 2nd (and last) time today. Had gone earlier on and tried the chicken salad at lunch, which I found passable but uninspiring. Today we went for breakfast and had horrible service (though with a smile!) and truly bad food including greasy and undercooked hashbrowns, underseasoned omelets, and corned beef hash that was nothing of the sort. So sad, too, because Iowa City could really use an upscale diner. Ah well.

                                                                                What else have folks eaten lately and loved?

                                                                                1. LifeB Sep 2, 2009 07:38 AM

                                                                                  Greetings all! Does anyone know who makes those fantastic water carafes they put at every table over at Motley Cow? I called the restaurant and the woman I talked to wasn't sure but suggested I check Libbey. I went through their entire listing and couldn't find them...

                                                                                  Thanks everyone for your comments, I've been checking in with this list for ages!

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: LifeB
                                                                                    c
                                                                                    ctscorp Sep 2, 2009 08:27 PM

                                                                                    They are Libbey, and they have the same ones at Taste on Melrose. I'd call Taste, as it has far fewer employees and the owner is accessible. He can tell you where he got them -- although I'm pretty sure they came from a restaurant wholesale supplier at both places and you therefore might have to buy a whole case.

                                                                                  2. a
                                                                                    acespeed Jul 17, 2009 10:47 AM

                                                                                    If I can chime in on this whole Augusta thing, I think they don't have brunch anymore (at least that's what I think the sign on the door said), which is sad because it had been raved to me immensely. I went there for dinner last night with a friend. She got the crawfish beignets, which she found to be too doughy. I think her conception of the beignet was off, but I thought they were sort of strange; reminded me of a modified hush puppy. Still good though. I wouldn't want a whole order of them, but that's personal preference. I got the gumbo, which was more like soup as in it was thin. It also wasn't particularly spicy, which disappointed me. For entrees, she got the po'boy. The shrimp wasn't very well seasoned, i.e. it had no zip of any sort. She did like the sweet potato chips, though. For myself, I got the night's special which was crab encrusted walleye, which was actually amazing. I thought the carrots were a bit too buttery, but the grit cake was stellar. The consistency was right, and they were buttery like grits, not carrots, are supposed to be. In the end, while I think my friend is a bit too snobbish about eating, I would go back again. I thought my meal was good. It was at least worth its cost, which is all I really ask for in a meal.

                                                                                    In regards to other eating, I live by the linn st. places, so I've now eaten at all of them. Linn St. was alright for lunch. I thought they were being too ambitious in their concepts. If they went back to basics, they'd probably be pretty good. The waitstaff when I went was good. Our waitress chatted with us, and that was nice. Devotay is Devotay. This is a love or hate place. I've never seen people either gush or seethe so fervently with passion about a restaurant ever. I'm indifferent. I thought the tapas I had were quite good. The paella was unpleasant, to put it mildly. But, I'm not going to sway you one way or another. Go and experience for yourself. Motley Cow is amazing. After I left from Augusta, I was struggling to remember a good meal that I had in Iowa City, then it popped into my head today: the lamb sausage pizza at motley cow. It is fantastic. As well, the sunday brunch is actually really good. I'm southern, so I know biscuits and gravy. While I thought the gravy could have been a little thicker, the biscuits were superbly done and the overall meal quite nice. Pagliai's has a cult following I don't really understand. Thought the pizza was sort of average, not really worth the price. I'd rather just get pizza from the wedge. 126 is not so choice. I went for lunch. The ambiance was uncomfortable and my crabcake sandwich (I don't know why I do this to myself; I grew up eating crab in md/va/dc, i.e. crab country) was not particularly flavorful or interesting. Also, Lou Henri left a lot to be desired. The meal was average, but the atmosphere made it so much worse.

                                                                                    I'm interested in Lincoln and Redhead, so I guess I'll be firing up the dream machine for a couple of drives in the near future. As well, I'll be checking out El Paso. I've been to La Reyna. I thought the burrito I had from there was good, but the torta was greasy and not so hot. I went for dinner. I got fajitas, and they weren't particularly good. They weren't even average. I'm willing to take suggestions on good mexican restaurants in this area. There have to be some given there is an actual population here. Also are there any jamaican restaurants closer than Cedar Falls? Why has there not been a shout to Mama's on this thread? It's not a pure deli, but it's the only place where I have gotten a really good sandwich in IC. I have yet to be disappointed by it.

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: acespeed
                                                                                      nogaboga Jul 30, 2009 03:23 PM

                                                                                      I'm in a general agreement with you about the lack of decent choices in IC. Have you tried the Chef's Table? I had a nice experience there.

                                                                                      My one comment though is about the 126 lunch. I mean, it's my default lunch place! I am yet to have found a better lunch menu in town.

                                                                                      1. re: nogaboga
                                                                                        i
                                                                                        iowadina Aug 13, 2009 07:16 PM

                                                                                        I'm sorry, but to say that there are a "lack of decent choices in IC" is a bit goofy. I have now lived in five states, - north, south, and east, and I defy you to find more than a handful of towns of Iowa City's size in this country where the choices even come *close.* Ithaca, NY is one city I have lived in that does measure up, but believe me, it is a diamond in the rough. While I am sure there is still much to be desired in the restaurant "scene" in Iowa City, I would encourage you all to count your blessings.

                                                                                        1. re: iowadina
                                                                                          nogaboga Aug 17, 2009 01:15 PM

                                                                                          Haha. I didn't realize this was a scientific comparison of IC and its peer group. Yes, IC is great compared to other towns its size, and even compared to many larger towns (I've been to places three times the size of IC with fewer decent food options). My agreement with acespeed about the lack of choices was completely non-scientific.

                                                                                          And I do think that the fact that other towns this size do worse, does not mean that we shouldn't aspire to do better.

                                                                                          1. re: nogaboga
                                                                                            a
                                                                                            acespeed Aug 23, 2009 01:19 PM

                                                                                            I should clarify. There are decent options in iowa city, especially given its size. The fact that I can make comparisons between places is a massive improvement for me. That said, there are only a couple of places that make you sort of sit up and go, holy mother of god, that meal was incredible. I want there to be more of those types of places. I still want a stellar, inexpensive burger in this town. I don't know if other people want this, but I certainly do.

                                                                                        2. re: nogaboga
                                                                                          jhojati Aug 25, 2009 03:08 PM

                                                                                          126 lunch is awesome. One of the best steak sandwiches I've ever had.

                                                                                        3. re: acespeed
                                                                                          wekick Jul 30, 2009 04:13 PM

                                                                                          Better hurry if you want to go to Redhead-
                                                                                          http://friends.myspace.com/index.cfm?...

                                                                                        4. lizzy69 Apr 27, 2009 07:53 PM

                                                                                          Has anyone tried Vesta in Coralville yet? Any good?

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: lizzy69
                                                                                            m
                                                                                            mtvernonfoodie Apr 28, 2009 11:12 AM

                                                                                            My wife and I tried it around the time it opened and thought it had a lot of potential. It was ok, but it was still early for them so I'm guessing it has improved. The meatball appetizer was very good.

                                                                                          2. l
                                                                                            la2iowa Apr 26, 2009 08:36 AM

                                                                                            Did anyone else check out RiverFeast in Iowa City this weekend? The only thing that stands out for me was Oasis and they gave out a sample of their falafel, pita bread, and hummus for free. It was delicious...but then, I was a fan of Oasis before I got that sample. Their baklava was not that bad either. Otherwise, I'm a little bit hesitant to try some of the places there based on what I tasted.

                                                                                            1. m
                                                                                              mtvernonfoodie Apr 21, 2009 09:17 AM

                                                                                              My wife and I decided to try out the Sanctuary Pub this past weekend and it is my new favorite place to grab a beer, some good pizza, and enjoy. The fact that they had one of the best beers in the world on tap (Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar) had sold me on the place already. We ordered a pizza that had cilantro-pesto sauce, jalapenos, green peppers, tomatoes, and it was very good. The pitcher of brown ale was great and has my mouth watering to get back their again soon.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: mtvernonfoodie
                                                                                                h
                                                                                                hawkeyeui93 Sep 13, 2011 09:24 PM

                                                                                                I also enjoy the Pizza Fontina at the Sanctuary ....

                                                                                              2. lizzy69 Apr 17, 2009 05:59 AM

                                                                                                Just wanted to give a mini-report on Linn Street. Went there for the first time the other night for a friend's birthday dinner, and we were seriously disappointed. I know that it's one of those restaurants that's gone down hill in a big way in the past few years, but they could at least have the decency to lower their prices to go with the sub-standard food! They served trout mousse with crackers (not homemade, just a step up from saltines), the scallops were fishy and terrible, the beans that came with my husband's lamb were literally crunchy, the salads looked like they came out of a dumpster, and my side dish just tasted like over-cooked soba noodles drenched in sesame oil. For all this, we got a bill that required us to take out another mortgage on our house. I would NOT recommend this restaurant, it was one of the WORST meals we've had in Iowa City. Spend your money elsewhere...

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: lizzy69
                                                                                                  kellog sully Apr 21, 2009 08:20 AM

                                                                                                  ...and when I dine at Linn St., it's like being transported to another place and time: the restaurant of a Ramada Inn, circa 1983.
                                                                                                  This part of IC (Northside) has so much potential as a reasonably good food destination. It would be nice if Linn St. could hold up their end of the bargain. Long propped up by pharmaceutical dinners and U. schmoozing, I suspect the economy might do just that. Good luck, I truly want it to be good.
                                                                                                  KS

                                                                                                  1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                    nogaboga Apr 23, 2009 09:17 AM

                                                                                                    I keep doing the rounds of Linn St. - Devotay - Motley Cow, and keep waiting for the magic to happen. It's not that their food is not good - it IS good - but it's not *exciting*. I guess that I just want to be excited.

                                                                                                    The last place to excite me was Takanami - way to go with those chef's special rolls. Some simply melted in our mouths.

                                                                                                    As for the redhead, now that it's motorcycle season again, I'm definitely going to pay her a visit. Kim is the sweetest person and I can't believe I'm yet to have eaten there.

                                                                                                    1. re: nogaboga
                                                                                                      lizzy69 Apr 27, 2009 07:49 PM

                                                                                                      I have to admit, I really would be hesitant to lump Linn St. with Devotay and Motley Cow. I know there are some on this board who are not the biggest fans of Devotay, but I adore that place, have never had a bad experience. Motley Cow is also a fantastic place...Linn St. was bad on so many levels that I seriously couldn't count them. Must get to Redhead soon!!

                                                                                                2. m
                                                                                                  mtvernonfoodie Apr 16, 2009 12:13 PM

                                                                                                  Hi, new chowhound here. Love reading all the posts and I learned a few things. I'm not going to be as critical as some because I don't know as much but thought I would share my experience with my family at Redhead in Solon. I had a ribeye medium rare with zucchini and squash on the side. My meal was fantastic and their buttermilk bleu cheese dressing on the salad is great. My wife had the Buffalo chicken soup which she liked. We've gone to this place many times and have yet to be disappointed. Looking forward to trying many of the restaurants listed on the site and for those who like mushrooms, morel season is almost here and I can't wait to get in the timber.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: mtvernonfoodie
                                                                                                    kellog sully Apr 21, 2009 08:30 AM

                                                                                                    Redhead has heart, an element that is completely omitted, if even considered, by most.

                                                                                                  2. m
                                                                                                    Moon Gal Mar 19, 2009 11:42 AM

                                                                                                    I happened upon the CHOW site in google and after reading a number of the postings for Iowa City, felt I needed to 'sign up' so I could add a comment.

                                                                                                    Now, I may have missed it -- didn't read through ALL of the postings -- but in the many I did read, I saw no mention of the Mekong restaurant. My husband and I have long been fans of this family-run operations which, until last summer's major flooding, was located in Coralville, and reopened several weeks ago in Iowa City on Riverside Drive, near the Village Inn. (Oh, the landmarks we use.)

                                                                                                    Anyway, we've always thought this restaurant was not as widely known as its food quality and price point deserved. The restaurant is owned by a wonderful Vietnamese immigrant family who came to the area in the 70's. They offer Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese fare - both vegetarian and non. We've had only one meal there over many, many years that disappointed -- a mock duck. Otherwise, we've found the food to be consistently well prepared, flavorful, and generous of portion size for the price. Their curry shrimp is "to die for". Their mid-day lunch special runs about $7.50 for the same quality of food as the dinner meals, but a more limited selection of dishes. I typically find their lunches enough for 2 meals.

                                                                                                    Although the new Iowa City restaurant has a more upscale look than did their original Coralville one, much of the wait staff -- who really get to know the 'regulars', and vice versa -- has come back, helping to maintain the warm, family-friendly atmosphere of their former place.

                                                                                                    For a wonderful meal, served by friendly, local folk, at a bargain price, I can't recommend the Mekong highly enough.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Moon Gal
                                                                                                      lizzy69 Mar 28, 2009 06:30 PM

                                                                                                      Hi Moon Gal,

                                                                                                      You are sooooo right, we really liked that place. Coming from San Diego and L.A. where there was really good Thai, we were happy to find Mekong and so sorry to hear that it had been closed due to the floods. I just heard the other day that they had relocated...they should get the word out! Looking forward to going back soon!

                                                                                                      1. re: lizzy69
                                                                                                        g
                                                                                                        gravygirl Apr 5, 2009 11:15 AM

                                                                                                        I am looking for good Pho, I hope I find it there!
                                                                                                        I had the best doughnut at DeLuxe Bakery on Summit St. They only have them on Saturdays. They are always packed on Saturdays, but its still an essential in our house to have pastries once a week there.
                                                                                                        Their coffee is killer too, if you are a coffee snob, they have a GS-3!

                                                                                                    2. Mangojane Feb 15, 2009 04:35 PM

                                                                                                      Has anyone heard of this new place called Chef's Table that's apparently on Washington? I heard about it a few weeks ago and I'm not sure if it's open yet but I was wondering what the deal was with it? Any thoughts?

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Mangojane
                                                                                                        kellog sully Feb 15, 2009 05:43 PM

                                                                                                        Eric, the former chef at Takanami, is heading it up. Based on his track record and work ethic, it should be something to look forward to...

                                                                                                        1. re: Mangojane
                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                          tlackner Feb 15, 2009 05:48 PM

                                                                                                          This is a new "continental" restaurant, occupying the space formerly housing Prairie Table, next to the Englert. The last time I walked by - admittedly, a couple of weeks ago - the windows were still covered with brown paper. It will be a nice place to dine before the theater/concert, if it works out.

                                                                                                          1. re: Mangojane
                                                                                                            m
                                                                                                            mander Feb 15, 2009 06:02 PM

                                                                                                            When Eric is given free rein he can be extraordinary. It will be interesting to see how he strikes a balance between great food and running a profitable place. Lord knows people like me are pulling for him.

                                                                                                          2. d
                                                                                                            danamarie Jan 23, 2009 06:12 AM

                                                                                                            If all you chs could have one last meal in iowa city, where would it be and why?

                                                                                                            15 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: danamarie
                                                                                                              lizzy69 Jan 24, 2009 12:37 PM

                                                                                                              Hey Dana Marie (I once had a roommate named that...you never lived in San Diego, did you??)...I would go to Devotay, without question. First of all, we've been at least 15 times and have never had anything short of a great experience. Secondly, my husband and I had our first meal there when visiting Iowa City for the first time, and at that very lunch decided to move here! Kurt does a great job with the place...the food, decor, service, all wonderful and relaxed.

                                                                                                              1. re: danamarie
                                                                                                                nogaboga Feb 9, 2009 02:38 PM

                                                                                                                Ah, excellent question. I went back in my mind to locate the yummiest edible I have had here in the last couple of years.
                                                                                                                The winner: Takanami has a "chef's sashimi combination" (or something like that) dish which is just to die for. The menu includes 3 possible combinations, each composed of three pieces of sashimi with a matching sauce, spices and vegetables. It's all very small and pretty expensive for an appetizer, but the flavor combination is fantastic. I had it about a year ago and can still taste it if I sit back and think about it.

                                                                                                                Lizzy69 - I have to challenge your Verde choice. Last time I was there, I received two different back-to-back dishes in the exact same sauce (red peppers). In my book, that's a big no-no.

                                                                                                                So - one vote Verde, one vote Takanami.

                                                                                                                1. re: nogaboga
                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                  ctscorp Feb 11, 2009 06:57 PM

                                                                                                                  Nogaboga, I think you mean Devotay as far as Lizzy is concerned... I'm going to have to second your dissent on the Devotay choice. I've eaten there a few times and it has always been mediocre at best -- too salty, not creative, far too expensive for what it is, and by no means as local as they pretend to be. Takanami has been good in the past, but with all the chef/management changes, I'm not too fond of it anymore. That sashimi combo *was* really good, though....

                                                                                                                  Sadly, I think if I had to pick my last meal, I'd leave Iowa City. I consistently have great meals at Motley Cow -- although maybe not last-meal-worthy -- and at Lincoln Cafe. The rest of the food in the area is good, and extremely satisfying on a day-to-day basis, but ultimately not too inspiring.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                    b
                                                                                                                    btgordon Feb 11, 2009 07:29 PM

                                                                                                                    I echo CTS- in general, I find IC's food to be lacking. Ditto with Devotay; I was less than thrilled the two times I went there. Never been to the lincoln Cafe, bit Hva eheard good things.

                                                                                                                    1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                      nogaboga Feb 13, 2009 08:39 AM

                                                                                                                      Of course, I meant Devotay. Sorry for that slip. Thanks for the correction.

                                                                                                                      1. re: nogaboga
                                                                                                                        rozz01 Feb 13, 2009 04:12 PM

                                                                                                                        It's been a downward trend for awhile, It's sad too cause I miss the days when that white sangria was such a treat at Devotay... It was like a Scooby Snack.

                                                                                                                      2. re: CookSteve8
                                                                                                                        wekick Feb 14, 2009 09:26 PM

                                                                                                                        We really like Devotay too. I always have had a good experience there. we pass through when traveling and always stop there.

                                                                                                                        1. re: CookSteve8
                                                                                                                          kellog sully Feb 15, 2009 06:25 AM

                                                                                                                          "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the american public."
                                                                                                                          --HL Mencken
                                                                                                                          and now, haiku:
                                                                                                                          mom and pop tired schtick
                                                                                                                          food service truck double parked
                                                                                                                          dining depression

                                                                                                                          1. re: CookSteve8
                                                                                                                            m
                                                                                                                            mander Feb 15, 2009 07:54 AM

                                                                                                                            To each their own. While I have great respect for Kurt and what he does for the slow and local movements in IC, I have never really got his own cooking. Perfectly fine but I'd much rather go to MC, LC or Simone's.

                                                                                                                            1. re: mander
                                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                                              CookSteve8 Feb 15, 2009 02:34 PM

                                                                                                                              Did you hear that Simone (who's also wonderful by the way, and sells her bread at Devotay) is taking this year off? No dinners at the farm this year. Dunno what that means about her fougasse at Devotay.

                                                                                                                              And could yo please expound on "I have never really got his own cooking"? I don't think I follow what you mean.

                                                                                                                              1. re: CookSteve8
                                                                                                                                m
                                                                                                                                mander Feb 15, 2009 05:59 PM

                                                                                                                                I have to admit I moved from IC 1.5 years ago so I hadn't heard that. Some of my best meals in the area have been at the farm.

                                                                                                                                As for Devotay, he cuts too many corners for my taste and the food can be inconsistent. When I've pointed this out to him he has said "few people notice". So fine - to each their own but not for me.

                                                                                                                                That said the food is good and his prices are indeed fair.

                                                                                                                                1. re: CookSteve8
                                                                                                                                  nogaboga Feb 17, 2009 10:35 AM

                                                                                                                                  Taking the year off? How sad! I celebrated my birthday there last year over lamb and a lot of red wine. Now where will I go this year?..

                                                                                                                              2. re: CookSteve8
                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                ctscorp Feb 16, 2009 06:21 PM

                                                                                                                                We can agree to disagree -- I don't choose to spend my money at Devotay because of the style of the food, which, as I said, I find too salty, uncreative, and fat-laden to be enjoyable. I should let you know, though, that every restaurant I've ever worked in has been booked on Valentine's Day -- that's absolutely no sort of coup. I'd bet Village Inn would have been booked if they took reservations....

                                                                                                                                1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                                                  mander Feb 17, 2009 06:42 PM

                                                                                                                                  couldn't agree more.

                                                                                                                                2. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                  nogaboga Feb 17, 2009 10:32 AM

                                                                                                                                  Last nail in the food coffin - I went to Takanami yesterday and looked for that one dish I mentioned in my last reply. It's called "Fusion Sashimi", and out of the 3 variations that used to exist, they took out the one that I liked and left the other two in the menu. Ha!

                                                                                                                                  I'll have to offer another competitor then (and I'm focusing on individual dishes here and not the entire place) - the duck confit appetizer at 126. I don't know when they have it on the menu, but I happened to have been there when they did, and it was delicious.

                                                                                                                            2. v
                                                                                                                              viktorshane Jan 11, 2009 03:00 PM

                                                                                                                              I just found this site and have been trying to get caught up, but got lost around Sept 2006. Basically I've been in IC for 8 years, but my boyfriend is new to the area. Being from Northern California, he is a bit spoiled when it comes to food options (apparently Sacramento and San Fran were both close by). We have managed to find a Mexican place he approves of (El Super Burrito in CR...I highly recommend it...$10 got us a plate of fajitas that we had to struggle to finish together...and then we were soaking the grease up w/ the tortillas...mmmmm), however a reasonably priced Italian place or real Deli is something we're still looking for. If anybody has any suggestions for reasonable and authentic, I'm taking any and all suggestions.

                                                                                                                              1. lizzy69 Jan 9, 2009 06:39 PM

                                                                                                                                Hi all,

                                                                                                                                Family is in from out of town, and they want to take us out for dinner. Looking for a place in or around Iowa City that has good entrees between $15-$20 other than Devotay (went there last time, they want to try a new place). One Twenty Six, Motley Cow, Linn Street Cafe, Vesta, Givannis, all a little too expensive (their entrees are between $20-$30)...other ideas? Taste on Melrose?? Tuscan Moon? Red Head? Augusta?

                                                                                                                                Thanks for the help...

                                                                                                                                1. a
                                                                                                                                  aquapacata Jan 9, 2009 09:03 AM

                                                                                                                                  Hi all! I'm moving to the Quad Cities from Charlottesville, Virginia in August (my s.o. moved there last August). Cville is a town that encourages being completely spoiled when it comes to food. I've been reading up on the Chowhound about food in the QC, but truth be told, except for Frieda's in East Moline, the best food I've had in the area is in, you guessed it, Iowa City. (So far, I've just eaten at Devotay and Saloon, and blown a couple hundred dollars at New Pi.)

                                                                                                                                  Anyway, I love your 244 replies to this thread! Does my heart good. Does anyone eat out in the QC and have favorites there? There are some threads on Chowhound about the QC, so I don't need encyclopedic responses, but if you have any place you love, I'd totally love to hear about it! (And I promise I'll keep driving to IC when I need a great meal!)

                                                                                                                                  1. a
                                                                                                                                    AliceBarbaraMarion Dec 16, 2008 09:24 AM

                                                                                                                                    Anybody know where to buy orange flower water? Thanks -- ABM

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: AliceBarbaraMarion
                                                                                                                                      rozz01 Dec 18, 2008 12:21 PM

                                                                                                                                      I've seen It at Great Wall and at that little middle-eastern shop across from the Coralville post office... dunno if thats still open...

                                                                                                                                      1. re: AliceBarbaraMarion
                                                                                                                                        v
                                                                                                                                        viktorshane Jan 11, 2009 02:55 PM

                                                                                                                                        I know for a fact you can get it at Chong's in Coralville. Was just in there a week ago and saw it.

                                                                                                                                      2. f
                                                                                                                                        FelixHolt Oct 12, 2008 06:40 PM

                                                                                                                                        Does anyone know of a place to buy fresh curry leaves in the area?

                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: FelixHolt
                                                                                                                                          i
                                                                                                                                          IowaBoy Oct 13, 2008 09:10 AM

                                                                                                                                          There is a new Med. Market in Coralville across from the post office at 10th AVE and 5th street. You might try there.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: FelixHolt
                                                                                                                                            rozz01 Oct 15, 2008 09:01 PM

                                                                                                                                            I've also seen them at the Great Wall by Aldi's and the Dojo off of Waterfont. Chong's used to carry them in the old days when they had that sweet gigantic cooler room...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: FelixHolt
                                                                                                                                              i
                                                                                                                                              ictoby Oct 27, 2008 07:21 PM

                                                                                                                                              Chong's definitely has them... my boyfriend and I went all over Iowa City one day looking for fresh curry leaves and finally found them there!

                                                                                                                                            2. nogaboga Oct 2, 2008 11:26 AM

                                                                                                                                              Has anybody been to Short's yet? That's the burger bar located where Baldy's used to be. I was just there for a first visit, and have to say that I walked out disappointed - the burger was okay, but nothing more, and for a place that serves nothing but burgers, you expect the burger to be incredible. I liked everything in my bun better than the burger itself (no. 4 on the menu - the Dundee: egg, Canadian bacon, garlic aioli and mushrooms). The burger itself was very bland and slightly on the dry side, and the fries were not exciting at all. Altogether, I'm very unexcited. Anybody volunteering to change my mind?

                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: nogaboga
                                                                                                                                                k
                                                                                                                                                kapellmeister Mar 18, 2009 05:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                I've been there twice now. Both times I had one of the bean burgers (different toppings each time). It was FABULOUS both times! The fries were fair to middling. The first time I went, my lunch partner got a burger and claimed to love it. The second time, a different lunch partner had an experience similar to yours--great toppings, very bland burger. I've yet to have the real thing there, but I wholeheartedly vouch for the vegetarian options!!!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: nogaboga
                                                                                                                                                  a
                                                                                                                                                  acespeed Jul 17, 2009 10:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                  No, I'm not going to change your mind. I walked in with the same sort of expectation: getting a really good burger at a reasonable price. The beef didn't have enough flavor for me. It wasn't dry, but it seemed like they didn't season it or something.

                                                                                                                                                  I went twice. Got the reuben burger the first time. I didn't think it was worth the 9 dollars. On the goading of a friend who likes the black bean burgers (apparently, those are very good), I went again, got a different burger, and still wasn't particularly impressed. I thought it just wasn't worth the price, simply. It was very blah; I left disappointed and, the second time, still hungry. I wouldn't go back again on my own accord.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: nogaboga
                                                                                                                                                    d
                                                                                                                                                    duffalo Aug 15, 2009 08:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                    After several experiences, I've concluded that the service is consistently good, and the burgers are consistently acceptable. I completely appreciate their business model of offering nothing but burgers and fries. But: while obviously made from freshly cut potatoes, the fries are, without exception, abysmal.

                                                                                                                                                    How is that the staff doesn't notice that they are limp and greasy? All of them, all the time? Fries are tricky, but not impossible: fry twice.

                                                                                                                                                  2. i
                                                                                                                                                    ickitty Sep 12, 2008 12:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                    Hi all - I have often stopped by and checked this thread in the last few years, but have never signed up until now! I am an Iowa Citian for the last 11 years and plan to stay. One of the things that I love about Iowa City is the fantastic selection of restaurants and good food relative to the size of our little city. And I am clearly in good company, as this thread has lasted and lasted!

                                                                                                                                                    I thought that I would just 2nd (or 3rd or more) the delight that is Motley Cow brunch. My partner and I went last Sunday and it was both laid back and delicious. We had no problem getting a table at 10:30 or so and had coffee and a basket of fresh spiced donut holes in minutes. The donuts were tasty indeed, as was the breakfast pizza that my partner ordered, and the omelet that I had, but far and away the best thing on the plate was the toast made from home-made bread and the home-made lemon curd that came with it! We will be going back again so that we can try the hotcakes WITH that delicious lemon curd.

                                                                                                                                                    We are also currently loving breakfasts at the Leaf Kitchen - crepes, omelets, and a great salad sampler among a constantly evolving menu of great eats in a cozy space. Definitely another one to check out.

                                                                                                                                                    Did any of you make it down to Taste of Iowa City? Seemed more like a student event, so we didn't venture out, but I would be curious to hear if there were any stand outs.

                                                                                                                                                    15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ickitty
                                                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                                                      caliking Sep 18, 2008 07:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                      AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                      PRAIRIE TABLE IS CLOSING!!! Why didn't anyone tell me?!?!?!?!

                                                                                                                                                      Just happened to see in the paper that they were closing... went by there today - everything is being sold at 40% off. The place was picked bare... even most of the racks/shelves have been sold... the glorious cheese case had only 3-4 lonely cheeses. Where are IC foodies going to go? New Pi and BG Market are decent but not in the same league.

                                                                                                                                                      Oh what sad times we live in... the war in Iraq... the economy... and now this.

                                                                                                                                                      On a more uplifting note, apparently a new Indian restaurant is opening next to Hu-Hot. The owner is the lady who used to run the Indian Mix store (which was flooded).

                                                                                                                                                      Went to India Cafe today and was not very impressed. The onion kulcha was ok, the paneer makhani was passable but too tomato-ey. The lamb kofta was strange - weird pasty masala with bits of some kind of lamb sausage/hot dog thrown in... huh?

                                                                                                                                                      Also, I hear a new diner type joint called Blue Bird is opening... not sure when. The chef/owner from Pairie Table will be working there.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                        ctscorp Sep 23, 2008 10:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Bluebird is opening where Mautz Paint used to be, on Market adjacent to John's and the Foxhead. It's being opened by Tommy Connelly, who also owns Tobacco Bowl.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                                          nogaboga Sep 24, 2008 10:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                          Is this going to be a 24/7 diner? There are only so many George's burgers one can eat at 1 AM.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: nogaboga
                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                            ctscorp Sep 24, 2008 01:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                            I don't know, but I don't think so. I'm sure Tommy would tell you if you went in the "Bowl" and asked.
                                                                                                                                                            I wish I had a limit on George's burgers! ;) Those things are killer -- although have you noticed the smell in there's less appealing now that it's *just* beef and fat and not beef and fat and cigarettes?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                                              rozz01 Sep 24, 2008 01:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Tobacco does have its merits at times.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                                                nogaboga Sep 25, 2008 11:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                I don't think it's less appealing, it's just less "George's". The place had a distinct smell, and now it's gone.
                                                                                                                                                                Still my favorite bar in town, no doubt (followed by the Club Car and The Hilltop, as long as you don't touch their food).

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: nogaboga
                                                                                                                                                                  rozz01 Sep 25, 2008 01:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  The Club Car drink specials are stellar... gotta agree with that.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: nogaboga
                                                                                                                                                                b
                                                                                                                                                                bjstewart Nov 28, 2008 08:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                Sign on the door says Bluebird is opening Sat 11/29 from 12-8 with a limited menu.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bjstewart
                                                                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                                                                  ctscorp Dec 11, 2008 11:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  So I checked out Bluebird for breakfast on as Sunday. Food took forever, which was fine as were were warned it would -- I understand new restaurants need to work out certain kinks. But when it arrived, it was cold, shoddily prepared and not particularly tasty. I had an omelet -- it was paper thin and full on musty tasting veggies that weren't the ones the menu said they'd be. Friends had lukewarm huevos rancheros. Coffee was good... service ok... so I'm not planning on going back any time soon, but I'd love to know if someone has a good experience....

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: nogaboga
                                                                                                                                                                  iowagirl Dec 15, 2008 07:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  We tried Bluebird this Saturday for breakfast and found it both good and bad. My 13 yo stepdaughter ordered the french toast with whipped cream (I tried to talk her into the grilled bananas, but ...) and a side of bacon. Hubby had the Popeye omelet with the addition of swiss, and I had the Huevos Epsteinos - eggs over easy on top of polenta with smoked pork green chili covering all.

                                                                                                                                                                  The French Toast was fine - basic, every day french toast, but it's one piece to an order - priced at $4.95, so not a surprise, but stepdaughter was happy for the side of bacon!

                                                                                                                                                                  Hubby's omelet was tasty, and the vegetables (spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms) seemed fresh - his complaint was that the cheese was melted on top of the omelet, instead of incorporated within. I thought that it might have been an afterthought since it was an add-on, but then we saw other omelets served the same way. His rye toast came a few minutes later, and was really just warm bread - no crunch at all.

                                                                                                                                                                  My Hueveos had good flavor and the eggs were perfectly cooked, but it was served cold. The eggs, the chili and the hasbrowns were just plain cold. The polenta (really rich and cheesy, very tasty and comfort food like) was warm, but the dish really suffered from the temperature. I should have sent it back, but we had waited a while for the food to come, and everyone else's food was hot, so ...

                                                                                                                                                                  The coffee was really good, and i think they have some potential, but really need to work on the timing issues! I think my breakfast was sitting for a while waiting for the french toast and the omelet. It was quite busy, and they have lots of wine bottles and beer bottles displayed - I'd like to see a lunch/dinner menu.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: iowagirl
                                                                                                                                                                    lizzy69 Jan 2, 2009 02:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Hi all!

                                                                                                                                                                    Went to Bluebird this morning and had a great experience, I'd like to report! Coffee was good, my eggs benedict was outstanding, and the other dishes at the table (veggie omelet, pancakes) were also apparently great. Prices are good, service was great, and the food came quickly and was hot. We went because Leaf kitchen is closed until the 6th, and I'm glad we did.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lizzy69
                                                                                                                                                                      a
                                                                                                                                                                      acespeed Jul 17, 2009 11:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      While I've not had bluebird breakfast, I've had bluebird lunch and dinner. The dinner was nothing to talk about. It was unacceptable. I went with three other people and all of us were disappointed with our meals save the one who ordered a salad (honestly, you can't mess up a salad if you're a restaurant). I had meatloaf, which I had at lunch on a different occasion, and it was dry unlike the prior time. It was disappointing, and the vegetables it came with were really greasy. Definitely not worth the cost.

                                                                                                                                                                      On the other hand, the lunch is actually decent, foodwise. That'll explain itself in a second. The first time I went, my friend's strawberry was moldy (!!) and he was less than impressed. This was when I had the good meatloaf. The second time, my friend and I had decent meals. The patty melt I had was completely serviceable. Actually, that's something Hamburg Inn does really well. The one at Mickey's is better though. Moving on, the problem this time was the fact that we were INVISIBLE to the wait staff. They didn't refill our drinks, and when we finished, we had to wait for about 40 minutes or so to get a check. We, literally, stared at our waitress as she talked to some elderly group after we finished for a solid 20-25 minutes. We tried to flag her down, but still no response. I'm all for talking to customers, but you've also got to watch the floor. Both of us actually had places to be and didn't appreciate this hold-up; I ended up being about 25 minutes late because of it.

                                                                                                                                                                      So, with those experiences, I'm hesitant to recommend bluebird to anyone. It's doing well, so all the power in the world to them. I'll just go elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                              3. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                rozz01 Sep 29, 2008 01:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                I tried to go by last week, since thet were the only place in town that carried my favorite mustard. It was too late, wanna cry!!!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                                                  jaylee Oct 6, 2008 08:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  The Indian place that opened by Hu-hot is pretty bad. My boyfriend is from India so maybe my expectations are high....but when I see food being warmed up in the microwave.......no way!

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: ickitty
                                                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                                                  jaylee Oct 6, 2008 08:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  I agree with the bread at Motley Cow- My friend's were in town from Chicago (major food lovers) and they were extremely impressed with the bread. The sausage gravy grits were delish.

                                                                                                                                                                3. a
                                                                                                                                                                  AliceBarbaraMarion Aug 8, 2008 09:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  Has anyone been to Tuscan Moon in Kalona? Not strictly Iowa City, to be sure, but I've heard and read good things, despite the limited menu. Also, anyone know how they source their meat and poultry?

                                                                                                                                                                  ABM

                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: AliceBarbaraMarion
                                                                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                                                                    caliking Aug 26, 2008 01:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Have not been to Tuscan Moon, but I did try 2 new (to me) places recently (both near the Coralville Mariott)

                                                                                                                                                                    Onomi: sushi basically. Their appetizers were a little different from the standard starters, but why on earth would a sushi/japanese restaurant call them "tapas"?? I know tapas was in in vogue in our parts not too long ago (now replaced by "flatbreads"), but seriously. The sushi was not impressive - would still go to Oyama for sheer quality or 3 Samurai for overall dining experience.

                                                                                                                                                                    Vesta: Liked this place better than Onomi. Service was pleasant and great. I didn't care for the sides that came with the duck breast and there was no problem replacing them with the sides of another dish. The duck breast itself was okay - couldn't taste the chile rub - Lincoln Cafe does it better (best in these parts). Was very disappointed with the bread basket - $3 extra for foccacia, french and 2 other. All tasted the same in terms of flavor and texture - bland. If you must charge extra for bread at least provide decent bread - HyVee's bakery would have been better. The wife got the rack of lamb and it was stupendous - definitely the highlight of the meal. Beautifully done with a horseradish and parsley slaw of sorts. Very very good. We had the spanish meatballs with pomegranate marmalade appetizer, which was also tasty. Decent beer list and they have tried to put together an innovative cocktail/martini menu. I would probably take visiting friends to dine here.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                                                                      ctscorp Aug 27, 2008 08:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      It's Konomi.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                        caliking Sep 1, 2008 06:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        I stand corrected... unimpressive enough that I couldn't even remember the name.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                          puzzler Sep 2, 2008 06:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          It's probably because the K is so stylized that it looks like a graphic slash, so all you see is Onomi -- another case of getting so clever with fonts that communication fails.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: puzzler
                                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                                            ctscorp Sep 2, 2008 05:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            Hee hee... the only reason I even know the name is that it's a bunch of guys who jumped ship from Takanami, and we've been laughing at how similar the names are....

                                                                                                                                                                  2. wekick Jun 16, 2008 12:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    How are all the restaurants doing in Iowa City with all the floods? I was especially wondering about Devotay.

                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: wekick
                                                                                                                                                                      puzzler Jun 16, 2008 02:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      The following in Coralville appear underwater -- looks like 4 feet to 7 feet in some cases:

                                                                                                                                                                      Vine
                                                                                                                                                                      Wig & Pen
                                                                                                                                                                      Cabo
                                                                                                                                                                      Chicago
                                                                                                                                                                      Saigon to Bankok
                                                                                                                                                                      Mekong
                                                                                                                                                                      Taco Bell
                                                                                                                                                                      Sluggers
                                                                                                                                                                      Lonestar
                                                                                                                                                                      Taco Johns

                                                                                                                                                                      Iowa City (surrounded by water and cut off):
                                                                                                                                                                      Village Inn
                                                                                                                                                                      El Ranchero

                                                                                                                                                                      Devotay is a lot higher elevation (50 feet vertically) than the flooded areas, so I wouldn't expect problems.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: puzzler
                                                                                                                                                                        wekick Jun 16, 2008 02:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the quick response.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: puzzler
                                                                                                                                                                          b
                                                                                                                                                                          bigapple Jun 26, 2008 06:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          Iowa City is accessible, though from Highway 80 you have to take the Highway 1 exit (North Dodge St) rather than the Dubuque St. exit to get there. The restaurants downtown are on high ground as is the New Pioneer Coop. As for restaurants, I am surprised that 126 hasn't received attention here. Not inexpensive, but superior food and excellent service. The best in the area and as good as many of the better known restaurants in New York City.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. c
                                                                                                                                                                        chowzy Mar 23, 2008 12:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        I am also a fan of Augusta in Oxford, it really is a menu of down home comfort food, but also the Chef has nightly specials that are really good. My mom had the smoked duck with Orange sauce last time we were there and we want to make it out on a Wednsday for their Pizza night, which I hear is really good. My Aunt and Uncle ate their Saturday night and said the Walleye was very taste ( I am not a fish lover, so will take their word for it) THeir Sunday brunch is reeeeallly good and a great price most entrees between 6$ - 10$ Prime rib melts in your mouth, and my favorite is their French Toast. ( and of course a side of biscuits and gravy) you do get 3 sides and there are alot to choose from. The Mimosas are nice too.

                                                                                                                                                                        25 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowzy
                                                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                                                          caliking Apr 6, 2008 05:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          Phat Daddy's in Marengo has good brunch on Sundays as well.(buy the spice rub available at the counter - its awesome for grilling).

                                                                                                                                                                          Szechuan village is decent - probably the best Chinese grub in these parts. There are 2 menus... the regular kind of fold-out menu and a small menu in a vertical holder on each table. The small menu has some of the spicier items.

                                                                                                                                                                          Ting's Red Lantern in Cedar Rapids was better than some Chinese places around, but one would be better off going to Szechuan Village.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                            l
                                                                                                                                                                            lost78 Apr 7, 2008 08:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            I really enjoy Jade Sisters, which is right across the street from S.V. Great ingredients with pan-asian options!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: lost78
                                                                                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                                                                                              caliking Apr 7, 2008 02:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              Just wanted to revisit the sushi discussion briefly:

                                                                                                                                                                              For quality of sushi alone, I think Oyama is tops. However for overall performance (ambiance, bar, service) I think 3 Samurai is a great place, especially if you go on "happy day" which is Wed & Sun. $2 sake bombs, select rolls and sashimi for $1-$2, plus the rest of their menu.

                                                                                                                                                                              Went for dinner last night and everything was excellent. I highly recommend the hamachi kama (tuna cheeks with a sweet-savory bbq sauce), and the seared white tuna appetizers. They had a new roll on the menu (had some tuna and crab, towards the bottom of the list) that was really quite good - many different flavors in the same roll that came together very well.

                                                                                                                                                                              I think they have some sort of special on Monday now as well.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                lizzy69 Apr 7, 2008 07:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                I think Oyama is the best all-around place for sushi, but I do agree about the ambiance at 3 Samurai. Also, their salmon is the best around. I don't know why, but their salmon just blew us away. It's funny, coming from L.A. (a.k.a. sushi land), I'm shocked at how good the sushi is here. I would even venture to say that the salmon here (at a lot of the places around here) is better than any we ever had in L.A. HOWEVER, the tuna in L.A. cannot be beat. Here, it's pretty tasteless, and we've tried every place in town.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lizzy69
                                                                                                                                                                                  Devotay Apr 8, 2008 06:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  3 samarai has a relatively new chef & menu, both big improvements. There's a white tune app that's outa this world, and their ramen (yes, ramen) is amazing.

                                                                                                                                                                                  For sushi, as I think i mentioned somewhere above, I'm an Oyama guy. As for atmosphere, I'm a sucker for the giant fish tank at Takanami - could stare at it for hours. I find their sushi tasty too.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                    kellog sully Apr 10, 2008 05:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    I strongly agree with the endorsement for Oyama. Check out their Bento box lunch specials.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                      rozz01 Apr 10, 2008 04:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Not to insult Devotay.. But Oyama's Teriyaki Tofu Bento is One of my favorite lunches in town. Totally Swell Eats!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rozz01
                                                                                                                                                                                        Devotay Apr 11, 2008 09:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        None taken, we agree (except I don't eat much tofu).

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: lizzy69
                                                                                                                                                                                    l
                                                                                                                                                                                    lizzie0709 Apr 24, 2008 03:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    I hadn't tried Oyama in quite a while, so I thought I'd give them a shot on some take-out rolls. Never again. The salmon was so grisled and fatty that I couldn't even get my teeth through it--which stimulates a mighty gag reflex with raw-textured fish. Then they overcharged me $4 on a $15 check, which is pretty gutsy. Half my takeout plate was pickled ginger and the other half was garbage. Waste of money. Three Samurai, I love you.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lizzie0709
                                                                                                                                                                                      l
                                                                                                                                                                                      la2iowa Apr 26, 2009 08:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      I have to 2nd you on Oyama. I read a lot of love for the Oyama, but I just don't get it. Three Samurai is the best I've had so far in this area.

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                    a
                                                                                                                                                                                    Abalone Aug 29, 2008 04:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hello all new to the site, but wanted to drop some knowledge on you all, have worked in iowa city restaurants for quite some years now and would like to share some of the insider information . . .
                                                                                                                                                                                    Sushi -
                                                                                                                                                                                    Three Samurai, Oyama, Takanami, Sushi Popo, Konomi, Aeoshe, Formosa. All quality spots with hard working chefs. The variance of fish quality really depends on the diligence of the managing chef and the turnover of the restaurant. To a traditionalist, none of these places really even serve "sushi". I mean how discernable can that salmon taste with all that cream cheese, wasabi and ginger in your mouth. Also sushi is not meant for to go boxes so please don't judge a restaurants sushi quality from a to-go box. Any restaurants food will always lose quality when packaged and transported. There really is no "best sushi in town", we all have varying tastes, some may like sweeter rice, more vinegary, lots of wasabi? dipped in soy? The flavor of maki's in this area can be broken down to two flavors: spicy sauce and eel sauce. In terms of execution, who is the most consistent? It varies really. . . Takanami used to be the most progressive with their sushi but under new management its reverted back to a three samurai "happy hour" type place. The service also is poorly managed. The sushi chef at Aeoshe is probably the most experienced and more traditional, but I don't believe that they do enough sushi business to be able to keep up the quality. Formosa has great ambiance and Joe is a great chef and owner. I personally don't care for that much cream cheese in maki's but some do. Their toro (tuna belly) is pre-sliced and thawed to order, whether this practice is a reflection of the chef or the rarity of customer base is arguable. But you gotta thank them for offering the option of toro. However the menu itself is quite similar to the big city chain "Ra", compare menus i dare you. I've had great and poor meals at Oyama but i give them props on the creativity of their menu. Sushi Popo i have not visited so I cannot say. Three Samurai is the epitomy of burn and turn sushi. Its lively, but the menu lacks inspiration and the kitchen is not that clean, but teppanyaki is fun and the sushi average. Konomi has great sushi chefs, clean and fast, maki's and nigiri's just taste better coming from asian people.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Overall understand that sushi in the midwest is clearly execution of the chef and those under him, the majority of the fish is broken down and frozen immediately after being caught in the boat out in the ocean. Even if fish comes from japan it is frozen, packaged, and rarely do many restaurants actually use fresh fish for their sushi, with salmon being the exception and readily available. However this is a common practice all over the world, so don't dismiss frozen fish as a whole, this practice makes the fish less susceptible micro-bacteria forming in the fish over time. As a customer be inquiring, know where your fish comes from, where is the rice from? did the chef intend his rice solution to be sweeter or more tart and for what reason? how did he learn sushi? If they have seasonal fresh fish as a nigiri special - GET IT, this is advantageous not only for the restaurant that sells it but you may see them offering more fresh varieties in the future. Find a spot that you like, am comfortable with, and trust. Consistency is key. But understand that he fish is pretty much of the same quality as most of the restaurants go through similar vendors, its up to you to judge the execution of the chef to your own taste. Good luck and happy eats!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Abalone
                                                                                                                                                                                      nogaboga Sep 16, 2008 09:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Why not, let me add to the sushi debate.

                                                                                                                                                                                      A necessary qualification is that I have been spoiled in NYC, and have become somewhat of a sushi-snob. So here:

                                                                                                                                                                                      Oyama - have only visited once and was disappointed by the quality. The appetizers were tasty and creative, but the sashimi and nigiri were below par.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Popo - just okay. Not worth the drive to the west side.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Formosa - right after they opened I had a couple of really good experiences there, but my last 3 visits were so bad that I never went back. The sushi was just not good, and if I remember correctly, a couple of pieces were even too cold. Brrr.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Takanami - the best I found so far, though I have to say that it varies. Their salmon is delicious, but the tuna and yellowtail can be completely tasteless at times. Still, one of my favorite lunch spots, and the place where I will most likely go for sushi.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Aeoshe, 3 samurai - have not tried their sushi. They're on my list.

                                                                                                                                                                                      There's also a new place at the old capitol mall. BEWARE. That must have been the worst sushi I have ever tried in my life. I took one bite of each fish and threw the entire thing straight into the garbage. Literally.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm surprised so many people swear by Oyama. Maybe I was there on a bad night?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: nogaboga
                                                                                                                                                                                        a
                                                                                                                                                                                        Abalone Oct 27, 2008 07:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Upon further dining, go to Konomi, best chefs, best fish, everything minus the white tuna comes in fresh, head on, the chef breaks it down himself. Wonderful seasonal nigiri specials, the aji was amazing.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Easily the best sushi in iowa city/coralville

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Abalone
                                                                                                                                                                                          lizzy69 Dec 29, 2008 09:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Husband and I went to Konomi last week upon your recommendation and had a wonderful meal. One surprise was a beef roll that was out of this world, and the "Captain Crunch" roll was also outstanding. The tuna was much better than at other IC sushi places, and the salmon was really amazing. Nice bar, beautiful and comfortable restaurant, place was packed on a Tuesday night, which is always a good sign. All in all, best sushi experience we've had in IC. Thanks for the rec!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Abalone
                                                                                                                                                                                            nogaboga May 26, 2011 08:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            So finally, 3 years later, I made it to Konomi.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Not sure what to say here. The texture of all the fish was excellent, probably the best in town, but they were all also completely lacking in flavor. I'm not sure what would make raw fish so tasteless. Definitely not my new sushi spot.

                                                                                                                                                                                            My 4-year summary of my sushi experiences in IC is as follows:

                                                                                                                                                                                            Oyama - used to be my go-to place for a while, but no longer, following one very bad experience. I didn't get sick or anything like that, but had lunch there one day a couple of months ago and all of the raw fish on my plate were cold, tasteless and stringy.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Takanami - the sushi is okay, still think most of it doesn't have much flavor. Won't go there for dinner mostly because of the intense smell inside the restaurant in the evenings.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Popo - my safe and boring choice - nothing exciting, but also have not had any disappointments yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Konomi - see above

                                                                                                                                                                                            Formosa, Kicchen - I wrote about those before. Have had very poor sushi in both places.

                                                                                                                                                                                            At least there are a couple of places with okay sushi. I still have not been able to find a passable Thai, Vietnamese or Chinese place in town.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: chowzy
                                                                                                                                                                                  l
                                                                                                                                                                                  lizzie0709 Apr 21, 2008 08:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'll second (third?) the recommendation for Augusta. Both times we've went there have been very enjoyable. The food is incredible (simple, yet delicious, and my, do you get a lot) and the price is very reasonable for this area considering everything is homemade. The atmosphere is lovely: a historic storefront decorated warmly, with low lighting and nice music. The owners/waitstaff are great, very friendly and welcoming. You MUST try the cherry amaretto bread pudding for dessert. I would drive the 10 miles just for that! I'd be willing to pay a bit more for some dishes if their meat was organic/free range, but they will make a yummy veg option upon request and they do have some seafood.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lizzie0709
                                                                                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                                                                                    caliking Apr 22, 2008 11:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Any thoughts on the new Bread Garden location?

                                                                                                                                                                                    I think Tait's failed because they were competing with NewPi but were more expensive. Have not compared prices at Bread Garden vs NewPi, but I must say that the Bread Garden Market is impressive. I like the fact that that you can grab a snack, and a beer and sit outside (the patio section) and people-watch on the Ped Mall... or take it out to the Ped Mall if you don't have beer/wine. Great way to spend a spring afternoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                    On another note, its nice that they have Boar's Head products at the deli, but they're a little lazy - they have only Boar's Head products at the deli. i don't think I'll hold it against them though :)

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                      rozz01 Apr 22, 2008 02:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Some of the prices are considerably lower on grocery items. The Kalamatas are super cheap comparatively. They lowered the price on most if not all of the breeads also.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rozz01
                                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                                        caliking May 22, 2008 01:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Went to Blackstone last night and was impressed.

                                                                                                                                                                                        For appetizers: asian flatbread and saganaki (I had to remind the server to say "opa!" when she lit the flame :) ). The flatbread appetizers are pretty good. The saganaki was nice and lemony.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The wife had the the seared ahi with broccoli on the side, I had the salmon with mac/cheese on the side. The ahi was plated beautifully and they did a good job of getting the sear right. My salmon was done the just the way I like it as well. I would have liked some cheddar cheese in my mac though.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Service was also very good. Our server was pleasant, attentive without being intrusive, and gave us good cause to tip her well. The cocktail list was innovative and I wish I had more time to sample more of them!

                                                                                                                                                                                        Overall, a nice dinner out.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                          puzzler May 24, 2008 12:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Their mac-n-cheese is good (especially the bacon!), but basing it on swiss cheese loses points with me, also. Cheddar (or a mix with cheddar dominant) would win me over.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                            kellog sully Jun 6, 2008 05:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Salut--
                                                                                                                                                                                            Been to Blackstone on a couple of occasions--pretty standard fare, flanked by commercial beers on tap and a DEAD wine list. It's basically a locally owned Appleby's. I stuck to sandwiches after my first dismal experience, and the whole group I dined with was either disappointed or unenthusiastic--save some $$ and eat at Shakepeare's if you want pub grub.
                                                                                                                                                                                            KS

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                              kellog sully Jun 16, 2008 12:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              ...anyway, wait until everyone figures out the Motley Cow does Sunday brunch. Fab menu, and if one must, Bloody Marys. This will definitely lighten the traffic load on highway 1 to Mt. V. Sundays.
                                                                                                                                                                                              tips: anise spiced doughnut holes
                                                                                                                                                                                              breakfast pizza

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                rozz01 Jun 16, 2008 02:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Do you know if they do A Saturday brunch too?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: rozz01
                                                                                                                                                                                                  kellog sully Jun 16, 2008 03:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Not to my knowledge.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                a
                                                                                                                                                                                                AliceBarbaraMarion Aug 8, 2008 08:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Hi -
                                                                                                                                                                                                Long-time lurker here - but I had to reply about Blackstone. I went to Blackstone with a couple friends a few weeks ago. The flatbreads were decent, the margaritas were awful, the menu is overall pretty ho-hum, but I was curious about how they source their beef. The menu indicates they proudly serve "Creekstone Charbroiled Angus Beef Burgers." I checked it out online and Creekstone guarantees the following: no antibiotics, no added hormones, no growth-promoting drugs, no artificial ingredients, 100% vegetarian fed, and humane animal handling practices. They're probably corn-fed, and not entirely local, but overall not a bad option...If you know otherwise - like if I'm being a total chump - or if you have other recs for burgers that are more locally and responsibly sourced, please let me know!

                                                                                                                                                                                                ABM

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. krcasper Mar 14, 2008 02:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      If you're willing to drive, twenty minutes northwest of Iowa City you'll find Oxford, Iowa and Augusta. This restaurant specializes in Creole comfort food. They have everything from crawfish beignets and shrimp po' boys to grilled ribeyes and hearty burgers.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Augusta was opened two months ago by a foursome of Iowa natives and former New Orleans residents. Head chef Ben Halperin worked with chef Susan Spicer in her famed New Orleans restaurant Bayona.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Dinner options range in price from $7 to $24. They have a limited wine list and a selection of six beers on tap.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Their Sunday brunch was enjoyable and filling! The crab cakes eggs Benedict were skirted with house-made sausages, cheesy grits, and a pancake. The coffee was strong and rich; a perfect match to the savory breakfast food.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Quality is high on the list at Augusta. The owners make everything: the bread, mayonnaise, pickles, pies, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Oxford is a bit off the beaten path, but the trip to Augusta is worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. l
                                                                                                                                                                                        lizzie0709 Mar 3, 2008 07:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        I've lived in IC for 4 years now, and these are a few of my favorites.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Sushi: Three Samurai! Don't listen to this Sushi Popo nonsense. Three Samurai on the Coralville strip (in Clocktower Plaza) is the best sushi in the area. We went to California last year and were disappointed by sushi that was more expensive than this stuff and not half as good. Reduced priced rolls all day Sunday and Wednesday. Warm atmosphere and good service.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Pub/huge world beer list/nice dinners: The Sanctuary. If you like to sample interesting beers, this is the place. They have a small menu of various hearty dinners (the Coq au Vin is fantastic) using natural ingredients at very reasonable prices. Pretty good pizza too, and good service most of the time. I suppose we enjoy the atmosphere most though.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Thai: Thai Spice has a better atmosphere and more elaborately plated food than Thai Flavors, but as a whole the people of Thai Flavors are friendlier and more attentive. Thai Spice feels more opulent, but you would probably be satisfied with either. Thai Spice yellow curry is like liquid gold. Mmmm..

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mexican: Los Cabos on the Coralville strip. Small place with a nice atmosphere (minus the relatively non-intrusive TVs) and fantastic service. The food is fresh, delicious, full of flavor, and for the most part not drowning in grease, like some Mexican restaurants in the area. The portions are big and the prices are reasonable. We go here more than we probably should, because I have a feeling this is what Mexican food is supposed to taste like! A wonderful family-owned business. PS: Panchero's is unbelievably over-rated.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Italian: The Brown Bottle is our go-to, although I haven't tried Givanni's. Stay away from Mondo's in Coralville! Over-priced beyond belief and absolutely tasteless. Good Lord.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Chinese: Unfortunately I haven't found a nice sit-down Chinese restaurant in the area. Anyone else found one? For greasy takeout Taste of China on Linn Street is my standard.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Soup/Sandwich lunch: The Bread Garden. Consistently yummy. Good dessert too.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Ice Cream: Dane's Dairy. Blows Culver's and DQ out of the water. And its locally owned and made with local milk.

                                                                                                                                                                                        And a note on Pagliai's: Not to start a hailstorm here, but I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. Perhaps I haven't been in IC long enough to understand the community fervor about this pizza, but I personally thought it was cardboardy, tasteless, and ridiculously overpriced. I'd rather eat a Sanctuary pizza, and it isn't even their specialty.

                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lizzie0709
                                                                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                                                                          caliking Mar 3, 2008 03:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Kill two birds with one stone: for a great beer selection and quite decent pizza - Old Chicago.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Re: Italian, I'm not a fan of Brown Bottle. Tried Biaggi's in CR and was disappointed there as well. Still hopeful about Givanni's (have not been there yet).

                                                                                                                                                                                          Dane's Dairy sounds like a definite must-try!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lizzie0709
                                                                                                                                                                                            kellog sully Mar 4, 2008 04:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            First, a belated welcome to our humble hamlet, it's certainly nice to have another thoughtful, food-minded member in the community. That said, I respectfully disagree about the Brown Bottle with its wan, flabby noodles and garlic bread circa 1975. But, then you did say best "Italian," and there really is no Italian restaurant in IC. Also, the last I knew, The Sanctuary, agreeably easy on the eyes, was run by the Sysco Kid and the beers are often stale.
                                                                                                                                                                                            For good pie, the Motley Cow wins without hesitation--for those who don't know, they now have a pizza/bread oven as well as an expanded menu. Great spot. I have also had good luck with Wig and Pen East for delivery pie. Service is good, as are ingredients. Their menu is posted on their website.
                                                                                                                                                                                            KS

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                              l
                                                                                                                                                                                              lizzie0709 Mar 19, 2008 05:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the welcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I totally agree with you about the Brown Bottle. I have good luck with it sometimes, but I do leave feeling overcharged and undersatisfied sometimes. It's the best we can find in Iowa City though, sadly. :(

                                                                                                                                                                                              Although the Sanctuary isn't "natural" per the Red Avocado, etc, they do use free-range chicken and there are vegetables on my plate when I get a dinner. The food tastes clean and unSysco to me, and I'm organic vegetable-loving, generally healthy eater that's eaten plenty of Sysco-based slop in my younger days...but maybe the atmosphere woos me into a false sense of satiation (?) We've had good luck with the tap beer too.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I haven't tried the Motley Cow pizza, but I surely will soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Rock on Dane's! My dog just found another reason to love car rides.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Anyone have a Chinese food recommendation? I'll even take a decent buffet...

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lizzie0709
                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                ctscorp Mar 19, 2008 09:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Can't vouch, but I asked a Taiwanese student where she and her (Chinese and Taiwanese) friends go when they want "authentic" food, and she recommended Szechuan Village in Coralville -- I think it's on 12th Street. Anyone want to be the tester? Report back? I just haven't had time to eat there... I've been too busy eating that damn lamb sausage pizza at the Motley Cow. FYI, while the Sanctuary is pretty, and Woody is (sort of) trying, I've been in the kitchen, and there are a few too many microwaves for my liking. It just doesn't seem necessary, to me, to eat there when there are so many better, fresher places blossoming with each passing week... but then, I don't drink beer, either, and the wine list there is pretty lame....

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lizzie0709
                                                                                                                                                                                                  i
                                                                                                                                                                                                  icdave Apr 22, 2008 01:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mekong in Coralville also has a Chinese menu, which IMO overall is better than Jade Sisters and Szechuan Village.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: lizzie0709
                                                                                                                                                                                                s
                                                                                                                                                                                                sigerson57 Mar 15, 2008 12:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Dogs are welcome at Dane's on the west side. Each dog gets its own small dish of soft-serve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sigerson57
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Devotay Mar 19, 2008 12:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also true at the DQ on Riverside Drive

                                                                                                                                                                                              3. d
                                                                                                                                                                                                danamarie Feb 20, 2008 06:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Does anyone have any good suggestions for brunch on Easter?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Devotay Feb 19, 2008 07:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  On a personal note, ya gotta give it up to IC. Here on Chowhound's midwest board, I searched back 10 pages and could find but 1 thread that had even 1/2 as many posts as this Iowa City thread. We got game.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also just wanted to let everybody know that our new neighbors are moved in, up and running across the street. Stop into the Motley Cow Cafe for dinner and welcome them to the neighborhood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Peace,
                                                                                                                                                                                                  kmf

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                    s
                                                                                                                                                                                                    sigerson57 Feb 19, 2008 07:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree. This thread is still going after three years and five months. That's a modern Olympic record.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Proudly posted from IC, the Berekley of the Midwest (or is Berekley the Iowa City of the West Coast?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                      k
                                                                                                                                                                                                      kma Feb 21, 2008 09:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Went there the other night- the cranberry ice cream topped "funnel cake" dessert was delicious, and the organic pepperoni pizza reminded me of growing up in NJ (and for pizza, that's a compliment!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Has anyone else been since the move? New dishes to try?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. s
                                                                                                                                                                                                      sigerson57 Jan 22, 2008 02:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Anyone tried the Aladdin on the Coralville strip? Middle-eastern place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sigerson57
                                                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                                                        caliking Jan 29, 2008 08:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        TVN in North Liberty closed over a year ago. :( Egg Roll House is now in its spot. TVN was the best Vietnamese chow in these parts - Phong Lan in CR is quite good as well. Saigon to Bangkok is so-so. Skip Mekong if you can.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        On a tangent - the carnitas by the lb at El Paso is awesome! If you want it for a meal try Iguana's in NL on Saturdays.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                                          h
                                                                                                                                                                                                          hillsy191 Jan 30, 2008 06:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Iowa City has some great dining.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Givanni's downtown is great Italian, with atmosphere
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Linn St Cafe is a little higher end, great food
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Best Pizza in town, or lunch Wig & Pen in Coralville, it's a pub just West of the Uof I sports complex
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also, in nearby West Branch is Champagne's for Cajun(8 miles East)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Good Mexican food at El Dorado in Coralville or El Ranchero Hwy 6 Iowa City
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bread Garden
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Great catered food or carry-out from Haight's Meat Market

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hillsy191
                                                                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ctscorp Jan 30, 2008 08:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm sorry, hillsy191, and I hate to be picky or seem rude, but Givanni's is not even remotely Italian. The simple fact that its name would be unpronounceable in Italian should be a dead giveaway, but if that's not enough, the messy sauces, lack of fresh/local ingredients and assembly-line menu would make my (very real) Italian relatives run in fear. Tasty? Perhaps. Italian? Not in the least.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                                                                                              i
                                                                                                                                                                                                              icdave Apr 22, 2008 01:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Geez, not even *remotely* Italian? Now that is a stretch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: icdave
                                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                ctscorp Apr 22, 2008 02:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                How so, icdave? Does the presence of "pasta" make them Italian? Hmmm... invented by the Chinese. So how are they Italian?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  icdave Apr 22, 2008 03:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I would say the on and off presence of dishes like gnocchi, ravioli, risotto, ossobucco, and various Italian sauces and cheeses would qualify Givanni's at least as "remotely" Italian, and certainly American-Italian. And "Italian enough" for somebody just trying to recommend some of their favorite restaurants in town. Like you I would not classify this place as bona fide Italian cuisine, but I do consider the pasta they serve much closer to Italian style than Chinese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ctscorp Jan 30, 2008 08:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Iguana's is in Hills. Is there one in North Liberty too? Don't think so....

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                                                                                              iowagirl Jan 31, 2008 09:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hi ctscorp - there is an Iguana's Grill in North Liberty, right on 965 (I work at the Oakdale campus, so NL is an easy shot for me). Not sure whether it's related to the Iguana's in Hills - I couldn't find any info either way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              iowagirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: iowagirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                ctscorp Jan 31, 2008 09:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Interesting.... Thanks iowagirl! I'll have to check it out. I know the one in Hills is the same as el Ranchero and el Dorado, so I wouldn't be surprised if they're related.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  iowagirl Jan 31, 2008 10:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That's what I thought, and the menu sure reads the same, but I didn't want to make a claim and offend anyone! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: iowagirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    caliking Feb 1, 2008 07:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    iowadina:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Went to Phong Lan in Cedar Rapids today after a long time. I understated how great that place is if you're jonesing for good Vietnamese food. Pho portions are large and very filling. Try the com dia or vermicelli dishes too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      dr.unterbrunner Feb 7, 2008 08:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have only seen one mention of Oyama. This place has, in my humble opinion, the best sushi in Iowa City. I have been to takanami, 3 samurai, sushi popo etc. many times and Oyama beats them all hands down. If you go tell Darren that Adam sent you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dr.unterbrunner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Devotay Feb 12, 2008 03:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm with ya - my favorite spot in IC for sushi as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dr.unterbrunner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          lizzy69 Mar 16, 2008 06:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You guys are so right, great for sushi...but...the tables are really uncomfortable. There's no place to really put your legs under the table, and for some reason that really annoys me. Food great, atmosphere not fantastic, but fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. rozz01 Nov 29, 2007 01:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            What do you guys think about Great Nile. I sorta prefered their falafel ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rozz01
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Devotay Dec 2, 2007 11:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I just had their lunch buffet the other day and it was tasty. The staff is friendly too. If you like your hummus and baba lean toward the citrusy-side, then you'll love it there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                ctscorp Dec 2, 2007 07:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why have I never heard of Great Nile? I thought I'd eaten everywhere in Iowa City! Tell me more... although the owners of Oasis are dear friends of mine... but tell me more anyway!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Devotay Dec 3, 2007 08:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cuz it's brand new. It's on Gilbert, in that new construction behind the Kum & Go. Most interesting thing is that one of the owners, the husband of this husband-wife team, is just back from working as a translator in Iraq.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Like I said, the baba and hummus are very good if you like the citrusy type. And their falafel is, I don't know why, donut-shaped. Haven't yet had the opportunity to try the reguilar menu, just the lunch buffet, but I will go back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  rozz01 Dec 5, 2007 01:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ive had the falafel twice, the first time it was as bad as the Mill's. The second time they were better than Oasis. It was a whole different creature..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rozz01
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    iowadina Jan 15, 2008 10:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I thought the food at Nile was quite tasty. Having grown up with my Egyptian grandmother's cooking, I appreciated the fact that they offered *middle eastern* grape leaf rolls with meat, rather than the cold, rice-only Greek variety you're usually stuck with. Worth noting that the hummos had little or no tahina in it. However, their tahina sauce was very tasty. you can easily mix the two for a more typical hummos. The cooks are Sudanese, which might explain some of the nuances. The falafel was light and crisp and seemed to be made with strictly chickpeas. I have a slight preference for the heartier taste of falafel made with fava beans, but I guess it's just what you are familiar with. The pita bread was nice and very thin - so much better than the big fluffy "pita" you get stuck with at the store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm wondering about the Vietnames place in North Liberty - called TVN, I think? Any feedback?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: iowadina
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      lizzy69 Jan 16, 2008 02:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Don't know anything about the Vietnamese place, but I'm really interested, love that stuff! Has anyone been to Verde on Gilbert lately? Any good?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: iowadina
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        sophielou Feb 11, 2008 06:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I ate at the Nile for the first time the other night, and really enjoyed it. The grilled chicken and vegetables were delicious, as was the pita and baba ganoush -- it's quite citrusy, as Kurt (Devotay) already pointed out, and I actually preferred it to the baba from Oasis (and I'm a hardcore Oasis fan!). Next time I'll get the chicken shawarma -- it looked delicious, and it's a total deal at $7. The woman who cooked our food was wonderful, too. P.S. If you like French fries with your hummus, the ones at the Nile are unexpectedly tasty: well-seasoned and super-crispy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  kma Nov 28, 2007 06:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One of the places that I thought would have gotten a nod under the grub fare was Oasis- I've always enjoyed their pita "sandwiches" (with all the extras) for a good cheap lunch.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Recently went to Devotay and really enjoyed the pumpkin bisque.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    BJinIA Sep 27, 2007 10:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm new to this board, and it looks like a great resource for good food in Iowa City. I've got a question for all you experts. I'm hosting a dinner party (about 20 people) for my mom's 70th b-day party, and would like to have it at a restaurant to avoid a lot of work for me. Most people will be from out-of-state, and some are rather skeptical of Iowa City's restaurant offerings. Having lived here for a long time, I believe we have many good and a few great options, but I've never considered any for a private dinner party. Any suggestions? We need a private room, or at least a sectioned off area of a restaurant. I can go either way on having kids there, depending on what restaurant we choose. I've thought about Atlas, but I've never been crazy about the food the few times I've been there. 126 has told me they do private parties. I like their food, though I think it's over-priced for dinner. And Cafe Z had said so they can do a private party -- though I've never been there, I hear it is good. I see from their website that Verde's has private party accommodations as well. I've also never been to Verde's, looks like the reviews on this board are mixed. Aren't they in a location that was a dive bar for years? Does it still smell like stale cigarette smoke? I'm never been crazy about the Mondonero's restaurants -- not terrible, but nothing special, certainly wouldn't do anything to change the skeptics' views of Iowa dining. Thanks for any suggestions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. puzzler Sep 21, 2007 08:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There's a new Mexican restaurant in Coralville -- Plaza Jalisco next to 965 south of Gus's. We had one of the lunch specials yesterday, Carnitas De Res for $5 ($9.95 on the menu) -- Top sirloin strips cooked with green pepper and onions, served with guacamole, rice, beans, tortillas. Main dish was like fajitas without the sauce and sizzle pan. Everything was quite tasty. We'll be back to try more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It may be a bit hard to find, but worth it. From 965 turn west on Oakdale Blvd.; go one block then south on Coral Court. Go about 1 block and turn left into one of the clusters of storefronts. If you know where Gus's is located, Jalisco is across that parking lot on the south side. There is a sign on the restaurant (visible from 965 if you're southbound).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ~Puzzler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Plaza Jalisco
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2401 Coral Court, Suite 2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Coralville, IA 52241
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      319-545-4165

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: puzzler
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        kellog sully Sep 24, 2007 10:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Good to know considering the lunch we just had at La Reyna. The Queen is Dead perhaps? Stale, rancid, greasy. Tamales, formerly the best around, were dry and odd smelling. The interior was still frozen, and the pork was possibly rotten. Even the chips y salsa were over the hill. And this was the signature dish? I used to have stellar food out at this place in the past, and can forgive the vicissitudes of a restaurant that lapses here and there--that's the way of it. But this wasn't just "not up to the usual snuff," it was weird and bad and I hope the ownership can fix what appears to be gravely wrong if they want to be in the biz. KS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          puzzler Sep 25, 2007 07:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We've always found La Reyna to be a real crapshoot. Quite nice sometimes and fair-to-poor most times. Seems like Carmen has a few good recipes, but nobody there knows how to run a restaurant. We stopped going some time ago.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ~Puzzler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: puzzler
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            cali2ia Sep 25, 2007 09:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The question is: what kind of Mexican restaurant is it?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Is there cheese on the beans?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Is the default red salsa brick-red or tomato-red?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Is there goat or tripe on the menu?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            La Reyna did not prove to be worth the drive from Cedar Rapids, though I would certainly return occasionally if I lived there. We'll give the new place a try if it passes my test.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cali2ia
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              caliking Sep 25, 2007 03:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Re: Plaza Jalisco - we've waited a while for it to open (we wouyld drive by every Sunday afternoon to see if it had opened yet). When it did open we stopped by for dinner. Wife had the steak taco dinner which ws okay. I had fajitas of some kind which were also okay. Overall, we felt the food was somewhat pedestrian. We might go back, since there seemed to be many seafood items on the menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lately, Iguana's (in North Liberty on 965) has been scratching my itch for Mexican food. Sun-Fri (I think) they have a buffet that is really quite decent for a pretty low price (~6$). Their other items are quite good. Had carnitas for lunch a couple of weeks ago that was fabulous (waiter said it had just finished cooking). Chicken mole was also very good. If you ask for their hot sauce, they bring out a "tomato - cream pasta sauce" colored condiment that is extremely tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Much as I would love to patronize and support a new Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood (I could probably live on steak tacos), Plaza Jalisco is bound to face stiff competition from Iguana's in terms of taste, items, and decor (Plaza Jalisco's interior weirded me out a little).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've heard that Los Portales has tripe on Sundays for those who crave it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As far as La Reyna is concerned - shop there, but don't eat there. Service is sketchy and the food is hit-or-miss. IMO, it suffers from being poorly managed/run. The grocery store is great... the restaurant is not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And then there is Los Cabos. Folks tell me that the location is jinxed and that any business doesn't last long there. Their steak tacos are the best in a 20mile radius (El Paso is my actual #1 but you have to eat their tacos on the run.). I do hope Los Cabos will last.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh well... maybe Plaza Jalisco will grow into something better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        mander Jun 1, 2007 03:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Should be interesting to see Panchero's and Chipotle go head to head, given their locations 50 yards apart. Both will be a two minute walk from my office.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mander
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Devotay Jun 3, 2007 08:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Beng familiar with both operations, my money is on Pancheros (judging purely by my children's preferences). However, I am pleased to point out that Chipotle, unlike any other big chain (that I know of) buys its meat from Niman Ranch - which means almost all the pork is from Iowa, is deep bed or pasture raised, and contains no hormones or sub-therapeutic antibiotics. Y'all know I'm no fan of the big chains, but at least they do that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            caliking Jun 5, 2007 02:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Has anyone heard of a guy who sells shrimp/seafood from his truck in IC during the summer? If so, where does he usually park?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              rozz01 Jun 5, 2007 02:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hi... Do a web search for Fabian seafood. They will put you on the mailing list to let you know when they are in town; It comes w/a nominal coupon too. I've only tried the crawfish and oysters, but supposedly its the shrimp that really rock. It seemd that they are coming every two weeks....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rozz01
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Devotay Jun 7, 2007 11:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                and it's actually every 3 weeks, & that sometimes stretches to 4.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ctscorp Jun 5, 2007 05:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Last time they were here, it was May 29. If they have snapper, you MUST get one. So fresh. So good. Shrimp's good, too. They're in the parking lot of the Dairy Queen on Riverside.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                www.fabianseafood.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Devotay Jun 7, 2007 11:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Snapper rules in the gulf have changed. Now it's by quota and not by season, so it's a crap shoot each time he comes whether he'll have any. Get there early to have the best chance. He opens at 11 am on those Tuesdays when he's at the DQ - 526 S. Riverside drive (yes, it's the one that was hit by a tornado last year).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    caliking Jun 20, 2007 10:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the info everyone. I just signed up for Fabian's mailing list and can't wait to go visit their truck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also, I had promised the results of my taco tasting tour. The skinny: Of the Columbus Junction taco joints, Rey De Reyes wins for completeness - horchata, excellent tacos, served with lime and radishes on the side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Santa Ana (next door to Rey De Reyes) wins for character - older gentleman proprietor, 5 kinds of homemade salsa, home-kitchen style setup, slow whirling ceiling fans, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            caliking May 4, 2007 03:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This may qualify as a sub-thread, but since we've been talking about Mexican food, I think it's time for another "Taco Tasting Tour".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My last one explored the West Liberty area, but IMHO, none of the taquerias were able to beat El Paso for the basic steak taco. El Tapatio (I think that was the one right next door to the tortilla shop) came close. That Tour took about 4hours, roughly 8-9 tacos, and a delicous stop at the Wilton soda shop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This weekend I am planning on hitting Columbus Junction. Is the CJ La Reyna still open? Any recs would be appreciated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And of course, I will post a report of the CJ Taco Tasting Tour as soon as the results are in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              kellog sully May 9, 2007 07:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hola,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Has anyone tried Graze in the former Venuto's/Gringos locale? Burlington's chicken lip emporium unleashes itself on IC. Tenders, fingers, popcorn, now lips? Very creative marketing. I guess such marketing has worked wonders for tomato bisque and potato puree...KS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                bcawn May 29, 2007 02:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I know it's cheap for me to diss, especially having never been to Martini's, but the guy behind Graze has hands down the most tired, least interesting menu I've ever seen. Is this what "Food Guru Experience" means in IC?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              mander Mar 13, 2007 02:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Going to the Motley Cow tonight. Any tips on what is good on the menu of late? I haven't been in over two weeks and am hoping for some new treats...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mander
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Devotay Mar 13, 2007 07:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sorry, been outa town for a week & a half. But Dave always makes great food, so your good to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mander Mar 14, 2007 08:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Had a great steak with a very novel side: pureed brocolli. By the end of the meal I decided I liked the brocolli but it took a while to get used to the texture. My wife had the goat cheese and tomato sandwich which was delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mander
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    kellog sully Mar 30, 2007 07:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Good Day--
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Two reasonably good lunches this week in old IC:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The buffet at Exotic India in the subregion of ethnic restaurants in C'ville. The fresh naan, brought out after seating, was a nice touch, and clearly identifiable flavors emerged from each offering, as opposed to creamy, ketchup-infused sauces and dried out chicken I've had consistently at other spots.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Secondly, La Reyna. I have said it before, and I'll reiterate--this place simply rocks for lunch. I need to get over there for dinner now, and try the Carnitas. I could eat my weight in their tamales. bestest, KS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Devotay Apr 9, 2007 02:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Everybody has to go to La Reyna. Keep supporting them cuz they're sorta hidden away back there on Keokuk st. The chicken tacos are amazing and Kellog is right about the tamales, they rock. Also, you can get Mexican coca-cola there - made with sugar not corn syrup - tastes LOTS better, believe me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And here's a chowhound insider tip - Carmen makes the tamales fresh on thursdays, so go then to get the best ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        rozz01 Apr 11, 2007 05:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I just wish the had 1 thing w/out meat in it. Great store though..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rozz01
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Devotay Apr 12, 2007 07:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't have the whole menu memorized, but I can tell you that their chips with guacamole is fantastic and very filling. Hope this helps, and I also hope you told Carmen that you'd like to see a vegetaian entree on her menu. She is very eager to please and will do what she can.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rozz01
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            monou Apr 12, 2007 01:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I went there with several vegetarian friends, and Carmen said she'd make ANYTHING on the menu (minus tamales, of course) vegetarian. And she was right. So ask her, and she shall oblige :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: monou
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              rozz01 Apr 30, 2007 10:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I finally went over there and got the rajas. Gotta admit, It was nuts good... Guac was great too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: rozz01
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              iowagirl Apr 13, 2007 08:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We were there for lunch last weekend, and ordered the veggie burrito. No meat, but lots of wonderfully seasoned veggies - peppers, onions, avocado, some cheese and crema. It was SOOO good!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: iowagirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                rozz01 Apr 13, 2007 08:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I guess that I only tried to go to the stand, gave up due to the fact there was nothin' there. Will try again..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              squarepeg Apr 15, 2007 04:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Just finished the leftovers from last night's dinner at La Reyna and had to comment here. I tried the camarones a la diabla - 12 large shrimp covered with a spiced tomato/onion/pepper sauce and sided with rice. It was incredibly good. Great shrimp and a sauce filled with flavor and heat (on the edge of my heat tolerance... actually, perhaps just over the edge). Most expensive thing on the menu at $13, but well worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've had three weekend dinners there and 2 of the 3 were outstanding, the third very good. Oh, and their guacamole *is* excellent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: squarepeg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                caliking May 1, 2007 04:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I must not be having the same luck that other folks are having with la Reyna.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Went there yesterday for tacos. The waiter got my order for a steak taco wrong and brought me just the steak (carne asada). The other tacos (al pastor) were okay. Service left much to be desired. The restaurant is a tad on the sparse and dingy side as far as decor goes. The outside taco stand had not opened for the summer yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My faves for Mexican food are still El Paso (if I need a quick taco fix and don't have time to sit) or Los Cabos. I agree La Reyna might have more variety in terms of items on the menu, but overall Los Cabos wins for being a nice place with very tasty food and good service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I do love La Reyna the grocery store, though. Especially since they stock El Yucatero hot sauce!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ctscorp May 1, 2007 04:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks, caliking -- I thought I was the only one. I went to La Reyna for lunch a couple weeks ago, and while it tasted fine, it was super greasy and it took FOREVER. I know, I know, they're new, blah blah -- so I'll forgive the service, but I can't forget the way that steak torta tore up my gut for three days after I ate it. Unbearable. And the "legendary" tamales were dry and flavorless. I'll stick with the adult cat-sized burrito with lots of salsa verde from El Paso as well -- at least they're consistent. And I just love that eating one is like an archaeological dig: you never know what's going to be in the next bite (and it will ALL be delicious).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Elizabeth Hallinan Aug 19, 2007 10:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Los Cabos wins hands down...we went to La Reyna for lunch with HIGH expectations (bad for people from San Diego used to the most incredible Carne Asada burritos EVER), and were really disappointed...it was not only nothing special, it was not good at all. Oh well, so much for great Mexican in Iowa City...but really, what were we expecting??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      gotdebt Feb 20, 2007 01:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You are all making me nostalgic for IC. Certainly a lot of Iowa alums and/or Hawkeyes on this board.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        iowadina Feb 13, 2007 05:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Iowa City had a fresh fish market years and years ago (like 20 years), on the Coralville strip (okay, so I guess that technically means that Coraville had the market). Then it turned into a Dairy Queen - not sure if its still that, or what. In any event, there is precedent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: iowadina
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Devotay Feb 16, 2007 09:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That spot was a gourmet shop back then. Did they do fresh fish too?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It is still a DQ, by the way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My advice for fresh fish is to either pay the shipping with EcoFish.com, or get in good with the guys at HyVee or the co-op, then get your fish ONLY on Tuesday and Friday (That's when the Fortune truck is in town from Chicago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          During the season (About late March-Oct) There's fresh (never frozen) gulf shrimp from Fabian Seafood in The DQ lot on Riverside Drive. Steve Fabian has been selling there for over 25 years. Wonderful, sweet shrimp, and often crab, oyster, and crawfish. Early and late in the season he has beautiful red snapper too. www.FabianSeafood.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          caliking Feb 12, 2007 03:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I guess I'll try that. I thought of asking one of the sushi places in town if they would sell me some sushi grade fish. I don't think I would be able to order from any place directly to be delivered to me. Oh well, the search continues.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            kellog sully Feb 13, 2007 09:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If you ever go to Des Moines, there is a fresh fish market called the Waterfront, that routinely has their fish flown in. Technically, I think they are in WDM, and not far from a Penzey's Spice outlet off of University. Make a day of it and have lunch at Star Bar while your'e there--this message has not been brought to you by the Greater Des Moines Tourist Board. Imagine a fresh seafood retailer in IC.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bobfrmia Feb 14, 2007 08:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I would just add that Waterfront's seafood is excellent. They also have a sushi bar, and serve lunch and dinner at very reasonable prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            caliking Feb 11, 2007 09:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I saw a flyer about Soleil's at the Indian store... sounds like it might be worth trying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            On another note: does anyone know where to get sushi grade fish in the area? New Pi has some kind of freeze-&-thaw variety, but I'm looking for something like Dirk's in Chicago. Any recs would be highly appreciated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ctscorp Feb 12, 2007 01:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have some friends who asked a chef at a local restuarant to order live lobsters for them. You might try that. All the restaurants in the area have access to whatever anyplace in Chicago has; it just has to be cost-effective for them, so you might have to get a larger portion. And it may be illegal to distribute as retail. Hmmm. I'd imagine New Pi could order from Fortune Fish, though -- they're the high-quality purveyor to restaurants. Maybe a special order?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              bcawn Feb 8, 2007 06:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Plus the church in the same strip mall!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Soleil's was closed--at 6:30--when I got there on Wednesday; I ate at Exotic India instead. Perfectly Acceptable Indian, with good butter chicken and surprisingly tight desserts. I like it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'll drink the kool-aid of Soleil's sometime this weekend, presuming he actually opens his restaurant for dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. kellog sully Feb 8, 2007 07:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hey Dina,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Don't forget the real taste of exotica back in that corner of Coralville, Happy Joe's. Taco Pizza and birthday parties!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  iowadina Feb 8, 2007 05:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had a wonderful dinner at Soleil's. The menu is the perfect size, so you don't feel like you are drowning in probably mediocre options. The food tasted fresh, was full of flavor, interesting, and, to top it off, all seemed hopelessly healthy. Soleil greets and chats with all the diners. I was worried he was going to push some of his spiritural guru weirdness on us, but he absolutely did not. (If you're confused, you'll understand once you get there.) My friend took one of the ginger drinks. Let's just say its hardcore. Overall, its just a really nice, comfortable place to be, and a very cool little addition to that strange corner back there- that little ethnic magnet with the Indian rest., mexican grocery, middle eastern grocery and cafe, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    bcawn Feb 7, 2007 09:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I haven't been here long enough to know--heck, I can't even get the state highway numbers right--but in my half dozen or so visits to Motley Cow, there has been the same crew of two male waitstaff, David, a male sous chef, and the dessert/appetizer guy. For all that, the soup is parsnip puree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In comparison: Redhead has two female chefs and hunks of beef with gristle. Hard not to notice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My curiosity has been piqued by Soleil in Coralville...think I'll give it a whirl today and see what's up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ctscorp Feb 4, 2007 04:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I gues what I like about that parsnip puree is how clean it is -- as much as I love Lincoln Cafe, their pureed soups are always, always, always LOADED with cream and butter and that low-grade truffle oil that you can taste hours later. But I can see one-dimensional; I guess I just happen to like the dimension!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the tip, too, on Redhead, which I have been meaning to try, and I'll second (third?) the unevenness of Taste.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I do have to say, though, that for as long as the Cow has been open, there have been women working there -- a pastry chef, several servers, a few bartenders -- and women have been very influential in its shaping, its decor, its overall aesthetic... although, yes, the genius behind it all has always been a man (first Tom, then David). But I would hardly agree that it's staffed by men.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        kellog sully Feb 5, 2007 06:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It hasn't always been a male majority at the Motley Cow, but for now it's sort of like the mess kitchen on a UBoat--not to say the service is bad. The food is the best in town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ctscorp Feb 5, 2007 04:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Erm, having never been on a Uboat, I don't really get what you mean. The size? The crowdedness? Has David been wearing one of those cute outfits like they wore in "Anchors Aweigh"?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I like the metaphor, I just don't get it. Curious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        bcawn Feb 4, 2007 07:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Just as a point of reference from my previous post: I had skate wing at MC last night, and it was $18; David's steak dish--a ribeye--was $20.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ctscorp, I had the parsnip puree...the soup certainly captures the essence of eating a root vegetable, but was pretty one-dimensional. Either the amount of truffle oil needs a more liberal application, or he needs to add a texture contrast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The skate, however, was really excellent: pan-fried, served with small slices of sweet tomatoes, and a ratatouille on the side. This place executes more consistently than just about any restaurant I've been to on a regular basis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        has anyone been to taste on melrose? I keep meaning to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bcawn
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          mander Feb 4, 2007 01:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the tip on Redhead, further confirming that I don't need to go out of my way for it. Minor nitpick: Hwy 6 and Main in Solon? Try Hwy 1 and Main.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Cow has been really pushing that parsnip puree. Mine had a fair bit of truffle oil and it was still one dimensional, as you describe. I agee that adding texture migh work. ON THE OTHER HAND, the lamb chops with roasted fennel, feta and white beans that I had that same night (1/19) were stupendous. I love skate I'll have to check if they will have it for a while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have had horribly uneven experiences at Taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mander
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            mander Feb 13, 2007 12:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Had the skate a week ago at the Cow - quite nice!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: bcawn
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            t
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            tbergin Feb 10, 2008 06:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes. I liked Taste. We had a little cheese sample to begin with - came with some
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            sort of port and fig jam that made wonderful things happen in my mouth. Quinoa and veggies were in a very balanced broth. So good and healthy also.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            * Service in general is not great in IC, although the nicer places do a good job. I think 126 is very good in this regard. Especially since the change in ownership, It use to be snooty - but now it has a sophisticated but friendly vibe, and the food is really yummy. We usually just get starters, salads and deserts. Although they do a good job with pasta and my husband always loves the steak.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            * I'd just like to chime in - about soup - the sunchoke soup at Lincoln is really very lovely. Like everything else. The best around these parts - by far.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also - as average as Linn Street is - the Lobster Bisque is stellar.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            * Also - Devotay does strange things that make me mad. For example, a really fine smelling Lamb Stew. Expensive, huge portion. It comes out of the kitchen about 700 degrees. Why? And why would you put broccoli in it - when it's so obviously going to be boiled to a lifeless, nasty gray-green pod. And everything else about it is just great, which makes it more annoying. If their were several mistakes you could just give up on them. But the place is so darn cute, the wine is good and eating out there is more fun than a lot of places in town. Also - if anyone from Devotay is listening - any possibility of more main dishes in the $12 - 18 range? It seems like you spend 9 for a sandwich (terrible tasteless bread) or $25. Unless you go the Tapas route.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            * The scene at Giovanni's reminds me to much of Miami Vice - what with the neon lighting. It's so really, really lame.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            * The only thing lamer than Giovanni's is Graze - where the food is an absurd although slightly amusing upmarket version of pub grub. Very greasy. Nothing subtle going on. You won't find many veggies here. In fact, everything is so deep fried it's hard to imagine what it looks like back there. They must have a huge wall of deep-friers going. Yuck.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            * I've only ever had amazing food at Motley Cow. It is pricey, but unlike Devotay, they don't make mistakes. They would never put broccoli in the lamb stew or serve it at 700 degrees. The deserts are very nice and the vibe is just lovely.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            * I like Takanami for the Sushi and rolls, but the more complicated dishes are just that - complicated. Not so fabulous. The requisite salad is boring. It's true about boring salads in Iowa City. Also - what's with the beets and blue cheese. Could that be over one of these days? I love it but good god could someone think of some other things to serve w/ blue cheese? Apricots? Figs? Fennel?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            * The Red Avocado has lovely salads. The last two times i went there it seemed especially good - something has changed there. I had a raw plate their a few months ago that was excellent. Not too much, but some really nice, balanced flavors. Some healthy places just kill you with one dominant note - usually garlic. Not so at Red Avocado. And you feel so good after eating there.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            * I like the Margaritas at Saloon, but I've only ever had lunch stuff there. Pretty average. And lame, overly sauced coleslaw. Are there any winners in terms of main dishes for dinner? I'd like to try the brisket, but I'm from Texas and I'm really picky about my brisket.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also - please reply if you have gossip about Graze or just want to trash it some more. It's sooooo fun! Also - if you are avoiding it b/c you think it must be so bad you need to go tomorrow. It is bad but in a really funny way. There is even some dry ice involved in the presentation! That's how you know it's faaannncccyyy!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            bcawn Feb 2, 2007 04:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just got back from The Redhead, which is at the corner of Hwy 6 and Main Street in "downtown" Solon. It's another one of those "only in Iowa"--or, put another way, "not in Chicago"--restaurants with that ramshackle, unpretentious vibe and a New American menu. Conceptually, it's not any different than either Motley Cow or Lincoln Cafe with the whole printed-menu-with-sandwiches-chalkboard-with-gussied-up-specials dealy...with one exception: the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The thing that stands out about the Redhead is how brawny it is--ironic, I guess, considering it's entirely staffed by females, whereas Motley is the most effeminate and is staffed by men. The menu, both the printed one and the specials, is almost entirely comprised of meat: pork, steak, and elk were on the specials board. And, save for the salad (the best gratis salad yet) and the button mushrooms that were not listed in the item description, there isn't a vegetable in sight at this place--everything, all the time, was starch. I left painfully full, which I haven't felt in a while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think Kellogg referenced this place as being "Mason-Dixon comfort food", a phrase with more cultural/social meaning than geographic--it's definitely hearty food, but it's definitely not southern cooking. I suppose I'd call it Iowan, but based on what I had, I don't know if I'd give it any more superlatives than Applebee's...though I'm sure Mastercard is happy I chose this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I suppose it would help if I told you what I ate: a "delmonico" steak, which came plated with a hunk of sun-dried tomato mashed potatoes and that. The thing was rather crudely thrown together on a blue plate straight from the 1950s--I presume bought at a Goodwill, which is sort of cute but is not a rationale for the lack of plating--and then topped with the aforementioned button mushrooms. That's it. And, trust me, that's what it tasted like: a slightly fatty sirloin--though described as ribeye--cooked to the preferred temperature and served with chunky mashed potatoes. It's a $13.99 meal at your local "casual neighborhood restaurant" chain, but you can get it for a steal at the Redhead for $25!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That got me thinking about Iowan restaurant economics, something I still haven't fully grasped yet. I don't care about price--so far as you deliver. But I couldn't help but be a bit incredulous while staring at the chalkboard: $18 for two pork carnitas? Even Rick Bayless doesn't charge that much for the equivalent dish at Frontera Grill--and I highly doubt this place tops that, though admittedly I did not try it. But I can tell you that my $25 steak wasn't even in the same universe as meals I've had in the past two months at Tango Sur (an Argentinian steakhouse in Chicago) or Les Halles (a beef-focused brasserie in NYC), and the steak dishes I ordered at both of those places were several dollars less. If you, BRING IT. Lincoln Cafe does, and they still overcharge (it was $30 for an entree the last time I was there); Motley Cow does, and they charge about $20.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            To Redhead's credit, the field greens salad served is better than any other place in the area, showing considerably more care than the usual "sherry vinagrette" and such (the dressing was honey & cinnamon--while gloppy like sweet & sour sauce, it surprisingly worked); the bread came with a delicious blue cheese spread; and the service was friendly, earnest, and relatively helpful (a first!). Dessert looked appealing in a diner-esque way--you know, big hunks of cake--but I was too full to consider it. Besides, why are you serving cold berry soup with mango ice cream when it's 4 frickin' degrees outside?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Back to the Motley Cow tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. hopkid Feb 1, 2007 05:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Having lived in IC during 1987-1991 I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread and I'm happy to hear there are some better eating options now than when I was there. Good Mexican and sushi didn't exist then. I'm surprised to hear Aoeshe is still around. At the time it opened it was the only "Japanese" restaurant and it was mediocre at best.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So what happened to The Kitchen? I recall the great homemade pasta and sauces but was sad when it moved from its original Dubuque St location to a larger more sterile space. Also is the State Room still operating?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Is Rube's in West Branch?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hopkid
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                iowagirl Feb 1, 2007 11:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hi Hopkid - The original Rube's is in Montour, IA (just south of Marshalltown) and the expansion is in Waukee, just outside of Des Moines. The cook your own place in West Branch may be LB Steakhouse, but I haven't been there in so long (since college) I'm not sure it still exists.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Kitchen closed many years ago - I have fond memories of the all you can eat Monday deal when I was in law school. I miss that and Bushnell's Turtle and Great Mid for ice cream. But the dining scene is SO much better now that I don't complain too much! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Iowagirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: iowagirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  hopkid Feb 1, 2007 05:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yup, it was LB's I was thinking of. And we did love the soups and sandwiches at Bushnell's Turtle as well. I miss Fry's BBQ as well (I know that's long since closed) and a good pork tenderloin sandwich. Is Dane's Dairy still out on Hwy 6?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hopkid
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    iowagirl Feb 2, 2007 08:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Dane's Dairy is still there - My grandparents used to live within walking distance, and when I used to come and stay a week in the summer, we'd walk the dog every night, go to Dane's, and they would always give him a "doggy dish" of vanilla. They've done some renovations and it's not hidden by the cornfields anymore, but still the same ice cream!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: iowagirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      hopkid Feb 2, 2007 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Glad to hear Dane's Dairy is still in business. I was sad to hear that the Dairy Queen had been damaged by the tornado. Is it gone for good?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So it looks like I'll have to try one of these fancy new places in town when I come to visit in August. Maybe two!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hopkid
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        iowagirl Feb 2, 2007 10:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Dairy Queen (on Riverside) was literally blown away by the tornado, but they rebuilt and are back in business. Or will be once the weather warms up. In fact, they even received special zoning permission to recreate and re-erect (?) the old style sign.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Definitely some choices to make when you're in town again!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        iowagirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: iowagirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          hopkid Feb 2, 2007 11:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Glad to hear that! I loved that old-style signage they had. The owner once told me that when he retired he was going to give the sign to the Smithsonian.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: iowagirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Devotay Feb 7, 2007 05:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            here's the DQ at 526 S Riverside Dr before and after the April 13th Tornado.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The owners, Scott & Tracey McWane, have indeed rebuilt, and reopened last summer for the last 6-7 weeks of the season without their sign.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The new sign is now in place (no photo yet) and they will reopen for 2007 on February 13th.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            YAY!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  caliking Jan 31, 2007 07:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Has anyone tried Rube's grill-your-own-steaks? A friend of mine mentioned it and I've been intrigued, but its a 1hr+ drive from IC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A little pearl: if your hankering for some grilled beef try Metro buffet near the Sam's Club in Cedar Rapids. Metro is an Asian buffet place with sushi, Chinese dishes, Teppanyaki, etc. My fav place for quick and dirty Asian food... beats most take-out places in IC. The best part is that the Teppanyaki table has steaks (kinda like thin ribeyes) which they will grill anyway you want them. A dash of garlic salt and you have quite a tasty morsel. And of course its a buffet, so you can go back as much as you want. Not necessarily the best quality steak, nor the best ambience, but a great way to get your meat fix when you need it. The Teppanyaki table is pretty decent and they have a good selecion of dinner items to choose from.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've been thinking of trying Redhead and Cafe Dodici. I guess I'll wait for bcawn's report :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    squarepeg Feb 6, 2007 01:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was raised near Rube's original location in Montour, although I haven't eaten there in several years and some things may have changed. As you mentioned, it's a place where you grill your own steaks, and in fact it really doesn't even have a kitchen. The steaks are (or were) great. Several cuts, sizes, and thicknesses are available - all of high quality - as well as ham and salmon I think. You pick your own out of a large cooler and take it to the large grill in the room where your table is, so it helps to know a bit about meat selection (and of course how to grill to your preferred state of doneness). The only side dishes are foil-wrapped baked potatoes you pick off a platter at one end of the grill and a typically bad salad bar (iceberg, radishes, cottage cheese, macaroni salad, etc.) along with Texas toast for buttering and plopping on a cooler spot on the grill. The service basically consists of taking drink orders and the atmosphere is pretty much non-existant - fake wood panelling, not a window in the place, checkered table-cloths (cloth?). Still, it's a great road-trip destination for a group of friends - the steaks are really quite good, the booze flows freely, and the social atmosphere around the grill makes for a lot of fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There are a few reviews on the web with more info. Haven't been to their Waukee location, so I can't comment on what it's like there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    By the way, I'm glad to see La Reyna gettting props here. It's makes my taste buds so happy to have a reasonably authentic Mexican place in town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    bcawn Jan 30, 2007 04:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The comments here have been helpful, particularly with the Mexican options beyond La Reyna. Think I'll give Aoeshe a try now that it's gotten some love.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So do we have a consensus on a worth-a-drive steakhouse in Eastern Iowa? Something other than a Mondo's owned restaurant, I hope.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kurt, couple of points/questions:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1) I have to say, as much as I may have enjoyed what I ate the two times I've been to Devotay, my order was botched both times. It's one of those things that's not your fault--you didn't take my order--but has prevented me from returning to your restaurant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2) Glad to hear you've been and enjoyed TAC. I was back in Chicago this past weekend and stopped by...had my usual crispy en choy (I have a crack-like addiction to it) and tried both the pork blood soup and the grilled pork neck. Both were revelatory.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3) Do you know what's going into the Venuto's space?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm going to try and hit the Redhead this week; I'll post back on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DrWine Jan 25, 2007 08:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mander, Bryn Mawr is still cooking, but you might also try the Shamrock, a roadhouse right in the town of Ainsworth. It's a place where everyone knows your name. Steaks are hit and miss, but when they hit, it's top notch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DrWine
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        mander Feb 4, 2007 01:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the tip on the shamrock. Will definitely check it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        caliking Jan 23, 2007 03:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Seems like the thread may be morphing into one about steaks in IC/C'ville/CR? :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If anyone has any good recommendations for steaks/steakhouses in the area, let's hear them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm dying to show up my friends from Chicago who claim they have the best steaks over there, when the cows probably came from over here!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          mander Jan 18, 2007 07:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I quite enjoy Joseph's. The servers can be quite amateurish but are educable in my experience. Indeed, like you, I once encountered some push back when I asked to send a steak back but I insisted and got my rare steak instead of the medium rare to medium I was served. Of course, one shouldn't have to persist like this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The tuna appetizer is quite nice. The steaks are the best in the area and they allow me to bring wine from my own cellar(corkage $10). The only place that competes steakwise in IC is the Motley Cow but the quality of the meat there varies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Before Joseph's I used to go down to the Bryn Mawr outside Ainsworth for steak but it has been a while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            bcawn Jan 12, 2007 01:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Er, to return to conversation not involving subsidiaries of McDonalds...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So it's been four months and I've done relatively competent job canvassing the areas for eats. All things considered, I've been pleasantly surprised: I've found two really good restaurants, and there's more than one place to sate a Southeast Asian fix. Good enough for me, even if I have fever dreams about TAC Quick back in Chicago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Some observations/commentary that I hope people can shed some light on:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1) I've noticed that service tends toward the laissez-faire side around these parts. I don't know whether it's because of the usual age of the servers or because I've heard--and seen--that Iowans can be lousy tippers, but I never appreciated good service until I started eating out here. It's actually starting to drive me crazy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2)Much as I appreciate many of the chefs in the area learning their misos and chipotles, I'd much prefer they learn how to cook food before they try to impress with edgy menus. Takanami is the most egregious violator, but I've several meals where about 3-6 ingredients could have been dropped if it meant that the protein on the plate was cooked right. Now I understand why everything people eat here is fried.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3) What kills me the most is the salad/soup course that absolutely-has-to-be-requisite-in-order-for-the-restaurant-to-placate-people. Yeah, it's that annoying. Please, chef from Devotay, enlighten me: why must I be served a tired greens salad or a limpid soup that I don't want? at Devotay, at Motley Cow, at Lincoln Cafe--same deal everytime, and the mesclun salad or portabello creme soup pales in comparison to the entree offerings. Why not knock $2-3 off the cost of the entree? It actually prevents me from ordering an appetizer that attention was put into, thereby depriving you of a larger tab. I don't get it. Maybe someone else does.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My favorite place in the area is Lincoln Cafe, which doesn't need my love but gets it anyway. The chef's food can be precious and overwrought--he has this thing, much like the Lonesome Dove Bistro in Fort Worth, with putting 60 different things in a dish--but he can seriously cook, and his love for foie gras and offal makes me smile. Chicken stuffed with pig jowls? That kills. Sometimes all the pieces don't work, but he had these fried oysters in my dinner tonight that were, in spite of being an afterthought, a katrillion times better than the really excellent ones I had at Kinkead's in DC last month (and those are some highly touted oysters). I'd be there every night if he'd dropped the price of entrees $5 or so--my favorite equivalent place in Chicago, Scylla, is several dollars cheaper--and got service in order. Still, the real deal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I also really appreciate the Motley Cow, which is in the same spirit as Lincoln but is like the scruffy DIY knockoff. I really like how Michael--that's his name, right?--cooks seafood, and the price is more than right. You just want to root for this place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The choices for thai are abysmal; I also don't eat Chinese and Italian here (after a horrendous dinner at Givanni's), and really have no plans to visit a steakhouse, either. Any advice that will change my mind?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Indian is surprisingly good: I prefer Exotic India in Coralville, but I was more than happy with Masala until I discovered the former. And Saigon to Bangkok has been the great surprise: a really rich and complex pho, along with solidly executed Vietnamese dishes. Me likee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Verde and Formosa are horrendous. Still need to get to Red Avocado and the Readhead. I'm not much of a sandwich guy, but I'm told that Prairie Table and New Pioneer should be tried.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Anything else?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bcawn
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Devotay Jan 13, 2007 02:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Wow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, assuming that daldrich was replying to ctscorp and not to me, I'll reply to you bcawn.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We (and I can only presume other restaurants) serve the soup/salad option because a VAST majority of our guests want it/expect it. If you don't, then by all means, let us know and we won't serve it to you. Glad you like the rest of our offerings though. And I'm with you on TAC Thai Quick, by the way - stunning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh, and McDonald's divested from Chipotle 2 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bcawn
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                caliking Jan 17, 2007 10:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As a chicago transplant myself, I thought your summary was spot on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've been jonesing for dim sum but there is none to be had in the entire state of Iowa (Cafe Su in Des Moines does not do Dim Sum... they have a selection of appetizers which is not quite the same).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I liked Granite City in Cedar Rapids. They do a good brunch buffet on the weekends, the highlight of which was an eggs benedict bar... first time I'd ever seen such a thing, but it was oh so tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Even though Iowa is famous for good meat I'm not sure if any good steakhouses exist. Bit the bullet, broke the piggybank and went to Joseph's in Iowa City some time ago and was very disappointed. I ordered the porterhouse, medium, with the pepper crust. I get a steak that is closer to medium-well, hidden under a mountain of shoestring onions, without the pepper crust. After pointing it out, the waiter offered to take it back and have the chef sear it again with the pepper crust, by which time my steak would be closer to well-done. Thanks, but no thanks. And then the waiter gave me lap full of crumbs as he cleared the table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Aoeshe is not bad - try the Korean bbq which you can cook at the table. Three Samurai is a pricier, but an enjoyable Asian joint with decent sushi. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about Takanami - great ambiance, but I can't eat or taste ambiance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For Mexican, I recommend Los Cabos. I'm a serious taco addict, and they get my vote after trying every Mexican pplace in town 9and even West Liberty). El Paso also makes fantastic tacos, but there's no place to sit down. Folks on the board seem tolike la Reyna... El Paso is just around the corner and not as greasy (just greasy enough).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                About local Indian fare - Exotic India is ok. IMHO, India Cafe was better. Have been reluctant to try Masala (I'm Indian, so I consider myself somewhat of an authority on the subject of Indian cuisine).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'd love to hear about any other great finds you stumbled across in the area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  jwagnerdsm Jan 18, 2007 04:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well, I think you paint with a broad brush when you say there ar e no good steakhouses in Iowa. Josephs is a pretty new restaurant and basically it's a concept restaurant that the Mondos folks want to see go big. You can get great steaks in Iowa if you look around. It might be fair to say there are no good steakhouses in Iowa City / Cedar Rapids. Dunno. But I can name several steakhouses that rival anything I've had in Chicago. Archie's Waeside dry ages their steaks and cooks them perfectly. They are prime cuts that melt in your mouth. And their wine celler is steller.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You are right about Cafe Su. The ol' dim sum myth/legend has been floating around for quite sime time. Frankly, I'm not crazy about Cafe Su anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ctscorp Jan 18, 2007 08:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'd have to agree about the lack of worthy steakhouses. I did have a prime rib at Ruthie's at the casino in Riverside that was delicious and really well cooked, but they're super pricey.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I got so distracted by the mudslinging daldrich (where'd he go, anyway?) that I missed talk about Asian, so I'll give my plug now: Oyama. They're in the Sycamore mall parking lot, and they are, I think, the best sushi in town, and really reasonably priced. They don't do as many fancy-pants things as Takanami by any means, but for some buttery salmon nigiri, a generous portion of spicy seaweed salad, or light, never-greasy tempura, they're the place to go. And the service is super nice too.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And hey, keep quiet about El Paso -- I don't think they can handle the volume, and that burrito has saved my hungover life on too many Saturdays! So freakin' delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: caliking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      l
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      la2iowa Apr 26, 2009 08:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the tips re: tacos! I sure hope the places you recommend are still open. I've tried tacos from 3 places so far since I just want to get a decent carne asada taco. I'm starting to think there aren't any around here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    daldrich Jan 10, 2007 02:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nice to know the family pronounces it Polly-Eyes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Anyone who is truly familiar with languages should know that there is considerable diversity with respect to pronunciation in many languages. You don't need to be an expert to see that even within our own country. The USA has considerable diversity with respect to pronunciation from Boston to the deep south to Minnesota to name a few places. If the "g" is virtually silent in "Bruno Magli", it should provide a good clue that the g is also silent in Pagliai's. Another hint is when you see the same exact "agli" letter sequence in both. Sorry to be picky, but I hope this person knows their food better than their languages.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks to everyone for the great food suggestions. It is always humourous to me see that a restaurant that one person raves about is someone else's least favorite. Over the years I have noted that some people that are quite capable of identifying bad food, but are not capable of identifying good food.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just wanted to share a food find for you travelers. Although there does not appear to be a Chipotle mexican fast food restaurant in Iowa City, (yet) it is a sleeper. Had a friend rave about it for 12 months and ignored it because I knew it was a chain. If you happen to pass one, be sure to do a u-turn and give it a try! All fresh ingredients. Burritos just bursting with individual flavors of meat, chipotle pepper, sour cream, corn, cilantro and lime. Wow! Spicy and mild salsa and 4 types of salsa total. Highly recommended: burritos with chicken, steak or barbacoa. Add the rice, sour cream and corn for sure. Guacamole is the best in the world, highly flavored with cilantro. They also have limes by the soda fountain. Skip the chips and margaritas and stick with the beer. Cheap too, expect to pay $5-$6 per person. Will not taste like the burritos you normally have. Expect to see more of these! The one near my home in Minnesota is always packed at lunch and dinner time and the long line is indicative of the food quality and is worth the wait. Good food is worth the wait. Another sleeper for you travelers: if you ever see a Claim Jumpers restaurant, also make a u-turn. This is a small west coast chain that often has a line and is almost always packed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I visited one in the San Diego area and everything on their menu was fabulous--mud pie, salads, soups, breads, beef ribs and filet mignon. Have eaten there several times. Wow.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Iowa City Visitor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: daldrich
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Devotay Jan 11, 2007 12:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We have our own mini-chain here in Iowa City that blows Chipotle's doors off. If all you're after is a quick, well-made, and very LARGE burrito, then Panchero's is the place to go. It is, no doubt, the reason Chipotle hasn't even tried to move into the area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Though as I've said elsewhere, La Reyna is the best mexican in town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Peace,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      kmf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ctscorp Jan 11, 2007 03:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, Panchero's is quick, and for late-night or downtown grab-n-go, not bad either. But with the number of awesome, authentic taquerias in town and immediately around town -- Columbus Junction, Conesville, Atalissa -- we'd damn well better never see a Chipotle in this area. Even if Bush hates all the immigrants, we can support them here, and have America's best Mexican in the process. So good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: daldrich
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DCLindsey Feb 19, 2007 01:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm going to stand up for Panchero's also. (plus I don't understand the random Chipotle side track). But come on - the fresh tortillas? Hands down, work it. Even if the filling can be off, the tortilla alone makes it worth it. Whenever you go in there, everyone is chopping veggies or cooking something else. It must be half way decent, as I've not only eaten at 2 am post - bar closing, but also for a normal lunch. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DCLindsey
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Devotay Feb 19, 2007 01:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh they're fine for what they do, and my teenagers are positively addicted. It's just I like the genuine article at La Reyna better than the Americanized versions Pancheros peddles. Head to ead with Chipotle though (which IC does not have), Panchero's kicks Chipotle's burro.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DCLindsey Feb 19, 2007 02:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yep. You are so right. Forgot to mention that I recently moved to DC from Iowa City. I'm constantly defending Iowa restaurants here so I think I'm just a bit defensive! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: DCLindsey
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              kellog sully Feb 19, 2007 02:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Why can't they offer cilantro? There's not enough in the pico.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Devotay Feb 19, 2007 02:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Good call, Kellog. Have you mentioned it to them? I'm not in there much, but I could tell my daughter to do so, she loves the place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just theorizing: As a fast food joint, they'd probably find cilantro to have too short a shelf life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  kellog sully Feb 19, 2007 06:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  shorter than, uh, chicken?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Devotay Feb 20, 2007 06:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well, shorter than cooked chicken, yeah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        iowadina Dec 29, 2006 04:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I was in town for Christmas and ate at Cafe Verde, a newer tapas restaurant. While the atmosphere was quite lovely, the food was very hit and miss. Great soups and salads. But, for instance, the pulled pork flautas were served with thick, gloppy bbq sauce clearly squeezed straight from the bottle. The "onion haystack" tasted like onion flavored wood shavings. Of course, there is always the additional problem that for, at least my 6'5'' athletic husband, its impossible to be sated without paying absolutely exorbitant prices. And no, we are not the type who need all you can eat buffets to feel full.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Has anyone been to Cafe Z on the east side, which has apparently been open for years?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. kellog sully Dec 7, 2006 01:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So I was getting X Mas presents at the Dollar Tree the other day when I happened into Jimmy Jack's for lunch. The genius of simplicity. These guys need to turn this into a franchise.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Price point, efficiency, format, execution.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          One of my new favs for lunch....KS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            iowadina Dec 7, 2006 01:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Perhaps I'm sentimental, but I don't think the Sanctuary can be beat for late night atmosphere, and I think a visitor from out of town woult truly enjoy it. The service I have recieved in the dozens of times I have gone to the sanctuary for gin gimlets with chips and salsa or pizza has never been anything but pleasant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.sanctuarypub.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I would highly recommend it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. w
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              wine_aficionado Dec 6, 2006 10:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "La Reyna" serves great Mexican food..it's actually authentic!! They're on the south side of Iowa City, Keokuk St, off of HWY 6. It's a little grocery store (tienda) that, in the summer, had a taco stand in their parking lot. They've now expanded and have seating inside for about 30 ppl or so. If you go, ask for the Pico de gallo salsa.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. kellog sully Dec 6, 2006 11:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Sanctuary? This used to be a very cool place, and then it turned 1990 (which, by the way, is the last year that over half of the hundred beers available there were ever rotated).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The menu suffers from an identity crisis and could not be executed without the aid of a couple of microwaves. The wine list reads like the Ramada Inn, O'Hare restaurant in 1985.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The service, (was anyway) a disaffected and frustrated lot, seems bent on illustrating how over-qualified they are, by simply not serving--but then I'd be a bit cranky too if I'd been forced to watch Dave Moore eat his harmonica 300 times--KS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  foodcat Dec 1, 2006 03:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pub Grub?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Try The Sanctuary on Gilbert street for a comfortable atmosphere, decent food and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  an outstanding beer list. Live music on the weekends.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pizza Fontina and artichoke bruschetta are good choices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. rozz01 Nov 22, 2006 12:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It seems really wierd, Was I the only one who constantly had horrible service at Venutos? I tried three times only to be ignored once and served almost inedible food the other times. Doesnt really surprise me w/the closing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rozz01
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ctscorp Nov 30, 2006 04:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yeah, I was surprised they lasted as long as they did. Some of the worst service I've ever had, and the food always had way too much grease and/or fat. Good meatballs do not a successful restaurant make.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rozz01
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        l
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        lost78 Apr 7, 2008 08:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wow, as a Venuto-regular I can say I never had poor service or a bad dish. I will miss the wonderful beer on tap in a great location. Graze is a massive disappointment unless I need dry ice in my martini...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lost78
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          rozz01 Apr 7, 2008 01:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I wish I had had the same experience.... Sat for 20 minutes in a near empty restaurant waiting for someone to stop chatting and take my order... still gets to me

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        mander Nov 2, 2006 10:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am almost embarassed to say I have never been to Redhead. Now I definitely have to go. Cresco Blue on bison, oh my!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. kellog sully Nov 2, 2006 01:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It is a shame when a locally owned, ecclectic restaurant goes under. Sadly, the only way to pay the rent downtown is with Anheuser-Busch--not with belly dancing and pommes-frites...for a really nice bison burger and fries, try Redhead up in Solon. The bison comes from outside of town at Jordan Creek Farm, and you can get it with Cresco Blue or Gruyere. Great lunch, but look out driving home with a food coma..to Venuto's!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          KS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            madinmissoula Oct 5, 2006 10:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Lots of good ides from Iowa City gourmands. I would agree with those who detailed good experience at Verde, Motley Cow, Devotay, and the Lincoln Café, these establishments seem to have invested in the philosophy of flavor, style, and sustainability. In addition, I was happy to see the mention of La Reyna (don’t forget to ask for their pico), but I would include the fare from El Paso, and the warming bowls of PHO at Saigon to Bannock. It was the mention of pub grub, however, that caught my eye. Pub grub, the grease that oils the joints of life, nothing could be finer that the art of the deep fryer in combination with and ice cold Newcastle. After an exhaustive search in Eastern Iowa, one place rose to the top of the fryer basket like a well done tater-tot, Shake spears. As any Eastsider knows, this little Shake spears and its head cook (don’t ever call him a chef) consistently put out the best pub grub around. The tenderloins are the best, yes I said best, I have encountered and the Ruben and patty melt are done just as well. Across the board, Shake spears takes an otherwise overlooked genera and raises it to a pleasing experience. This is compounded by the kitchen itself, go ahead and treat yourself to the hand battered chicken breast sandwich, then be amazed at the miracle that was crafted in the kitchen that rivals your old easy bake oven.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            madinmissoula

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: madinmissoula
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              p
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              pau Nov 1, 2006 05:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              venuto's world bistro...anyone?? i thought this locally owned european style restaurant was fantastic,mediterranean night was by far the best in my opinion, although as some of you may know, it has just closed down for good. tear. i hear the new proprietaires are re-opening in a few months as another italian restaurant. for the love of god...why!?!? i hope there are others mourning this loss as i am.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pau
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                mander Nov 1, 2006 09:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So sorry to hear that Venuto's closed. I used to go on occassion - I liked their bison burger and fries. But the wait for your food could be excrutiatingly long - 45 minutes at lunch doesn't work for most of us. The only place in town that made the Motley Cow look fast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pau
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  haythina Dec 28, 2006 09:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I took my husband there on a "hot date" this last summer and it was delightful. We shared the 5-course and still had leftovers for the next day. Everything tasted wonderful, they made great coffee, and we were treated with a little vocal talent by one of the waitresses. Wonderful all around.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. kellog sully Sep 27, 2006 01:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Bcawn--
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You'll get used to the pace in IC--your'e still suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Pretty soon, you'll find yourself gently rocking on your front porch, quoting thornton Wilder, and growing quietly senile. Think of IC as a bathysphere--Chicago's only a few endless hours away.....the Indian restaurants are decent lunch options, but like anywhere, the food off the menu at night is contingent upon who's doing the cooking. Lot's of reheating, but not bad....they COOKED the Carpaccio at Givanni's? What a riot. Did you tell them it wasn't Steak-Um?... I've mentioned it already, but Redhead in Solon can be really good. It can also be really weird. Good luck w/ that. It's worth a try....Unless you are chronic carnivore, the Red Avocado (vegan and organic) can really be great. Before it's too chilly, grab a bottle (or 2) of wine and sit out on their patio....somehow, Pubgrub is like pizza in IC--mostly terrible (please everyone, this is NOT provocation to start another thread about Pagliai's). One would think that w/ the number of bars, someone could pull off good grease. It ain't haut cuisine, but it is a genre that is constantly overlooked and usually poorly executed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for the word on Verde and Formosa, two places I have yet to venture into. Anyone else have a perspective on these two places? Bestest, KS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ctscorp Oct 14, 2006 07:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The pepper jack burger from Shakespeare's, sided with tater tots and cottage cheese and served on a chewy kaiser roll -- why, by the way, is there nowhere to get a fried egg and cheese on a good kaiser roll, preferably grilled in a lunch truck? -- is a perfect Sunday brunch, with either a good bloody or a mug of Lite so cold its top inch is a beer slurpee. The Wazmo's garlic and jalapeno wings there are also archetypal. And although a single item may not constitute "grub," the George's cheeseburger -- the only item on the menu, save some microwave pizza and occasional chili -- is perfect at midnight with a whiskey.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There's much to discover here, and much of it happens after midnight.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Who's heard about the Formose late-night deal? As a member of the service industry, I've long wanted good late-night food -- and by good, I mean reasonably healthy because who wants to eat pizza or a burger at midnight regularly? -- but I hate that Vetro concrete floor and the contrived decor at Formosa. Something about the space makes me not want to enter it. Am I being unreasonable? Is it worth it in any way?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    bmagic Apr 15, 2008 06:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    my girlfriend and i had a great time at Formosa. the service was great, friendly, and knew what they were talking about. i also don't like schmoozie service that just wants a great tip. i actually like to be entertained with my guests when i go out and they did a great job of it. the food was delicious, i can totally see how they won best sushi in town two years in a row! i also hate trendy restaurant music, they always play great eclectic beats and throw down a good show in comparison to most bars and clubs in town. plus, the daily drink specials definitely don't hurt at all. i give it many many many thumbs up!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bmagic
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      lizzy69 Apr 16, 2008 09:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sushi is good at Formosa, some of the special rolls are very good, and if you're into the bar scene, I hear it's great. However, I think Oyama is still the best if you're just looking for good sushi (see recent posts about Oyama), but I'm sure they're not open too late. Also, ctscorp's comments about the decor at Formosa are not too far off...luckily one doesn't have to sit on the floor, but the benches are as hard as concrete. Also, the tables are very wide to accommodate the hot pots, and I always feel like I'm sitting 298 miles away from my husband. It's not very comfortable or intimate, although I get the feeling that they're trying to be both. Maybe some pillows would help??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    bcawn Sep 26, 2006 09:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just moved to IC from Chicago three weeks ago. Thanks to a temporary expense account and a bit of restlessness, I got out to just about every major restaurant in town. Still can't get used to the pace of life out here, though...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What I've liked:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Motley Cow Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Lincoln Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Is it any coincidence that all three of these places emphasize clean, contemporary American flavors. I would say only Lincoln can compare to a starred Chicago restaurant--obnoxious weekend waits included--but the other two more than hold their own. Motley Cow in particular is a true gem.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Thai Flavors and Thai Spice were both fine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -I like Takanami as well, but I would refer you to Frank Bruni's review of Japonais for discussion on the pan-asian conundrum rather than

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What I haven't:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Verde: Cute room, but the menu is a mess: way too many things going on on it to be effective. Food was either too timid or oversalted.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Formosa: Pretentious, and the rolls were off(I haven't tried the shabyu shabyu though). Service botched my order; what did come was drowned in way too many conflicting ingredients, with sauces to boo. They even messed up yellowtail jaw.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Linn St. Cafe & 126: My pet peeve are "nice" restaurants that deliver entirely average food for $20+ entree prices. Both remind of places in Highland Park (say, Mimosa or Timbers) that cater to the crowd who loves that sort of stuff. Count me out of that.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Givanni's: I thought I ordered a pretty simple meal, but th kitchen over complicated things. The carpaccio was semi-cooked, and a linguini with mushrooms was overly salty (canned?)Odd room--what's with the fluorescent lighting?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Atlas: see above for a much better description than I could offer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'd appreciate any other suggestions about where to go...there's a ton of bars that serve food here, but I don't know which ones are worth seeking out. I also still need to hit India Cafe and Masala.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    so Prairie Table serves food?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Electric Gib Sep 14, 2006 08:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Going on the assumption that ALL chain restaurants are terrible wastes of space, that really only leaves a few places that are worth eating in Iowa City, and for the most part i won't be talking about those at the moment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree with Kellog on <La Reyna>. I have yet to try the carnitas but the tacos are quite nice. You may want to get them to go so you don't have to sit in a parking lot on boyrum street.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't think <Atlas> has come up in the thread, so i will set the record straight. If you like all of your food in burrito form this is the spot for you. Not wraps, burritos, they may very well have been ahead of the curve on the low carb diet, but really, a fish and chips burrito packed with coleslaw give me a break! After going for a couple lunches and being totally unimpressed i find it difficult to dine there for an evening meal. Please someone, anything good to say?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <Fresh Food Concepts> haven't been grasped yet at any of "The Mondo's" restaurants. These uninspired restaurants are: <Givanni's>, <Joseph's>, <Mondos Tomato Pie>, maybe a <Bonehead's> is floating around in Cedar Rapids and a host of smokey college town bars. I would lump all these in the same heap and put a tag on them that states: "OVER PRICED PUB GRUB". I will say however having been stuck in the Coral Ridge Mall, the <Bread Garden> was a sight for sore eyes. The <Bread Garden> has many bread choices and is very consistent in the quality, that is why they supply a good chunk of Iowa City's restaurants with their bread. However, being one of the few people to tour the back of many Iowa City Kitchens i grow very tired of seeing the bread delivery arrive from the Bread Garden in large clear Garbage Bags (food storage quality i am sure).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I will have to get back to this and maybe defend some of the statements i have made.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Maybe next time i will try to focus on the Food i like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Electric Gib

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PS Palace Special is the only way to fly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Electric Gib
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        kellog sully Sep 15, 2006 02:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ah yes, Atlas. Menu brought to by, THC: Enhancing creativity since the dawn of civilization. And by, Sysco: Doing the work, so you don't have to. I must confess, and though I still find it bizarre, to liking the Buffalo Wrap. Fried chicken and mashed potato burrito topped with onion rings and blue cheese. Maybe once a year? The beers on tap are the usual cast of corporate drizzle, and the markup on the wine list should be reported to the Better Bus. Bureau, but the place doesn't seem to hurt for biz.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Fresh Food Concepts" Tip: avoid places that emphasize the word "fresh." "Fresh chicken breast; fresh garden salad," etc. Seems like "fresh" ought to be a given? Was there a time when the use of fresh ingredients, like chicken breast, was some kind of food revolution?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Vive le Palace Special! K.S.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. p
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        porkypine Sep 12, 2006 02:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I grew up in Iowa City and lived next door to the Pagliais for 8 years. I can assure you, they themselves call it "polly-eyes".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I love their pizza, as do most people I know who grew up there. Love-love, really love. For anyone perusing this thread, I think the fact that it is controversial should make it a must-visit so you can decide for yourself. Their entire menu fits on the front and back of a little table tent. This is because their ingredients are so fresh and well-done they don't need to mess around with too much stuff. I recommend the Palace Special and a pitcher.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          mingus Sep 8, 2006 02:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          re: verde-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Having tried both verde and devotay several times, I would give a thumbs up to verde. Devotay has a cozier down home feel, but i prefer the food at verde.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          re: breakfast places
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Please try the bakery on summit street- Bakery Deluxe. Not everything is perfect, but their pecan rolls and cinnamon dunked pecan muffins are delectable. Every out of town guest we have taken there has loved it and requested a repeat performance. I think their coffee is great too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          re: 126
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think that 126 is a great place for lunch, and their service is quite a bit better than other places. Prices for lunch are very reasonable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          David's is cheap and tasty, and it's tasty vegetarian options make up for what it lacks in ambience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I would second comments about redhead- sometimes the menu is a bit uneven (some things are great, others fall flat) and I would not recommend dessert. The desserts generally sound great, but I have been disappointed one too many times. That being said, they really do focus on using local in season ingredients, and their soups and salads have never disappointed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Our favorite pizza place is a bit of a drive- Zoey's in Marion, IA. I'm not a fan of their deep dish, but their so-called new york style pizza is a favorite (note that this is a much thicker crust than true New York pizza). So if you are looking for something between pagliai's and deep dish, Zoey's wins hands down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          would eat at taste more, but the menu rarely changes, and I get bored.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mingus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Devotay Sep 9, 2006 03:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hey, thanks for reminding me of Zoeys, I'll have to get up there. They used to have a store here in IC, and hte pizza was awfully good. I'll make the drive soon and report back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. kellog sully Sep 6, 2006 01:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hi,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the word on David's Place. I've been curious, but my interest was thwarted by the Lite Beer neons in the window. Also, I agree with KMF on Taste. I've heard stories of lousy service, but have never had that experience myself.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Finally, in a previous post, I mentioned a "taqueria out by Econo Foods," and could not remember the name. It is La Reyna, and the chicken tacos are the Lord's own. (although, I think the Lord's arteries are probably hardening). Also, apparently Econo Foods is gone. O the nostalgia. Kellog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              iowagirl Sep 6, 2006 09:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Just to jump in kind of late on this topic - I live in IC and can agree with many of Kellogg Sully's (this wouldn't be a reference to where you're from would it? Newton here) and KMF's assessments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Comment on Guido's - went there once looking for smoked gouda after the Co-op's supplier went belly up. Very average lunch offerings, but they do offer a nice small dinner menu and are BYO with a small corkage. Not nearly as good as Lincoln Cafe (count me among the fans) but an easier drive home after a bottle of wine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the tip on the taqueria - we're always looking for something that can rival El Olmito in Muscatine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And the Prairie Table filet mignon sandwich - wow!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As for the Motley Cow - shhhhhh! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Iowagirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                iowadina Sep 18, 2006 02:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Must strongly disagree regarding David's Place. As a lover of ethiopian food, I was very excited about the prospect of eating ethiopian when I came home to iowa, rather than in Montreal or Boston or Chicago. But David's was terrible- it was not remotely related to any ethiopian food i have eaten in the past. I have hope that maybe as they realize that iowa citians appreciate authentic food they will improve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: iowadina
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Devotay Sep 18, 2006 05:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Odd. While I've never been to Ethiopia and therefore cannot comment firstand on its authenticity, I found the food to be delicious and interesting at David's Place, as well as fun to eat. I do think it's odd that he has the "barfood" apps and the more tradtional entrees, but hey, if it works for his business plan, I guess I'm OK with that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My only disapointment is in atmosphere. That location, which I considered taking when it was available, is capable of so much more. As it is now, it's what I call "the restaurant on the moon" - great food, no atmosphere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: iowadina
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    christyw Dec 18, 2007 12:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I would recommend giving David's Place another chance. As a huge fan of Ethiopian food, and someone who spent 3 months in Ethiopia, I used to travel to Chicago or Minneapolis just to get my fix, and was thrilled when David's Place opened in IC. After my first dinner there, I didn't go back for a year, I was so disappointed. The injera was crusty, the selection slim and not very flavorful. My husband talked me into trying it again and I have to say it has improved dramatically. The selection was better and the food was much better. We've been back several times since. I don't think the injera you get in the US is ever going to have quite that sour taste that makes Ethiopian injera so distinctive, but as far as American Ethiopian food goes, I am very happy with David's Place and glad to have it in town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: christyw
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      rozz01 Dec 18, 2007 02:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think the collards are super, both times I've had them they just melted...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mander Sep 5, 2006 08:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the tip on David's Place. I've been hearing good things but have yet to go. I'll make it a priority now. Based on my two bad service experiences at Taste I won't be going back until I have to (e.g. work related dinner) but I will try to go with an open mind based on Kurt's recommendation. Yes indeed Taits and Prarie Table have changed the sandwich market in IC dramatically for the better in the last year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  David

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Devotay Sep 5, 2006 04:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Good luck keeping Motley Cow a secret. David does a great job over there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As for a Jewish Deli, you'd have to go to Postville & Jacob's Table for that, but there are mighty good sandwiches to be had at Prairie Table and Tait's

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I wanted to throw in a mention for David's Place, at Linn & Washington. Odd place - it has typical bar food for appetizers, but the whole entree menu is outasight Ethiopian, realy good stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Too bad about Mander's experience at Taste. I know the owner, Christian, has much higher standards than that and I highly recommend that you give them another shot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh, and I agree about Baldy's, except I have a hard time getting out of there without ordering anyting but the Jambalaya wrap. It's an addiction. Get t with the Bass Ale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Peace,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    kmf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      mander Sep 2, 2006 07:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Kellog,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I like your style - not holding back, especially your take on the burg. I don't agree with all your assessments (Lincoln is outstanding in my book) but I agree with the substantial majority. You might try Baldys Wraps for breakfast, if you haven't already. I am afraid that is the best IC can do. As for Taste on Melrose I have had some of the most horrible service I have ever had at a fine dining establishment there (e.g. ordered a particular white wine on the server's recomendation to accompany a particular dish. After wine is poured the server came back to say they were out of the dish. When I couldn't find a dish on the menu that I wanted that would go well with the wine, I asked them if they would take back the wine and allow us to order another to accompany a new dinner choice they said no.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Linn St is still a crap shoot. The same dish can be great one night and then lousy a week or two later due to poor execution.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I like Joseph's. They do an excellent job cooking steak and have prime beef. There are some clunkers on the menu so you have to be careful though. The tuna appetizer is also excellent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jewish Deli in IC? - we can dream. At least we have a good farmers market (which was excellent this morning by the way).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      David

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PS Let's try to keep the Motley Cow a well kept secret.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. kellog sully Sep 2, 2006 02:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hi all,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have some questions for local diners:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyone tried Saigon to Bangkok lately, or the "new" 126?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        How about Guido's? I stopped to sniff around and found the deli meats were Hormel. C'mon, guys. It's like a Jewish deli with Carl Buddig Corned Beef.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Any word on the last Mondonaro Zeppelin, Joseph's?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Still haven't tried Verde. Anyone?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Finally, what's all the fuss about the Public House. The beer, I suppose, is better than it was, but I found them all to be innocuous and grainy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I love being an armchair critic. Kellog Sully

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          haythina Dec 28, 2006 09:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I love Saigon to Bangkok. They have the best crab rangoons in the area. They're not on the menu, but will be made, no problems. Also the price is great. I go exclusively for the vietnamese food, of which is very good. I'm not as interested in the thai available and was not impressed with the pad thai.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Devotay Sep 1, 2006 08:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Kellog,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the plug, we truly appreciate everyone who likes our food. And yes, I suppose I am guilty of shameless self promotion, but it's all about the love of the food (truly). I evangelize for local food and traditions of the table in various media outlets, and since I've had some success at it, my own profile has increased.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm as egotistical as the next guy, but please believe (as the title of one of my columns says) "It's about the food."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And on a side note to the pronunciation police above (daferawewer), Pagliai's is a block from my restaurant. The owners, Armand and Polly, are friends of mine. It's their family name and they pronounce it "polly-eyes," regardless of what anyone in Italy may think (where they'd use a soft, gutteral "g" anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            kellog sully Sep 1, 2006 10:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fair Enough. Keep on cookin.' Best, Kellog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              iowadina Sep 18, 2006 02:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              yes, thank you. I lived in iowa city from birth to 20 years and I too can attest that it is polly-eyes. Yes, some people pronounce that 'g', but those in the know always look askance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              also- Thai Spice is far superior to Thai Flavors, as much as I respect Thai Flavors community activism. Very watered down Thai. True, however, that service at Thai Spice often sucks. Good reason for takeout.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. r
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              RubyBluebird Jul 1, 2006 11:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I live in Cedar Rapids just up the road from Iowa City and I love to escape to Iowa City where I went to the Big U for good food. Among my favorites:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sushi Popo for Japanese
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hamburg Inn for burgers or Tenderloins (ubiquitous in Iowa but I have never seen them elsewhere) and fries, or breakfast
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I love Pagliai's for Pizza, good memories from my college days.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Takanami.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I really like Mondo's in Coralville for a good lunch with clients.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are a few great Asian restaurants around-- Aoeshe on S.Gilbert and two in Coralville on the same road that goes out to I80 in Coralville.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have to say the the Motley Cow on Market Street is always good. Delightful, fresh, delicious, even great coffee with dessert. (So many places in Iowa have horrid coffee, apparently the farmers have to have weak coffee so they can hit the sack at 7 p.m.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't know if the Airliner is still in business but used to be a great place for a beer, burger and fries. .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              RubyBluebird in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: RubyBluebird
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                kellog sully Sep 1, 2006 01:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hi All. A few observations from a food and wine fan who's spent a looooong time in I.C.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pagliai's is good, 50s era pie. Tight ship, but get it to go--weird interior is mindful of a midwestern rec room circa 1983. And what's with the western imagery?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Hamburg Inn. Well, I guess I'd miss if it were gone, but I'd rather eat at the hospital. Hamburg is a staple that serves to illustrate the fact that in 2006, there still is no good breakfast option in the I.C. area outside of my kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sushi Popo. Haven't been there since Takanami opened a few years ago. Speaking of which, Takanami defies logic for the landlocked sushi jones. The entrees though at times a little klunky, can really satisfy. It happens when you take chances. And gratefully, they're figuring out wine. Kendall Jackson chardonnay days be gone forever!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mondo's. Well, plenty of parking?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Motley Cow Cafe seems to be enjoying a cult following and why shouldn't they? They feature truly local produce, a talented chef who understands restraint, and a menu that evolves to reflect seasonal change in a landscape where haut cuisine is largely about eating flavored butter to the Buena Vista Social Club soundtrack. In addition, they are mostly organic, very affordable (oddly cheaper than the Sysco emporiums), and have an astute wine list. There should be line out the door, but thank Gawd there is not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Redhead. 10 min. up the road in Solon, this is generally good, Mason-Dixon comfort food. All homemade, quirky and lovable. There's a lot of heart in this place and that helps to offset some less than graceful moments on the floor. Patience, they say is a virtue. AND it's half the distance to the Lincoln cafe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                speaking of the Lincoln. This is good, but totally overhyped and put on the map by out-of-towners bemused by the concept of a reasonable restaurant ACTUALLY existing in a small Iowa town. You DO get your $$ worth (i.e. each entree is often 2 or 3 entrees rolled into 1) and you can bring your own wine, which, given the state of most local winelists, is salvation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                126. Under new ownership as of this summer. I suppose I'll retry as I'd long given up on its former inception.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Taste on Melrose. Solid, admirable, and well-executed. Bread made on-premise, (unbelievable that real bread in a restaurant is worth special mention) and usually good service. No real culinary earthquake here, just dependable and competent cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Aeoshe. Been twice in the last two years. Two times too often. Get it to go if you must.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thai spice. Easily the best Thai around. Sometimes I think of the Moo Pad Prik when I'm driving. If you have a party, reserve the private dining room, order as much as you can, pass and taste. Nice little wine list too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Devotay. charming, but I don't get it. Very hyped, and self-promoted, but that said, it beats anything downtown, and features the best winelist I've seen there to date.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Linn St. Any comments from anyone here? I stopped going years ago, and it's a pricey roll of the dice. Still too much meat and Shiraz?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Airliner. yes, still in business. yes, still very avoidable. The facelift did little to alleviate the stale beer smell and the Ruben I had there was inedible--literally. On duty mngr. merely shrugged when I asked about the leathery, grilled(?!) corned beef. O college. Stick to Micky's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                other notes:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                the Sausage platter at Venuto's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                the tacos at that Taqueria out by Econo food (sorry, I can't remember the name.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tempeh stir fry at the Red Avocado
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                sandwiches at the Prairie Table
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                all natural Brats outside of Tait's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                depending on who's cooking, the bacon-cheddar burger at Micky's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                the ruben at Shakespeare's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                farmer's market
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yours in better eating, Kellog Sully, Iowa City

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kellog sully
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  KCJ Sep 3, 2006 10:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  kellog sully - The Airliner was my dad's beverage of choice when we lived in IC 1953-56.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In the many trips I've made to IC as an adult over the past 30+ years, I've simply never had the desire to set foot in the place. Too many unhappy childhood memories of being dragged there for hours on end, bored to tears and sometimes frightened of the loud, drunken men.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Somehow I'm not at all surprised that the joint still stinks of stale beer and the sandwich was lousy. Fits my image of the place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kellog sully
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Atticus Fresh Sep 6, 2006 02:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    All this talk about Pagliai's and no mention of the real pizza power house in IC, SAMS. I dream at night of SAMS deep dish. Wish I had a peice right now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kellog sully
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      zfirst Sep 25, 2006 06:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Just to add to the chorus in favor of The Motley Cow: I am from Boston, and was in Iowa City for one night recently (Sept. 2006). I had dinner at TMC and cannot recommend it enough. On a Monday night, the place was relaxed but cheerful and attentive, and the food was delicious. Flavors were adventurous and interesting without being wild or distracting, and everything was prepared skillfully. Ingredients stood up on their own, too (if only every pork chop I ate were that good!). The chef and waiter took a few minutes to chat with us, and were friendly as can be. They could've charged 50% more for the meal, and I would've happily coughed up the dough. A real find (and thanks to Chowhound for leading me to it!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    jane Feb 23, 2005 09:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was born in Iowa City and lived there through high school. I still visit every summer and don't miss Hamburg Inn when I'm in town. Thai Flavors is definitely the place for Thai. They are very active in the local community and do speical nights were a portion of their profits are donated to a selected (usually progressive) charity or group. Great fried noodles, tofu and very friendly staff. Much cheaper than Thai spice. Pagliai's for Pizza-get the Pagliai's special (sausage, green pepper, and onion. I think everything else was mentioned already. Go Hawks!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jane
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      nogaboga Jan 4, 2007 02:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just moved to IC, and this thread has been a lot of help, thanks everybody. One update though - I was told that Thai Flavors has just changed owners. I don't know what it was like before, but I left very unimpressed after last night's meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mags Sep 12, 2004 12:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hamburg Inn's been mentioned several times already -- it's been a local favorite for years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      IC is NOT known for pizza, with most pizza joints catering to the non-discriminating and in-need-of-cheap-eats student. Trust me, as an alum -- pizza would not be something I seek out on repeat visits to campus!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Since the campus district -- specifically on the Old Capitol side -- seems to have been left out of most responses, here are a few adds:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1) Panchero's -- 32 S. Clinton St. with another location on Riverside, has its HQ in Coralville, got its start in Iowa City. Fits both the late nights and cheap eats categories. Recommend avoiding it on Thurs / Fri / Sat nights after 10pm (unless you plan to observe inebriated hungry students). But they serve up decent on-the-go Mexican fare -- queso quesadilla and soft corn tortillas abound. If you don't plan on eating for 24 hours following your meal, they'll make you a giant burrito. Further digging provided the URL below -- apparently they're making homemade tortillas now -- why couldn't they have started about 5 years earlier? ;) Sadly, it appears they no longer serve tortas... how depressing...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2) The Cottage Bakery & Cafe -- 14 S Linn St., just off Iowa Ave. Great local coffeehouse and sandwich shop, making & selling loaves of homemade bread. Those alone could make a great meal. Their lemon poppyseed bread sells out daily. Generally frequented by the grad student / faculty set. Open for breakfast and lunch, they have a great selection of fresh fillings / cheeses to make a sandwich to suit your tastes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And, while not a food recommendation, no visit to Iowa City is complete without stopping at Prairie Lights Books. It's regarded as one of the finest independent bookshops in the nation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Link: http://www.pancheros.com/index.cfm?te...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Mags
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mags Sep 12, 2004 01:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Am scanning the entire board for Twin Cities listings, but came across a past thread about Iowa City that reminded me of some additional options.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Again, in the Old Capitol area, a local not-to-miss is Micky's for a Conglomeration... (cholesterol city, but tasty)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        David M Sep 8, 2004 10:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pizza in Iowa City is a nonstarter as is Thai. Lots of mediocre stuff. For Tapas Devotay is fantastic. As mentioned Linn St is excellent (and next door to Devotay) with the best wine list in town. The best cooking in town is at Takanami, fusion with excellent sushi. Lincoln Cafe in Mt. Vernon is very much worth the 20 mile drive north of town. Other good bets are Motley Cow and Taste on Melrose, but they can be uneven. These are all within a mile of campus, none have TVs, are independently owned, and most use local ingredients.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        David, in Iowa City

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: David M
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          chinitav Nov 12, 2009 12:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I see this thread is ancient, but I just gotta say -- is The Sanctuary no longer there? Used to be such fab pizza (at least to a lowly undergrad in the 70's!). Will continue my reminiscence with fond memories of the Sheep's Head Cafe (perhaps mainly b/c an old beau worked there), The Brown Bottle (for a big date), and some cool sub place - can't remember the name - Someone's Sub... ahhhhhh, those were the days...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Brown Bottle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1624 5th Avenue, Moline, IL 61265

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Brown Bottle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          401 E Mill St, Plymouth, WI 53073

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chinitav
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            puzzler Nov 12, 2009 06:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Bushnell's Turtle, named after the first submarine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: puzzler
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              chinitav Nov 15, 2009 06:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh thank you, puzzler! That was driving me crazy -- I kept thinking "Nemo's" and knew it was wrong. Is it still there?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chinitav
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                corneygirl Nov 15, 2009 08:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sorry to report it's been closed for a while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: puzzler
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                r
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                RubyBluebird May 26, 2011 08:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I used to love going there. They had the best sandwiches and soup for lunch. I remember having some of the best bean soup of my entire life there. Truly memorable. Where did those folks go? I miss them. Susan in Cedar Rapids

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: chinitav
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                mander Nov 15, 2009 11:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sheepshead Cafe. Now there is a blast from the past. LONG GONE - 20 years or so - but what a wonderful funky place it was. Used to love going there for burgers and an occasional scotch

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mander
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  r
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  RubyBluebird May 26, 2011 08:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sheep's Head took over the building that Grace and Rubie's used to be in. What wonderful times those were. Petitioning the City Council for an alcohol permit for an all girl's restaurant. Afterall it was 1973 and it hadn't been done, to have an all girl's soup shop/ private organization. It even drew an article or two from big magazines. Some sneaky bastard creeping around the garbage cans for whatever was on the menu for the day. I was on the board of Directors up until it went under. But great food! Absolutely delish! 1973-1975 or so. Those were the days!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4. re: David M
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                hawkeyeui93 Sep 13, 2011 09:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Sanctuary has excellent pizza ....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: David M
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  hawkeyeui93 Sep 13, 2011 10:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  David: I disagree ... Try the pizza at The Sanctuary Pub. I recommend the Pizza Fontina. This bar also has an excellent beer list.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Patrick Sep 7, 2004 03:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have been in and out of there recently several times and have many trips to come over the next year. I've hit a few good spots, based on comments and ideas here (thanks everyone!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We went to Linn Street Cafe first night, and then Devotay the next night. Had the duck entree at both, and I found the food better at Linn St overall. The duck at Devotay was too saucy, while at Linn St it was roasted well and the sides were more well suited. The bacon wrapped dates at Devotay rocked, though, and the service was great with a good breadth of wine choices. Either choice I think is good and the best food in town, so far, for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Toward Corralville (I stay at the Hampton there), we've tried both Chinese places on 1st Ave at 2nd St and they're okay. Want to try the Vientamese place but haven't yet. The Vine, on 2nd, is good but pretty loud. The Beefstro in the hotel is dicey, though I like the grilled caesar salad. I've not been to the Power Co in a while but it was good. A little cheesey but a nice place to take clients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Colleagues mentioned some hole-in-the-wall place around the corner from the Sheraton, Italian I take it, that I'll be trying next trip too.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Patrick
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    r
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    RubyBluebird May 26, 2011 08:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That little place around the corner from the Sheraton downtown is The Mill Restaurant. They have excellent Italian food, great antipasto I love the baked lasagna and incredible garlic bread. But more about the Mill. It has or used to have the greatest entertainment for miles around. Sometimes ecclectic sometimes just wild and wacky. Sometimes they will have singers or bands. I used to love going there when I was a student but haven't been there for a while. I remember the good old days of "Duck's Breath Mystery Theater" and its offshoots with Dr. Science and other bust- a-gut funny stuff. Always worth the trip. Susan in Cedar Rapids

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jessi Sep 7, 2004 09:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For Thai, I like Thai Flavors (I believe that's the name), corner of Gilbert and Burlington. Next door is Parthenon, which I haven't tried. My friend who lived in Thailand for several years took me to Thai Flavors, and the owners are actually Thai. I've also heard good things about Thai Spice, further down on Gilbert, but haven't been there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hamburg Inn, down the block from Paglia's, is good for burgers and shakes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dave R Sep 7, 2004 09:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't get to Iowa City very often anymore, but I'll offer my input. There was also a post about a month ago about Cedar Rapids and Iowa City that you may want to search for.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For Pizza, Pagliai's is an instituition in Iowa City. For tapas, Devotay is well regarded (and the owner sometimes posts here-hopefully he'll see this and add his input). Local ingredients, try Linn Street Cafe or Lincoln Cafe (in Mount Vernon). Those are 2 of the better restaurants in the whole state. Near the campus, Dirty John's grocery for a sandwich. Hopefully, some of the others can fill in the rest of the details for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dave R

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dave R

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      10 Replies
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bobfrmia Sep 7, 2004 10:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I can't speak first hand, but I do have a friend in Iowa City that is married to a chef.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        She also spoke highly of Devotay ( 117 N. Linn St)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Linn St. Cafe (121 N Linn)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sushi Popo for what was voted as best sushi in Iowa.(725 Mormon Trek Blvd)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Red Avacado for vegetarian. (521 E Washington)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hamburg Inn for breaksfast. 214 N. Linn.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I know a girl in college there, so I'll try to get you a run down on Pizza. Remember if you are there this week to pick up your Beat Iowa State button. It will get you a discount at many local eateries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bobfrmia
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Brian Schwartz Sep 7, 2004 03:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm a native Chicagoan and had lived in Iowa City for 4 years and can tell you that restaraunts aren't one of the best parts of Iowa City (for that matter the entire Iowa!). Nonetheless, I reccomend Big Mike's sub shop - real good subs, crisp, etc. Sub Shop is another good Iowa place. Also Hamburg Inn is a dirty little diner, not bad for late night chow. Red Lobster and Olive Garden are always good for franchises. STAY AWAY from Paglia's pizza, it's fair at best, I guess coming from Chicago I'm spoiled with pizza, but still could never find anything great about Paglia's pizza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Brian Schwartz
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mike Oct 6, 2004 07:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Paglias Pizza is the best pizza around. It beats out most competition from accross the country. If you're in Iowa City it's a must.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mike
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Milwaukee Ben Oct 17, 2004 12:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i'll second that emotion on pagliai's pizza--it's excellent. one of my all-time favorite pizzas. quirky because it used to be beer-free (pre-1983), then they got lowenbrau on tap. lowenbrau?? anyway, get the palace special and a pitcher of whatever strange brand brew they're serving now (andecker perhaps? olympia?).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Milwaukee Ben
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Curnovsky Feb 7, 2005 10:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's been a few months since anyone posted here about Iowa City, so who knows, maybe I'll start the broth simmering again. The two best restaurants in Iowa City are Taste on Melrose and Takanami. The two partners, one the chef and the other the baker, who own Taste formerly worked for local restaurateur Jim Mondanaro before they came to their senses and went into business for themselves. The menu is something that any Midwesterner would relish, but a foodie would find it to be creative AND well-executed. Service is very good: knowledgeable, friendly, smart & efficient. The chef at Takanami used to work at Charlie Trotter's and is very imaginative. Takanami is Asian-American fusion with a full menu and a sushi bar. I have taken guests from major metropolitan centers there and they've been impressed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There's a little place called The Motley Cow which has about ten tables. It's raggedy-looking but the chef, who went to school at the UI, apprenticed in SF and came back. The entrees change every few days depending on what ingredients look good. They always have a nice selection of cheeses. Breads and desserts are really good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Linn Street Cafe has improved over the past few years since they made their menu a little more casual and lowered the prices. Devotay has flashes of brilliance and you'll pay dearly for the privilege. Atlas World Grill does a good job. 126 (named for its address) has its good days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I see from the posts previous that The Lincoln Cafe gets the compliments it deserves. See we8there.com for some reviews.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Curnovsky
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  bmagic Apr 15, 2008 06:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just FYI on your information so that its accurate, Eric is a good friend of mine and he makes great food but he never worked at Charlie Trotters. :) You should check out Formosa for some decadent sushi and the asian fondue (shabu shabu) is outstanding too. Service there has always been superb. Its on the first floor of the sweet new Hotel Vetro downtown.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    lost78 May 27, 2011 10:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I vote Devotay over Motley Cow every time. Beyond the food, the service at Devotay is unmatched in Iowa City.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Motley Cow Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    160 N Linn St, Iowa City, IA 52245

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    117 N Linn St, Iowa City, IA 52245

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lost78
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Gilgamesh37 May 27, 2011 11:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "The service at Devotay is unmatched in Iowa City"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I beg to differ. Devotay is the ONLY restaurant in Iowa City I've actually walked out of because of poor service, and I've done it twice. Both times we were seated and then no one ever came to our table--not even a hurried "I'm sorry, I'll be with you in a minute." First time we waited 15 mins, second time 10 mins before walking out. The place isn't that big, it's not like they couldn't see us. In my opinion, that's unforgiveable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Devotay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      117 N Linn St, Iowa City, IA 52245

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Brian Schwartz
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lou L Meyer Nov 11, 2005 05:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My husband Greg and I have always loved Paglia's pizza...we live in Chicago and yet we come out to Iowa City at least once every 3 mos for our addiction to it's wonderful taste and great crust. And as for Iowa-it has some of the best cooks in the WORLD.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: Bobfrmia
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Bobfrmia Sep 8, 2004 02:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                From an Iowa student.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thai Spice on gilbert.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Old Chicago Pizza for deep dish pizza and really cheap beer.

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