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The Best Places To Eat In Iowa City

I am a huge food girl, as are most college students are. I saw a study a few days ago that supports the idea that even though we are all broke college students, we are more than willing to spend our last dollars on food. I won’t spend $20 on a shirt, but you bet your ass I’ll spend $20 on sushi. When I came to college, I did not realize the amount of different food options in Iowa City. I am a very picky person and rarely branch out, so it’s taken me a year and a half to try a lot of places in IC that aren’t chains — but I’m so happy I did. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. The Vine

There may be a little bias here, since my apartment is conveniently located a block away from The Vine, but whatever. This is what I recommend to someone who is coming to Iowa City if they’re looking for laid-back bar food grub. Their sauces for wings are awesome, and the wraps are so good. I go probably two to three times a week — no shame.

2. Formosa

I always look for deals (because broke) and Formosa has great deals on their sushi Tuesday and Thursdays. They have rolls for as little as $3 and martinis are $3. My suggestions would be the Formosa roll, Las Vegas roll or the Scorpion roll. The apps are really good as well — you can never go wrong with edamame or crab rangoons.

3. Mosley’s

If you are looking for barbeque, you absolutely need to head to Mosley’s. They have such good ribs, pulled pork, brisket, etc., and it’s all good. I crave their bacon mac-n-cheese on the daily. “The Mosley” is a sandwich that has pork butt (which is the shoulder — it’s just named that, don’t ask me why), barbeque and coleslaw on top of a bun. So yummy.

Enjoy this pic of me with way too much food at Mosley’s.

4. Iowa Chop House

While the Iowa Chop House is pricey, it’s a great place for special occasions. I had an amazing filet there, and it was probably the best steak I’ve had. Their mac-n-cheese is amazing as well —a recurring theme in what makes restaurants the best for me— and I love the atmosphere in there.

5. Micky’s

This is definitely a place to go for greasy, hungover food on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I would absolutely say to get the grilled cheese. While Marco’s grilled cheese truck satisfies my late-night grilled cheese cravings, Micky’s is always there and has the best ranch. Ope, a Midwestern necessity.

6. Bread Garden

I didn’t discover Bread Garden until this year, and I have no clue how I went so long without it. This is kind of like a combined grocery store and buffet/restaurant and honestly, it’s a little overwhelming when you first get in there because there are so many options. I usually do the kiosk, which is made-to-order food, or the salad bar. I haven’t heard many bad things about anything there, and it’s a cute place to study, especially in the spring.

7. Bluebird Diner

This place is always crazy busy. If you ever get up early on the weekends, I’d absolutely recommend going here to beat the rush. Otherwise, their wait times are 30-45 minutes on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Regardless, their breakfast food can bring a college student back to life, and their coffee is so good.

8. Which Wich

While this is a chain, I didn’t have one in my hometown, and it is the best fast sandwich I’ve ever had. The concept is super cool because if you don’t like talking to workers like me, you just write your name and check what you want on a bag and hand it to them. Easy peasy.

9. Heirloom and Java House

Heirloom definitely reminds me of a local-type Panera. They have so many options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everything I’ve had there has been so good, and I would recommend the broccoli cheddar soup. 

10. Shorts

My favorite burger spot in Iowa City has to be Shorts. This small restaurant is located right downtown, and I love the aesthetic inside. The fries are super good, and it isn’t too expensive. I always get the “Beaconsfield Burger,” which has barbeque, bacon and cheddar cheese on it.

I’m starving after writing this article now. Enjoy, collegiettes! HCXO!

[Pictures all taken by author]

Liz is President of Her Campus at Iowa, and has been in HC Iowa since her freshman year. Her favorite part about Her Campus is Her Conference in NYC each summer — she loves getting to meet other Girl Bosses! She is a junior at the University of Iowa pursuing a Communication Studies degree and is double-minoring in Business Administration and Psychology. Liz wants to be a Social Media Manager for a beauty or lifestyle brand in the future, and would love to move to a big city when she's done with college. In her free time, Liz shops (maybe a little too much), crafts, and watches beauty guru videos on Youtube. Instagram: @lizwarnerr
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