On and near the campus of the University of Iowa, it feels as if the density of bars and restaurants is even greater than Starbucks in Seattle. That doesn’t mean they’re equal, however, as the best places in Iowa City stand out for good reason.
Five such places offer affordable drinks, great service, proximity to Kinnick Stadium, tempting food and a welcoming atmosphere. Because of that combination, they are the equivalents of Iowa’s best campaigns on the gridiron.
The following listing isn’t a ranking of the five but rather just a presentation of those five. In that interest, here are the best places in Iowa City to catch a game, in alphabetical order.
Best Places in Iowa City: Bo James
Located at 118 E. Washington St., Bo James offers hard-to-beat game-day food options. The fresh burgers are complemented by 32 oz. beers. Thirty-two is also the number of years that the establishment has been locally owned, so the management knows how to do Hawkeye home games.
When the weather is pleasant, the outdoor patio is a spectacular place to watch Iowa face its Big Ten foes. The management doesn’t take advantage of the demand and gouge customers during the games, either, with burger baskets coming in at just $6.99.
The atmosphere is casual and friendly, which is exactly what many Iowa fans are looking for. For those who prefer something closer to a Friday night in a college town, there’s another joint not far away.
Brothers Bar & Grill
At 125 S. Dubuque St., fans will find the Iowa City edition of a chain of college town bars known as Brothers. This is the quintessential huge sports bar designed to keep the alcohol flowing and music pumping to as many people as possible.
Fans shouldn’t let the wide array of beverage options and significant sounds fool them into thinking this is just a place to get sloshed and dance poorly, however. Brothers takes game day seriously with televisions viewable from any angle and a crowd that is there to cheer on the Hawkeyes.
The food doesn’t warm a spot on the bench, either. A pizza that can contend with any other in Iowa City highlights a menu that features all the options fans would expect from any tailgate at Kinnick. If Brothers isn’t the preferred speed, however, there are more options.
Just a few minutes’ walk from Brothers at 124 S. Dubuque St. is another place that should be on the list for game day bar crawls. DC’s is famous for its huge portions, spectacular service and unique seating.
As with any other place, a surefire indicator of its quality is the presence of locals. Many Iowa City residents can be found at DC’s on game days, enjoying all it has to offer.
The menu features standard bar fare, but bring a friend. The portions are quite generous. There’s plenty of room for a crowd, as a large outdoor patio complements an upper level filled with high tops and the main level featuring the same.
As far as drinks go, this place is best known for its fishbowls. It doesn’t take long to get into a good mood with one of those. That sets up a trip to the next venue.
Once you’re in an adventurous mood, it’s time to venture down to 5 S. Dubuque St. Down is the operative word, as this place is exactly as the name suggests.
Dublin Underground is a favorite pub in Iowa City. The atmosphere is casual. The drinks cost a fraction of what you would pay inside Kinnick.
While the pub doesn’t have the spacious interior that others offer, the goods are here. Quality drinks, a unique ambiance and loyal Iowa fans await you. It does lack in food, but the next place on the list more than makes up for that.
Short’s Burgers and Shine
One of the best places to grab food on campus, at 18 S. Clinton St., Short’s prides itself on taking advantage of local resources. The beef in the burgers is local. The whiskey is made especially for the restaurant.
The result is a local institution that any fans would be remiss to miss. Viewing the game is no problem on the multiple televisions, and while the seating spaces aren’t expansive, it’s worth the wait.
If you can’t make it to Kinnick but want to experience Iowa City on a Hawkeye game day, these places are your best bets. Travel between them during commercials or put down roots at one while the Hawkeyes fight, fight, fight for Iowa.