The Best Place in Iowa City to find a....

hawkeyedanny

Scout Team
Sep 29, 2010
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We were going to be in town this Saturday and I was looking for the best places in Iowa City to find a good Cheeseburger? My kiddo loves Burgers and earlier in the year we tried Shorts on the Eastside and just did not taste as good as they use to. So we were wondering if the cesspool could rally to help us out with venturing into Iowa City for some good eats!

Best Places for Burgers?

Best Places for Pizza?

Best Places for Breakfast?

Best Places for Ice Cream? (Not counting a good old Carver Cone! 😁)

I've got a young kiddo that would greatly appreciate the Cesspool's help! (GO HAWKS!!)
 
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Vallholl

HR Heisman
Feb 2, 2013
9,493
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Best Places for Burgers? Georges (maybe not the best for children). Hamburg Inn#2

Best Places for Pizza?
A & A Pagliai's Pizza (thin) or Wig and Pen (Chicago)

Best Places for Breakfast? Hamburg Inn#2 or Bluebird

Best Places for Ice Cream? (Not counting a good old Carver Cone! 😁) Hamburg Inn#2 or Heyn's Ice Cream
 

IAChief32

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Apr 21, 2017
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I’d also recommend The Encounter Cafe for breakfast…damn good food. It’s downtown as well. Bluebird in North Liberty is better than the one downtown…less crowded and always open. BB downtown can be unpredictable with dine-in these days. For pizza, would go with Wig and Pen. Mexican food…there is a very nice restaurant called Los Agaves off of 80. If you just want to grab tacos to go, Estellas fresh mex. You can get a decent burger at Teddy’s Bigger Burger. More of a fast food joint but has its origins in Hawaii. Ate there several times on trips to Oahu…loved it. Imagine the surprise to find one here…do believe it’s the only one in the continental U.S. Hope you have fun.
 

WWDMHawkeye

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Nov 13, 2014
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For ice cream: If you want to help support the best play-by-play guy in wrestling and don’t mind a little drive, head 20 minutes east to West Branch and hit Main Street Sweets, owned by our very own Steven Grace. Ask if Steven is there and get a selfie with him if he is. One of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

This also goes for Iowa Wrestling fans in general. If you’re looking for ice cream and want to support Iowa Wrestling in the process, Main Street Sweets is the place to go. It’s a win-win, and you just might get to meet the best play-by-play guy in the sport.
 

TNTwrestle

HR MVP
Dec 10, 2006
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Best Places for Burgers? Georges (maybe not the best for children). Hamburg Inn#2

Best Places for Pizza?
A & A Pagliai's Pizza (thin) or Wig and Pen (Chicago)

Best Places for Breakfast? Hamburg Inn#2 or Bluebird

Best Places for Ice Cream? (Not counting a good old Carver Cone! 😁) Hamburg Inn#2 or Heyn's Ice Cream
Pretty much the same recommendations I was going to give.
Pagliai's is my favorite, but they don't open until 4 PM, so another good choice for thin pizza is The Airliner.
I didn't know (or remember) the Hamburg having ice cream. I'll have to try it. I also need to hit Main Street Sweets sometime, I never go to West Branch.
 

Redm18

All-Conference
Feb 16, 2020
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Best Places for Burgers? Georges (maybe not the best for children). Hamburg Inn#2

Best Places for Pizza?
A & A Pagliai's Pizza (thin) or Wig and Pen (Chicago)

Best Places for Breakfast? Hamburg Inn#2 or Bluebird

Best Places for Ice Cream? (Not counting a good old Carver Cone! 😁) Hamburg Inn#2 or Heyn's Ice Cream
Are Georges burgers really good or are they just a nostalgia item? Where they a staple of the drunk food scene at one point? I've only been there once but it was stone cold somber around lunch time. It seemed like they where basically fast food cheeseburgers.
 
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bluroptimo

HR All-State
Feb 23, 2007
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Giving you mostly all rec's in downtown IC...

BURGER Pullman in downtown IC has a good burger. Double is $12.95, Triple is $16.95. Special sauce includes mustard/mayo so sub that out if it's not your thing. Add fries they are good also. 30Hop also has some good burger options and is in Coralville very close to CHA.

PIZZA Paglai's in downtown IC. If you like movies you'll see a Paglai's in the background in the movie Breaking Away (cutters v college kids coming of age movie, won best screenplay) filmed in Bloomington, IN. Same look as the one in Iowa City. Iconic in more ways than one.

BREAKFAST Mickey's, Pullman, and St. Birch all in downtown IC and all have a good brunch. Bluebird in North Liberty has breakfast all the time. Their cinnamon role french toast is very sweet and very good if you're into that kind of thing.

ICE CREAM Like you mentioned Carver cone after that not sure. We go to DQ on Riverside but that's seasonal.

Have fun.
 

MizzuHawk

HR All-State
Jan 18, 2005
595
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Hands down best pizza? Drive 11 miles to Solon and visit Red Vespa. Best pizza you'll have in the state.
 
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MilleGinja

HR MVP
Aug 30, 2017
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Best Places for Burgers? Georges (maybe not the best for children). Hamburg Inn#2

Best Places for Pizza?
A & A Pagliai's Pizza (thin) or Wig and Pen (Chicago)

Best Places for Breakfast? Hamburg Inn#2 or Bluebird

Best Places for Ice Cream? (Not counting a good old Carver Cone! 😁) Hamburg Inn#2 or Heyn's Ice Cream
In summary: Hamburg Inn#2
 

grapplefann

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Oct 3, 2010
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I go to Georges and Hamburg #2 to remember my misspent youth, but I wouldn't call the food there great by any means. (I even remember Hambrurg Inn #1 in CR, across from Coe College.) I lived three blocks from George's. It used to be a hangout for the Writer's Workshop folks, like Dave's Foxhead. If I had a $100 for every poet I saw at Georges, I'd be rich. When you drink enough, those burgers taste pretty good, too.

Same for Pagliai's, except the food is better, and you don't get drunks.
Can't wait to try Chief's recommendations though. A thick Hawaian burger sounds mighty fine, too.
 
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akaoni

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Jan 10, 2013
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Are Georges burgers really good or are they just a nostalgia item? Where they a staple of the drunk food scene at one point? I've only been there once but it was stone cold somber around lunch time. It seemed like they where basically fast food cheeseburgers.
I haven't had one in quite a while, since before George's long-time bartender Rick died. I grew up on George's cheeseburgers, I remember my dad perching me on a bench and ordering me a coke and cheeseburger while watching the Cubs on the (by today's standards) tiny TV in the upper left hand corner of the bar (while he no doubt argued the finer points of Catholic dogma with his U of I Theology dept. buddies).

Later as I entered my carousing days I spent many a night at George's and ate many a cheeseburger there. It was a really great cheeseburger, word is that the ancient broiler they used imparted a unique deliciousness that couldn't be found anywhere else. I can't say if they are the same now as they were then, but they were quite good once-upon a time.
 

WildTurk

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Jul 25, 2011
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I thought about investing in a food truck specializing in high quality burgers/meats. A good one with Stainless Steel everything and commercial grade equipment.

Drunk college kids would be throwing Mommy and Daddy's money at us! 😃 Loaded heart attack burgers, breakfast burgers, philly steak burgers, jalapeño cheese and bacon stuffed burgers.. mushroom and swiss, you name it. Homemade steak fries. pasta salads, Cheesecakes.. Possibilities are endless. Might even get a license to sell my famous bloody Marry :cool: It's all about the ingredients and consistency!
 
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HawkFan1986

HR MVP
Mar 26, 2019
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I thought about investing in a food truck specializing in high quality burgers/meats. A good one with Stainless Steel everything and commercial grade equipment.

Drunk college kids would be throwing Mommy and Daddy's money at us! 😃 Loaded heart attack burgers, breakfast burgers, philly steak burgers, jalapeño cheese and bacon stuffed burgers.. mushroom and swiss, you name it. Homemade steak fries. pasta salads, Cheesecakes.. Possibilities are endless. Might even get a license to sell my famous bloody Marry :cool: It's all about the ingredients and consistency!
I don’t think you’d need stainless steel equipment to sell food to drunk college kids. You just have to be there!!

King Louies used to sell pizza late night and we ordered from there way more than we should have. Their motto was written proudly on the box, it was, “we may be cheap, but we don’t suck!”

My point is, save money on the food truck, ya don’t need stainless steel. Make good burgers and be downtown from 10pm-2pm and the drunk kids will come running!
 
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98lberEating2Lunches

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Feb 11, 2018
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Although food truck laws differ, some locals don't allow food prep in them. If that's the case where you live, stainless seems unnecessary and hamburgers might not be the best fare.

 

KuwaitHawk

HR Legend
Gold Member
Apr 18, 2004
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Giving you mostly all rec's in downtown IC...

BURGER Pullman in downtown IC has a good burger. Double is $12.95, Triple is $16.95. Special sauce includes mustard/mayo so sub that out if it's not your thing. Add fries they are good also. 30Hop also has some good burger options and is in Coralville very close to CHA.

PIZZA Paglai's in downtown IC. If you like movies you'll see a Paglai's in the background in the movie Breaking Away (cutters v college kids coming of age movie, won best screenplay) filmed in Bloomington, IN. Same look as the one in Iowa City. Iconic in more ways than one.

BREAKFAST Mickey's, Pullman, and St. Birch all in downtown IC and all have a good brunch. Bluebird in North Liberty has breakfast all the time. Their cinnamon role french toast is very sweet and very good if you're into that kind of thing.

ICE CREAM Like you mentioned Carver cone after that not sure. We go to DQ on Riverside but that's seasonal.

Have fun.
The other seasonal ice cream is Dane’s Dairy.
 

Redm18

All-Conference
Feb 16, 2020
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I thought about investing in a food truck specializing in high quality burgers/meats. A good one with Stainless Steel everything and commercial grade equipment.

Drunk college kids would be throwing Mommy and Daddy's money at us! 😃 Loaded heart attack burgers, breakfast burgers, philly steak burgers, jalapeño cheese and bacon stuffed burgers.. mushroom and swiss, you name it. Homemade steak fries. pasta salads, Cheesecakes.. Possibilities are endless. Might even get a license to sell my famous bloody Marry :cool: It's all about the ingredients and consistency!
McDonalds is by far the best selling food in history right? I don't know that it's all about the ingredients although I will totally give you consistency.
 

Mike Zierath

Family, football and fishing.....
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Jun 3, 2002
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I thought about investing in a food truck specializing in high quality burgers/meats. A good one with Stainless Steel everything and commercial grade equipment.

Drunk college kids would be throwing Mommy and Daddy's money at us! 😃 Loaded heart attack burgers, breakfast burgers, philly steak burgers, jalapeño cheese and bacon stuffed burgers.. mushroom and swiss, you name it. Homemade steak fries. pasta salads, Cheesecakes.. Possibilities are endless. Might even get a license to sell my famous bloody Marry :cool: It's all about the ingredients and consistency!
I like you............

Or maybe I just like your food choices.

Z
 
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WildTurk

HR All-American
Jul 25, 2011
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I don’t think you’d need stainless steel equipment to sell food
Although food truck laws differ, some locals don't allow food prep in them. If that's the case where you live, stainless seems unnecessary and hamburgers might not be the best fare.

I work in sheetmetal by trade so the stainless work is is labor only for me. Free essentially, other than a little material and some hardware. My wife is in the restaurant business and has access to kitchen equipment aswell.

I realize hamburgers may not be the big money maker. I just always envisioned making a killer burger for hungry people and reeling them in that way. There would be other things on the menu certainly like brisket, pulled pork ect
 
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WildTurk

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Jul 25, 2011
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McDonalds is by far the best selling food in history right? I don't know that it's all about the ingredients although I will totally give you consistency

It's the best selling because it's cheap and convenient. Do you think the ingredients are good quality when you pay 1-2$ for them? It's heavily seasoned crap in a bag. A "fresh" made quarter pounder is closest you get to something decent. Hard Pass
 
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Redm18

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Feb 16, 2020
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It's the best selling because it's cheap and convenient. Do you think the ingredients are good quality when you pay 1-2$ for them? It's heavily seasoned crap in a bag. A "fresh" made quarter pounder is closest you get to something decent. Hard Pass
Exactly my point quality ingredients are important but cheapness, convivence, consistency, advertising, nostalgia, and a million other things go into the failure or success of a food business.
 

OutbackBowl2017

HR Heisman
Dec 4, 2016
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Hands down best pizza? Drive 11 miles to Solon and visit Red Vespa. Best pizza you'll have in the state.
Haven’t had it but will try. There are a lot of good pizza joints in the Des Moines area so will have to compare to your selection and get back with you.

Best pizza here seems to be Italian restaurants thin crust with Graziano sausage and sweet peppers. Simons, Tally Ho to Go (Sam & Gabe’s), Stevie C’s in Grimes, hell the pizza at golf courses - Waveland and Jester is unbelievable too. Cold beer with it after a round of golf hits the spot. Can’t wait for golf season! All these spots have other flavors but that my favorite. Thin crust and loaded with red sauce, sausage, mushrooms, and peppers - sweet and hot.
 

IAChief32

HR Heisman
Apr 21, 2017
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I work in sheetmetal by trade so the stainless work is is labor only for me. Free essentially, other than a little material and some hardware. My wife is in the restaurant business and has access to kitchen equipment aswell.

I realize hamburgers may not be the big money maker. I just always envisioned making a killer burger for hungry people and reeling them in that way. There would be other things on the menu certainly like brisket, pulled pork ect

Breakfast Burritos. Basically any breakfast meat to include chorizo and machaca with eggs and potatos or refried beans. Add little cups of salsa and one could make a killing at $5 a burrito. Most places, to include IC do not have this. Estella’s is ok but too big and messy.
 
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MizzuHawk

HR All-State
Jan 18, 2005
595
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What kinds are your favorite there? We might give it a shot this weekend.
I had the Pork Lovers pizza, although they are all very good. I believe they make their own sausages. FYI I think they are the firt pizza place in Iowa certified by the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani and the Verace Pizza Napoletana. The crust and cooking method will prove how they achieved that. Nice selection of wines, also. Have had pizza in many places, in Italy, and this place ranks right with them.
 
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acuhawk

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Aug 16, 2016
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I had the Pork Lovers pizza, although they are all very good. I believe they make their own sausages. FYI I think they are the firt pizza place in Iowa certified by the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani and the Verace Pizza Napoletana. The crust and cooking method will prove how they achieved that. Nice selection of wines, also. Have had pizza in many places, in Italy, and this place ranks right with them.
The wife and I gave it a shot on Saturday night. Unfortunately neither of us liked the pizza at all. My wife was stoked that I was willing to sit down somewhere to eat so, it was worth the trip for her. As for the pizza it was very bland. We tried 3 kinds and the pork lovers was the only one with any taste. Lots of crust and would be way behind even tombstone or lotsa motsa in our pecking order. With Old Chicago, Caseys, Pizza Hut, Dominos, etc all better. There's still a couple of pieces in the fridge that we will probably rock paper scissors to see who has to finish it.

Maybe it is something where you need to have a few drinks to think it's good? At least it saves me from ever having to go to Italy so I appreciate that very much. I do appreciate the suggestions though. You don't know until you try. I'm not trying to steer anyone away from the place either. People were nice and it obviously tastes great for a lot of people. Thought I would give my 2 cents.
 
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Vallholl

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Feb 2, 2013
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We went to George's ahead of the game to refresh my memory of the burger. And it wasn't as bad as I remembered. ;) and they serve it with chips. They had a nice range of tap beers. Then after the dual, we went to Pulman. Pulman is very good!
 
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MizzuHawk

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Jan 18, 2005
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The wife and I gave it a shot on Saturday night. Unfortunately neither of us liked the pizza at all. My wife was stoked that I was willing to sit down somewhere to eat so, it was worth the trip for her. As for the pizza it was very bland. We tried 3 kinds and the pork lovers was the only one with any taste. Lots of crust and would be way behind even tombstone or lotsa motsa in our pecking order. With Old Chicago, Caseys, Pizza Hut, Dominos, etc all better. There's still a couple of pieces in the fridge that we will probably rock paper scissors to see who has to finish it.

Maybe it is something where you need to have a few drinks to think it's good? At least it saves me from ever having to go to Italy so I appreciate that very much. I do appreciate the suggestions though. You don't know until you try. I'm not trying to steer anyone away from the place either. People were nice and it obviously tastes great for a lot of people. Thought I would give my 2 cents.
Sorry to hear that A. If your taste is for Casey"s or Pizza Hut, then you definitely would not be a Red Vespa fan. Not sure how you think it was too much crust when it is very thin. I guess you probably didn't understand the char it had on the edges and underneath. It is cooked in a 900 degree wood fired oven in 60-90 seconds.. Glad I didn't recommend an Italian restaurant.
 
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el dub

HR Legend
Nov 2, 2005
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Sorry to hear that A. If your taste is for Casey"s or Pizza Hut, then you definitely would not be a Red Vespa fan. Not sure how you think it was too much crust when it is very thin. I guess you probably didn't understand the char it had on the edges and underneath. It is cooked in a 900 degree wood fired oven in 60-90 seconds.. Glad I didn't recommend an Italian restaurant.
He liked Tombstone pizza better. I stopped reading there. Lol