Hi Hawkeyes!! Let’s talk about food!!
Now that my first year on campus is almost over, I have so many tips and tricks on where to find the best food not just on campus but, downtown Iowa City as well.
First things first, Dining Halls.
It’s obvious that with the newly built Catlett Residence Hall (as of 2017) there comes a newly built dining hall. Catlett Dining Hall has by far the most diverse menu around campus and offers anything from breakfast omelet bars to a customized sizzlin’ salad option. Catlett offers the largest variety for all things Vegan, Dairy Free, and Gluten Free. In this dining hall you can find the freshest fruit on campus and the all famous “create your own pizza” option. Catlett Dining Hall is a must on my daily meal list!
Although Catlett is new and diverse, there are unique characteristics to the other two dining halls on campus.
Burge Dining Hall, also located on the East Side of campus is famous for their nacho bar and hard served Blue Bunny ice cream. The nacho bar is the best on campus (in my opinion of course) and I know exactly where to go if I’m craving a little something sweet.
Next, we have Hillcrest Dining Hall. This is the only dining hall on the West Side of campus and is home to the best sandwich station on campus. Here you can get an arrangement of any sandwich, hot or cold. Hillcrest Dining Hall is also home to a pretty fire menu of Asian cuisine. I may be a little biased, as a fellow Westsider but, Hillcrest has the best view of campus from it’s dining hall. There’s nothing like the morning sun shining through the Hillcrest windows.
Now that we’ve covered Dining Halls, I have all the scoop on Flex Meal sites and why you should start using them right away!
We’ll start with the obvious, and where first year students spend a lot of time. The library!! The Library Cafe is home to it’s famous Mac N’ Cheese and Pulled Pork Sandwich Flex meals. What most people don’t know about this Cafe and was my absolute holy grail this year was the Iced Coffees from Starbucks that you can get as your drink with a flex meal. Rather than spending upward near $6 for a Starbucks coffee, you can get your coffee fix at the library for free! Definitely take advantage of this, you won’t regret it.
My next favorite flex meal spot is the Iowa Memorial Union River Room. The river room is home to the fresh Stir Fry and Pasta Bar! On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday’s you can enjoy fresh stir fry with your choice of meat, vegetables, and sauces. On Tuesday’s and Thursday’s (which happens to be my favorite), you can enjoy the River Room’s Pasta Bar. Here you can have your choice of noodles (Penne is my favorite), meat, vegetables, and sauces. If you’re looking for a meal that hits a little more close to home, The River Room is the place for you.
Lastly, The StreetHawk food truck cannot go unnoticed! This food truck comes around to various locations during the week and offers perhaps the coolest menu to ever come from a food truck. Here you can get anything from Avocado Chicken Tacos, Veggie Burgers, Bacon Burgers, Freshly made Potato Chips, and more. This is a great meal if you’re on the go and need something fast but, make sure to hop in that line fast, it grows quickly when the sun is shining.
Now for my top 5 downtown must eats!!
You’ll hear this one a thousand times but, The Airliner dollar slices (of pizza) on Sunday’s is a must. The Airliner not only has the coolest atmosphere and the nicest employees but great pizza, cheese curds, and it’s state famous ranch dressing! *insert Airliner Ranch memes*
Next is Bread Garden Market. Bread Garden has a hip, millennial culture and has beautiful outdoor seating. Here you can pick from a hot plate bar filled with fresh entrees, the best salad bar of all time, or made to order burgers, personal pizzas, burrito bowls, and chicken sandwiches. Bread Garden literally has it all and is VERY cost friendly. It’s a great place to study with friends and enjoy a meal that feels off campus.
Currently writing this post, I am coming to you from Java House/Heirloom Salad Company. This is my absolute favorite place to study and enjoy a cup of coffee. Beyond the incredible coffee selection comes a diverse menu of fresh made to order salads, warm sandwiches, and unique, comforting soups. Unfortunately I came across this gem a little late in the year and haven’t had time to try everything I want to but, if my favorite “Ultimate Grilled Cheese” is a testament to the rest of the menu, I have no doubt it is all amazing.
This year I spent my birthday dinner at Graze, Iowa City. This fun Restaurant/Bar not only has a fun, diverse menu with even something for the picky eater, but offers a free giant ice cream cake on your birthday. This was the perfect way to celebrate my first birthday away from home and was cost friendly for taking your college friends out to a birthday dinner.
Lastly, I need to highlight Mickey’s Irish Pub! Mickey’s, another place with great cheese curds (are you seeing a trend?) is also home to Tuesday Night Bingo. This is a fun place for students to get a change of scenery and enjoy a competitive game of Bingo. Mickey’s has amazing pub food and something on the menu for everyone. While waiting on your meal, they also offer free serve yourself popcorn to munch on. Mickey’s is for sure a must visit!
I could write a thousand more words on food but, these are all the tips and tricks I will share today. Aside from the incredible dining halls The University of Iowa offers, there are so many hidden gems of places to get cheap, enjoyable meals. Take advantage of your flex meals early on, and always remember to treat yourself to a nice meal with friends every once in a while, you will not regret it!!