The Five Best Restaurants Near the University of Iowa
Some of the best food in Iowa can be found near the University of Iowa campus and in the downtown area of Iowa City. From fancy sit-down restaurants to casual diners, there’s a place fit for everyone’s unique taste and palate. The next time you plan a dinner with friends, this list of the five best restaurants near UI might come in handy. If you’re planning a birthday dinner, consider Atlas. For a casual lunch, Her Soup Kitchen will really hit the spot. Pullman Bar & Diner is a great choice for happy hour meetups. Those are just a few of the places we mention in our list; check out the full list below.
American food, globally inspired
Atlas Restaurant is an all-occasions restaurant. Visit for brunch, lunch, dinner, wine, or a cocktail. It’s perfect for celebrations like graduation or birthdays because of the upscale atmosphere and the available private dining rooms. The outdoor patio, covered by blue and white awnings, is a perfect brunch setting on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. On weekday evenings from 3–6 p.m., they also run happy hour specials. The core of what makes Atlas a top restaurant in Iowa City is the fresh ingredients and innovative recipes used to make their food. Meet the chef, interviewed by Iowa Public Television, in the video below.
YouTube: Chef James Adrian, Atlas Restaurant, Iowa City, Iowa:
Traditional diner serving Midwestern soul food
Bluebird Diner has a retro vibe and a menu full of classic, comforting diner food. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. True to their location, they specialize in Midwestern soul food. A customer favorite is the Krakatoa burger with pecanwood-smoked bacon, jalapeños, garlic, red onions, and pepper jack cheese. They make as much from scratch as possible and source many of their ingredients from local food providers. When you visit Bluebird Diner, make sure to ask the waiter or waitress for the daily specials. The specials are seasonal and give a true taste of the Midwest.
Burgers and craft beer
Right next to campus and priced just right for a student budget, Short’s Burger is a huge hit with UI students. One of their biggest draws is the weekly $6.99 burger special every Monday from 6–10 p.m. Their burgers are produced with local beef and proclaimed by many to be the best burgers in town. They know that burgers and fries make the perfect pair. Their bacon cheese fries are amazing, as well. Wash it all down with a bubbly soda or a cold craft beer.
Short’s Burger & Shine in Iowa City, IA by Alan Light via Flickr
Cafe serving soup and sandwiches
Her Soup Kitchen is a local, family-owned restaurant in the same neighborhood as Iowa City’s Historic Train Depot. You can eat consciously, knowing that they strive to use local, sustainable, and seasonal products whenever possible. They’re even partnered with multiple Iowa farms, so you know the food is fresh and local. Plus, it’s all backed up by great taste! Their menu includes over a dozen sandwich options, a daily soup, and salads. They are open on weekdays for lunch only from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s worth fitting into your schedule, as TripAdvisor ranks them #4 out of 264 places to eat in Iowa!
Modern American diner/pub
If you follow Pullman Bar & Diner on Instagram @pullmaniowacity, then you’ve seen photos of their mouthwatering entrees, enticing craft cocktails, and beautiful desserts. Everything is plated to perfection with an obvious artistic touch. If you want an Instagram- or Snapchat-worthy dinner, Pullman provides it. Since they first popped up in 2015 in Iowa’s downtown corridor, they’ve been getting plenty of attention. They even show up in this Buzzfeed article. You have to find out what all the buzz is about for yourself by visiting and trying their diner-inspired food.
Instagram, Pork Belly entree at Pullman:
Hopefully, this list of the five best restaurants near the University of Iowa worked up your appetite. Give one of these restaurants a try, and let us know how it went on Facebook! Follow us for more community news and information to stay in the know in Iowa.