Nodo: Quaint Northside eatery scores big on flavor and selection


Quentin Misiag


8 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Never judge a book by its cover. Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.

These famous expressions, although cliche, perfectly represent Nodo, a small diner tucked away among the historic charm of Iowa City’s Goosetown Neighborhood on the north side of town.

Adjacent to the North Dodge Ace Hardware, the outside of the building doesn’t do justice to the establishment within. A simple neon white and blue sign hangs in the far corner, the only real exterior decoration. Once inside, one is immediately welcomed by the industrial and eclectic flair of the space with its black and silver bar stools, reflective sheet metal, pops of local artwork and handcrafted hints including the chalk-written menu board. Subtle smells of the adjacent hardware store linger into the restaurant, a nice reminder of our quaint surroundings. Gymnasium-style lights shine down from the metal ceiling. Exposed columns and piping are lined with neon colored Christmas colors. Not a single aspect of the atmosphere was over-powering, yet delivered that “out of the ordinary” appeal.


Diners who frequent traditional area eateries will welcome the relaxed pace of Nodo‘s small space. Despite the lack in square footage, Nodo is far from lacking on the flavor and selection front. Basic staples in almost any restaurant (Caesar salad, deli sandwhiches, etc.) are offered as well as the unique, but sweet Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich. With just over twenty menu selections, there is something for any appetite.

Being “off the beaten path” in the tucked away Goosetown Neighborhood has its noticeable benefits. Parking is plentiful in the sprawling Ace Hardware lot and the prices fall between $3 for a side salad up to $10 for many sandwiches and wraps, including the Nodo Steak Sandwich ($8) and the Traditional Caesar salad with chicken.  The price range makes Nodo one of the most wallet-friendly small restaurants in the Iowa City area. An added benefited is that Cafe del Sol coffee is brewed on site.


After just five minutes inside, we had decided to order the Black Bean soup, Grilled Cheese ($6) and the Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich ($4). The Black Bean soup bowl was just $2 after pairing it with one of the sandwich options and normally costs $3.75. The soup was rich, hearty and thankfully the black beans were plenty. Paired with green chopped peppers and onions, the dish was flavor-packed, but just a little too salty.


After warming up with the soup, the Grilled Cheese seemed like the perfect next dish to enjoy. Complete with cheddar, mozzarella and pepper jack cheese along with tomato aioli, this wasn’t your ordinary run of the mill cheddar cheese sandwich one normally makes at home, as it was also on fresh and flaky sourdough bread.

The final touch to our trip to Nodo was the indulgent Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich. On whole wheat bread, the nutty and fruity sandwich was complete with a smear of honey to up the sweetness to the right degree. Crispy, warm, chewy (and a little messy) are just a few adjectives that came to mind when devouring the creation.

The service at Nodo was friendly and attentive, without being overbearing. Our server also happened to be the owner, which seemed to add to that familiar at-home atmosphere. Portions weren’t huge, but satisfied our varied cravings and came with just a few minutes upon ordering. Our experience at Nodo was a welcomed change to the more bustling dining hot spots around town.

As a neighborhood favorite, Nodo is the perfect fit for young families on the go, business owners and college students on their way to class. Delivery is available and customers can even fax their orders in ahead of time. Catering is offered for groups of ten or more, perfect for business luncheons and family reunions.