West community names best restaurants of the Iowa City area

West students and faculty were asked to name their favorite places to grab food in a variety of categories. Here are the results.

Best Asian restaurant:

Red Ginger

Anjali Huynh
A relatively newer restaurant, Red Ginger opened in 2016 and has since risen in popularity due to its Japanese cuisine. Its sushi and bento box options are particularly well-liked.

Honorable mentions: Formosa, Taste of China, Thai Spice

Best bakery:

Scratch Cupcakery

Anjali Huynh
Offering cupcakes and cakes across Iowa, Scratch Cupcakery serves over 300 flavors of cupcakes and delivers to a variety of events.

Honorable mentions: Deluxe, Molly’s Cupcakes, Panera Bread

Best barbecue:

Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack

Anjali Huynh
Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack was created in 2005 and holds restaurants in Iowa City and North Liberty.

Honorable mentions: Mosley’s Barbecue and Provisions, Pop’s BBQ, Texas Roadhouse

Best breakfast place:

Bluebird Diner

Anjali Huynh
Though Bluebird Diner offers food all day, it is renowned for its breakfast options. Offering all-day breakfast, this restaurant brings a retro feel to the downtown Iowa City food scene.

Honorable mentions: Hamburg Inn No. 2, IHOP, Iowa River Power Restaurant

Best burgers:

Stella

Anjali Huynh
Though it is recognized for its burgers, Stella also makes pizzas, wings and a variety of Cajun foods. Its proximity to Kinnick Stadium makes it popular particularly during football season.

Honorable mentions: 30hop, Short’s Burger & Shine, Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

Best coffee shop:

The Java House

Anjali Huynh
The Java House has served the Iowa City area since 1994. Its ten locations offer baked goods in addition to various beverages.

Honorable mentions: Capanna Coffee, The High Ground Cafe, Starbucks Coffee Company

Best dinner place:

Monica’s

Anjali Huynh
Monica’s serves traditional American foods, Italian options and brick oven pizza. It was named the best restaurant overall in the Press-Citizen’s “Best of the Area” survey.

Honorable mentions: Basta Pizzeria Ristorante, LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden

Best fast food restaurant:

Pancheros Mexican Grill

Anjali Huynh
Pancheros Mexican Grill offers “Tex Mex” food in 71 locations across the country. The first location, opened by Rodney Anderson in 1992, is located in Iowa City.

Honorable mentions: Chick-fil-A, Culver’s Restaurant, Steak ‘n Shake

Best fries:

McDonald’s

Anjali Huynh
McDonald’s is the world’s largest fast food restaurant chain, with a new restaurant opening ever 14.5 hours on average.

Honorable mentions: Chick-fil-A, Nodo, Steak ‘n Shake

Best lunch place:

Panera Bread

Anjali Huynh
Panera Bread is an American chain that holds 2,000 restaurants across the U.S. and Canada. It serves a variety of soups, salads and sandwiches in addition to baked goods.

Honorable mentions: Heirloom Salad Co., Nodo, Pancheros Mexican Grill

Best ice cream/frozen yogurt:

Yotopia

Anjali Huynh
Yotopia offers frozen yogurt in the heart of downtown Iowa City. This self-serve frozen yogurt shop features a variety of toppings and flavors.

Honorable mentions: Cold Stone Creamery, Dane’s Dairy, Heyn’s

Best Italian restaurant:

Basta Pizzeria Ristorante

Anjali Huynh
Basta Pizzeria Ristorante was created by Executive Chef Brady McDonald with the support of Jack Piper and James Adrian after studying Italian cuisine in Florence, Italy. Basta offers upscale Italian food in downtown Iowa City.

Honorable mentions: Baroncini Ristorante, Monica’s, Olive Garden

Best Mediterranean restaurant:

Oasis Falafel

Anjali Huynh
Oasis Falafel is known for Middle Eastern street foods, including kebabs, gyros, falafel and baklava. This restaurant is also vegetarian-friendly.

Honorable mentions: Pita Pit, Sparti’s Gyros, Tabooleh

Best Mexican restaurant:

La Regia Taqueria

Anjali Huynh
La Regia Taqueria offers authentic Mexican food and drinks in a small restaurant that also features a Mexican grocery store.

Honorable mentions: Cactus, Casa Azul, Pancheros Mexican Grill

Best overall restaurant:

Basta Pizzeria Ristorante

Anjali Huynh
Basta Pizzeria Ristorante was created by Executive Chef Brady McDonald with the support of Jack Piper and James Adrian after studying Italian cuisine in Florence, Italy. Basta offers upscale Italian food in downtown Iowa City.

Honorable mentions: Bluebird Diner, Monica’s, Pullman Bar & Diner

Best pizzeria:

Wig and Pen Pizza

Anjali Huynh
Wig and Pen Pizza offers pasta and desserts in addition to a multitude of pizzas.. This restaurant is styled after a United Kingdom pub of the sam name.

Honorable mentions: Blaze Pizza, Maggie’s Farm Wood-Fired Pizza, A & A Pagliai’s Pizza

Best sushi:

Red Ginger

Anjali Huynh
A relatively newer restaurant, Red Ginger opened in 2016 and has since risen in popularity due to its Japanese cuisine. Its sushi and bento box options are particularly well-liked.

Honorable mentions: Formosa, Oyama, Sushiya

Best vegetarian/vegan restaurant:

Trumpet Blossom Cafe

Anjali Huynh
Trumpet Blossom Cafe offers organic vegan cuisine in downtown Iowa City. This restaurant strives to use as many local ingredients as possible.

Honorable mentions: Bread Garden Market, Fair Grounds Coffeehouse, Oasis

Best wings:

Buffalo Wild Wings

Anjali Huynh
Buffalo Wild Wings is a national restaurant chain that is infamous for its variety of chicken wings.

Honorable mention: Coach’s Corner, Donnelly’s Pub, The Vine

This list was generated based on a sample size of 218 individuals.

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