Just a couple of updates on my 2009 survey of Iowa City restaurants. First of all you should probably take Iguana off your list. When it first opened it had some really original dishes-not the usual taco/enchilada/burrito/etc. that comes from a can. Lately, however, they have dumbed down the menu to appeal to the luncheon crowd--bad buffet, etc. Replace it with El Bandito which has just opend. Fabulous. My wife and I just ate lunch there for around $20. I had the shrimp burrito with chipotle sauce and she had the mushroom and spinach enchilada and we both loved it. I intend to try everything on the menu. It's all freshly prepared and not the usual Mexican greasy spoon. If you don't want to waste time sitting in the restaurant, check out their booth at the Saturday farmer's market--egg and chorizo burrito is fabulous! Great hangover food.
Had a great meal at both places. Ate lunch at Taxim with a great waiter, Paolo. We were there alone--don't know how long they can stay open for lunch at this rate but the food was wonderful. Try the Koukia me Kavourma, Tsipoura, Eggplant Salad, and Stifado. Loved it. Ate dinner at Gage and had fried chicken livers (I know, I know, you can have the same thing at KFC but this one was crispy and tasted great!) as well as carmelized lobster and mussels vindaloo. Highly reccomend this place. Bartender Justin was superb and server Robin was all you could wish in a waiter.
Just got back from a tour of Croatia and Slovenia. When you're near the coast the seafood is the way to go. Once inland the food becomes comfort food similar to German cuisine--gravy, meat well done, stews, etc. Here are some restaurants that I liked. Prices are in US dollars, two people, a starter or salad and an entree, a liter of table wine before tip (which is around 10%): Dubrovnik Hotel Rixos/Libertas--20 minutes from Old Town. Dinner buffet. Outstanding! $100 but if you back away they may cut the price in half. Beautiful seafood salads. Lokando Peskarija-on the waterfront behind the city hall. $60. I had whitebait and my wife had mussels in wine broth. One of the best meals if you like to eat little fried fish whole. Proto-The best meal for both of us. $95. I had seafood risotto with squid ink and my wife had octopus stew. Great! Split Atrium Hotel (Cardo Restaurant)-beautifully decorated restaurant in modern style. $65. I had veal roll and my wife had shrimp onm arugula and mozzarella. Lovely meal. Opatija Istranka-$55. Veal in a wine sauce and my wife had an octopus salad followed by calamari. Not overly breaded but very tender. Yacht Club-$55. My best meal of the trip--squid a la Opatija--squid on sliced potatoes with a light tomato-based sauce. Outstanding. My wife had grilled vegetables. Kaneta-$55. A ton of roasted lamb--the lesser parts so cooked thoroughly. A lot of fat but thoroughly enjoyable. More than you can really eat. Great service. Kvarner-actually in Lovran about 6 miles from Opatija. $70. I had the seafood brodetta (fish, mussels, squid, octopus and shrimp in light tomato based sauce) Bled Gostilnapri Planincu-$60. My wife had pork with a mushroom sauce and I had a pork cutlet, breaded as big as your head. More than I could eat. Comfort food to the max. Union-$65 We both had the House meat plate. More comfort food and plenty of it. We should have ordered the lamb chops which looked great. Fabulous service. Ljubjliana, Slovenia Sokol-$70. I had mountain oysters and my wife had veal stew. Beautiful restaurant. Wild game is their main thing. Zagreb Vinodol-$50. I had the cold meats plate and my wife had pasta with truffles. Boban-$40. We both had great pastas. In the cellar of an old building owned by a former professional basketball player. Lots of local celebrities/jocks. Ivica i Marica (Hansel and Gretel) in back of the open air market. Beautiful interior with antiques. $60. I had beef goulash and my wife had fried bread with cottage cheese/sour cream. (I know this sounds a little strange but it's a classic for Croatia--they specialize in traditional foods.) Great restaurant.
Hope this helps. We wold recommend any of the above restaurants. I haven't bothered to mention the ones we didn't care for.
Jordan, I agree on New Pioneer. Love the sandwiches. Not so Devotay. Devotay has its following but I'm not too impressed with the tapas. Also it looks to me like it could use a good once-over with a broom. corneygirl, the consensus on Bluebird is not good. I've eaten there once and had the meatloaf sandwich. It consisted of a big slab of meatloaf with some kind of tomato sauce. No taste whatsoever. It drew a big crowd when it started off but the crowd has dwindled. When we were there the service was atrocious and the word is that it has not gotten any better. Anyway...that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
Thought Chowhounders might like an update on Iowa City. We moved here in 1994. Here goes:
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED CAFE DODICI-In Washington, IA 45 minutes but worth the drive. Maybe the best restaurant in SE Iowa. Italian. Small but beautifully decorated. Owners moved here from Italy. THE SALOON-Very unique Mexican food. Try shrimp fajitas. The best. VESTA-Next to the Marriott . Try the lamb shanks. The best restaurant in town. BREAD GARDEN-Great for sandwiches and soups. Try Tuscan tomato soup. JIMMYJACKS RIB SHACK-Lots of BBQ at the right price. HAMBURG INN-Every college town has one. Hangover food and plenty of it. PAGLIAI'S-Pizza is a very personal thing but this place is an icon in Iowa City.
RECOMMENDED THAI SPICE-The name says it. TAKANAMI-Fusion Japanese. Pretty good. Nice atmosphere. MOTLEY COW-Big on fresh, local ingredients. A little noisy. MICKEY'S-Fun casual place. Big college hangout. Also noisy. LA REYNA-A little family Mexican place on a side street. Fresh Mexican food-not out of a can. IGUANA'S GRILL-In North Liberty. Good Mexican GRAZE-A cocktail lounge with nice small portions. Very creative. Nice atmosphere. GIVANNI'S-Good Italian BOB'S YOUR UNCLE-Decent casual food. I like the pizza. AOESHE-Big menu. Korean, Japanese, Chinese. My favorite bento box.
DON'T GO!!!! OX YOKE INN-Near the Amanas. All the Amana restaurants are alike--meat, potatoes and overcooked vegetables LOST PORTALES-From an El Paso can. LINN STREET CAFE-Used to be good but same menu since 1994 at least. JOSEPH'S-An overpriced steak and chop house with ho-hum food IOWA RIVER POWER-The most beautiful restaurant location in Iowa City and the worst food.
Just got back from a 10-day visit to Taos and my wife and I had some great meals. the following tabs were based on two people with two courses and a modest bottle of wine before tip: GRAHAM'S GRILL-Our favorite. Ate there 3 times. Huge menu. Loved everything. Need reservations tho casual. Ask for table 401 and watch Chef/Owner Lesley do her thing. $85 LOVE APPLE-Very quaint. Menu small but with fresh local produce. No credit cards. My wife's favorite. $85 EL MEZE-Theme is Spanish cuisine with emphasis on Moorish influence as melded with early Mexican culture. Don't know about the theory but the practice is great. Good selection of Spanish wines. $110 STAKEOUT-8 miles south of Taos. Worth the drive. Fabulous setting watching the sunset. Fabulous menu. Caesar was the best we had. Loved the veal piccata. Italian flair. $130 LAMBERT'S-Apparently an old favorite. Very stylish. Excellent menu, excellent service. Very romantic atmosphere. $140 JOSEPH'S TABLE-We had been there a couple of years ago. Loved it then. Seems a bit tired now but we still had a nice meal. Beautiful setting. $110 TEQUILA-Modestly price Mexican with some excellent shellfish dishes. More than just the usual taco/tostada/etc. $50 BENT STREET CAFE-Just bkfst and lunch. Huge, tasty sandwiches and excellent salads. outdoor seating. $40 ADOBE BAR-Annex to Doc Martin's. Just had a snack and a couple of glasses of wine. Good variety of snacks. The place to be seen in Taos, I guess. $40 MICHAEL'S KITCHEN-Another Taos standby. Huge comfort-food breakfasts. Every college town has one of these. $35 (no wine) BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT-APPLETREE INN has closed. We really liked that place. Perhaps it wil reopen by and by. HOPE THIS HELS CHOWHOUNDERS.