We all know there’s no better place to watch the Hawkeyes take the field than Kinnick Sweet Kinnick, but for those who aren’t season ticket holders or rich people, we offer a list of our favorite spots to catch the Hawks.
Photos by James Davies
6 S. Dubuque Street
Every Saturday, a delectable fragrance wafts out the door of The Deadwood Tavern and into the streets: Sally’s famous chili. She makes it spicy, she makes it meaty or meatless, and, best of all, she makes it free!
Along with the free food, you’ll find a raucous mix of townies, hippies, fans of the rival team and just good folk. Ben, a six-year Deadwood employee, says “We don’t focus on the differences. We find common ground and drink together and let the better team be decided on the field.”
TV Accessibility: Five large TVs, and rumor has it a sixth will be installed facing onto the patio, so you can smoke yer cigarette and watch yer game outside, ya bums!
Service & Clientele: The staff is always on their game (unless they’re outside smoking, but that’s none of your business, get your own damn beer!). The fans are fiercely loyal and very vocal, so if you can’t take criticism of your Hawks, this might not be your place.
Food Options: Free chili, loose meat sandwiches or tacos, every game day.
Crowd Enthusiasm: A row of jersey-wearing townies, all regular fixtures at the bar, will set the tone.
Seating Availability: Tons of seats, also lots of non-transparent wooden posts. As with anywhere, the best tables come to those who show up early.
The Sports Column
12 S. Dubuque Street
When I think of game day at the SpoCo, I think of butts. Big butts, small butts, old butts and young butts, all hanging out the window facing Dubuque street. But don’t let all those cornfed glutes intimidate you—every Hawk fan should stop in at least once for this classic game day experience.
Ryan, a manager at The Sports Column, says the bar made famous for its PAULAs attracts a surprisingly diverse crowd, including families and students. “It’s a great place to sit down, watch the game, have a meal and hang out,” he says. You heard that right: “Hang out.”
TV Accessibility: Over 20 flat screen plasmas. If you come here for the game, you WILL see the game.
Service & Clientele: The wait staff is very busy, but your drink will be served with a smile. This bar is the quintessential student hang—various age groups might be in the mix, but the majority are either students or alumni still living the dream on Saturdays.
Food Options: A full menu of classic bar fare, including wraps, burgers, sammies and pizzas.
Seating Availability: Even with a 400-person capacity, you’ll have to get in early for a seat.
Crowd Enthusiasm: Their cheers can be heard for miles (well, blocks) around.
312 E. Market Street
Super-relaxed, not super-packed. Filled with old folks, but don’t let their ages fool you—they really know their stuff! And if you are a casual fan who doesn’t necessarily need to bathe their eyes in sweaty, bloody black n’ gold every direction you look, did I mention there are only two TVs? That’s right! Because actually, George’s don’t care if you come here on game day. George’s don’t have no drink special! George’s don’t have no flat screen! George’s is gonna sell cheeseburgers to a mildly interested crowd and like it!
TV Accessibility: There are only two, but if you bring your binoculars you can see them from just about anywhere in the bar.
Service & Clientele: The wait staff is adorable and friendly. The students you’ll find here are art, film, creative writing and drama majors—you know, the kind of people you actually want to meet. And it’s fitting because there are always enough characters here on which to base your next novel.
Food Options: The most famous burgers in town (recently featured in Esquire magazine, ooh la la!). Wrapped in waxed paper and served with cheese and your favorite combination of pickle, onion, ketchup and mustard, the George’s Cheeseburger is the epitome of simple, perfect eats.
Seating Availability: There will be some seats. Not all of them will face the TV.
Crowd Enthusiasm: They will cheer for the Hawks, unless they start sucking.
Short’s Burger & Shine
18 s. Clinton Street
Iowa beer. Iowa meat. Iowa football. If you’re so local you’re practically loco, Short’s is the place where you can smear the state all over your face.
Here, Bartender Jake Lancaster says you’ll find “an educated Iowa crowd.” He adds it up for me: “Our intimate atmosphere, plus a large amount of TVs mean there’s never a bad spot. And how are you going to support Iowa more?”
TV Accessibility: Seven TV’s including a monster 55-inch flat screen not six feet away from the bar.
Service and Clientele: Some of the best bartenders in the city. Due to its limited capacity, the crowd is small and friendly, and you won’t be overwhelmed by drunken tailgating overflow.
Food Options: An incredible selection of Iowa-beef burgers, chicken sandwiches and black bean burgers.
Seating Availability: Very limited, arrive early.
Crowd Enthusiasm: Maximum Hawkeye passion.
The Vine Coralville
39 2nd Street
It’s huge. There are about a million TVs and, best of all: maple hot wings. This traditional game-day hang takes you out of downtown, away from the students and into a 380-capacity throng of enthusiastic young adults and families.
“You can come here and have a good time, and it’s not too hard on your wallet” says Dan, manager at The Vine. Here, they’ve thought of everything: “We play the game in the bathroom. If nature calls, you still want to be able to hear the game!” Amen, brother Dan!
TV Accessibility: Approximately 20 downstairs and five upstairs, including two brand-new 70-inch sets.
Service & Clientele: Friendly service with spirit. The crowd is a collegial blend of young adults, though a bit older and more laid back than those you find downtown.
Food Options: The Vine is rightly known for their outstanding wings served with your choice of 12 unique sauces. There’s an extensive appetizer menu that will conquer any snack attack, plus dinner entrees, sandwiches, salads and wraps.
If none of these choices seem quite right for you, try your own house—if you’re a real American your TV is huge, your beer is cold and all your best yelling gets done at home anyway.
Stephanie Catlett will see you at The Deadwood.