100 dishes from bygone Iowa City-area restaurants, remembered by LV readers

El Bandito’s dishes, photographed in 2017 .– Zak Neumann/Little Village

In March, Little Village asked followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, “What are some of your favorite dishes from bygone local restaurants?” The posts received hundreds of comments from nostalgic (and clearly hungry) current and former locals, recalling restaurants long gone and recently deceased. Below are 100 of those responses.

Do you know the recipe behind any of these lost dishes? Let us know! Email Bread & Butter editor Sid Peterson at


Beans and rice wrap from Baldy’s. –Alicia

Manicotti from the Brown Bottle. –Zanot

Black bean burger with guac at The Mill. –Cristin M.

A burger from The Mill in Iowa City, which closed and was ultimately demolished during the COVID-19 pandemic. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Absolutely the albondigas and bacon-wrapped dates at Devotay; Givanni’s Shrimp St. Estepheno (sp?); Pullman’s still around but their MacPullman breakfast sausage sandwich is not. They should bring it back; Melk’s cheeseburger and spicy fries –Trevor

The fries at Fries. –John O.S.

The vegetable stack from Givanni’s. Delicious. Also, the vegan miso soup dumplings from Dumpling Darling. They got me through the early days of the pandemic. I was crushed when they closed. –Anne A.

I miss Hungry Hobo so much, as well as Gringo’s. I will never pass an opportunity to say how much I miss Paul’s, either, but that’s off topic here. –Jasmine E.

Chicken salad, House of Aromas. -Mark A.

Turkey sandwich & potato wedges from Lou Henri’s –Nate Q.

Everything served at Bushnell’s Turtle. Great sandwiches, soups, and desserts! –Ed D.

CT burger from Chef’s Table. So so good. –Sarah F.

Timmy Flynn’s Red Pepper Deli & Grill, formerly the Iowa City Hungry Hobo, served a killer sub. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Pizza on Dubuque — Classic Italian. –JJRV

Red Avocado. That place got recommended to me late in my IC experience, but it was so good … Also The Mill’s Captain Crunch chicken strips. –Russ

Throw way back — champagne cake at Barbara’s bakery! –Kep

Everything served at Bushnell’s Turtle. Great sandwiches, soups, and desserts! —Ed D.

Leash on Life in Iowa City sells copies of the coveted Bushnell’s Turtle recipe book in 2017. — via @leashonlifeic on Twitter

Wow, so many great places I hadn’t thought about in ages (and still others that I’m like “oh yeah — where was that again?”). Does anyone remember the name of the French place that was out in Coralville, about where the Burger King is now on First Ave, it was in a converted house? Would have been late 80s, early 90s. Oh, and the onion rings from Tick Tock. (And yes, Dillburger too!) –Kaci K.

Tres Leches Cake from Banditos. Nearly anything from Augusta (I’m including their Oxford location). Augusta is my favorite overall restaurant in my adult life — burgers, tenderloin, fried chicken, gumbo, pecan pie, turducken…all amazing. –Charlie M.

Augusta tenderloin. –Celine R.

Anything from I Love Pho. Anything from Augusta. Givanni’s homemade pasta. –MaryAnn H.

Augusta head chef and co-owner Ben Halperin offers up their award-winning pork tenderloin. The business closed at the end of 2016. — photo courtesy of Augusta

Chipotle dumplings at Dumpling Darling. And their vegan kimchi fried rice and Brussel sprouts. –Sangini P.

The blackened catfish from Atlas. Anything from Mekong. The duck from the southside location of Yen Ching. –Aprille C.

The Mill — curried chicken salad sandwich and the Iowa Waltz pizza, and the “on an island in Iowa” cocktail. Smoky Alvarez from Cheba Hut. Ancho rubbed chili pork tenderloin medallions from Atlas. Pita Pit. Lou Henri’s breakfast (all of it). Grandpa’s Coffin cocktail from Social Club. –Kyle D.

Everything from Salt Fork Kitchen. Especially the lamb fried rice and the breakfast sandwiches. –Molly S.

Steele oat pancakes and homemade mango syrup from Banditos, shrimp po’ boy from The Mill, cilantro/ honey/lime dressing from The Mill, unlimited spaghetti from The Mill, most dishes from Bashu. –Stevie T.

Bacon. Wrapped. Dates. From Devotay. –Dawn A.

Forrest He and Wei Xie New sample Devotay’s Grilled Chorizo and Cherry Tomato during Taste of Iowa City. Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Spinach salad with hot bacon dressing from Bushnell turtle. –Mara R.G.

Crème brûlée at The Atlas. Their mojitos were amazing too. –Christina K.

Cheesecake from the Sheep’s Head. Fresh spinach pasta from The Kitchen. Fried mushrooms from the Mill. John’s had a veggie sandwich that I loved as an undergrad. Carrot cake from Bushnell’s Turtle. Croissants from Great Midwestern Ice Cream. Fruit pizza from the Green Pepper. brandy alexanders from Canterbury Inn. Loaded home fries from Salt Fork. Anything that David cooked at the Motley Cow. –Regenia B.

Ugh the cheeseburger wrap from Baldy’s — I still miss that place when I’m in town. –Shauna C.

Beer battered fish & chips from The Pumpernickel, pizza at The Green Pepper, soup and sandwiches from Bushnell’s Turtle, Almond Chicken from Ming’s Garden, lasagna from The Brown Bottle, chicken at The Mill, and the steak and shrimp combo with wedge salad at The Lark (Tiffin location). –Jay G.

Egg salad sandwiches and chocolate malts from Pearson’s Drug. –Brett S.W.

The Dagwood from Sub Shop & dumplings from the Saigon House. –Eric D.

Paella from Devotay; ahi tuna sandwich from The Wedge (downtown); seafood pasta from Givanni’s; the hot turkey, broccoli & cheese sauce sandwich from Bushnell’s Turtle (that’s the Way Back Machine); the spinach fettuccine alfredo from The Kitchen; tons of stuff from Season’s Best; the wine dinners at Linn Street Cafe; lots of stuff from The State Room… –Kaci K.

Bushnell’s Turtle before a Saturday afternoon basketball game, Lou Henri for Sunday brunch, live music and pitchers of Leine’s Red at the Mill, Italian sausage sandwich from the Brown Bottle. –Bill S.

Bao buns from Dumpling Darling, which closed at the very end of 2021. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

The egg salad from Pearson’s Drug Store, I’d love the recipe if anyone has it. –Lisa R.

Baldy’s Tuna Melt Wrap, The Cottage’s Veggie Sandwich, Warm Apple Tart at Devotay. –Leslie A.G.

Secret Pizza, lemon chicken from Givanni’s, Billy’s Favorite at Vito’s, smoked salmon eggs Benedict from The Wedge (downtown), Brad’s spicy tofuwich at New Pi, “the pile w/eggs” at Rossi’s Cafe, margaritas from Gringo’s, any dish from Redhead in Solon, trout pate from Linn St. Cafe. The Chill and Grill gets an honorable mention, but to remember what we ordered I’d probably need to be hungover. –Heather H.

Here’s going way back: Sweet Iowa ice cream from Great Midwestern! –Kate C.

Ice cream from Great Midwestern and lunch specials at the Kitty Hawk! –Rod S.

The Old Capitol Mall in its pre-UI office days. — photographer unknown. Photo courtesy of Thomas Dean

Blueberry ice cream from Great Mid. If cocktails count, Grandpa’s Coffin from Clinton Street Social Club. –Lin L.

All-American Deli at Old Capitol. For all I know, it was horrible, but as a college student in the late 1980s, I enjoyed it. –Stephen C.

[Replying to Stephen C.] Thank you. I took over ownership of it in 1986 and operated it until 1996 when our lease expired and the mall would not renew our lease. I was told that they only wanted chain stores in the mall. Very disappointing. I cried when we had to auction off all of our equipment and belongings. –Mary L.B.

Mekong! Spicy Lemongrass Chicken, Mekong Egg rolls, Chicken with Sweet Basil, Pho, many more! –Brian H.

Mongolian BBQ from the Atlas
Anything from Sub Shop
Pizza on Dubuque at 2am
An original 2lb burrito from Panchero’s
Bushnell’s Turtle, the whole place
That popcorn kiosk that was in the Ped Mall
Red or Green curry from MeKong
Cat from Yen Ching
Great Midwestern Ice Cream Shop
Things, Things, and Things… –Zach G.

Both the lamb and pierogie dumplings from Dumpling Darling. –Ashley L.

Bushnell’s Turtle chocolate mousse dessert and their cheese sauce covered turkey and steamed broccoli sandwich on an English Muffin. I can’t remember what they called either of them. The Sheep’s Head Cafe’s “Natalie’s Oh My Gosh” sandwich and their Grandma Joe’s chocolate mint brownies. –Julie V.

Fried pickles from the Mill, pizza margherita on half price pizza night at Vito’s, Great Midwestern ice cream and curried chicken salad sandwich, Givanni’s gnocchi, Melk’s chicken and waffles. –Teresa S.

The Gouda and turkey omelette from Lou Henri’s…don’t remember name.
Dirty Chai from Tobacco Bowl.
Black Bean burger from The Mill –Allison D.

Yen Ching’s crab rangoon. –Lauri D.

I miss the Motley Cow. –Natalie R.

The Lonelyhearts perform at the Motley Cow during Mission Boutique. Saturday, April 8, 2017. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

[Motley Cow’s] appetizer Lake Perch with Garlic Aioli was awesome, and most everything. –Brian H.

Linn Street Cafe’s smoked trout pate. –Jennifer M.

Reply: A friend of many decades from NYC came to visit, we ate at Linn St Cafe. After the 2006 tornado, her first question was an urgent “is it still standing???”, meaning the restaurant. Not “are you okay?”, and yes my house did get hit by the tornado. It was the pate and pork medallions. –Kirsty C.

Spring rolls from Mekong, Pho from I Love Pho, Ghurties frozen yogurt. –McKenzie G.

Ryan Detlefsen serves up Bun Bo Hue at the I Love Pho table at Top Chef Iowa City. Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

This is making me hungry and sad! Alfredo sauce from the Kitchen, haven’t ever found any as good though I’ve tried, Taco Tater from Timmy Flynn’s Red Pepper (previously Hungry Hobo) breakfast at Lou Henri’s even their blueberry oatmeal, Augusta’s, Yen Ching, Bushnell Turtle’s hot turkey sandwich, blueberry ice cream from Great Mid West ice cream (though we called it The Eagle), Brown Bottle, lunch at Mekong, so many!! –Donita H.

The Sheep’s Head Cafe & The Kitchen!!! Back in the 80’s. Long before Iowa City turned into whatever TF it is today. –Tom H.

Veggie wrap from Atlas. Salmon from Atlas. Mac & cheese from Atlas. Anything from Atlas. I’m still in mourning. –Grainne M.

Atlas restaurant in April 2017. — Frankie Schneckloth/Little Village

So many things from the Red Avocado but the chocolate chip cookie bars, the banana espresso smoothie, YUM. I still make that at home. –Susanna R.

The tuna salad from Yogurt Etc. (which I think was on Linn St) was the best tuna salad I’ve ever had. Plus Yogurt Etc. delivered frozen yogurt — to the dorms — in 1991. Ahead of their time! –Sharon F.

The hot and sour soup from the old Onnuri Korean BBQ on Gilbert. I still crave the original recipe from pre-Covid. –Noel V.

Bushnell’s entire menu. And Perez Family Tacos absolutely SLAPPED. –Joshua K.

I miss The Sub Shop at least 3 days per week. The Dagwood or The Veggie sandwiches were my top two favorites. Creamy Garlic dressing on those of course. –Donald P.S.

Cheeseburger wrap from Baldy’s. Blackbean hummus, Thai chicken salad, and tuna crisps from Atlas. Butternut squash ravioli from Givanni’s. The white sauce pasta from Taste on Melrose. Late night P.O.D. –Kitty J.L.

Fair Grounds Coffeehouse, Mar. 29, 2019. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Focaccia French toast and the sunny blue corn waffles from Fair Grounds! –Sara J.P.

Bushnell’s Turtle hot turkey sandwich with broccoli cheese sauce, egg salad on rye, & carrot cake! Givanni’s pasta & cannolis. Gringos margs. Super Spud stuffed potatoes. Brown Bottle creamy garlic dressing, brownie pie. Subs @ the Hobo. –Christy R.

Best Steak House on the corner of Iowa and Dubuque. nearly paper thin steaks, a baked potato, for a couple bucks. Favorite after school mean for me when I attended Central. –Jerry N.

The polenta with broccolini and mushrooms from Taste on Melrose, and the Angel hair pasta with Gorgonzola, spinach and pine nuts from Mondos. Oh, Electric Goat from Givanni’s, all of Salt Fork Kitchen (can I loop in the Lincoln Cafe in Mt Vernon?), and the pizza with Brussels sprouts and balsamic and whatever else was on it from Forbidden Planet. And I’m not even a vegetarian! –Andrea S.B.

Breakfast is served at Salt Fork Kitchen, which closed for good in July 2020. — Adam Burke/Little Village

Crab rangoons and sizzling rice soup from Yen Ching and everything from Saigon to Bangkok. –Alexandra B.

The twice-baked potatoes at the original Bob’s Your Uncle. The Spin-Art (spinach & artichoke) Chicken at Okoboji Grill. Everything on the menu at Salt Fork Kitchen (and yes, I tried it all.) –Patty K.

Dill Burger or a steak from George’s Best Steak House. –Kylie B.

Onion rings & Singapore Slings from The Lark (Tiffin). Pho & Mekong Egg Rolls from Mekong. Pretty much anything from Bushnell’s Turtle. Family-style breakfast from The Colony Inn (Amana). California Omelet at Lou Henri. Anything from Chef Soleil at his cafe or on special nights at Lou Henri or that place downtown that also had a German night. Now I am HUNGRY! –Ann D.

Coconut shrimp from Yummy. Garlic Bacon Blue Cheese fries from Zombie Burger. Literally everything from Sushi Kicchin. I forget what my usual order was, but it was red and white tuna with tempura shrimp. –Maddie H.

Veggie sandwich on Sun dried tomato bread and carrot cake from The Cottage. –Stephanie P.

Mondo's Saloon
The Saloon once offered Southwestern fare with gluten-free flair on the Ped Mall. — Adam Burke/Little Village

Mondo’s (on Clinton St) — Warm Shrimp Salad with poppyseed dressing, their chips and salsa too! — Sub Shop southeast IC, La Casa, Señor Pablo’s and Gringos enchiladas, Yen Ching crab rangoons, Larks blue cheese dressing and hand battered shrimp, IRP’s Easter Brunch!!!! –Jessica P.

Sandwiches with dill spread from Sub Shop, the old Buffalo chicken burrito from Atlas with onion strings, burgers from Dillburger, yummy sandwiches from Hobo/Red Pepper, cheese wontons from Gus’! And many more. –Molly B.M.

I literally dream about the wings at The Local Craft sometimes… Good stuff. –Taylor F.

Fried chicken at The Mill. I ate the last few pieces they ever served!! Miss that place. –Bridget M.

Broccoli, Feta, Tomato pizza from Pizza on Dubuque. Hungry Hobo combo #11 on wheat with everything. Linn Street Cafe. Godzilla roll from Sushi Kitchen. –Jessica W.

Steve Harding, in front of Red Pepper Deli & Grill and The Wedge Pizzeria in 2018. — Matthew Steele/Little Village

Clinton Street Social Club’s potted crab, Timmy Flynn’s breakfast (short lived but surprisingly good), $1 beers at Ground Round, tapas from Verde, Augusta tenderloins, Lou Henry breakfast. –Tom H.

Black bean soup & French bread from the Great Mid. Orange chocolate chip bread from the Cottage. The vegetable lasagna from Givanni’s with half red half Alfredo sauce on top. –Carly B.

Egg salad sandwiches from Dirty John’s deli, veggie tacos from the Sanctuary, crepes from the little place in Sycamore Mall, chocolate mousse from Bushnell’s Turtle and creamy garlic dressing from the Mill. –Sandra B.Q.

I miss Linn Street Cafe and the fantastic wine dinners. We also miss Frank Bowman and the delicious food that he made there. –Joan A.

Szechwan eggplant from Cornucopia Cafe. Falafel and cheese fries from Schwarma’s. Hog Heaven from New Pioneer (New Pi is still there but sadly the Hog Heaven is not). Pretty much any wrap from Atlas and any pasta from Givanni’s. The Couscous from Vito’s. Chicken and jojo potatoes from Dirty John’s. –Staci W.

John’s Grocery’s Fried Chicken on one of its last days served, Feb. 2, 2022. — Sid Peterson/Little Village

Alllllll the food from MeKong… Billy’s Favorite pasta from Vito’s…. Snapper Burrito & Spicy Margarita from Bandito’s… Tapas from Devotay… Egg salad & chocolate malts from Pearson’s Drug…. Chicken salad sandwich from Mama’s Deli… everything from Bushnell’s Turtle… Mac & cheese from Atlas… Buffalo chicken sandwich from Slugger’s… Egg rolls from Saigon to Bangkok. –Jade H.

JC’s Cafe California Omelette. Bandito’s Lamb Taco. The Wedge Eggs Benedict. –Kristin B.

Dry cooked string beans from downtown Yen Ching. –Dina B.

Red Avocado veggie sandwiches and cold cucumber soup. Devotay everything, but especially paella and polenta. Mouth watering thinking about it *sigh*. Oh, and Givanni’s seafood pasta. –Billie J.B.

Wow! What a beautiful honor to be remembered fondly enough to a decade+ after for a meal, a dish, an experience that stuck in someone’s memory to be mentioned years after. Food & eating is so transient in nature, it’s sensorias and vanishes within seconds, but sometimes hits deeper and stays there as a highlight for the unsuspecting adventurer. As co-founder of the Red Avocado, a restaurant that was hardly recognized for how truly pioneering it was, especially in it’s time, this post means more than words can explain. Thank you for remembering and for sharing! –Joshua G.

Baby burrito with queso from La Casa! Blackened chicken, mashed potatoes and apple crumble dessert with ice cream from Ground Round! –Sandy T.H.

I can still smell Bushnell’s Turtle in my mind. No particular menu item, just the smell when you walked in the door. –Rosemary S.R.

Clinton Street Social Club’s cheese curds. –Sara M.

Clinton Street Social Club, Iowa City
Clinton Street Social Club, Iowa City — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Devotay took over the location of my grandfather’s office. Took my sweetie for a first date there. –Carol C.

Banana cream pie from Bushnell’s Turtle. That’s what I chose for my reward after getting a vasectomy (and that’s saying something!) –Dickie C.

Motley Cow — Key lime pie with their dark chocolate truffles were the best dessert ever w a big glass of red wine. –Jonathan R.

Chocolate mint brownies from the Sheep’s Head Cafe. –Tish A.S.

Jjam pong from Sushi Popo, or jjam pong from Aoeshe. Can’t find jjam pong anywhere in town now, dammit. –Edward K.

Flourless chocolate torte at Devotay. Stuffed tomatoes at the place next door. –Katherine L.

The tenderloin from Atlas w/the flash fried potato patties and chutney! I ate two at one sitting while pregnant! –Jill A.

A section of these suggestions were included in Little Village issue 318.