Since 2015, Witching Hour has worked to expand the consciousness of festival-goers by stretching imaginations and perceptions of what a festival can and ought to be: a two-day smorgasboard of obscure discussions and performances that take place just as the weather starts to turn horrible.
I’m here to stretch how you imagine filling your gullets. Join me on a snacking and beveraging tour through the streets and pedestrian-only spaces of downtown Iowa City.
Friday, Nov. 1
Evening bite & beer
You’ve just left Kerry Howley’s reading on the American surveillance state and you need a drink. Put on your darkest sunglasses and head east on Washington Street. You’ll want to find somewhere low-key, somewhere nobody will notice it’s you. Go to Cactus, and don’t tell anybody which one. Order a Negro Modelo and a chile relleno and get the hell out of there.
Light dinner & cocktail
Climate change is real and is happening — Chilean scientist Marcelo Mena has just made that completely clear at his 6 p.m. talk at the Englert. Do something very good for the Earth. Walk to Trumpet Blossom Cafe for an organic, local, vegan dinner. Order the Fettucini Cashew Alfredo and the Bitter Cherry Old Fashioned cocktail, and don’t worry because they won’t even offer you a straw. If that wasn’t feast enough for you, head to Riverside Theatre for Megan Gogerty’s dinner party drama, Feast, at 7:30.
Late snack & cider
The Friday night Comedy Showcase begins at 9:30, and you’ll have a decent amount of time to laugh until you cry before sprinting to Gabe’s to see Obnox. While you’re at The Mill, take advantage of their many menu offerings. My suggestion: An order of fried pickles and a pint of cider pairs great with comedy.
Saturday, Nov. 2
Good morning! What are you doing up so early on a weekend? Before you do a li’l yoga at the Englert for the psychedelic Dimensions presentation at 10 a.m., treat yourself to a light breakfast and cup of coffee. Dandy Lion on the Ped Mall has what you need: a range of relatively healthy breakfast options and quality coffee. My suggestion? The Breakfast Salad, which includes a runny egg and oily focaccia.
Before celebrating your bod in the All Bodies Belong discussion at Iowa City Public Library (11:45 p.m.), get to Get Fresh and order a juice. I’d recommend the What’s Up Doc, made with carrot, cucumber, apple, lemon and ginger. Drink it there so you don’t waste plastic. Fresh.
You’ve just left the Lynch: A History screening and you have a spare moment before the University of Iowa leadership talks challenges, opportunities and planning for the future. You’re gonna need some lunch, and it’s probably a good time to gaze out a window and reflect upon Iowa City and its American media-sports complex. Saigon’s Corner at Old Capitol Mall has a few tables overlooking Clinton Street. Go have some hot soup (my suggestion: spicy beef noodle) and a plate of spring rolls.
Dessert & cocktail or coffee
It’s mid-afternoon and you’re heading to the Northside. You need a little pick-me-up before The Mirror/The Reaping at Public Space One and the Writers of Color series. May I suggest a modest piece or five of baklava from Oasis before popping into Goosetown, sitting at the bar and sipping a Wake-Up Wake-Up coffee-infused cocktail? Or just have a regular coffee at High Ground. Up to you.
Late dinner & drink
There are just a few more events to go before the festival is over and everyone barricades themselves inside their homes till spring. Ahead of Julio Torres at the Englert (9:30 p.m.) and Carrier Waves and Shredders at Gabe’s (10:30 p.m.), you and any companions you’ve picked up over the course of Witching Hour will need a proper dinner. Something cozy and Iowa City-centric to reward yourselves, because you’ve done a good job this weekend attending events on topics you didn’t previously… get. My recommendation: The Sanctuary. Yeah, you’ll have to walk a few blocks, but it’s worth it because you can have a cheese plate or a Shepherd’s Pie and pick from a long list of good beers.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 273.