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LV Recommends: 4 must-try burgers in the Iowa City area


For a satisfying hand-held dinner, it’s hard to beat a classic burger—the quintessential American meal. A burger at any one of these restaurants is sure to fit the bill, whether you’re a meat-eater or not.

The Mill

120 E Burlington St, Iowa City

The Mill, Iowa City

Many things might draw you into The Mill: local music, local beers or just plain locals. But we submit another, equally delightful, reason to visit this Iowa City staple: the Black Bean Burger. Made in-house, this burger will satisfy your desire for something meaty, without the guilt (caloric, ethical or otherwise). A hearty, well-seasoned patty satisfies veggies and non-veggies alike. The burgers are thinner than your typical vegetarian burger patty, so there is minimal crumbling and every bite is well-proportioned. Crispy edges welcome the addition of guacamole, though really everything welcomes the addition of guacamole.

Not required, but definitely recommended: pepper jack cheese to complete the Southwest-inspired flavor profile. This burger is yet another reason to cozy up at your favorite booth or barstool and visit one of Iowa City’s favorites.

Pullman Diner

13 S Dubuque St, Iowa City

The burger at Pullman is the stuff dreams are made of, if dreams were juicy and buttery and came with the most perfect pickles (seriously, we dare you dream up better!). The Pullman burger seems like a throwback to a simpler time, when burgers were a diner staple. And Pullman’s unique interior, styled after the dining car on a train, is the perfect place to enjoy it. A minimum of two patties (with the option of a third!) between a warm buttery bun, and not much else is required. Throw in the aforementioned pickles, Pullman’s special sauce and plain old American cheese, and the Pullman Burger will stick to your ribs and in your mind. It pairs equally well with their house-made Bloody Mary and your Sunday hangover, or with that after-work brew you’ve waited for all week. Side it with fries and top it with an egg to really push the limits of your burger dreams.

Joseph’s Steakhouse

220 S Clinton St, Iowa City

Josephs Steakhouse, Iowa City

Not to be outdone by the prime cuts with which it shares a home, the burger at Joseph’s Steakhouse is a spectacle in the best way imaginable. Topped with bacon, one giant onion ring, a fried egg and Swiss cheese, this burger means business. And though the toppings really seem like the star, don’t forget about the basics: a thick patty of house-ground beef, sourced from the choicest cuts and cooked to your desired temperature; hand-made bun fresh from the bakery; side of barbecue sauce.

This burger is as decadent as Joseph’s interior and begs to be paired with a big California cabernet, or any number of wines from the international list. You won’t miss that petit filet when this arrives to delight and challenge your palate.

BurgerFiend

2020 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids,
3980 Center Point Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

Eating at BurgerFiend is a highly customizable experience. First you pick your patty–single, double or bacon. And you’re going to want the bacon, because it’s ground right into the beef patty. This technique results in a crisp and salty treat in each bite, and unlike your typical bacon burger this addition is neither overwhelming nor dry. The menu boasts more than 20 spreads, toppings and add-ons to make your burger experience one-of-a-kind.

Once you place your order, you can watch and wait while it’s assembled and delivered. The casual atmosphere is just the right place to consume your customized creation. And if you’re asking yourself if you want one of their hand-dipped milkshakes to wash everything down, the answer is most definitely yes!

Saucy Focaccia

5100 Fountains Dr #100, Cedar Rapids,
1100 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids

The food truck origins of Saucy Focaccia are perhaps best illustrated with the burger. The cornerstone of the menu, the focaccia bun, has all the flavor you need baked right in, and is sturdy enough to contain all your toppings and still be held with one hand. This leaves your other hand free to contend with one (or more) of Saucy Focaccia’s house-made burger sauces.

However you dress it up, this burger is the perfect accompaniment to your outing at the bustling NewBo Market and is sure to satisfy those post-shopping hunger pangs. The basic burger is a delightful snack, but their menu also has some inventive specials including the Bacon Mac and Cheesy Burger which is, as the name implies, topped with macaroni and cheese and crisp slices of bacon; two hands recommended for this one. The Saucy Focaccia burger menu is a playful and welcome twist on a classic.

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