For those that don’t follow me on the ‘gram - you may have missed that I left the Hawkeye State and moved over to the Windy City. I accepted a job at Lamb Weston, “one of the world's leading suppliers of frozen potato products”…think fries. Between my sister’s wedding, finding an apartment, moving and then on-boarding at a new job, I haven’t really had much time to process this transition - so consider this my process.
The Last Hoorah
Needless to say I have some of the best friends on the planet, so when there was one Saturday before I would be moving we marked it off and had one heck of a day.
BIG GROVE IOWA CITY
The madness started at Big Grove Iowa City, where La Vecina was hosting a little pop-up. Now if you haven’t heard about LV yet…time to listen up! La Vecina is a wood fired Mexican restaurant coming to you by the same mastermind behind Marquee…so we know it is bound to be a winner. This gem will live in the Iowa River Landing, below the apartment complex at the bottom of the hill (closest to BackPocket).
If this pop-up showed ANY resemblance to what the real deal will be like, then we are in for a REAL treat. (well…I guess it is no longer “we”, but you Iowa City folks are lucky).
Grilled Oysters: crispy bacon, chipotle chili butter
Tacos: Chicken tinga or smoked brisket on HOMEMADE heirloom corn tortilla
Drank: Tequila and Mezcal margaritas with a mango habanero popsicle
Again…coolest/best friends on the planet make you your own menu with bitmojis and blow up french fry floaties at your favorite restaurant. The day was filled with small talk, a good amount of sparkling cava, a few pieces of za (and stracc of course), and lots of hugs.
If you are an Iowa City regular, then chances are you have heard of George’s. Now I had heard of this hole in the wall time and time again but never stepped foot in the establishment, so on my last day I decided to grace it with my presence. Now, if you are looking for the best burger on the planet…this isn’t it. If you are looking for a late night solid bite to eat with an old-school flair - this could be your place. Super divey, dark & dingy - but hey, their burgers are solid…but don’t expect any fries with that.
Some more information you may not be fully aware of is my dad is retired, so when I needed a helping hand to move across border-lines, he jumped on the idea. ONE of the best part of Dave visits is that they are full of breweries and hot spot stops (on top of all the fatherly love of course). Another thing is Dave is notorious for his staple orders…which will shine through during this trip.
One easy stop near my place is 30 Hop, so after picking up Dave from the airport we bellied up to the bar and grabbed some lunch. Notorious order #1 for Dave - Pork Tenderloin sandwich. We also made it a habit to order fries as much as we could…you know just being proactive for the job. Some time passed and some errands were run, but the next stop on the list was Back Pocket Brewery. Now this stop is going down memory lane for us. When I was playing volleyball at the University, my parents would stay at the Marriott and many game nights ended with a pizza & beer cheese (just no beer). This time, we bellied up again and Dave went for another one of his favorite past times…chatting it up with the bartender. This time, he went so far as to pass on his phone/email to make some connections for this guy.
We started off the morning with a U-Haul pick up and moving…aka watching the movers I paid load things into the U-Haul. After the rigorous work, we set out for a new spot for the both of us - St. Burch Tavern. Again, Dave did not disappoint ad went for notorious order #2 - Fish & Chips, which was actually a double whammy since fries are already included! I opted for the pick two with a mushroom melt & greek salad. After a solid nap, we headed out to Red’s for a quick happy hour drink and ended up at Big Grove Solon for the final farewell dinner with a small group. I went for the insanely garlicky creamy roasted mushroom za and of course Dave came in clutch again ordering the tater tot casserole. Our market research of spuds was at an all-time high.
THURSDAY - the drive / unpacking got the best of us and we tapped out with a 7:30 pm (2nd meal of the day) and an 8 pm bed time.
Now this was just a play-day…I mean we had a few things we needed to get done, but a lot of it was exploring and spending some time with family in the area. We started off by exploring the South loop and hitting up a brewery - Motor Row for a flight. Vibe was cool, music was (a little too) loud, beer was good…oh and they served popcorn. We swung by some street festivals before taking some chill time, finishing the night at Monkey Paw, a farm to table gastropub in Lincoln Park. I will say I am a little ticked at myself because this place was amazing, but I was a little too hungry so my phone did not eat first. We started with some crispy brussels sprouts and then I threw myself for a loop. I was dead set on ordering a salad, but the burger was straight up calling my name - beef, cheese, balsamic onion, aioli, and you already know…fries! I will proudly say I demolished it.
FEELING OUT THE CITY
I’M A BIG KID NOW
Now being from Dallas and living in Iowa City for the past 9 years..public transit is NOT my strong suite, but that’s what friends are for! After being walked through the whole process, how to get my card and being warned of the MUST get off before points, I took my first solo ride on the L! I actually ended up taking a few of the colors…and yes, I am very proud of myself. My first solo ride led me to a pizza place, HOMESLICE, with a neon sign that portrays my life motto.