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Free-For-All Friday: Iowa City Eat-A-Palooza Round 2

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The people have spoken! We have round 1 results and matchup previews for the 2nd round of Iowa City Eat-A-Palooza.

JPinIC: The people have spoken, Jerry! I don’t necessarily agree with all their decisions, but the people have indeed spoken. And perhaps more surprising, to me, than some of their bad choices, is the fact we actually had about a 30% increase in votes from the initial polling to establish who got into this thing. People really care about their bad takes on food, man!

Hello Jerry: As the president of the bad takes, I support each and every one of them. I’m still getting heat in my office about my donut take, to which, I rightfully respond, “Donut make me mad or your fired”. Oh the perks of being the boss.

As far as the increase in votes, are you really that shocked? Let’s be honest here, the only thing that any of us care about right now are mindless ways to get our mind off the fact that we are in the doldrums that is summer and that football is too far away.

So, like we so smartly predicted, this is the perfect summer/Friday treat (get it?).

You brought up bad choices before. What ones are you talking about exactly? You’re not still stuck on the Hy-Vee thing are you? Oh, and don’t think I didn’t see Bluebird destroy that dumb donut restaurant by the biggest margin of victory in the first round. Are you worried yet? Do you hear that? That’s #BirdistheWord Nation hooting and hollering their way to the finals baby!

JPinIC: As far as individual bad choices, the one that really sticks out to me is Whitey’s getting the ax. I mean, we now have zero options on the dessert side of things. No ice cream (how did you people leave Heyn’s off in the first place?), no cupcakes, no froyo and now no dessert for breakfast on the donut side either. I don’t get it. Am I the only one who likes copious amounts of sugar?

Hello Jerry: Even young Dad’s can get diabeetus, JP. I’m worried for you.

JPinIC: Outside of that, I strongly disagree with Big Grove not making it past the first round. There’s a pretty clear bias toward true downtown spots (30Hop also took an early exit) and I think that tells us a little something about our readers/voters: they’re all either college kids or people who are judging Iowa City as if they were still college kids. Note to all of you: Iowa City has some damn good food off the ped mall.

Hello Jerry: I mean, we’re talking about the same group of 140-180 people that DIDN’T vote in Saloon or Graze (no, I’m not over it yet). HOW IS GRAZE LUNCH BUFFET NOT IN OVER PAGLIAI’S!? THEY DON’T EVEN OPEN UNTIL 4! WHO EATS LUNCH AT 4?

JPinIC: As a whole, I think people did a poor job of thinking strategically. We have a number of places that are multiple entries (The Vine, Short’s, Pagliai’s, Wig and Pen to name a few). Personally, I voted for them in one category and left them off in the other to see a little more competition. I mean, like you said, Pagliai’s doesn’t actually serve lunch (and no, getting up at noon doesn’t mean lunch can be served at 4) and Jimmy Jack’s is pretty fantastic, yet, people STILL voted Pagliai’s over the shack and now we are left with no BBQ and two servings of thin crust pizza (which, fire take warning here, is superior to deep dish if you’re following the Hello Jerry guide to wedding weight loss and breakfast takes on donuts - I love both btw, and anyone who tells you eating more than a piece of deep dish is gluttony doesn’t live in my America).

But as I said, the people have spoken. So let’s show them what they said, shall we?

Hello Jerry: I don’t think we can be friends anymore...

JPinIC: Listen, you should know by now that I’m not one to discriminate when it comes to my pizza (or food in general). Thin crust is great. Deep dish is great. Pizza is great. But at the end of the day, I ask myself, “where was pizza created?” Answer: Italy. What kind of pizza do they eat in Italy? Thin crust. Super thin crust. Super thin crust from a wood-fired oven. And it’s fantastic. That. Is. Pizza. Deep dish? That’s pizza pie. Glorious in its own right. But Pagliai’s > Wig and Pen, bruh.

Hello Jerry: So, what you’re saying is, when the moon does, in fact, hit your eye, but only like a “thin” pizza sliver, it’s also.... amore?

Yeah, I didn’t think so. You can take your “pizza was made in Italy and it’s thin there” argument and shove it. My boy Frank know’s what’s up.

On to the bracket!

JPinIC: In the Breakfast region Hamburg destroyed IRP with 80% of the vote to advance. They will take on Casey’s, who edged out Hy-Vee 59-41. Bluebird demolished Hurts 86-14 and will take on Bruegger’s, who handled Village Inn 69 (nice)-3.

Over in the Lunch region Short’s took care of business against The Mill 74-26. They will now face Pagliai’s, who took down Jimmy Jack’s 59-41. The Vines beat Micky’s 65-35 and will take on Wig and Pen, who edged out Quinton’s 57-43.

In the Dinner region, Wig and Pen got their second victory as they handled Micky’s 67-33. Short’s followed suit and took out 30Hop 63-37. The Vine made it 3 for 3 in duplicate entries as they escaped the jaws of defeat by the newcomer Big Grove 55-45. And to make the Dinner region a complete duplicate (with different matchups) of Lunch, Pagliai’s outlasted Atlas 59-41. Nice job, guys.

And finally, in the Other region Pancheros had no problem with George’s Gyros, defeating them 70-30. They will no face Marco’s, who edged out Mesa Pizza 53-47. Falbo’s destroyed Pizza and Pita Pit 79-21 (sorry for the confusion on the entry, but it didn’t really matter). They will take on Gumby’s, who go the upset over Whitey’s 52-48.

So that brings us to the second round. Here’s a look at the updated bracket:

And now we dive into the matchup previews for round 2.

Breakfast Region

1 Hamburg Inn vs. 4 Casey’s Pizza

JPinIC: As an ardent supporter of the Hamburg movement, this matchup scares me. On the surface, this shouldn’t be a debate. Casey’s is a gas station. Ok, it’s a “convenience store” that mostly sells gas. But they are famous for pizza! And as far as Casey’s pizza goes, I think we can all agree the breakfast pizza is where it’s at. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s delicious. Their donuts aren’t half bad either (never met a donut I didn’t enjoy). And the place has a cult following in the state of Iowa.

So yeah, I’m admittedly a little nervous about this one. But at the end of the day, as much as Casey’s has a cult following, Hamburg IS Iowa City breakfast. If you’re a student at the University of Iowa, you’ve been to Hamburg. A lot. If you are a prospective student at Iowa, you will eat there. A lot. If you used to be a student, you used to eat there. A lot. And if you’re just a random person in Iowa City, you eat there. A lot.

Look, they aren’t going to do anything fancy. This isn’t some flash in the pan, air raid offense that’s going to blow you away with flash. No, this is Iowa City. It’s meat and potatoes (and pancakes and syrup), blue collar breakfast that will out-execute every other breakfast entry.

You walk into Hamburg and you know what to expect. You know what they’re going to do. And you aren’t walking out of there disappointed. Hamburg is going to the Regional Finals.

2 Bluebird Diner vs. 3 Bruegger’s Bagels

Hello Jerry: Damn. It had to come to this, didn’t it? Couldn’t stupid Cramburg go against Brueggers so I could hack the poll and frantically raise their votes every night when JP goes to put his kids down to bed? I mean why? Why does Hamburg get to just destroy Casey’s dumb breakfast pizza while the best sit down establishment in Iowa City goes up against the best fast food establishment for this region? Why do these things have to happen? Why couldn’t both of these respected competitors meetup next week, go to battle until a winner is declared and then shake eachothers hands like two playoff hockey teams that just played seven grueling games?

Respect and honor. It’s all there with these two restaurants. It’s just too bad that one will go a round too early.

I suppose thus is bracket life.

I will never enjoy this. It’s going to be a long, long week watching these votes come in, but we all know where my allegiances lie.

I’m so sorry Bruegg’s, but #BirdistheWord 4eva.

Lunch Region

1 Short’s vs. 5 Pagliai’s

Ben Ross: Well, as a reader dutifully pointed out last week, Pagliai’s doesn’t open until 4pm, so I think that nullifies this matchup all together. Even if it was open for lunch and a large two-topping pizza didn’t come out to $35 with tax, Short’s would still get the nod.

2 The Vine vs. 3 Wig and Pen

Ben Ross: This is a little tougher. The Vine known for wings, the Wig known for its flying tomato pizza. Neither of which I would call great lunch foods if you want to be productive for the rest of the day, but here we are.

I’m going to go with Wig and Pen for a couple of reasons. 1. You usually have to wait around an hour to get a table there at dinner. Lunch, you shouldn’t have a problem. 2. The Vine is more or less in a basement, and sort of depressing to go to on a nice summer day. And 3. If you do go to the Vine, you’ll be compelled to drink, and again, that’s not a great thing if you have work that needs doing later on. I understand students might think this is a perfect lunch spot for the above faults I laid out, but most of us are not students, unfortunately.

Dinner Region

1 Wig and Pen vs. 4 Short’s

Hello Jerry: Let’s just be honest here, this is an All-American battle. This is the food version of Ohio State vs. Michigan/Auburn vs. Alabama. This is the Bears vs. Packers. The Yankees vs. Red Sox.

So, before you vote, I want you to really think about this... On a Friday night, after a long week of class or work, what do you crave more with an ice cold beer? Pizza or burgers?

Only you can choose. Only one will survive.

2 The Vine vs. 3 Pagliai’s

JPinIC: Now this. Is. A. Matchup. The Vine is a classic Iowa City spot. You’ve got wings. You’ve got beer. You’ve got burgers. You’ve got sports on TV. And you’ve got your choice of basement venue covered in actual vines (which is really cool if you’re a Cubs fan, I suppose) and a massive bar in Coralville.

On the other hand, you’ve got thee classic Iowa City pizza joint. We can debate thin crust vs. deep dish until we’re blue in the face. But that’s not what this matchup is about. Because regardless of your crust style preference, you can’t deny Pagliai’s is damn good pizza. And this is a matchup of pizza vs. sports bar.

So to me, the winner has to be Pagliai’s. And it’s not just because on a Friday night I’m grabbing pizza over wings 7 times out of 10. But also because I want to be strategic here. As I pointed out in the open, Dinner and Lunch have the same 4 entries. So for me, I’m looking at those matchups and voting accordingly. For this matchup, that means I’m going Pagliai’s to set up a showdown with Wig in the Regional final, and I’ll let Short’s take on The Vine over in Lunch.

Other Region

1 Pancheros vs. 4 Marco’s

JPinIC: Look, I know people like Marco’s. I like Marco’s. As far as drunk food goes, overpriced grilled cheese from a food cart is up there. But if you’re being honest with yourself, you know Pancheros is the champ here and it isn’t close.

I mean, sure, 30% of you took the gyro cart over Pancheros in the first round. I assume that’s because you either are George of George’s Gyro Cart or you were under the influence when you voted. Maybe you still are. but Pancheros is the answer here.

It may be closer than last round, but it won’t be close.

2 Falbo Bros vs. 6 Gumby’s

Hello Jerry: You know what’s so much fun about this matchup? It represents the evolution of a college student. No seriously, think about it. When was the only/last time you ordered Gumby’s? And when did you start going to Falbos to cap your night off?

During my first year on campus, I think someone on my dorm floor ordered Gumbys each and every Friday and Saturday night/morning (shouts to Mike Daniels and his need to blast rap music at all hours, BTW). Pokey Stix were like drunken life blood for young, dumb and reckless youths who are trying to figure our their way around the sudden freedom of college life. Just think of how many freshman fell asleep waiting for them to arrive. It;s got to be in the thousands.

But then, as those kids start moving out of the dorms in favor of those shady houses and apartments off campus, they inevitably walk right past Gilbert street on their way home from the bars. And as anyone that has had Falbo’s at two in the morning knows, if you’re going to be walking past Gilbert St. anyways, you might as well stop in for a thick slice of Falbo’s rather than ordering/demolishing four pounds worth of greasy garlic bread.

You don’t go OUT of your way for Falbo’s. Falbo’s comes to you.

Look, we all know what the superior product is here, but, much like life, you can’t truly enjoy the better one without having had the other. So, thank you Gumby’s for helping all of us cure hangovers throughout those rough first few years on campus. Your services will never not go unnoticed in this realm. I will forever salute your poor delivery men (who definitely don’t get tipped as well as they should) as they speed past me while I’m on my way to Falbo’s.


Those are you Iowa City Eat-A-Palooza second round matchups. Be sure to vote in each of the above polls for your choice to advance. And don’t forget to use the hashtag #ThatsFood on Twitter. We’ll catch you next week as we get into the Regional Finals.

Happy Friday, people!