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Free-For-All Friday: Iowa City Eat-A-Palooza Regional Finals

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Round 2 is in the books. Let’s recap who survived to advance to the regional finals and a chance to make it to the Final Four in the first annual Iowa City Eat-A-Palooza!

The Regional Finals of the first annual Iowa City Eat-A-Palooza kick off today.

JPinIC: Jerry? You there? You ready to run through these winners?

HelloJerry: [audible silence]

JPinIC: Hello? Jerry? HelloJerry? Oh damn it, that’s right. Ya boy is out making his last hurrah this week as he prepares to give up his sports fandom for endless nights of Below Deck and Below Deck Med and Real Housewives and whatever Kardashian crap is out now.

Well, this is awkward. Am I really running this solo?

HelloJerry, probably:

JPinIC: Guess so. In that case, I suppose I should just get right to it. No sense in sitting here talking to myself.

It was a hell of a showing out of you all (I’d say ya’ll, but we’re not in Missoura, ya’ll) this week. Seriously, well done. Once again, we had even more votes than the week before and we had some really right races. And perhaps the best news of all, we don’t have to worry about any restaurants matching up with themselves in the Final Four.

So, let’s talk winners, losers and matchups for the regional final.

In the Breakfast Region, it was all chalk baby. Not like literally eating chalk, that would be terrible. And that’s not what these places are. Even the losers were significantly better than chalk. But we kind of knew going into this that there were a pair of breakfast giants and a bunch of places waiting to be taken out by them. And that’s what we saw last week

The number 1 seed Hamburg Inn demolished Casey’s Pizza 75% to 25% of the vote. It was a nice run Casey’s. And seriously, your pizza is legit. But you’re still a gas station. In the other breakfast matchup, Bluebird did Bluebird things and sent Bruegger’s Bagels packing with an 80-20 butt-whooping (look at that, I’m rhyming! See, doing this all by yourself is totally fine).

Maybe we should try checking in with Jerry, just in case? Jer, I know you are Team Bluebird. We all know I’m firmly Team Hamburg. What are your thoughts now that we finally have this matchup of two juggernauts?

HelloJerry, probably:

JPinIC: OK, then. Thanks for the insight.

I guess we can turn our attention over to the Lunch region where we had more chalk, but some slightly closer matchups. Ok matchup, we had one closer matchup. Shorts destroyed Pagliai’s 79-21. It’s almost as if Pagliai’s doesn’t even serve lunch with a score like that...

In the other lunch matchup, The Vine survived a little scare from Wig and Pen with a 56-44 victory. That sets up a showdown between a couple of Iowa City powerhouses for this region.

HelloJerry, probably:

JPinIC: Over in the Dinner region, we avoided a potential situation thanks to some uncharacteristically savvy voting out of you all. As you may recall, the final four in the Lunch and Dinner regions were the same, just matched up differently. We had a pair of incredibly close votes in each of these matchups, but came away without the potential for a restaurant facing off against itself in the Final Four.

Wig and Pen escaped the jaws of defeat by a single vote (the percentages actually round to a 50-50 tie, but they had one more vote) over Short’s. They will take on Pagliai’s, who did the exact same thing over The Vine. Pretty crazy stuff. That sets up the ultimate Iowa City pizza showdown. I have to say I’m pretty pumped.

Now, we established last week that Chicago-style deep dish pizza is great, but not at all superior to thin crust. How are you feeling about the matchup between the two styles of pizza in the regional final, Jerry?

HelloJerry, probably:

JPinIC: Excellent input as always, man.

For the final matchups of round 2, we move to the Other region. Here again, we saw pretty much what you’d expect. Pancheros scored the most decisive victory of the tournament thus far (I mean, I guess, I didn’t exactly check the prior scores), obliterating Marco’s 88-12. They continue their march toward the Final Four.

The next roadblock will be Falbo’s, who beat up on Gumby’s 67-33. That makes it 3 pizza joints still alive with 3 distinct styles. WE’ll be down to one true pizza champ after next week.

And with that, we have completed the first two rounds. As we approach the regional finals, here’s a look at the updated bracket:


Regional Final Matchups

Breakfast Region

1 Hamburg Inn vs. 2 Bluebird Diner

JPinIC: This is it. The matchup we’ve all been waiting for. It almost feels like this should be its own, separate championship. And maybe it is. The winner will be declared the ultimate Breakfast Spot in Iowa City, for the next year at least.

Both are excellent. Both are Iowa City institutions at this point. But the styles are a contrast. Hamburg is a no frills, cozy diner where you get what you order and nothing else. And that’s what you pay for. All in the “comfort” of a cramped booth surrounded by pictures and newspaper clippings of all the presidents past who have shared the experience.

Bluebird is the newcomer, in a relative sense, and it shows in their style. Food is served with an eye toward presentation and flare instead of bare-bones basics. You pay a little more and you get some spice, and a side of fruit with garnishment. The table may be just as small, but you aren’t crammed in like a sardine. The wait is just as long. Is the food better? That’s for you to decide.

Lunch Region

1 Short’s vs. 2 The Vine

Ben Ross: And we’re back. Short’s vs. the Vine. I already previewed this matchup once I think, (it’s kinda weird how the chips are falling here, but c’est la vie.) and I am still staunchly pro Short’s. It has a better location, a far better beer selection, and a burger that can stack up to just about every burger you’ve had in your sad, pathetic lives. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. (Or did I?) ANYWAY, Short’s is the best restaurant in Iowa City. There I said itand I’ll fight whoever disagrees with me.

Dinner Region

1 Wig and Pen vs. 3 Pagliai’s

This. Is. It. The pizza showdown we’ve all been waiting for. A matchup between two establishments that have been Iowa City pizza for decades (ignore the fact Wig and Pen is in Coralville, they have an east side delivery location that is conveniently only a couple blocks from my house - it’s a problem).

Other Region

1 Pancheros vs. 2 Falbo’s

Listen, this one sparked some interest from multiple folks here, so let’s take a look at the in depth analysis provided by several of The Pants contributors.

mattcabel: You can eat Pancheros sober AND drunk. Can you say the same about Falbos?

BoilerHawk: WHY PANCHERO'S IS THE GREATEST AND HAS NO PEER. MY COLUMN:

JPinIC: It’s Pancheros. It’s not close. See you in the Final Four.

HelloJerry, probably:

We all know that ends at Pancheros. Let’s vote.


So that’s it. Those are your 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 the Twitters if you want to lobby for your choice. We’ll catch you next week as we get into the Regional Finals.

Happy Friday, people!