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Free-For-All Friday: The Iowa City Eat-A-Palooza Finale

The Final showdown is over... who took the proverbial cake?

Hello Jerry: What an afternoon, JP. Not only did the White Sox flip Jose Quintana to the Cubs for a haul that included their top prospect, you and I also got to witness one of the closest matchups this mock-bracket has produced between Wig & Pen and Short’s Burgers and Shine finish.

While I’m a little upset that it’s over, I look back on this multi-week experience as a better, more full man (and I mean that both figuratively and literally). Just look at what I did. I fought hard for Bluebird Diner. I eventually stopped being petty about the Hamburg Inn. I stood for Falbo’s over other crappy pizza establishments, figured out that I am very good at ripping dumb Yelp reviews all the while becoming an advocate for both Saloon and Graze.

So, for the next year, I’ll be posting non-stop “Fake News” stories on Facebook and my Twitter about the restaurants around the Ped Mall, while simultaneously propping up my favorite/lovable/delicious lunch and dinner spots of choice. They are the superior choices in Iowa City (also, did you know that Sam’s Pizza puts anchovies in their sauce? It’s true until it’s not!).

You know what they say, JP: “Advocacy is to change ‘what is’ into ‘what should be’” and I plan on doing just that until I either get free food for life from one or both of these two places or become an honorary partner (kind of like how universities give out honorary diplomas).

JPinIC: Jerry, it’s a bittersweet day my friend. I’m excited to unwrap this Christmas gift of a finale. This was something we talked about for quite a while and it was a ton of fun to put together. Sure there were some bumps along the road (*cough* restaurants in multiple categories *cough*) and I’m disappointed my Hamburg didn’t make the finals, but it was fun nonetheless. And at the end of the day, the end of eat-a-palooza means we can get back to totally random nonsense on Friday, which I know is what everyone wants.

But this is the end, I suppose, and I’m sad to see our baby all grown up. I’m so damned proud, but so damned sad.. So rather than sit here and dwell, let’s just get to it, shall we?

In the (real championship) 3rd place matchup, we had the people’s champ, Hamburg Inn No. 2, facing off with that child of the night, the giant burrito on your head: Pancheros. Jer, hit me with it. How did it end?

Hello Jerry: Well, JP, this one wasn’t even close from the jump. It looks like the great readers of The Pants had no time for that miserable 2:00 am line (Which has to be visible from space right?) or the late night service without a smile from Pancheros.

Hamburg Inn, Iowa City’s number one breakfast spot (see guys, I’m not petty anymore!) finished with 63.8% of the total 246 votes.


Hello Jerry: I still think people may have suffered from voters fatigue when it came to the Burg. The fact that this place, despite our rocky past, taking third place seems weird. I feel like when we do this again in the future, Hamburg races to the ‘ship.

But then again, I suppose that’s what we thought this year too and instead, we got that British pizza place.

Any parting thoughts/gifs from you JP as we wave goodbye to your personal pancake heaven?

JPinIC: As you said, it doesn’t feel right. I don’t know exactly how we find ourselves in this situation, but the people have spoken and they hate breakfast. They hate America. It’s OK Hamburg, we’ll always have that stack of pancakes. And syrup. So much syrup.

Ugh. I told myself I wasn’t going to cry.

Ok, we gotta move on, there’s too much dust over here. What happened in the championship game?

Hello Jerry: This one actually WAS fun to watch. Going into last week, I thought that the Pancheros/Hamburg matchup would’ve come down to the wire and that Short’s would’ve buried Wig and Pen right next to whatever the hell Zombie Burger is.

JPinIC: Jer, it IS Zombie Burger. As in undead. I don’t think you can bury it. Are we sure ZB isn’t actually coming back for a surprise victory here?

Hello Jerry: BUT… that didn’t happen at all.

With 50.9% of the total 273 votes… the winner of the 2017 Iowa City Eat-a-Palooza Friday Free-For-All Bracket is…


What. A. Time. To. Be. Alive.

Short’s couldn’t make it to the fake award show in my mind today, so on behalf of them, I would like to first and foremost thank Ben Ross and GospelofMax for allowing us to take up space on the website for the last several weeks so we can make this absolutely incredible dream come true. I’d also like to thank the Food God, Guy Fieri, if for no other reason than I wish frosted tips were generally accepted as a hairstyle. I’d also like to thank Nate Kaeding for being such a phenomenal business man in Iowa’s greatest city.

This is a dream come true for Short’s Burgers and Shine. We are the perfect combination of a family friendly restaurant that also affords college students the ability to get professionally drunk for the first time in their lives. We set out to create a humbling burger and craft beer experience and I think, for the first time, we can officially say that we’ve completed that task.

Thank you, love you, and good night!

JPinIC: RIP Wig and Pen. It was a good run. You clearly punched above your weight when you took down Pagliai’s and now the chickens have come home to roost (maybe they’ll lay some eggs and we can have them with our pancakes at Hamburg?). Your shortcomings won’t stop me from dopping in with the family and housing half a flying tomato pizza (after I pick off all the tomatoes because yuck) by myself.

CONGRATULATIONS SHORT’S BURGER &SHINE. What an honor this must be? Not only are you being crowned the top restaurant in Iowa City by the foremost authority on the matter, you’re claiming the first ever title and will forever be remembered as the inaugural champion. I’m sure words can’t even express your excitement. You’re speechless. You have no speech. That’s why you aren’t answering my calls or texts or Facebook pokes.

It’s OK, I get it. Just, you know, get at me when you have a minute. And maybe don’t go anywhere?

Seriously, congrats to Short’s and all the finalists. We had a good time putting this together and will gladly accept an invitation to stuff our faces at any of these fine establishments. If you all enjoyed it as well, let us know in the comments. We’re also seeking feedback on the format (yeah, we know, one restaurant one entry). If you’d like to make a donation to the Iowa City Eat-A-Palooza Pivots to Video Fund get at us as well.

Now that this glorious bracket has come to its conclusion, we’ll be returning you to you’re regularly scheduled Free-For-All Friday programming beginning next week. Thoughts, suggestions, random things you want us to explore? Hit the comments people.

Hello Jerry: Oh, and before we go, here is the official and final bracket. While this is the final sentence in this summer series, just know, #thatsfood will live on forever.