Have you ever been unable to make it to a Saturday tailgate in time to stuff your maw with smoked meats and malt liquor and still catch Back in Black? Have you ever had an urgent need to soak up the warm SoCo in your belly while stuck in the food desert that is Kinnick Stadium? Have you ever been hungry at an Iowa football game and just needed something that wouldn’t offend your delicate palate?
Well too bad, because the food served at Kinnick is passable at best, a downright slap in the face to airline chefs at worst and as a captive audience, we’re forced to indulge if we every get a little hangry while watching our Hawkeyes.
Well good news! The BHGP staff is here to fix Kinnick’s Food Problem.
Sorry in advance!
Ben: Consider me in the camp Kinnick doesn’t need to change anything. The renovations, the playlists, the back-breaking benches. The water tower and field upgrades are nice, the renovations are less nice, but I’m open-minded about the dividends that project will pay later on.
What could use some fixing are the food items, or rather, the quality of the chow served at Kinnick. The dirty water hot dogs, the high school cafeteria cheeseburgers, the cold, stale popcorn — offensive, all of it.
HOWEVAH, I also believe you’re not going to Kinnick for the food. This isn’t an MLB stadium, the school doesn’t need to sell charcuterie boards and artisanal chicken sausage to put butts in the seats.
In this case, I’m in the camp that stadium food should first and foremost be easy to eat. When it comes to local options, that leaves out Short’s and Wig & Pen. I love those places as much as the next guy, but I mean a Short’s burger is almost fork and knife required.
To me the answer is simple here: Falbo’s slices and Marco’s grilled cheese. Portable, fast to serve and easy to eat. The brand awareness is already there for Kinnick-goers. Really it just makes too much sense.
Nodo is another solid option as is… now hear me out, Casey’s slices. I’d even be open to Mesa! And if Hamburg can set up just a pie shake station, get out of town.
Local beer would be nice too. But only if you can afford a seat in a sky box! Snoooooooort.
BoilerHawk: I haven’t lived in Iowa for more than 2 months consecutively in basically 10 years so I’m the last person who should provide a “local option” for the Kinnick vendors. But I’ve eaten at plenty of chains and the best option from that perspective would be, without a doubt, Chick-fil-A. It’s a clear upgrade over the current handhelds they provide - totally fine hot dogs, less fine popcorn, and least fine nachos - and would fly off the warmers even if you charged $10 a sandwich. If you’re reading this, Gary, I know you’ve never met a dollar you didn’t like (unless it came from alcohol sales for those in the cheap seats) so I implore you to see what you can do about getting Chick-fil-A in Kinnick Stadium.
That being said, an upgrade from the Pizza Hut personal pizzas (which I find delightful on the basis of Pablo Torre’s pizza theory) to Wig & Pen or the bagged nachos/“cheese” to Panchero’s would be totally welcome.
Jordan: Beer. Lots of beer. And cheap.
JPinIC: Oh baby, you want local food opinions, I got your local food opinions. You may not like them, but then again you’re wrong. Iowa City is a great college town and part of what makes it special is the local flare. Sure there are chains like anywhere else, but there’s also a plethora of restaurants and bars unique to the area and not accentuating those in a place with as much character as Kinnick Stadium is damn near criminal.
First and foremost, how are you going to constantly pump the damn burrito lift and not sell Pancheros burritos in at least one spot in the stadium? You’re not.
You’re also not going to sell pizza all over the stadium and not even offer either Wig and Pen or Pagliai’s. I’m not saying you need to do away with the current offering, there are certainly some people who would be upset by being forced to pay for a local option, but you gotta at least offer it.
And finally, can we get some Stella?!?
I mean, it is the same food as Short’s, which we all know and love. But it’s literally right next to the stadium. Oh, and it’s partially owned by Hawkeye legend Nate Kaeding. Can we get some damn quality burgers inside the building? Maybe just set up an actual restaurant in the that fancy new north end zone.
I want Jimmy Jack’s BBQ. Hit me with some Graze chicken lips - hell put ‘em on a stick! How bout a big ass turkey leg?!?
And what do we have to do to get some adult beverages in the building? Imagine getting some bloody mary action for those 11am kicks (you, not me, I’m not crazy enough to drink tomato juice… or vodka). How about some local beers from Millstream or Big Grove or Backpocket or Toppling Goliath?
I mean, there’s so much money to be made on local food and beverage vendors and I really think it would enhance the experience for a lot of fans. If we can’t complain about a tigerhawk at midfield or the water tower, this is the hill I choose to die on.
Matt Cabel: it’s hard to state something on here that hasn’t already been said above. And I also need to tread lightly, because the last time I wrote about the Kinnick experience on this website, I got roasted for having (accurate) opinions despite having not gone to a game in Kinnick in about three years.
But I like to think that my food opinions are pretty accurate, and I think that my co-writers above have hit on good points that make up a perfect plan.
We need pizza by-the-slice in a stadium. As much as I would love to agree with Jonah and say we need Pagliai’s, I’m not going to be eating little squares of thin crust pizza on a fall afternoon. I need a large, greasy slice of pizza I can fold and stuff into my mouth as quickly as possible. Give me pizza from Mesa or Casey’s or the Wedge.
As for the hot dog and burger situation, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. It’s not local per se, but why not create a partnership with Hy-Vee? They bring their own grill, and make a bunch of flavored burgers and brats. Yes please. Upgrade from nasty burgers to perfectly fine — maybe even delicious — grill staples.
As for the beer, I’ve given up on it ever happening. GIVE THE PEOPLE OF KINNICK CANS OF LA CROIX.
Thank you for your time.
Max Brekke: Once I ate a walking taco in Kinnick. I enjoyed it, but I must admit that it’s probably pretty difficult to mess up a walking taco. I don’t need anything fancy like pulled pork or expensive pizza that would likely cost an arm and a leg, nor do I need hamburgers. If you do your gameday experience correctly, you should be able to eat enough while at a tailgate to last three and a half hours. What I’m saying is that Kinnick should sell no food outside of walking tacos.