Bo-James is one of those bars that is, “just so Iowa City.” It has been around forever and for the people who actually live and are from Iowa City, it’s their hangout.
I have been to Bo-James many times and have had a few friends who have worked there over the years. If you get to know the Cohen family, who owns and runs the bar, you will always be taken care of. Wednesday and Thursday nights are the most popular with UI students because they are themed. Wednesdays are Country Night and Thursdays are Karaoke Night. Every other night the majority of patrons are local regulars.
If you are brave enough to sing karaoke, I would suggest you stick to the classics. One time I was brazen enough to do my best Missy Elliot Work It and received some interesting reactions from the crowd. 15 seconds into the song I knew it was a bad idea. Had I gone with Journey’s Don’t’ Stop Believin’ the whole bar would have been singing along with me.
Bo-James is a hangout because there are regulars who sit and hang out all day, everyday. Most of them have a favorite spot at the bar, and if you happen to be in it you will throw their day off. This has happened to me before and it’s quite awkward. As the sun sets the bar stools fill up with the employees’ friends who typically like to change the music every few minutes. Depending on their taste in music, this can be a good or a bad thing.
The two biggest draws to Bo-James are their “Big Ass Beers” which are only $3, and their burger baskets, which are delicious, and only about $6. Overall, Bo-James is a fun place with a community environment. Even at it’s busiest you are still able to sit and actually hear the friends you are having a conversation with, which can be rare in Iowa City bars.