Regardless of it’s prime location in the pedestrian mall, among people I know, TCB is often overlooked when it comes to choosing a bar to spend time and money at.
This can be attributed to a number of reasons. The first is that it is primarily a billiards bar. The second is that the service is apparently known to be terrible.
I will say in the bar’s defense that I have been there more than a few times and have had pleasant interactions with the bartenders. However, that was probably because I was lucky enough to sit right in the middle of the bar where it is hard not to be seen. Even though the bar is long with plenty of seating, it fills up fast. It doesn’t help that there is a barrier behind the chairs creating a narrow walk way. If you do not have a seat at the bar, you will have to awkwardly squeeze past and lean over people to get the bartender’s attention.
On the other side of the barrier there is a large section full of tables. I have never noticed, but apparently there is only one waitress responsible for serving the entire bar. I don’t know how that could be physically possible, but multiple people have told me the “my friend’s friend knows a girl…” version.
If you are looking for a bar to go and drink at, perhaps TCB is not the place. If you are looking for a place to play a great game of pool, it is definitely the place. In total TCB has 20 pool tables that can be rented by the hour. I would suggest going earlier in the night before or around 10 p.m. to make sure you get a good time slot. On weekend nights the tables get reserved quickly, but a game of pool is always a nice way to spend your time out on a weeknight as well.
I have only been to The Airliner a handful of times, and only twice with friends to drink at the bar. One of those times was for the purpose of this blog. Whenever I have gone there it has been for drinks and lunch on the weekends, or for a student organization banquet upstairs.
The Airliner originally opened in 1944, and has consistently been a popular spot for great, cheap pizza ever since. People literally rave about how good the pizza is, and I will agree that it is delicious. The reason I have not gone there as much is because I think of it more as a restaurant than a bar. In fact, it is the only drinking establishment in Iowa City that was awarded an exemption to the 21-ordinance because 50 percent or more of its sales comes from the food. The good thing is, because the food is so important so is the cleanliness. It is one of the few bars in Iowa City I will say has always been consistently clean. Where other bars will have flies swarming around your food, or vomit on the bathroom floor I have never experienced this at The Airliner.
If you do go there later at night to drink it is best to find a table or booth to sit at and wait for a waitress to serve you. The area around the bar is very small and it is impossible to stand around it with a group of your friends. You either can’t get to the bar, or once you are there will not be able to leave it.
The Airliner has a long tradition as a great spot to go and watch the football games. During Sunday and Monday football games they have pitchers of beer specials that start at $4 during the first quarter and change to $5.50 by the third and fourth. On Tuesday nights they have $5 mason jars, similar to Brothers’ Mug Club, that you can refill at anytime for $1. The best in my opinion is $1 bud lights on Wednesday and Fridays.
Blue Moose Tap House is the jack of all trades when it comes to Iowa City bars. While some bars in Iowa City attract a limited group of students, Blue Moose offers something for everyone. The patrons in the bar are as diverse as the student population at The University of Iowa.
Part of Blue Moose’s success is due to their concerts. The bar is one of the few drinking establishments in Iowa City that doubles as a music venue, and among those it is the largest with two stages. A few nights a week the bar hosts a variety of music acts with the ability to entertain over 200 people at the upstairs stage, and almost 600 people at the downstairs stage. The venue has made a point of putting on “all-ages” shows that end at 10 p.m. so underage students are able to enter the bar and see a concert, even though they cannot legally drink. Tickets for their concerts can be found at ticketfly.com
On a regular night the bar offers a fun environment with vintage decorations. There is a fully functioning juke box, and the walls are decorated with vintage music posters and handbills. The bar also has a retro basketball game and funhouse mirrors that keep patrons entertained for hours. There are also large flat-screen televisions for sports fans to watch a game while they socialize. The decor of Blue Moose is also unique with their homemade tables made from Templeton Rye Whiskey Barrels, and their recycled keg barstools.
Blue Moose is definitely a beer lovers bar with 24 different beers on tap. There are a number of different specials for every night of the week, but the most popular are the half priced boots on Thursdays. The boots are 3 liters of a beer of your choice. They also offer mini boot specials on Friday. If you are going to try and attempt to drink a full boot on your own I highly suggest you do not have anything else to drink that night! I once tried to drink a whole boot on a dare after a few whiskey and cokes, and don’t remember anything after I finished half the boot… But do order a boot and share it with a few friends, it is a great way to save money.
Even though there are many great qualities about Blue Moose there are a few things to watch out for. Friends of mine have complained that the bartenders have refused to give them a glass of water, and told them they had to pay for bottled water instead. I don’t think I have ever had this problem, but I have heard it enough times to believe that it happens occasionally. Also if you have a tab, make sure you pay attention to the number of drinks your order throughout the night and how much they cost. I have heard of instances where people have been wrongfully charged on their bills for extra drinks they did not order. Obviously these problems are not exclusive to Blue Moose or Iowa City bars, it is just something I have heard and urge everyone to look out for when they are out at any bar.
There is no argument that Brothers is the most popular bar for University of Iowa students in Iowa City. However, just because it is the most popular does not make it the best. I won’t say I don’t like going there, because I am there frequently, but there is plenty to detract me from going there if I can help it.
Brothers has a lot to offer when it comes to space. It is one of the largest bars in Iowa City with a variety of areas. The bar has a large outdoor patio, a good sized dance floor, pool tables, and plenty of sitting and standing room. However, even with all the space the bar fills up quickly after 10 p.m. and is one of the few places you will have to wait in line to get into. The only other bar that regularly has a line is Union.
After waiting in line to get inside of Brothers, expect to be waiting for the rest of the night. Like moths to a flame so is the UI student to the bar. Working your way up to the bar can seem like hours, and once you’re there its more waiting to get the bartender’s attention. If you can make your way to the farthest part of the bar from the front door you will have the most luck getting drinks. I don’t know why but the bartender’s seem to congregate there, and most patrons are in the front and middle sections of the bar.
One of the great things about Brothers is their extensive list of specials. Thursday night’s Mug Club is their most popular where you can buy and then save a mug for $5 and then get refills on well drinks, long islands, Busch light and Keystone for $1 all night. I suggest sticking with the beer because the well alcohol is most definitely watered down to the point where you aren’t effected by the drink at all.
While there is a lot of waiting involved when you go to Brothers, there is a reason it is the most popular bar.
I don’t know that reason, but it is, so if you want to go out with some friends and know you will run into more friends and recognize/meet people from class, Brothers is the bar.
If I had to choose the best bar in Iowa City for daily and FAC specials it would be DC’s. While some bars are completely empty until the sun goes down, DC’s is consistently busy throughout the day with people eating and drinking. The bar is also attractive because of its balcony levels and Chicago theme.
When I stayed in Iowa City over the summer my friends and I always ended up at DC’s in the afternoons for their Everyday Happy Hour Special. From 4-8 p.m. domestic steins are $4 and premium steins are only $4.25. There is nothing better than sitting outside with a stein of Blue Moon on a warm summer afternoon.
On Fridays during FAC it is pretty much a given that DC’s is going to be extremely packed, almost to the point that it will be hard to walk around. However, the $4 fishbowls are worth it. If you can think it, you can drink it; whatever alcohol and soft drink combination you can imagine the bartenders will make for you, and they are extremely generous in their pours. I usually get a long island fishbowl because for the amount of alcohol it is the most cost efficient. After learning my lesson the hard way too many times I recommend only ordering one long island fishbowl and then switching to $3 domestic steins for the rest of the night.
My only complaint about DC’s is their men’s bathrooms are ridiculously unkept. For some reason there are only two small bathrooms for men so lines are common and you regret waiting once you see the state the bathroom is in. However, on the plus side there is always free popcorn!