Photo by Jessica Jensen

We did it folks! We trenched through the snowball winter and have almost succumbed the unyielding rainy months of spring to see the heat of summer in our bright horizons. That being said, prepare yourselves to be overwhelmed by the abundant amount of outdoor seating food options at your disposable in Downtown Iowa City. Whether you’re in the mood for sushi, a laid back meal where you can watch your kiddos play on the playground, a spot in the center of downtown or even one with a front row view of the capital, IC has you covered.

Our adventure starts on Linn Street next to the Dubuque Street Parking Ramp. As you make your way, take a sharp left on College Street and you will find Formosa on your left. Known for their sushi, Asian fusion, and modern architecture, this locally owned establishment will leave you with a full stomach and you’ll already be planning your next visit. Neighboring is Bread Garden Market. Sometimes overlooked as a sit and dine location, this market is known for their variety of cuisine and local organic produce. Did you know they even cater? And as if that wasn’t enough, their outdoor seating area faces the downtown playground making it a family lover’s spot.


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Turning right away from the playground you will stumble upon a froyo place called Aspen Leaf and the local 21+ bar DC’s. In need of a place for happy hour? DC’s outdoor patio always seems to be poppin’ with both the older and younger crowd and is a great place to snag a drink on a Sunday afternoon.

Making your way downtown *cues Vanessa Carlton’s Thousand Miles* you can cross the street and find the regular franchises such as Jimmy Johns, Coldstone, and WhichWich. As you continue down Dubuque passing the US Bank, you will stumble upon Pullman’s. Although they have only been opened for a little over a year, their presence is known on campus.


Photo courtesy of @downtowniowacity on Instagram

Whether it’s to grab cocktails, eat brunch, or a sandwich with a side of house fries, this locally owned joint is not one to miss. Next door to Pullman’s is Mickey’s Irish Pub. Mickey’s has been an Iowa City tradition for over 30 years cooking up sandwiches, salads, burgers, and every other bar food you could imagine. What better place to kick off your night than with a good ole burger and over sixteen rotating craft beers to choose from!?

Ending our scavenger food hunt on Iowa Avenue is Atlas Restaurant & Bar and Basta Pizzeria Ristorante. Both on the higher end of dining in downtown Iowa City, these locations are often occupied by family dinners, birthday celebrations, and even anniversary dinners. Offering the best view of the Capital and Pentacrest, Atlas & Basta are a must eat spot in the summer.


Photo courtesy of @spoon_iowa on Instagram

You can never go wrong with a food option downtown. A few other places to keep in mind are Mondo’s Saloon, Iowa Chop House, El Patron (coming soon), Bo James, and even the Sheraton Hotel has an ample amount of outdoor seating for their patio area. Whichever restaurant you choose you can never go wrong with the view!