If you’re reading this, you’re probably either a poor college kid or a broke recent graduate. I fall into the latter category, and I am always searching for ways to save money while I search for my big girl job. Finding cheap places to eat is honestly half the battle because you can spend so much money on food that your bank account probably just cries when it sees a new pending transaction. Short of actually not eating out anymore, the next best thing is to eat out cheaply. Here are the 10 best lunch spots in Iowa City for anyone on a budget!
Starting off with my favorite, Masala Indian Restaurant. They do an AMAZING lunch buffet for $10 and all of the best items off the menu. Samosas, naan, and mango lassi. Ugh, my mouth waters just thinking about it!
Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack. A sandwich for six dollars. SIX. WHAT. That, and they just opened up a downtown location so it’s super convenient and you don’t have to drive all the way to the east side of Iowa City.
Bluebird Diner serves breakfast until 2 on weekends so you no longer have to compromise on your lunch choices! But if you’re not into the whole ‘breakfast not for breakfast’ thing, they do have other delicious items on the menu with most of the basics under $10.
Cactus is a restaurant so popular that Iowa City has a Cactus 1 and a Cactus 2, plus a location in Coralville and another in Tiffin. Cheap (but yummy!) Mexican food. Need I say more? And if you’re in the mood to break the budget a little, go back for a margarita. Trust me, you don’t need an occasion for one of those!
The Hamburg Inn is another one of the best lunch spots in Iowa City for those on a budget. I recommend the Iowa omelet and a chocolate shake – you won’t be disappointed!
Oasis Falafel prides itself on its Middle Eastern style street foods. The falafel pita is only 6 bucks, the location is great, and it tastes good. You really could not ask for more!
Zombie Burger & Shake Lab. Yes, it’s fast food, but it’s some of the best fast food you can get around here! Very few places I go to offer egg on a burger, but this one does and I love it! (Yes, I’m weird, it’s fine) Not to mention that you cannot go wrong with their shakes. Chocolate cake shake and a zombie burger. Yes and yes!
8. I Love Pho
I Love Pho. No, that’s not just a saying, it’s the name of the restaurant! There aren’t a lot of Vietnamese eateries around here, but this one always hits the spot.
Donnelly’s Pub is an Irish themed, well… pub. They’re great for a chill night out with friends, but don’t underestimate their lunch. All the classics for a cheap price!
10. Pagliai’s Pizza
Pagliai’s Pizza is the classic pizza place of Iowa City. When you order Papa John’s, you wish that you would have ordered Pagliai’s. Because it’s located right near campus, it caters to broke college students with delicious pizza at an affordable price!