A recent excursion to Iowa City brought us to the most well known restaurant in the IC, if not the state. Hamburg Inn #2 on Linn Street first opened in 1948 as the second in a chain of restaurants owned by the Panther family. It is the only one still open, yet retains the #2 in its moniker.
Hamburg Inn is partly famous for its food, but mostly famous for its diners. Politicians flock here to meet their constituents and support a family owned business. However, being a small college town, there's no shortage of locally owned joints. Why does Hamburg stand out among them? The FOOD.
The diners are a mix of college age bros and hipsters, wealthy senior citizens, and jaded corgi owners like this guy.
The place is ridiculously small. The first time we were in there last summer, I wanted to scream and run away from all the noise and people. Unfortunately, we ran to Lou Henri's which was a nightmare in its own right. I actually expected the Hamburg to have some crazy corners around which more booths were hidden, but nope. It was just one room. We sat at a counter with stools in the middle of the room.
It was around 4:30 when we visited, and I would highly recommend going around this time or even earlier for dinner/late lunch. We didn't have to wait at all, and it was relatively quiet.
Here's where Ronnie ate in 92! Luckily they didn't 'Tear down this booth!'
Obamer and Clinton ate there too, but I didn't see their booths. During elections, Hamburg actually holds a coffee bean caucus in which diners vote for the candidate of their choice by dropping a coffee bean in a jar. (Excuse their misuse of the word caucus.) Iowa City is obviously a pretty liberal town with their co-ops and DIY stores, so of course Obama won the last one. It's like living in a giant happy bubble of hipsters, starving authors, and football fanatics... and even a few hipster football fans working on their first novel.
To start things off, I ordered a maple shake. Hamburg is actually known for their shakes in which they shove a whole piece of pie or red velvet cake into a cup with ice cream. I wanted to try maple because I had never before even heard of a maple shake.
It was like sucking a pancake through a straw. I loved it.
Back to the breakfasts! It's served all day, which is always a good sign. Unless you're at Sonic. Here is Richard's Hawkeye Hog omelet. A two egg omelet rolled up with sausage, hashbrowns, and American cheese, smothered in sausage gravy. He is a true Iowan at last! Also note the french toast you can choose as a side dish. Hurrah!
I went for a classier dish, the Eggs Florentine- poached eggs and spinach on an English muffin with hollandaise. It was supposed to come with pico de gallo too, but they were out. I must've looked like a total bee-yotch because when the waiter told me, he apologized profusely and flinched like I was going to throw hollandaise in his eyes.
After we ate and paid, the nervous waiter once again came running over and stammered about, asking me why I didn't like the milkshake. I replied that I did like it a lot, I just couldn't finish it all. I mean, who wants to eat that much dairy before an hour car ride home? He offered me a to-go cup, but I refused and I think it devastated him. Seriously, I think his day was ruined, maybe even his week. I imagine he is so downtrodden that he asks other servers to make his shakes for him.
The food was delicious, but I left a little hungry. The atmosphere wasn't quite as homey as I hoped, but it's still a cool place to go for a bite of better than average diner food and superb milkshakes. Also of note, the 'burg offers many vegetarian dishes including veggie 'bacon' and 'sausage'.