Hungry customers come to Iron Hawk to enjoy an array of farm-to-table pork dishes that ring up for less than $10. In a city where most eateries cater either to students or to high-end diners, this restaurant seeks the middle ground. Its no-frills food is locally sourced, and the decor offers some attractive design features setting it apart from a standard family-style establishment.
Co-owner Aric Kos grew up on a farm in nearby Riverside and launched the restaurant in 2012 with a commitment to sourcing his meat from area farmers. Pork burgers, tenderloins, barbecue and “tenderbites” (breaded cubes of pork loin served with a variety of sauces) take center stage on a menu that also includes flatbread pizzas, salads and other items. The pulled pork is your standard Iowa sandwich—not particularly flavorful, but perfectly acceptable. We found the breaded pork tenderloin a little on the dry side, although the crispy sweet potato fries that accompanied it were expertly cooked. This is primarily a dining operation, but the bar carries 20 beers on tap and nearly 50 more bottled varieties.
During summer, customers can sit at Iron Hawk’s outdoor tables to enjoy the colorful street life of downtown Iowa City. Inside, vinyl booths and tables provide seating amid pig-theme decorations and University of Iowa Hawkeye posters.