The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa City’s Bluebird Diner wins Reader’s Digest award for best diner in Iowa

Bluebird Diner was recently called the best diner in Iowa by Reader’s Digest, thanks to its scratch-to-table cuisine.
Cody Blissett
Bluebird Diner is seen in Iowa City on Wednesday, March 29, 2023.

Iowa City’s Bluebird Diner was recently nominated the best diner in Iowa by the magazine Reader’s Digest.

The diner, on East Market Street in Iowa City, opened its third location in Solon last year after previously opening one in North Liberty in 2012. Its first location in Iowa City opened in 2008. Bluebird Diner was named the most iconic diner in Iowa in September.

Known for its American and Midwestern soul food, the diner also offers various coffee drinks and its signature extra-large $6 cinnamon roll.

Because of staffing issues, General Manager Suzanna Rodriguez said the first thing people notice when they walk in is the cozy atmosphere and its homey vibe.

“We like the tchotchkes here. We’ve brought back the way it used to be [in 2008]. We’ve got mirrors on the wall and lots of art,” Rodriguez said.

The retro blue seating, blue checkered floors, and old-style photographs and knickknacks give the dinner a nostalgic feel. Its notable cozy atmosphere attracts tourists, students, and residents year-round.

“It’s like a true American diner. It’s just warm and cozy and happy,” Elena Van Auken, a server at the downtown location, said.

Map by Natalie Dunlap

Van Auken said the positive environments cultivated by the staff at Bluebird Cafe.

“I just love working here. I love the people I work with,” Van Auken said.

“For me personally, this is the second time I've worked here. The clientele really makes it, and the staff really makes it,” Rodriguez said. “This place would suck if my co-workers and my staff weren't so great.”


The diner opens at 7 a.m. every day and runs through dinner service until closing at 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and until 3 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday.

Calvin Czeschin, a freshman at the University of Iowa, said the location felt familiar to him.

“It reminded me of a diner back in my hometown in Arkansas called Skippers. It was just it was really homey and the food's just really good. I got an omelet with cheese, bacon, and ham in it and then I ordered that again because I was still hungry,” Czeschin said.

Czeschin says it was nice to have something that reminded him of home, and that it's a good place to go for family gatherings or date night.

“I think overall it’s … just a good spot to kind of be with friends and family,” Czeschin said.

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About the Contributors
Olivia Gamertsfelder, News Reporter
Olivia is a freshman student from Washington D.C. double majoring in creative writing and journalism. She is a news reporter for the Daily Iowan. Prior to this, she directed her school's literary magazine and completed two theses (please ask her about them as she is very passionate).
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.