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An Iowa City steakhouse was just recognized by Food Network as being the best in the state.

Iowa Chop House, located at 223 E. Washington St. in the space next to Englert Civic Theater in Iowa City's historic district, was recognized on Food Network's recently-released "50 States of Steakhouses" list. 

The cozy and rustic restaurant features wood floors and paneling with a leather banquette along a table-lined stone wall. Reclaimed wood tables are outfitted with vibrant red napkin cutlery roll-ups while wooden wine racks and historic art adorn the walls. 

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"The menu reflects a farm-to-fork ethos: Beef is sourced from local farms or in partnership with the Iowa Cattlemen's Association," Food Network's website reads. 

In addition to being recognized for its beef, Iowa Chop House's cheese curds with homemade ranch dressing, sweet-corn succotash, pork chop and popular bacon board appetizer received honorable mentions.

"It's a humbling experience because I know from being in the restaurant business for so long how many great restaurants there are in the area as well as in the state," said co-owner George Etre. "So to be recognized, it just shows how hard the staff and the kitchen and everybody from the front to the back work."

When the Etre brothers started Iowa Chop House four years ago — in a space that housed two other restaurants that opened and closed within 18 months of each other — they knew they had to get it right.

"It was important when we opened to have an Iowa City feel to it because this is where we were born and raised," Etre said. "We wanted to make it upscale but also laid-back."

Etre said there's diverse energy from being located near the University of Iowa campus and it's the goal of Iowa Chop House to make all of the customers feel welcome.

George runs the front of the house and David, his brother and business partner, is the executive chef and runs the kitchen. The two are 11-year veterans of the restaurant business.

"We make a good match because we each control one side of it," George Etre said. "Without him, I definitely know we wouldn't be in this position."

Etre said many staff members are college students. "Each night, you have to bring your A-game, and they do a great job."

At one point, the brothers owned four restaurants including Takenami Sushi Bar and El Patron Taco & Tequila Bar. They decided to cut back to two restaurants and sold them six months ago.

The Etres are now down to two restaurants — Iowa Chop House and Formosa, an Asian fusion eatery serving sushi at Hotel Vetro.

Etre said that even though people's tastes change seasonally, the bacon board appetizer ($8.50) is one of the most popular dishes. "It's literally a pound of bacon and it's maple-glazed and it's outstanding."

Other big sellers are the a la carte 18-ounce T-bone ($38), filet mignon in 8- or 12-ounce sizes ($25; $35) and the 14-ounce pork chop ($18). Diners can choose from a range of additions like bearnaise sauce, sauteed onions, bleu cheese or horseradish crusts and crab Oscar or lobster tail. 

And there are plenty of sides to choose from to round out the meal like potatoes, local veggies and even mac and cheese made with smoked Gouda, mozzarella, Parmesan, cream cheese and bacon.

"We try to partner with local farmers, dairies and breweries as much as possible as their supplies last," Etre said. "Iowa has some amazing beer, farmers and producers and I think nationally people are slowly starting to recognize that. People are starting to come to Iowa for our stuff and Iowa's making a name for itself as a whole."

The wide-ranging menu is rounded out by lists of burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups, appetizers and entrees of chicken, duck, lamb and seafood. Desserts are an assortment of seasonal homemade items like ice cream, apple pie, chocolate cake and tiramisu.

The beverage program at Iowa Chop House covers all the bases, but first-timers should be on the lookout for its electronic self-pouring taps located in an area of the dining room called the Beer Barn. 

A selection of 10 different rotating Iowa beers on tap greets all those who enter with by-the-ounce samplings. And happy hour is every day from 3 to 6 p.m. and includes 50 percent off everything in the Beer Barn.

Etre said it's Iowa Chop House's goal to get better in the years ahead.

"We try our hardest to do the best we can," Etre said. "If we make a mistake we own up to it and try to get better. I tell the staff there's only one thing harder than being the best at something and that's continuing to be the best. Once people's expectations are set high, we have to continue to meet those expectations."

The Iowa Chop House was previously named the best steakhouse in Iowa by Best Things in Iowa and has won both The Iowa City Press Citizen’s Best of the Area, Best Steakhouse category and The Locals Love Us Iowa City Best Steakhouse category in 2018, 2017 and 2016.

In addition to the main dining room and Beer Barn, Iowa Chop House has two private rooms available that seat 20 or 26.

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Iowa Chop House

Location: 223 E. Washington St., Iowa City

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday and Monday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Contact: (319) 359-1078; iowachophouseic.comFacebook

 

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