Top 5: Places to hangout at in the Quad Cities

William Sikich

(5) Cool Beanz, Rock Island

I know some of our readers may find it shameful to place Augustana’s beloved Cool Beanz at lowly fifth place; while others will likely roll their upperclassman eyes with boredom at the sight of its tired name. At any rate, I thought it worth putting on my list if only to bring to light some of the lesser-known joys of Rock Island’s iconic coffee shop. Beyond making and selling coffee in a refreshingly non-Starbucks style, Cool Beanz also offers some pretty fantastic food. Their chips are spiced and unique, and their grilled cheese is perhaps my favorite sandwich of all time. To top it off, they frequently feature live music performances and provide free wifi to all paying customers.

(4) Paradigm Virtual Reality Gaming and Training, Davenport

If you’re into video games, you’ve probably resigned yourself to the fact that there’s nowhere for you to go to enjoy your hobby besides your dorm room – Perhaps a friend’s house, if you’re ambitious. The Augustana gamer, however, has the good fortune of living just across the Mississippi from Paradigm Virtual Reality Gaming and Training. Paradigm specializes in what its name implies: supplying the environment and equipment necessary for unique and entertaining virtual reality experiences. You can also get snacks and coffee in the back or simply rent a game system to enjoy for a while. Overall, it’s a fairly specialized place that manages to fill a much-demanded role in the entertainment scene of the Quad Cities.

(3)  Atomic Coffee Bar, Davenport

Sure, I’ve already mentioned two places that sell coffee, but I think our readers will shortly understand why Atomic more than earns its place on this list. Nothing more than a tiny, metal box on the corner of a strip mall parking lot, Atomic serves what I believe to be the best coffee in the Quad Cities. The two drive-through lines always extend well past half a dozen cars each, and I truly don’t know how they pull off serving that many people out of a trailer that small. It’s an impressive sight you have to experience to fully understand. Besides coffee, they also serve various flavors of colorful energy drinks that customers can mix and match at will. It’s a little out of the way, but Atomic Coffee Bar is definitely worth the trip.

(2) Cafe Fresh, Moline

Towards the top of my list, I’ve placed Cafe Fresh, my go-to restaurant in the Quad Cities. Cafe Fresh pushed its way to second place by dint of two main factors: the appetizers and the tea. Their menu features some of the most perfectly prepared appetizers I’ve found in the area, including meat-wrapped pickle chips and baked goat cheese. Additionally, the tea selection there ought to satisfy even pickier tea drinkers. Generally, the place leaves me full and happy without fail, and what more can a student reasonably desire?

(1) Woodfire, Davenport

At number one, we have what is likely the most interesting and risky place on my list: Woodfire. Owned and run by the charismatic Chef Toby, Woodfire has invariably proven the most satisfying place in the Quad Cities to grab dinner. It’s a little pricey, however, so I visit infrequently. Nonetheless, I submit that no other restaurant will provide quite the experience that Woodfire guarantees. First of all, the food is phenomenal; Toby Christianson is an undeniably talented chef. The true charm of the place, though, lies in the openness of the menu. Much of the options change with the whims of the chef, and my favorite item on the menu simply involves his picking a dish and sending it my way. This may all sound a bit daunting at first, but let me assure our readers that Chef Toby’s cooking is worth the leap of faith.