California Quesadillas with Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce


California Quesadillas with Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce are crisp, cool, quick and tasty!

Saturday evening Ben and I got to babysit my niece and nephew, and what started out as a drawing with sidewalk chalk and making funny faces in the mirror kind of night, ended with Ben talking Evie off the proverbial ledge after a too-tired-to-sleep, too-hungry-to-eat, full-fledged baby meltdown.


We split up and while I fixed Finn spaghetti then played with him at bath time, Ben the baby whisperer jiggled, swayed, and shushed poor Evie til there were no more tears and sleep finally came, then stood planted in the dark playroom not moving an inch, lest she wake up and start crying again, until my brother and sister-in-law came home.


Uncle Ben was ready for a drink after that! ;)


Truly not feeling like going home after babysitting duty, we decided to go grab a drink and dinner at a new bar in town – The OP!


The OP is my JAM, y’all!* Short for “The Other Place”, the OP is a bar/pizza place that started in Cedar Falls, home of my alma mater the University of Northern Iowa, that recently opened a new location here in town. I could NOT be more pumped about this!

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Afterall, The OP is where my friends and I spent a healthy chunk of time in between classes and studying (you know, all the pesky business involved in getting a higher education,) making some of my favorite college memories.


FAC? The OP. Ace a test? The OP. Break up with a boyfriend? The OP!

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It was 1 in 1 out nearly every night of the week, (gosh, remember 1 in 1 out?) but the ones in the know knew not to leave before the closing song played, when the whole bar sang, chanted, and cheered along before piling out and then on home.

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While the new OP in town is a tad more family friendly shall we say, they’ve still got an awesome menu, and hey, a cold beer’s a cold beer!

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Normally I order a Taco Pizza and The OP’s famous breadsticks whenever I’m back in Cedar Falls visiting, but Ben and I were in the mood for something light when we arrived on Saturday night, and the California Quesadilla with Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce on the new menu was calling my name.

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Melty mozzarella cheese, seasoned chopped chicken breast, chewy sundried tomatoes, tangy artichoke hearts, and creamy avocado slices are sandwiched between gluten-free or regular flour tortillas, cooked until golden brown, then sliced into wedges and served with a quick honey-balsamic dipping sauce.

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With food this good, I can see myself making many more “grown up” memories at the new OP!


California Quesadillas with Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce

makes 2 quesadillas


California Quesadillas with Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce are crisp, cool, quick and tasty!


  • 4 burrito-sized flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • Extra virgin olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • For the honey-balsamic dipping sauce:
    • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 Tablespoon honey
    • 1 clove garlic, microplaned or finely minced
    • salt & pepper


  1. For the Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce: Add ingredients to a jar with a tight fitting lid, or bowl then shake or whisk until combined. Set aside.
  2. Brush chicken breast on both sides with extra virgin olive oil then season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook for 4-5 minutes a side in a small skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink in the center. Let rest for 5 minutes, then chop into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Place two tortillas on a flat surface and spread 1/4 cup shredded cheese on each one. Split cooked chicken, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, avocado, and remaining cheese between both tortillas, then top with remaining tortillas. Heat a large skillet over medium heat then spray with non-stick spray. Slide one quesadilla into the skillet then cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip then cook until the other side is golden brown. Slide onto a plate and repeat with remaining quesadilla. Cut into slices and serve with dipping sauce.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


The combo of these ingredients is really light, yet super tasty. Grown up bar food, if you will!


I sort of want to smother myself in this dipping sauce too. It is SO good.


Kind of tangy, kind of sweet, it’s the perfect accompaniment to these quesadillas.

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*Honorable mentions also go out to Suds and Tony’s Lounge, (RIP).

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  1. Stacey 07.30.2012

    haha, love the shout out! What about Sharky’s?? :)

  2. oo i love the combo of flavors in the quesadilla. Thereis a crepe place in the town I used to live that had something similar called the Quirky Albuerque. ha!

    your neice and newphew are too cute!

  3. Bethany 07.30.2012

    Have you checked out Tony’s on Main yet? It’s pretty awesome :-)

  4. Allie 07.30.2012

    I was equally excited about the OP opening a restaurant in DM! I hoped it would be more of an homage to UNI with its decor and such but the pizza is equally delicious and it’s nice to have a piece of Cedar Falls here. Whenever I go I always see a UNI alumn!

  5. Oh my goodness, what an adorable baby girl. That’s also a MUST TRY quesadilla! Yumm-o!

  6. Omg. Those look so good.

  7. I think I know what I’m having for dinner tonight now ;)

    And 1 in 1 out. Wow. Those were the days!!

  8. Carrie 07.30.2012

    Oh, how I love the OP! :) Never can get back there enough!

  9. Jenna Lynn 07.30.2012

    My favorite combo at the OP is also the taco pizza and bread sticks! They are the best!

  10. ashley 07.30.2012

    We have an OP right in our neighborhood that we all walk to… it!! My finance and our friend did their inferno challenge Saturday night and won spots on the wall of fame. Oh the glory!

  11. Trisha 07.30.2012

    Hahaha, I really had to think about 1 in 1 out for a bit. I feel like this happened to me a solid 3 NYE’s in a row. December 31st in Wisconsin, waiting in line to get into a bar to watch the ball drop? Totally worth it, of course!

  12. Hannah 07.30.2012

    yay! OP! i am a block from the hill! makes me hungry… :)

  13. Alyssa 07.30.2012

    I love the OP! I’m a student at UNI right now and love the shout out :)

  14. Joanna 07.30.2012

    These look AWESOME! I made quesadillas with avocado, cilantro, a little onion, and pepperjack cheese a while back and fell in LOVE. avocado is my favorite

  15. Aw, sounds like Ben will make a great dad! It’s hard work to rock and soothe a crying baby! That honey balsamic sounds delicious.

  16. Beth 07.30.2012

    Ahhh…Memories. Loved the OP, Suds, Sharky’s and Tony’s. Those were the days on the hill! Can’t wait to try the quesadilla

  17. Michele 07.30.2012

    I love your blog but I wanted you to know that for some reason every time I visit, I get to your page and then I get one of those pages telling me my computer may have a virus and telling me to “click here” to start a scan. It has happened to me about the last 3 or 4 times I’ve come here. I have to use the back button to get back to your page. Just thought I would let you know. It doesn’t happen to me anywhere else.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 07.30.2012

      Hey Michele! For some reason my website is triggering malware already living on people’s computers. The site itself is clean (I’ve had it scanned by 4+ different companies.) What you can do is download and run the program here: (I’ve done it – it’s safe) then remove the “POP.” file that should come up. Let me know if that works!!

      • Michele 07.30.2012

        Thanks for the info! I am ashamed to admit I don’t know anything about malware but I am running the scan now. So far nothing has come up but it’s still scanning. My email got hacked a few weeks ago and I think that is when the problem started. Thanks again for your help! I will read more about it.

      • shirley 07.31.2012

        Same thing with my computer but ran this scan and found a virus-quarentined it and now I’m good to go without any messages!

      • Michele 07.30.2012

        This is what the scan found “Rogue.Link” whatever that means? Anyway, I can get here now without getting that other page so thanks!

  18. Madison 07.30.2012

    YUM! These look so delicious. I bet that honey balsamic dipping sauce pairs well with a lot of other dishes. I made a quesadilla dish tonight–chicken, pesto, goat cheese, crushed red pepper and skim mozzerella cheese. Yummy too! I will definitely have to try this recipe though. Thanks for being awesome!

  19. Holy Goodness! I just want to swim in a vat of that Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce! YUM!

  20. jennyv 07.30.2012

    I didn’t know the OP did quesadillas!

    Btw, think I saw you and Ben on a walk yesterday late afternoon while I was biking! Either that or you have a twin couple!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 07.30.2012

      It was probably us! SO HOT, right?!

      • jennyv 07.30.2012

        Not as bad as RAGBRAI a week ago, but it definitely sweat drenched!

  21. Desiree Macke 07.30.2012

    My BFF went to UNI, while I attended ISU. LOVED going to the OP! And, when I moved to Kansa City I was STOKED (yes, I just said stoked) to learn there was an OP there as well! Now, I live in Los Angeles and find it would be downright sinful if I didn’t make this, ASAP.

    P.S. To my knowledge there is no OP in SoCal. These west-coasters have no idea what they’re missing.

  22. Mimi Valenti 07.30.2012

    I love you blog and have told so many people about it and gotten them hooked. You’ve got us all eating such colorful dishes and heathly too.
    What is the ingredient that you are grating into the dipping sauce. I would guess garlic but it’s not on the list.

  23. I am all about a veggie-filled quesadilla. And this sauce sounds over-the-top amazing. I love everything about this!

  24. These sound indcredible. I recently made a zucchini and cheese quesadilla but this sounds so much better! Especially with the dipping sauce.

  25. RavieNomNoms 07.31.2012

    These look so good!! I definitely want to try this!

  26. Elizabeth Pollastrini 07.31.2012

    Love, love, LOVE the OP! Their pizza is by far the best pizza around.

  27. I am from California, and I approve these quesadillas!

  28. Teresa H 07.31.2012

    This looks amazing – I pinned it but had to write in the name of your blog since it didn’t go on automatically. Love your recipes!

  29. Ah…the OP…so many memories! I spent WAY to much money there at UNI, but it was worth it! My brother and sis-in-law live in Clive and just visited the new one too, can’t wait to visit it!

  30. jane 08.01.2012

    What does 1in 1out mean??

    • Iowa Girl Eats 08.01.2012

      It means the bar is at capacity so they can only let a person in when another person leaves!

  31. Lauren 08.01.2012

    I live in Texas now, but am from Kansas City, and I miss the OP!! There are times I just drool thinking about the Taco Pizza. I’m jealous you’re so close to it!

  32. Number 1: Your niece and nephew are adorable!
    Number 2: I love your blog!

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