Bubba—Southern Comforts

200 10th St; 515-257-4744

When you’re all dressed up, this is somewhere to go—thanks to the snazzy Southern parlor-like setting of this restaurant’s lounge. The bar spotlights bourbon, with over 50 bottles in stock. See full listing for Bubba, page 15.

Blu Toro

5585 Mills Civic Parkway,
West Des Moines; 515-223-2302

Offering more than 70 tequilas, the dashing lounge of this Mexican-focused restaurant is the place to get to know the spirit’s great range of styles, from the fresh, herbaceous appeal of younger tequilas to the more smoky, spicy, vanilla-infused flavors of wood-aged tequila. Also look for jazzy takes on margaritas and other tequila-forward craft cocktails.

Hello, Marjorie

717 Locust St.; 515-369-2296

Styled in a “midcentury-retro meets retooled-modern-urban” way, and housed in the former lobby of the Des Moines Register and Tribune building, this ultra-hip and inviting lounge was named for co-owner Nick Tillinghast’s grandmother, a stylish lady who was hip in her own midcentury way. Enjoy craft cocktails, including “the Marjorie,” featuring sloe gin (the formidable lady’s personal favorite liquor), as well as wine (including prosecco on tap) and a solid selection of beer (craft and otherwise).

Juniper Moon

2005 Ingersoll Ave.; 515-369-7786

This alluring, darkly lit Ingersoll venue is the exact opposite of a dive bar. With leather couches, chairs and banquettes; polished-wood tables; softly glowing Tiffany-style lamps; and a stylish crowd, the space exudes intimacy and invites sotto-voce conversations. Enjoy craft cocktails and well-purveyed wines and beer, and if you get hungry, you can order a pizza delivered from Gusto Pizza Co. next door (see listing, page 28).


1326 Walnut St.; 515-770-4210

Well-known vocalist Max Wellman heads up the programming for this modern jazz club and cabaret. Wednesday through Saturday, delight in instrumental and vocal jazz by local, regional and nationally acclaimed performers. Housed in a renovated warehouse, the club’s classic cocktails, plush stage curtains and intimate tables with leather-backed chairs bring the mystique of the Jazz Age into our own era.

The Republic on Grand

401 E. Grand Ave.; 515-518-6070

If you only have time for one cocktail at one place in town, the Republic—on the top floor of the AC Hotel in the East Village—is the place to have it. The plush divans, a swanky decor and expansive views of downtown combine for enough of a draw, but the best part is outside: Terraces along two sides provide the best outdoor seating in town, and they swell with a see-and-be seen crowd. Better yet, heat lamps keep them open even in less-than-summery weather. Look for craft cocktails—many created and named in honor of Des Moines neighborhoods—and a good beer and wine list. A limited selection of polished bar food is available; service could be more engaged, but by all means, go anyway.

Streetcar 209

525 E. Grand Ave.; 515-288-2996

This quirky and casual East Village spot offers intimate, small-scale performances of poetry readings, comedy, acoustic music and more. Other highlights include a great rooftop patio and thoughtfully made sandwiches and flatbreads.

Vino 209

209 Fifth St., West Des Moines;

With its red-brick walls as a major design element, this smart wine bar taps into the historic appeal of its Valley Junction environs while also conjuring up a cozy wine-cellar vibe. Choose from 20 wines by the glass and even more by the bottle, as well as beer and espresso drinks. The menu is limited but thoughtful and includes breakfast pastries, salads, sandwiches, snacks, meat-and-cheese boards and desserts. +


If you’re a beer-forward diner—that is, someone who chooses where to go based on what’s on tap above all else—let this list be your guide. These places are all extraordinarily devoted to serving a thoughtful and wide selection of craft beers.


Find 100 beers on tap, with the menu neatly divided into specific styles of beer to choose from: Sour, Tart & Funky; Dark & Roasty; Fruity & Spicy; and more. Up-to-date bar food (such as poutine, flatbreads and sandwiches) is available.

5513 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines; 515-483-2337;


Much loved for its Italian-American food, this downtown favorite is making a name for itself among “beeroisseurs,” thanks to executive chef Derek Eidson. This inveterate beer geek oversees the restaurant’s beer program, often getting his hands on coveted, hard-to-snag finds. See full listing for Centro, page 7.

1003 Locust St.; 515-248-1780;

Cheese Bar

Thirty beers on tap and a commitment to sourcing the best cheeses and charcuterie in the world make this a must-visit for any beer-and-food lover. See full listing for Cheese Bar, page 25.

2925 Ingersoll Ave.; 515-277-7828;

Confluence Brewing

At this popular taproom, beer enthusiasts can enjoy over a dozen seasonal and year-round craft beers brewed on-site. Although the venue doesn’t serve food, you can bring in your own; better yet, there’s usually a food truck parked outside.

1235 Thomas Beck Road; 515-285-9005;

El Bait Shop

This quirky spot claims to have more American microbrews on tap than any other bar in the world; as of press time, they offered 216 beers on tap, 63 by the bottle and 72 by the can. Good bar food and a knotty-pine-paneled interior with decidedly goofy touches (taxidermy, bicycles, chock-a-block beer signs) add to the easygoing, offbeat groove.

200 S.W. Second St., 515-284-1970;

Hessen Haus

A former railroad depot has been transformed into a rustic, rollicking beer hall, complete with rosy-cheeked revelers, casual German and American food and mammoth steins of frothy-topped beer, including nearly 50 on tap and100-plus in bottles.
101 Fourth St., 515-288-2520;

Iowa Taproom

This handsomely renovated East Village warehouse brings an ongoing celebration of the craft beer movement in Iowa. Choose from 120 Iowa beers on tap, made by more than 30 Iowa breweries, and enjoy bar-grill favorites alongside.

215 E. Third St., 515-243-0827;

Peace Tree Brewing

Established in 2009 in Knoxville, Peace Tree opened a location early this year in a renovated Quonset hut in the East Village. No food is served, but you can bring your own or have it delivered.

317 E. Court Ave.; 515-883-2739;

The Royal Mile & The Red Monk

You’ll feel like you landed in the U.K. when you enjoy the 28 ales and lagers on draft and the 120-plus beers in bottles, plus honest pub cooking in the unmistakably British atmosphere of the Royal Mile. Also check out the Red Monk upstairs, a bar dedicated to Belgian beer.

210 Fourth St., 515-282-2012;