Best Pubs in Des Moines, Iowa: A Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Night Out

Best Pubs in Des Moines, Iowa: A Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Night Out

Des Moines, Iowa – the capital city of the Hawkeye State. It is not only the political hub but also a culturally vibrant and bustling city in the heart of America. Lively nightlife is no stranger to this metropolitan, and it offers some of the finest pubs and bars for a memorable night out. This guide will take you on a journey through the crevices and corners of the thriving pub scene in Des Moines. Whether you’re a local, a beer enthusiast, or a tourist visiting the city, this guide has got you covered.

So, let’s dive into the best pubs in Des Moines, Iowa, for the ultimate night out experience.

1. El Bait Shop & High Life Lounge

Address: 200 SW 2nd St, Des Moines, IA 50309

El Bait Shop and the High Life Lounge are connected establishments offering a dual experience that attracts beer-loving patrons from every corner of Des Moines. El Bait Shop boasts an impressive list of over 260 craft beers on tap, whereas the High Life Lounge, also known as the “Champagne of Bars,” takes you back to the 1960s with retro décor, classic cocktails, and comfort food.

The atmosphere at El Bait Shop is laid-back, with a casual dive bar vibe. It’s the ultimate spot for beer enthusiasts and casual socializers looking for a place to kick back and sip on their favorite brews. Try out local favorites like the Toppling Goliath PseudoSue or dabble in their extensive international offering to find your new go-to drink.

With such a wide variety of brews and classic cocktails on offer, this duo-establishment proudly holds its spot among the best pubs in Des Moines, Iowa.

2. The Royal Mile

Address: 210 4th St, Des Moines, IA 50309

The Royal Mile is one of the most authentic British pubs in the heart of Des Moines. With its imperial charm, fine European beverages, whiskey selection, and a vast array of British and American pub grub, you can’t help but feel part of the royal family.

The delightful mix of casual and stately attracts a diverse crowd of patrons. The dark wood furnishings, antique décor, and ample seating throughout the first floor and basement make The Royal Mile the go-to spot for soccer enthusiasts, leisurely beer sippers, or party seekers looking for an invigorating night out.

Feeling a little famished? Don’t miss out on their Scotch Egg or the quintessential Fish & Chips for a truly delightful and quintessential pub experience.

3. Hessen Haus

Address: 101 4th St, Des Moines, IA 50309

Located just next door to the Royal Mile, Hessen Haus brings the best of German bier to Downtown Des Moines. Offering a diverse menu of more than 50 German beers and traditional German pub dishes like Bratwurst and Schnitzel, you’ll feel like you’ve been whisked away to the heart of Germany.

Hessen Haus, filled with long communal tables, provides a friendly yet lively atmosphere that’s perfect for socializing or making new friends. The outdoor Biergarten, heated and enclosed during the winter, is a fantastic spot to enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons in Des Moines. Plus, for those looking for a little more excitement, try your hand at an exciting game of Bier Pong, or join on a Sunday Boot Day.

So raise your steins and toast to the German gem among Des Moines’ best pubs.

4. Carl’s Place

Address: 1620 Woodland Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309

Carl’s Place, affectionately known as “Shithole Carl’s,” is considered by many to be the original Des Moines dive bar. Located in the charming and trendy Sherman Hill neighborhood, this no-nonsense establishment has been around since the 1930s, and its devoted clientele can’t get enough of it.

This no-frills bar offers an enticing selection of affordable drinks, a friendly, unpretentious atmosphere, and enough character to write a novel on. With pool tables, darts, and a diverse jukebox that’ll cater to everyone’s musical tastes, Carl’s Place refuses to put on airs, making it a must-visit for those looking for a casual, low-key night out.

5. The Lift

Address: 222 4th St #100, Des Moines, IA 50309

The Lift is an artsy, cozy basement bar nestled just below Tacopocalypse in Downtown Des Moines. Their décor alone makes it an essential visit, with unique artwork on the walls and colorful lighting arrangements that are sure to spark conversation. The Lift specializes in craft cocktails, martinis, and good beer. Patrons love their signature cocktails like “The ’88” and “Blood Orange Cosmo.”

With its live music events, poetry readings, and open mic nights, The Lift has established itself as a haven for creative spirits seeking delicious drinks and casual conversation. Be sure to keep up with the events calendar to catch a unique evening of spoken word poetry, local art showcases, or live music.


So there you have it – a comprehensive guide to the best pubs in Des Moines, Iowa, for the ultimate night out. Whether you’re looking to try a taste of Europe with The Royal Mile or Hessen Haus, experience a classic Des Moines dive bar at Carl’s Place, or explore the artsy side of the city at The Lift, each of these pubs offers something unique and alluring that is sure to satisfy any pub enthusiast in the heart of the Hawkeye State.

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