The Underground boasted four CityView awards in 2009, including Best Bartender and Best Bar Overall. The laid back subterranean space presents live music most nights, hosting both local and national acts. Hide away from the world and its impossible crossword puzzles with well drink ($3) or draft beer ($3–$4) flanked by helping of Frank's pizza ($8). The bar also offers a wide selection of wines by the glass ($7) and martinis that will leave you shaken, not obliterated ($7). This game-friendly drinkery also features billiard tables and dartboards for pool sharks and target tunas. The Underground is 21 and over after 9 p.m. Most live music shows are free, but there is the occasional cover charge (not covered by the Groupon) so be sure to check the schedule before planning your rock-filled evening.
Midwest Cage Championship, the region's largest MMA organization, has been showcasing brutal cage fights in Des Moines for more than five years. In 12 bouts across seven divisions, bone-cracking ballerinas will dance a pugilistic pas de deux, gracefully pirouetting into each other's pressure points. Lonnie Scriven and "Hollywood" Johnny Case join together to explore a vast terrain of bodily pain in the lightweight championship. Then, for the main event, light heavyweights Jesse Lund and Tyrone Roberts come to blows over the ownership of a belt, like deal-crazed shoppers at a Belt-Mart firesale.
A nondescript black-and-white sign hangs outside The Standard Martini Bar, reflecting the understated elegance inside. Bartenders shake and stir 49 different martinis, including 15 modern interpretations with ingredients ranging from Godiva dark-chocolate liqueur to green tea to banana schnapps. These drinks accompany the eclectic, bistro-style menus of paninis and tapas, which draw inspiration from Cajun, Italian, and Mexican cuisines.
The decor echoes this subtle sense of refinement with its stone columns, paintings-lined walls, and caviar-filled saltshakers. The Standard Martini Bar keeps the environment lively, though, by hosting live music, karaoke nights, and trivia contests throughout the week.
Midwest Black Angus beef, free of hormones or antibiotics, joins with creative ingredients such as A.1. sauce and chipotle aioli to create more than 15 unique burgers at Legends American Grill. These burgers embody a variety and thirst for excitement that radiates throughout each of the grill's central-Iowa locations. There, nestled amid deep-umber booths or brick walls, diners watch sports flicker across flat-screen televisions, rooting on their team and showing disdain for the ref’s decision to wear white pants after Labor Day. But if the score is disheartening, fans can dig into the menu to cheer themselves up. Hand-cut Creekstone Farms steaks offset surf entrees such as salmon in béarnaise sauce or grilled mahi-mahi in a sweet-and-spicy thai sauce. Comfort-food favorites such as meatloaf and fried chicken also make an appearance, pairing with cocktails and beers served by the bottle and pint.