Nightlife in Des Moines

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The long stem of a martini glass serves a purpose beyond its elegant appearance—it keeps the concoctions it bears cold without ice, which can dilute even the most potent cocktail. A practiced bartending staff uses these slender glasses to hold the more than 30 martinis that dot Lime Lounge’s drink menu, each of which is infused with premium liquors. Mango purée and a hint of chili pair with Absolut vodka in the Mango Tango, a staff favorite, and classic gin and vodka martinis, prepared to each guests' specifications, contain blue-cheese-stuffed olives or cocktail onions. The Lounge's selection of frozen cocktails don't need a martini glass to stay chilled, instead blending rum or tequila with ultra-fine shaved ice to induce an intoxicating brain freeze. With cocktail in hand, patrons can roam the contemporary interior, taking in the lights-and-sound spectacle and tapping their feet in time to live music or DJ sets.

2706 Ingersoll Ave
Des Moines,
IA
US

Originally opened in 1927, the Genesee Theatre slowly deteriorated over the course of the century until its closing in 1989. But starting in 2001, a $23 million cash infusion from the city allowed 120 volunteers to restore the theater to its Gilded Age splendor. Its elegant trappings include authentic wall fabrics, an exact replica of the original marquee, and a 2,200-pound chandelier that gently spotlights the grand lobby and every audience member passing underneath to show how everyone is a star if you really think about it.

1501 Woodland Ave
Des Moines,
IA
US

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.

730 3rd St.
Des Moines,
IA
US

The skilled chefs at Carlos O’Kelly’s Mexican Cafe whip up burritos, enchiladas, and sizzling fajitas to fill an extensive menu of south-of-the-border cuisine. Diners push aside still-steaming nacho and quesadilla starters as a waiter approaches, arms meticulously stacked with plates of enchiladas and burritos ($8.99–$9.99 each). Chefs slather spinach and mushroom enchiladas in butter garlic sauce, and the burro en fuego specialty burrito befuddles meat detectors by burying contraband shredded beef and spicy chili sauce deep inside a warm flour tortilla. Diners can also look over a gluten-free menu to bite into enchiladas and fajitas prepared on corn tortillas as, in the kitchen, blenders buzz up pomegranate and strawberry frozen margaritas into salt-rimmed glasses for frozen fruit consumption without fear of stuck tongue.

4371 Merle Hay Rd
Des Moines,
IA
US

Metromix reviewed Royal Mile in its Datebook Diner, Editorial Juice, and Editorial Datebook columns. More than 1,200 Facebookers are fans of the pub. Yelpers give it a 4.5-star average, and TripAdvisors give it an average of four owl eyes.

210 4th St
Des Moines,
IA
US

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.

500 E Locust St
Des Moines,
IA
US