Iowa Nightlife

Select Local Merchants

When the owners first laid eyes on the 117-year-old house that would later become Capital Pub and Hot Dog, they viewed it as an opportunity to accomplish a long-lived goal rather than as an archaic, dilapidated building. Today, the once-condemned structure stands completely renovated and now serves as a dining hotspot where neighborhood regulars furnish their bellies with 100%-all-beef Klement's hot dogs and signature cocktails. The laid-back eatery's 13 Capital Dogs bear such unique toppings as homemade chili, crispy Fritos, and buffalo hot sauce, and its hearty sandwiches punch hunger in the gut with Angus beef, marinated chicken, and american cheese. Headlining a hefty appetizer menu, sweet-potato fries drizzled in honey and accompanied by marshmallow-cream sauce charm taste buds with bites sweeter than love notes written by Oompa Loompas. Capital's sleek, intimate space treats stompers to warm wooden floors that glimmer beneath burnished dining islands and beer-inspired signage.

400 SE 6th St
Des Moines,
IA
US

The storefront now filled with Red’s Public House was once a pizzeria, a Chinese buffet, and a Lebanese fast food joint. In 2010, Red’s brought some stability to the location after extensive renovations and quickly became a go-to place for breakfast. Served until 2 p.m., Red's breakfast ranges from omelets and biscuits and gravy to steak and eggs. For lunch and dinner, you can choose from 27 sandwiches—including burgers, burger melts, steak sandwiches, and a BLT. You'll also find pizzas, hot dogs, salads, and more. Inside, the restaurant punctuates hearty meals with homey vibes, complete with exposed brick walls and cherry-red trim. The public house is open until 2 a.m., perfect for a late-night snack after hitting the bars or an early-morning meal before going to yell at the birds that keep you awake.

112 2nd St SE
Cedar Rapids,
IA
US

Tired of huddling around a small TV to watch the big game with their friends, Champps Americana’s founders opened a small sports bar called Concourse 7 in Minneapolis. They served burgers—made from scratch and piled with toppings—and a large selection of brews as sports played on huge TV screens overhead.

Today, what began as a small gathering place has become a franchise with locations across the country. However, Champps' exciting, game-day atmosphere and made-from-scratch approach to cuisine has not changed. As players charge across large, wall-mounted TV screens, servers deliver made-to-order burgers, salads, pastas, sandwiches, and desserts. Behind the bar, bartenders shake and stir creative cocktails and conceal the fact that they are wearing pajama pants. A kids’ menu is also available.

101 Jordan Creek Pkwy
West Des Moines,
IA
US

Owner Steve Halterman frequently ambles through the bustling dining room at Murphy’s Sports Bar and Grill, an Irish pub he founded more than a decade ago. As he mingles with the crowd, servers fill tables with traditional pub fare, made fresh to order rather than excavated from the fossilized remains traditional pubs. Patrons dig into entrees such as the chicken-fried chicken or the eatery’s signature burger, topped with A1 and bacon. Chefs also bake up specialty pizzas, such as the buffalo chicken pie slathered in spicy wing sauce and loaded with grilled chicken chunks. For a more intimate atmosphere, larger parties can retire from the main area to a private room, where groups of up to 145 can feast or swig pints of lager.

2675 100th St
Urbandale,
IA
US

In a world that changes by the minute, Zimm's Food and Spirits remains a comforting constant. That's because the restaurant, which celebrates its 20th anniversary on October 19, 2013, remains open 365 days a year rain or shine, weekday or weekend, Christmas, or bring-your-dog-to-work day. Although happy hour only happens on weekday afternoons (from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.), and on weekends (from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), the $2 Long Islands, half-price apps, free popcorn, and other specials should be enough to make up for it. Plus, steak and French Dip sandwiches, as well as salads and burgers, are always an option, as are games of pool, shuffleboard and darts.

3124 Ingersoll Ave
Des Moines,
IA
US

Syndicate European Pub cultivates a relaxed continental atmosphere with flavorful drinks and satisfying meals. The restaurant's menu boasts half-pound burgers, creole chicken sandwich, 8-ounce angus filet, and seared diver scallops. Pair your meal with a selection of craft beers on tap including Breakfast Stout, Boulevard, and Sutliff Cider.

207 First Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids,
IA
US