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

• For $6, you get $12 worth of pub fare at lunch (11 a.m.–3 p.m.). • For $15, you get $30 worth of pub fare at dinner (starting at 3 p.m.).

71 1st Street
Riverside,
IA
US

From its unexpected burger toppings to its funky decor, Oddfellow’s Burger Kitchen is chock-full of character. The all-American menu, which is festooned with cartoon Elvis silhouettes and a colorful hippie van, features quirky items, such as pasta dishes tossed in peanut butter and barbecue sauce, and starters including an “ice cold can” of PBR. And as the eatery's name suggests, the specialty here is burgers—15 of them to be exact—and despite the playful names and wacky topping combinations, the restaurant takes its creations seriously. Every day, the staff grinds its own beef in house, hand-forms each third-pound patty, and bakes fresh buns in order to build burgers such as The Ring of Fire, which packs the heat with hot sauce, jalapeños, and a Cajun spice rub. The Crabby burger features lump crab and garlic aioli, and the bacon-and-cheese-topped Oddfellow burger is sandwiched between housemade glazed donuts. Guests can substitute a grilled salmon breast, a grilled chicken breast, or a veggie burger, or add another beef patty for $3.

823 Wheeler St
Ames,
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

The quaint lavender home in rural Shueyville is hard to miss. When Lauren Cannon bought the place in 2004, her friends encouraged her to open a hardware or grocery store, but, according to Examiner.com, her passion for wine flowered into The Secret Cellar instead. The Cellar—a homespun boutique specializing in high-end wines—extends its stock of craft libations to handpicked beers, liquors, and artisanal cheeses.

As patrons peruse, fragrant tendrils of smoke ascend from Iowa–made soy candles, undulating across the store's stained-glass sign and idyllic outdoor wine garden. Lauren leans on her olfactory expertise to lend helpful recommendations and, as an instructor during classes, pair sips of classic varietals with activities such as dancing, painting, and reverse-engineering wine into grapes.

1202 Curtis Bridge Rd NE
Swisher,
IA
US