It's usually Mullets' mascot that first catches guests' eyes, flashing its gill-to-gill grin from its post-top perch. Then there's the big neon sign, which further befits the establishment's roadhouse atmosphere. Situated at the confluence of the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers, Mullets draws in patrons with pub staples such as burgers, sandwiches, and pizzas as well as plentiful seafood options that include catfish, bluegill, crawfish, and frog legs. Servers can bring these dishes out to the wood-paneled dining room or up the stairs to the two-level outdoor patio, where banners for the Chicago Cubs and Boulevard Brewing Company ripple in the wind like the tongue of a skydiving dog. The staff encourages patrons to make their own marks on the pub’s playful atmosphere by posting photos of their mullets—whether haircuts or state-fair-winning fish—to the Mulletin board.
Available in both liquid and slushy form, the throat-moisturizers at Toocan's Tiki Bar quench thirsts as crowds appease ears with live music or smile-cracking conversation. The first option gives parched patrons credit toward 25-ounce frozen "bones" drinks ($9), which come in flavors including strawberry, piña colada, and the popular Miami Vice—great for cooling down on a warm day or drinking to impress a yeti.
Seasoned boat captains and crustacean prospectors Sig Hansen, Johnathan Hillstrand, and Andy Hillstrand gather to share with audience members their tales of struggle and survival during crab season on the high seas, as partly documented by the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. Fishing the Bering Sea in the middle of winter demands strong wills—which can come together in times of treacherous weather and 100-foot waves or come to blows about who performs better in the three-legged crabwalk race. Selected audience members will also have the chance to don the survival suits from the Time Bandit. Following the story-swapping and previously unreleased video footage, greenhorns and avid fans will have the opportunity to launch questions at the captains, wave giant foam claws, and learn how to communicate in claw-snap Morse code.
The lure of specialty coffee drinks and fresh sandwiches may lure customers into Butlers Coffee & Cafe, but it's what they find inside that makes them stick around. Cozy seating surrounds a crackling fireplace, and all around the room, bookshelves hold up more than 500 tomes waiting to be picked up and perused. Picked up and perused one-handed, that is, since the other will be occupied by one of the café's cappuccinos or smoothies or a crispy panini stuffed with cranberry and turkey or roast beef and swiss. If you need some added incentive to stay past dinner, the cafe also offers up a delectable variety of baked goods, including fruit pies and cupcakes, perfect for ending the day on a sweet note.
Nominated for Best Family Restaurant on CityVoter's 2011 A-List, Steamboat Garden has been serving up affordable family food since 1933. Today, guests at the boat-shaped restaurant can peer through its bright red portholes to watch as the friendly staff fills tables with steaks and seafood, breaded pork loin sandwiches known as Tug Boats, and seven incarnations of a signature hamburger that has been a Falls Avenue favorite since the 1940s. Between bites, diners sip old-fashioned floats made with 1919 draft root beer and then send instant photos of their empty plates to mom by accessing the restaurant's WiFi with a laptop or aluminum foil helmet.
The same venue that hosts weddings and upscale dinners also welcomes established comedians and rock bands, making First Avenue Club a go-to destination for all manner of events. Inside, a full-service bar overflows with 12 draft beers, 40 bottled beers, and a wealth of mixed drinks. Further behind the scenes, the kitchen fires up hearty entrees such as roast pork loin and baked cod.