A Guide To Des Moines

For those of you that have never been to Des Moines, I wanted to put this together to help guide your trip. I'm not even going to bother talking about hotels and accommodations, because if you haven't booked something already, you might be too late. There are still plenty of hotels in the suburbs, but the down town hotels close to the arena and bars and restaurants are either completely booked or close to it.

Starting first, let's talk beer.


Starting with the downtown breweries, some of these will be within walking distance of your hotels while others will be a short Uber ride away.

Exile Brewing Co.

Excellent location for very good beer and good food. Exile is located on the western edge of downtown and depending on where you're staying, it might be a long walk, but certainly worth the trek if you're looking for a place to kill some time, catch a quality buzz and watch some basketball.

Confluence Brewing Company

Confluence is my favorite brewery in town and for good reason. They make excellent beer and their variety of styles and flavors is unmatched. You'll need to catch a ride to Confluence, but if you're staying downtown, it's less than 10 minutes away and your Uber fare will be less than $10. There's always a food truck on site as well, but usually only one TV, so it might not be the best place to watch basketball.

Court Avenue Brewing Company

Located on Court Avenue, which is the most popular downtown entertainment district, "CABCo" will be sure to be filled from open to close. A word to the wise; as a former "Mug Club" member, you can do a lot better. If you're in a pinch and this place is open, sure give it a shot, but if you're seeking good craft beer, I'd go elsewhere.

Madhouse Brewing Company

Most people aren't even aware that Madhouse is open. It has the smallest tap room of any of the down town breweries, but it's also the least busy. The beer is very good, but people simply don't flock to Madhouse like they do the other breweries, in part because of location.

The Iowa Taproom

This isn't a brewery, but the recently opened taproom serves beer exclusively brewed in Iowa. With over 120 taps and a great food menu, this is a one-stop shop if you're looking to sample a variety of beers.

And now for some other breweries around town in case you're feeling ambitious.

Firetrucker Brewing

If you're staying in the Ankeny area, I'd highly recommend Firetrucker. These guys make some of the best beer I've tasted and if the weather is nice, they have a great patio with plenty of tailgating games.

Fox Brewing Co.

Fox recently opened and is tucked out of the way in West Des Moines, but they have a projection screen to watch the games and the beer isn't bad.

515 Brewing Company

The beer is phenomenal, but the tap room is always packed. If you're going to go, make sure to get there early.

Reclaimed Rails Brewing

Great place to watch the games and the beer is pretty solid, though I've only been here once, so I can't give the best endorsement.


Starting in the downtown/Court Ave. area, you have a host of options.

Buzzard Billy's

Located right next to Wells Fargo arena and while they are adding additional seating and capacity for the weekend, it is going to be shoulder-to-shoulder at all times. The food is very good and there's a pretty solid beer selection.

As far as other bars, you have a ton of options on Court Ave. To watch the games, Johnny's, Tonic, Mickey's and Legend's will probably be your best bets. Hessen Haus is a great German bar where you can chug boots of beer and Royal Mile is an English-style pub with a ridiculous selection of Scotch and whiskey. RoCA classes things up a bit more while The High Life Lounge is your blue-collar mecca. El Bait Shop has one of the largest craft beer selections in the country. If you can find it, Shorty's is also a good dive and the recently opened, 300 Craft and Rooftop is neat spot, especially if the rooftop bar is open.

On the east side of the river, you have an eclectic mix of options. The district, called the East Village offers everything from classy joints to live music venues to arcade bars. This site has a good breakdown of the bars in the area. Della Viti is a moderately-priced wine bar that you can take the wife.


A lot of the bars and breweries double up as eating establishments. Some of the places that would make for great eating include Exile, High Life Lounge, El Bait Shop and Hessen Haus, to name a few. If you want pizza, Fong's is a must, but it is very small and often tough to get a table. Spaghetti Works is right on Court Ave. and a solid place if you have kids. Fuzzy's Tacos and Guru BBQ are also safe bets where it might be a little easier to get a table.

On the east side of the river, Tacopocalypse and Mad Meatball are a little lighter on the wallet, while Miyabi 9 (sushi), Alba and Lucca offer a more sit-down environment.

You'll probably hear people talk about Zombie Burger + Drink Lab and for good reason. The burgers are incredible and they make a great milkshake, but this place is always packed.

Some other near-by places I'd recommend would be Malo (higher end Mexican), Centro (Italian), Americana and Lurra Cocina (Spanish and Mediterranean).

So there you have it. Is this an all-encompassing list? Probably not, but it's a safe list most of the places you'll see on here are the same places that every other Des Moines resident would recommend. I also wanted to mention that the St. Patrick's Day parade will be held on Friday this year instead of Thursday, in an effort to work around the games. I'll stop back to answer any questions, but I hope this at least helps.