Take it Outside: Five Downtown Des Moines Patios Perfect for Summer

Cocktails taste better served with fresh air, right? We think so. Try these classic downtown Des Moines patios and give your summer outings an upgrade.

The Rooftop

Tucked beneath viny pergolas, The Rooftop’s laid-back vibe is a perfect escape from the bustle of Historic East Village below. A quick walk down the block gets you to a variety of food options, while the classic menu of cocktails and local craft brews offers options for everyone.

Mullets

A bike trail and hangover cure staple, Mullets cooks up one of the best breakfasts in town. Choose from classic omelettes and eggs, or a cheesy breakfast meatloaf for the more adventurous. The patio is a perfect spot to lounge in your bike shorts, drink Bloody Mary’s and cheer on the Iowa Cubs. If you’re lucky, there might even be fireworks.

Republic on Grand

If you’re on the hunt for happy hour, look no further than Republic on Grand. Deemed by the Des Moines Register as “Des Moines’ sexiest new patio,” the restaurant creates up-scale atmosphere without the price tag. A heated outdoor patio blends seamlessly into the lush tables and booths inside. The drink menu includes craft cocktails named after prominent Des Moines neighborhoods. Small plates, including charcuterie boards, flatbreads and sliders, are perfect for sharing.

“Add [Republic on Grand] to your list for a celebration or a visit from out-of-town guests or a day when you just want to treat yourself. And with summer officially here, there may be no better place to pass an evening than the Republic’s patio.”

–Courtney Crowder, Des Moines Register Staff Writer

El Bait Shop

One of the most popular spots in Des Moines, El Bait Shop is a beer-lovers dream come true. With over 260 craft beers on tap, it boasts the largest selection of American craft brews in the world. Right in the heart of downtown, El Bait Shop attracts cyclists, baseball fans and beer enthusiasts of all ages, shapes and sizes. The large patio has its own bar station, and tables to sit and enjoy the American grub served inside.

The Continental Lounge

For a more intimate setting, The Continental is the perfect place to enjoy a craft cocktail and some jazz. The bartenders here can concoct drinks custom-made for your tastebuds, but the best Pimm’s Cups are on order here, too. Live jazz music floats through the tiny lounge on Saturday nights. The small patio outside is perfect for taking in the night air or dancing with your sweetheart.

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Whether you live in Des Moines or are only passing through, there’s a perfect place for everyone. We want to know yours–what are your favorite spots in Des Moines? Share with us on social media!

The One Street Challenge: Eat your way through Valley Junction

Welcome to our newest series: the One Street Challenge! Each month we challenge ourselves to eat every meal on one street in the Des Moines area. Per official challenge rules (that we wrote ourselves…) we’ll spend one day, eating three meals and after dinner drinks without leaving the area. This month’s destination is so good it almost feels like we’re cheating. Join us as we eat our way down fifth street in Valley Junction.

Breakfast anyone?

Start the day on a healthier note at Big Acai Bowl. This restaurant got its start as a food truck that’s grown into two brick and mortar locations. Jake, the owner, discovered a love for healthy eating after moving to California and lucky for us he brought that knowledge back to Des Moines. Here you’ll find the magic that started it all, the acai bowl (think a fancy smoothie in a bowl with stuff on top). You can also find an assortment of smoothies, coffee, and avocado toasts. We’ll take a classic bowl with mixed berries and a mango picante toast.

Big Acai Bowl
117 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Time for lunch!

Next up is The Tavern. It’s a notably less healthy option than breakfast but, as a true Valley Junction staple, it can’t be missed. The Tavern opened during the Great Depression and has only been owned by two families—first the Rileis who then sold it to Chuck Celsi in 1988. They’re known for their thin crust pizza but the true hero here is the onion rings—trust us on this one! We’re digging into The Works and side of onion rings with #noregrets.

The Tavern
205 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Dinner’s on!

Whether we’re spending the whole day or just stopping by for dinner, a visit to Cooper’s on 5th is pretty much required in our book. Cooper’s serves classy comfort food and boy are they good at it. We recommend the mac and cheese with kielbasa added (so good!) or the port braised short ribs and you can’t leave without trying one of their signature egg rolls. Erm..Egg rolls? Stick with us here—Cooper’s features a different egg roll each day and with flavors like chicken parmesan and Philly cheesesteak, these aren’t at all what you’re expecting. 

Pro-tip: Take a look across the street as you leave Cooper’s—Mr. Cooper himself is about to open up The Winchester Pub. We asked him about this new venture and he says he’s trying to fill a gap in the Valley Junction area. We have a great sports bar and dive bar but there isn’t a nice place you can go for a drink after work. We wholeheartedly agree and can’t wait to add The Winchester to our list of favorite places.

Cooper’s on 5th
227 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Time for a nightcap

We’re rounding out our perfect day of food with a stop at Vino209. Vino209 has an excellent lunch and dinner menu prepared by executive chef Andrew Phelps but we like to stop at the end of the night for dessert and glass of wine. They feature live music every Tuesday and free wine tastings on Wednesdays so plan your trip accordingly!

Pro-tip: Can’t decide which wine to try? We recommend a flight. For $18 you can sample four different wines which they assured me these aren’t your standard grocery store selections. Luckily, if you love you choice, you have the option to buy a bottle to take home!

Vino209
209 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Next up—we’re heading to the East Village! Let us know where we should go in the comments.