While Iowa has an impressive bar scene, you may not know that there are some that can transport you to another time and another world. Whether you feel like visiting Germany, a tropical beach, or an old-time gas station, the themed bars of Iowa are incredibly cool. Whatever it is you’re looking for, you’ll find a fun atmosphere and more at the 10 best themed bars in Iowa.
Set in an old petroleum filling station that once pumped gas into the first vehicles ever to hit the road, the Filling Station of Davenport is a blast from the past with modern menu items. Adorning the walls are vintage posters and flyers back from the booming days of petroleum first entering the industry. Alongside a long menu of available pub fare like blooming onions and burgers, the Filling Station is a great spot to unwind.
Designed and operated as a replica Old-World German Beer Haus, the Hessen Haus of Des Moines goes beyond a simple theme and really transports you to new cultures within the metro. Between the authentic German fare like Wilde Schweinewurst or Wiener schnitzel, and the 50 German beers on tap, Hessen Haus also delivers with polka music, boots to drink out of, and much more. Check it out yourself and you’ll be saying “prost” in no time.
Located in the Peninsula Neighborhood of Iowa City near the Iowa River, the Dingo Bar is an Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, expatriate in Paris-themed coffee cafe. Serving up delicious coffee drinks alongside a stylish interior and small outside patio, the Dingo Bar is a clean, well-lighted place perfect for reading, writing or catching up with friends. While you are there, be sure to try some of the made-from-scratch pastries or sandwiches alongside your espresso or coffee drink.
To transport yourself to somewhere a little more tropical, the Barefoot Bar in Okoboji delivers the palm trees without the plane ticket. Alongside the real palm trees at the Barefoot Bar, tiki huts surrounded the space, and a festive crowd can usually be found throughout the summer months. With tropical themed drinks and food to go along with all the action, Barefoot Bar is the closest you’ll get to tropical island landscapes anywhere else in Iowa.
For everyone who loves country music and/or the country lifestyle in Iowa, chances are you’ve already heard of Wildwood Smokehouse & Saloon in Iowa City. Well reputed for live music, award-winning BBQ and free line-dance lessons, the Wildwood Saloon doesn’t just have a country theme, it is an authentic country bar. Always filled with a festive and friendly crowd, if it’s been awhile, be sure to dust off your cowboy hat before you go.
For a little pinball alongside your pizza, the Quarter Barrel Arcade & Bar of Cedar Rapids is the place to go to show off some pinball wizard skills. Besides pinball, Quarter Barrel also features a long list of classic arcade games including Tron, Donkey Kong and Ms. Pacman. After you’ve hit Game Over at Quarter Barrel, it’s easy to indulge at the full bar or off the lengthy menu filled with appetizers, sandwiches and pizzas. In-house trivia is hosted a few times of month, with more information on dates and times on the website.
While the original Fong’s Pizza in Des Moines is a metro classic, the Fong’s Pizza in Ankeny is a newly established addition that looks like it is here to stay. Featuring Asian-inspired entrees and appetizers, including some award-winning pizza, Fong’s also features a full tiki bar complete with bamboo woodwork. With over 80 beers on tap, it may be hard to choose the right one for you, but with a comfortable atmosphere to hang out in, you’ll be in no rush to order.
For some authentic Irish action on your next night out, Jameson’s Public House of Waterloo sets the scene right. The authentic Irish food, beer and whiskey pair nicely with the decorative wooden interior of the bar complete with historical ornaments and Gaelic script. There is fun to be had for lunch and dinner and Jameson’s Public House, and you can bet this authentic Irish bar has a good time come St. Patrick’s Day in March.
For a sports bar that goes beyond a bunch of TVs on the wall, the Courtside Sports Bar and Grill of Dubuque does have a lot of television streaming, but they are also equipped with three full-sized indoor basketball courts and two sand-volleyball pits outside. That means besides watching your favorite sports team, you can be a part a of the team through recreational leagues and open play. After you’ve worked up an appetite athletically, the bar and restaurant are a good place to quench your thirst.
Taking place post zombie apocalypse, Zombie Burger + Drink Lab of Des Moines caters towards an undead appetite for delicious burgers. Alongside the two-handed-and-perhaps-an-additional-appendage burgers, the Drink Lab brews up some very interesting spiked milkshake concoctions. A fan-favorite? The Zombie Joe which includes vanilla ice cream, jet fuel coffee syrup, whipped cream and a shot of something extra upon request (21+).