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The Register’s weekly Hotspot series goes inside the newly opened Mars Sidebar.
It’s time to re-consider your morning coffee routine, Des Moines. A familiar name in Iowa java has marked new territory in the heart of downtown.
Mars Sidebar, a shop slinging breakfast sandwiches, pastries, coffee and tea, opened its doors earlier this fall in the southwest corner of Capital Square ground floor (400 Locust St.), a space previously occupied by the Two Rivers Hospitality-owned Sidebar (no relation). To much delight from this coffee-addicted reporter — who works in Capital Square — the newly-opened shop offers a fresh jolt of energy in downtown caffeine options.
Aesthetically, the Mars Sidebar offers coffee shop connoisseurs a cozy, 25-to-30 person lounge with windows facing Walnut Street. Looking for a quiet corner to find calm in a chaotic day? This may be the place. It’s located in the heart of downtown without feeling too much like a hustle-and-bustle hub for the caffeine-hungry.
The shop combines a portion of drink options from the East Village’s Mars Coffee Bar and food options from the Drake neighborhood original Mars Cafe. Mars fans will find the familiar smells of Wisconsin's Kickapoo Coffee — Mars is the only coffee shop in town to host the organic roasters — as well as Mars' signature Sputnik latte with flavors of honey and cinnamon. Additional drink options include hot chocolate, Italian soda and various espresso drinks.
But it’s not just about the drinks. The Mars Sidebar offers quick-to-order toasted egg and cheese sandwiches for $3.95 (called the “space egg,” fittingly). Those wanting meat can add bacon, turkey or ham for $1 extra.
And then there’s the pastries. Being one of those coffee drinkers that never passes up the opportunity to pair a rich, smooth coffee with a sweet treat, adding one of the chocolate croissants ($2.95) found in Mars’ glass display is non-negotiable. Fresh croissants and danishes, created by El Cafecito Bakery, are offered daily.
Where: 400 Locust St.
Hours: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Saturday
More information: marscafe.net.