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Heading to a show at Wells Fargo? Here’s where to eat and drink

Heading to Wells Fargo Arena for a top tier music act doesn’t have to mean stuffing your face with concession stand grub and finger food.

Potential downtown Des Moines adventurers can come early to dine or catch a happy hour. Others could stay late and enjoy a nightcap after a life-changing performance. There’s no shortage of entertainment, dining and drink options within a mile of the arena. And, with Carrie Underwood set to perform on Oct. 7, downtown should be bustling for another highly-anticipated country show.

Here’s a few places to consider trying when traveling downtown to your next arena show.

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Buzzard Billy’s

Located a stone’s throw south of the arena, Buzzard Billy’s often offers tailgate parties before Wells Fargo Arena shows. Finger food is set up in the basement or parking lot south of the restaurant and drink specials typically include tall boy cans of beer and mixed drinks. Those looking to order off the menu can select from pasta, salads and fried dinners. More info at

Royal Mile

Taste downtown Des Moines’ take on a British pub when visiting the Royal Mile before a show at Wells Fargo Arena. Logged at a half-mile from the arena, the menu features dishes from across the pond such as Cornish Pasty, fish and chips and chicken pot pie. Beers lovers also take note: the bar features local, national and import brews. More info at


Those looking for a more intimate pre-show dining experience (a concert makes a lovely first date, right?) can head to RoCA for shared plates and drink specials. The happy hour menu, which runs 3-6 p.m. Sunday-Thursday,  includes half-off flatbreads, select wines and draft beer. More info at

Court Avenue Brewing Company

Pro tip: head to Court Avenue Brewing Company from 4 p.m. to close on Fridays (the same day of the Underwood show) for a $4 Moscow Mule special. Other specials include half-price appetizers at the bar and on the patio from 4-6 p.m. on weeknights and half-price pizzas on Monday nights starting at 4 p.m. More info at


Fong’s Pizza

A staple for late-night pizza cravings in Des Moines, the pizza restaurant is located about five blocks south of Wells Fargo Arena. The restaurant keeps its doors open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 a.m. on Sunday-Thursday and offers up late-night pizza slices until close. More info at

The Lift

Featuring local art on the walls and hand-crafted cocktails behind the bar, escape the bustle of a busy downtown evening by stepping into The Lift, located at 222 4th St. Featuring a selection of martinis, cocktails and  craft import beer, specials at The Lift include jazz on Tuesday nights, $3 pints on Thursday nights and $1 off happy hour until 7 p.m. on Monday-Friday. More info at

American Outlaws Bar

Leaving a country show and not ready to hang up your cowboy boots? Head to American Outlaws at 214 3rd St., south of the arena. Typically open Wednesday-Sunday (sometimes additional nights) until 2 a.m., the multi-level country-themed bar runs free limousine rides to and from some shows (including to and from Drake on Tuesday and to Carrie Underwood on Friday, according to the bar’s Facebook page). More info at

AJ’s on East Court

While a bit further than bars and restaurants in the Court Ave. district (AJ’s sits just under a mile from the arena), consider capping your night with a dose of karaoke in Des Moines’ East Village. AJ’s offers the mic up to its patrons nightly, and, according to its website, features thousands of songs ready for the tackling. More info at