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7 spots to hit before an I-Cubs game

Not feeling a $10 popcorn bucket or a meal from a hot dog gun? Give these seven spots close to Principal Park a try.

Mad Meatball

Tucked away on the other side of the Des Moines river, Mad Meatball offers unique pizzas and some solid Italian eats. Not to mention their patio is perfect for fueling up on before the big game. Mad Meatball simply states, "Superior Pizza. Refreshing Beer. Smooth Scotch. Great Time."

Try: Mad Grinder. Graziano ground sausage mixed with homemade red sauce, topped with mozzarella then stuffed into a toasted hoagie. ($9.50)

Location: 401 S.E. 5th St.

Hours: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., daily

Confluence Brewery

Just a five minute drive from Principal Park, Confluence Brewery is part science lab, part art studio. They offer 30 different beers, from Farmer John's to Des Moines IPA to Capital Gold. Go for seasonal or a classic — either way, you'll have a great time in their taproom. Check their Facebook for food truck options! Otherwise, it's BYOF.

Try: Des Moines IPA. Confluence says it's citrusy, piney and packs plenty of malt flavor.

Location: 1235 Thomas Beck Road

Hours: Tuesday - Wednesday 4 - 10 p.m., Thursday Noon - 10 p.m., Friday - Saturday Noon - 11 p.m., Sunday Noon - 7 p.m.


Head to Mullets for one of the city's best views and of course, delicious food. Nachos, sliders, cheese balls — you name it. You can even order Woody's BBQ right off the menu. If you're meeting friends before the game, you can share group platters of BBQ. Mullet's is a popular option on game nights because you can walk right across Meredith Trail bridge and enjoy dinner and drinks on their patio, which faces Principal Park.

Try: Sweet po-tator tots. Your choice served sweet with marshmallow cream sauce and brown sugar or savory with seasoned salt and Sriracha. ($5.99)

Location: 1300 S.E. 1st St

Hours: 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., daily

El Bait Shop

If a top 100 hundred rating by Draft Magazine for best beer bars doesn't catch your attention, perhaps a wall lined with over 130 beers on tap and over two hundred bottles will do the trick. You can't leave out their menu, either. El Bait has an outstanding breakfast burger and finger foods to get you in the ball game spirit. If you're not into the IPA's and unique craft flavors, they do have what some bartenders call "Rocky Mountain Lemonade" on tap — aka Coors Light.

Try: Flight Over Iowa: four beers including Exile's Hannah, Lion Bridge Workman's Compensation, Peace Tree Blonde Fatale and West O CocO Stout ($10)

Location: 200 S.W. 2nd St

Hours: 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., daily

High Life Lounge

This shag carpet lounge can be a bit nostalgic for some. Illuminated with Miller High Life signs, you'll be sure to have a great time. The High Life Lounge is right next door to el Bait, and they share the same great menu. You may have heard of the place on Adam Richman's show "Man vs. Food" in which he devoured their notable bacon-wrapped tator tots.

Try: Velvet Elvis Dip. High Life's secret recipe featuring spicy sausage, Velveeta and Rotel. ($6.99)

Location: 200 Southwest 2nd Street

Hours: 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., daily

Hessen Haus

Sure, hot dogs and Cracker Jacks are baseball tradition, but you can't forget bratwursts. Hessen Haus is a simple walk to and from Principal Park and has some of the best bratwursts in town. Plus, a visit gives patrons a chance to pass the boot around and find themselves in a possible (Polish) pickle like base runners sometimes find themselves in.

Try: Wait for a train to go by Hessen Haus. When the walls rumble that means $3 Jagermeister and Apfelkorn shots for everyone!

Location: 101 4th Street

Hours: 11 a.m. - midnight Monday - Tuesday, 11 a.m. - 2 a.m. Wednesday - Saturday, Noon - midnight Sunday

Johnny's Hall of Fame

Deemed as Des Moines' first sports bar, Johnny's Hall of Fame first opened up in 1962 as Lounge Key Club in the Elliot Hotel just around the corner on 4th Street. Six years later they renamed it Johnny's Hall of Fame. At one point the restaurant had 4,600 Hall of Fame photos. Today, they still have plenty of photos and provide a spot for Iowa Cubs fans to gather before and after a game. There are plenty of food options that feature Iowa sports teams, icons and stadium names.

Try: Sec Taylor Sampler. A platter of cheddar nuggets, potato skins, half of a cheese quesadilla and Johnny's wings. ($12.95)

Location: 302 Court Ave.

Hours: 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., daily