Sunday, January 23, 2022

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Belly Up To...

Go big at Daytona’s


If you choose Daytona’s All Sports Café as your next stop, be sure to bring some company. Trust me, you’re going to need all the help you can get when it comes to finishing a plate and drink at this Merle Hay Road staple. With whopping serving sizes and drinks that match up, you’re certain to refuel after a long day at Daytona’s.

Daytona’s opened its car-crushing Florida-themed bar on Merle Hay Road 16 years ago.

Daytona’s opened its car-crushing Florida-themed bar on Merle Hay Road 16 years ago.

At the nexus of Johnston and Des Moines, this bar-and-grill can be easily spotted by the giant monster truck crushing an clearly inferior vehicle of prey at the front door, letting guests know even before entering that this bar has character. Inside, a variety of old parking meters, pool tables, televisions, signs and regulars seated at the bar confirm that hunch. A handful of friendly servers stay busy tending to customers like a tag-team in order to serve both the indoor and the side patio patrons.

“We have our regulars, but we really see an eclectic mix of people stopping by,” said our server, Aleasha. “Since we’re on Merle Hay, we see all kinds, especially because of the nearby hotels. It’s really a shoot-the-breeze kind of place.”

The friendly waitress passed a $5 basket of fries to one guest and a platter of boneless wings as big as her hands to another.


“Everyone comes for the wings and pizza,” she explained. “But they end up staying for the alcohol and entertainment.”

The portions made up in the kitchen are massive. A variety of flavored wings are offered, including a Wings Wednesday special, as well as a dozen specialty pizzas — all with the option to heat anything and everything up with Daytona’s Cajun spice. That’s smart marketing for the bar side of the business, as nothing will inspire a cold beer or icy cocktail quite like flaming lips.

Oh, and on Friday, it’s free.

“We pick up a keg of Bud Light every Friday, so customers get free beer starting at five. It’s a good time,” said Aleasha. “We actually have karaoke that night, too.”

Things are sure to get a little messy at this Florida-inspired sports racing bar, but it’s a bar. We’re not here to stay clean, right?

LAST CALL… The Traveler Beer Company, the Vermont-based makers of American Craft Shandy, announced last week that its year-round Shandys (lemon soda and lager mix) will arrive in Iowa this May, namely the new Illusive Traveler, a traditional European drink twisted with an authentic American version, and Curious Traveler, an American craft wheat ale brewed with fresh lemon and lime. CV               

Chris Kelley is a graduate of Greenlee School of Journalism at Iowa State University and offers occasional articles for Cityview.

Daytona’s All Sports Café
4875 Merle Hay Road
HOURS: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-close, Friday-Saturday
11 a.m.-2 a.m.
KITCHEN: 11 a.m.-12 a.m. daily
HAPPY HOUR: Monday-Friday 4-7 p.m.
ENTERTAINMENT: Karaoke/DJ on Fridays; live music on Saturday


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