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The Royal Mile is Des Moines’ authentic British pub


Find authentic British foods and more than 100 varieties of Scotch at the Royal Mile.

Find authentic British foods and more than 100 varieties of Scotch at the Royal Mile.

Looking for a little bit of Europe in central Iowa? Maybe a place to reminisce about that study abroad trip to Belgium back in college?

You don’t have to look too hard to find it; just talk to enough people, and they’ll point you in the right direction.

The Royal Mile is the British pub situated in the Fourth Street branch of the Court Avenue District in downtown Des Moines. Boasting signature British fare like fish and chips, Belgian beers and more than 100 single malt Scotches, the Mile is one of those places that lets its loyal customers do the advertising.

Like many of its neighbors, the Mile doesn’t scream for attention with a big sign or flashing lights — that’s not the style of Fourth Street joints. Its website tells visitors to “cozy up to the fire on a cold autumn day.” Pure simplicity. The Royal Mile has a quiet, casual feel to it — equally good for a warm meal and a cold beer when an unexpected rain shower interrupts an afternoon stroll downtown or when you only have a short window of time to catch up with those friends visiting from out of town. Either way, it’s the perfect venue to kick back and relax during a long visit.

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The carpeted floor, well-worn wooden tables and framed pictures on the walls add to the warm, home-like feeling. The flags hanging from ceiling and the vintage signs and posters covering each wall add to the authentic pub décor, allowing visitors to transport themselves from Iowa to London within minutes of walking through the door.

Picture it: The sky is overcast; you’re walking down a street lined with cars. Even though it’s right in the heart of downtown, everything seems to slow down here; the hustle and bustle is left to the surrounding streets. You open the door beneath the hanging wooden sign, and, suddenly, you’ve forgotten where you are.

The dim lighting and scenery are only the beginning of the international journey customers take when they visit the Royal Mile. Even if you’ve never been out of Iowa, you somehow know this is what it would be like to visit a British pub. The menu features comfort food items like English breakfast, corned beef hash, banger bites and Cornish pasty. It also offers an extensive drink menu with 28 lagers and ales on draft and more than 120 bottled varieties.

It’s that seamless combination of pub food and classic decorating that has landed the Royal Mile national attention on several occasions, including BBC America’s “10 British Things About Des Moines, IA” list back in January.

“The interior is covered with wood panels and decked out with all sorts of British nostalgia and flags, transporting you to Great Britain,” wrote BBC.

The Des Moines pub was also recognized in Esquire Magazine as “a holy house of alcohol” in 2007.

With that kind of notice, it might be hard for a place to stay humble. But the Royal Mile doesn’t brag much. It sits quietly in the Fourth Street pocket, waiting — not begging — for visitors to stop in.

And they always do. CV

The Royal Mile
210 Fourth St., Des Moines
Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Sat., 8 a.m.-2 a.m.
Sun., 10 a.m.-2a.m.
Happy hour: Mon.-Fri., 2-6 p.m.

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