Talking is encouraged at this library5/27/2015
The Drake neighborhood is home to a number of bars and restaurants. Some serve as the college hangout, others as the family diner — but there’s one hidden gem on University Avenue that brings them all together: University Library Café.
Upon entering the bar, you’ll notice a few things: first and foremost are the eclectic decorations. Everything from old books to kabuki masks sit on shelves and hang on the blue and wood-paneled walls. Old metal signs, beer logo lights and a pair of old wooden skis frame the walls behind the bar, where you’ll notice the next and most important asset: more than 40 craft beer taps.
The beers come mostly from local microbreweries, (Firetrucker, Confluence, Peace Tree, etc.) as well as some national labels. On Sundays, you can get $1 off Iowa craft beers all day, and the Cafe highlights one 20-ounce craft beer from 5 p.m. to close, Monday through Thursday, for just $5.
If mixed drinks are more your flavor, University Library Café also has a great summer cocktail line-up. The hot drinks last week were the Kentucky Ginger (Bulleit Rye Frontier Whiskey with Ginger Beer) and the Vanilla Root Beer (Millstream Old Time Root-Beer with Smirnoff Vanilla Vodka).Another highlight of the University Library Café is the use of space. It’s a small bar, with only seven booths, but they make up for it with a unique double bar. There are six stools on either side of the long high-top table, but the six placed between the table and bar rotate so customers can choose either side.
For those interested in a little more privacy, choose a seat at one of the tables. The decorative, leather-upholstered booths create an intimate setting for conversation while also serving as a sound deterrent, helping to keep the dialogues of other people from entering your booth.
The beer and space is one thing, but let’s not forget about one of University Library Café’s top bragging rights. The bar has a drool-worthy menu. Whether it’s the award-winning nachos (Cityview Best of 2014), the fried bacon balls (hot pepper cheese and jalapeños stuffed in a biscuit and wrapped in bacon), or a burger with a freshly made patty, customers love the homemade deliciousness the Cafe has to offer — all at a reasonable price.
The University Library Café claims to welcome “blue collar, white collar, no collar (that means you, college students!) and families” into their establishment. They aren’t wrong. At just one table we found two college students, a security guard and an insurance agent. They were a group of regulars, partly for the great variety and service, but mostly for the ease of conversation.
Even with TVs on and music playing, you can hear everyone in your party while speaking at a normal volume, which is a nice change from many other bars.
Not having to yell, “What?!” to your friend three times is likely due to the size of the University Library Café, but if you think about the name, you’ll realize that they might have been planning that all along. Everyone knows to keep quiet in a library. CV
The University Library Café
Mon. – Thurs. 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Fri. – Sat. 8 a.m.-2 a.m.
Sun. 8 a.m. – midnight
3605 University Ave., Des Moines
Bri Levandowski is a senior in journalism at Iowa State University. She is writing as part of an internship with Cityview.