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Going out and getting gator


If you’ve ever gone to a show near the Iowa Events Center, chances are you tried to find a local restaurant for dinner or a drink before the event. Buzzard Billy’s, just south of Hy-Vee Hall, probably fit your bill with the advantages of being within walking distance and having quick service.

For a unique menu and some of the largest drinks around, stop by Buzzard Billy’s.

For a unique menu and some of the largest drinks around, stop by Buzzard Billy’s.

While Buzzard Billy’s is a great place to go before a concert, you might not realize it’s one of the best places for grabbing a bite after work or enjoying a beer on game night; it’s an “anytime” kind of place, not just for special occasions.

Buzzard Billy’s is the original member of Full Court Press Inc., owners of nine local businesses including El Bait Shop and High Life Lounge. The chain originated in Waco, Texas, and has been thriving since 1993. Why? They go out of their way to provide quality food and drinks in large portions and at reasonable prices.

There might not be a happy hour at Buzzard Billy’s, but that’s because it doesn’t need it. Buzzard Billy’s believes in maintaining low profit margins to keep it affordable all the time.


The bar lines the longest wall of the restaurant. Customers might know what they’re getting into when they order a drink at most bars, but these cocktails go above and beyond. Buzzard Billy’s makes the standard cocktails, but the bartenders create them using extraordinary measures.

The top-selling drink, the Category 5 Hurricane, has not two, not three, but four different rums mixed in and is served in a 22-ounce glass ($6.75). Another bar favorite, the Electric Alligator (22 ounces, $6.25) is mixed with Malibu, Midori, vodka and Triple Sec. It’s poured over the rocks and topped with pineapple juice, sweet and sour mix and lemon-lime soda.

If tequila is more your taste, a great choice is the Jamaican Margarita (16-ounce margarita glass, $6.25). The edible hibiscus flowers are steeped in the 100 percent blue agave for hours before being served in the drink. All of these sweet drinks are perfect for sitting on the bar’s south-side patio while watching the sunset.

Another bragging right owed to Buzzard Billy’s is the craft beer service. Cans of beer range from $2.75 to $4.75, and anything on tap is $3.75 to $4.75. Of the few dozen bar taps, eight of them are local craft microbrews. Exile’s Hannah is the hottest choice right now, but if you’re looking for something less hoppy, bartenders suggest the Backpocket Slingshot Dunkel.

Buzzard Billy’s keeps the buzz going through the authentic Creole dishes. Who needs steak and shrimp (which they still have, if that’s your taste) when you can have crawfish and gator? Po’boys with oysters, Cajun nachos, alligator pasta bake, and seafood jambalaya are all on the menu.

Parents with picky children don’t need to fret. Even with the impressive menu, they still cater to the youngest crowd. Kids can pick from seven menu items, all including one side. As an added bonus, all kids meals come with free ice cream, and judging by the size of the regular entrees, you’ll probably be able to steal a bite of their dessert.

A lot of folks see Buzzard Billy’s as place to hit up before a major event, and they should. But it’s also a nice neighborhood hangout during the week. Drop by and see them anytime. CV


615 Third St., Des Moines
Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m. – midnight


Bri Levandowski is a senior in journalism at Iowa State University. She is writing as part of an internship with Cityview.


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