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Vibes Kitchen & Bar

5/3/2023

Patio weather. Central Iowans love dining outdoors and with good reason — we only get about six months of lounging outside to enjoy a cold beverage and good eats. Patio lovers desire a place with an all-around good vibe. We found it for you at the Vibes Kitchen & Bar.
Located at 1303 Walnut, it’s just a short walk from the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. The place formerly housed the Grumpy Goat. New owners took over, remodeled, renamed the place and opened in May 2022. The business is minority-owned and owners hail from mixed backgrounds, which creates a fusion of interesting menu items.

The large patio has many seating options and is undercover from the elements but breezy enough for a comfy patio dining and drinking experience. In fact, a few raindrops sprinkled on the awning during the visit, but we stayed dry.

The bar has seating accessible both indoors and outside. Inside includes dark booths with sparkly mood lighting. Sit on seafoam green crushed-velvet bar stools for a comfy spot.

This particular evening, most everyone sat outside. A highlight is the happy hour, which starts at 5 p.m. and goes until 8 p.m., even on a Friday night. Buy one, get one free includes select beers, wines and well drinks.

Tony Pruong, bar manager, explains why the late happy hour. 

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“Happy hour typically used to be early so people could get home to be with their family. But not everyone has a job who gets off by 5. We want to provide a happy hour so more people can unwind and enjoy it,” he explains.

The kitchen is open until 11 p.m. and includes an eclectic variety of sandwiches, flatbreads, wings, shrimp, burgers and appetizers. 

The bao buns was a special for the evening. These fresh steamed buns included slow-cooked pork belly, pickled carrots, radishes, cucumbers, jalapenos and cilantro, drizzled with a special sauce. Served like a taco, these fluffy buns were tasty at $8 for two buns.

Don’t like getting your hands messy when you eat chicken wings? Then request a disposable plastic sheath (some call it a finger condom) to put over your thumb and forefinger to protect your hands. Or use their gold-colored flatware to eat the rest of your meal.

The menu includes a fusion of flavors, from a crab Rangoon flatbread and Nashville spicy chicken; to a bang bang shrimp or a veggie panini. Pruong says the kitchen is constantly evolving. 

“People’s taste buds — especially in Iowa — have evolved. Patrons expect a higher level of creativity, which makes sure our chef and menu stays on the edge,” he says.

Handcrafted signature drinks run from $12 to $14. The standard well drinks, beers and wine cost less. The bartender concocts new drinks frequently. That evening was a grilled pineapple old fashioned poured over a large ice ball and garnished with a large chunk of juicy pineapple.

On a Friday evening, the atmosphere was a welcoming vibe to all patrons. ♦

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