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Cover Story

2013 Best of Des Moines- CULTURE & NIGHTLIFE


As the old adage goes, any job worth doing is worth doing right. Whether you’re flipping burgers at a local bar and grill, parading a catwalk dressed in drag, balancing the budget of a multi-million dollar corporation or running the state government, we believe you should take pride in your work. When you do, it shows, and it is rewarded in community trust, an increase in business and eventually, more money in the old bank account.

Cityview’s Best Of Des Moines contest is an example of such rewards in motion. It’s the people — the client, the customer, the consumer — who appreciate a local person, product or service enough to get out and vote for it as their favorite, as Des Moines’ best above all others. Earning the appreciation, respect and recognition of the public is its own reward, one that is priceless.

In the spirit of true merit and appreciation, we bring you another edition of our Best Of Des Moines — our readers’ choices for all things dining, drinking, shopping and more. “Congratulations” doesn’t quite say enough, but “thank you” is a start.



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Best Annual Event

Iowa State Fair

Iowa’s famous state fair took the title for the third consecutive year, as some Cityview readers concur it’s one thing they look forward to every year. Some plan their entire vacation around the concerts, contests, games, shopping and shows offered at the Iowa State Fair. They pack up their RVs, fill up the campgrounds and prepare to face the August heat to further enhance the culture and excitement of Des Moines’ east side.


Runners-up: Des Moines Arts Festival; 80/35 Music Festival


Best Annual Tent or Block Party

Dos Rios – Cinco de Mayo

Nothing says fiesta like a bar lined with tequila, and Dos Rios brings tequila in all colors, flavors and measurements, which is surely a key ingredient in the spicy Cinco de Mayo celebration it hosts in May. Cityview readers voted the Mexican mardi gras is a party not to be missed.

316 Court Ave., 282-2995, www.dosriosrestaurant.com

Runners-up: Beaverdale Fall Fest; Ingersoll Live


Best Place to Take Visitors

John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Iowa is a well-kept secret among mountain and beach dwellers, so imagine a visitor’s surprise when locals take them to the magnificent John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Readers voted the walk along the pathways through the contoured terrain of this green space as the best showcase of Des Moines’ culture and creativity.

Runners-up: Iowa State Fair; East Village

This charming fellow is one of many characters who grace the Iowa State Fair every year, which is why it was voted Des Moines’ Best Place to People-Watch. Photo by Amber Williams

This charming fellow is one of many characters who grace the Iowa State Fair every year, which is why it was voted Des Moines’ Best Place to People-Watch. Photo by Amber Williams


Best Place to People-Watch

Iowa State Fair

Every August droves of humans (and animals) descend upon Des Moines’ east side — whether for a day or for the duration of the weeklong event — making the Iowa State Fair a prime place for people-watching, according to our readers. Drawn to the music or the mullets, the food on a stick or just sticky food, there’s something for everyone.


Runners-up: Downtown Farmers’ Market; Court Avenue


Best Place to Take Kids

Science Center of Iowa

Learning is cool, mkay, and when it comes to turning those mental wheels, voters agreed that nothing inspires a young mind like the illustrious Science Center downtown. Kids love carnivals, animals and games, and the Science Center offers all that and more but in a learning atmosphere that even the adults can get down with.

401 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, 274-6868, www.sciowa.org

Runners-up: Blank Park Zoo; Adventureland


Best Museum

Des Moines Art Center

Science is enlightening and history is educational, but art does a little something extra for our readers, which is probably why they voted the Art Center as the best. Whether voters like it for its traveling exhibits, tours, restaurant or facility rentals for those special events, the art center offers more than art and strikes to the heart of voters every year.

4700 Grand Ave., 277-4405, www.desmoinesartcenter.org

Runners-up: Science Center of Iowa; Iowa Historical Museum


Best Place to Catch a Flick

The Fleur Cinema and Café

Maybe it’s the obscure documentaries or the independent films, or perhaps it’s the fact that it hosts the annual Wild Rose Film Festival, which supports local filmmakers and advances their dreams into another platform in the national industry. Or perhaps it’s the fact that its owners cleverly matched the phone number to the address. There are plenty of reasons why Cityview readers voted Fleur Cinema their favorite this year.

4545 Fleur Drive, 287-4545, www.fleurcinema.com

Runners-up: Jordan Creek Century Theatre; Wynnsong Theater


Best Theatrical Value

Des Moines Playhouse

Des Moines metro residents are a cultured people. They like to go out and get a diverse mix in their entertainment. They’re also smart and hard-working, respecting the distance one dollar can stretch. That’s probably why so many voted the Des Moines Playhouse as Des Moines’ best this year. The Playhouse offers a home to local thespians, young and old, bringing audiences a variety of stories, musicals and plays rotating and sharing the stage throughout the year. It also plays host to summer fine arts classes for kids and adults, further enhancing its own future of quality acts and actors.

831 42nd St., 277-6261, www.dmplayhouse.com

Runners-up: StageWest; Civic Center

Exile Brewing Company owner, R.J. Tursi, proudly addresses a VIP crowd in the new restaurant’s beer hall during a soft opening ceremony a few months ago. Readers voted Exile Brewing Company as Des Moines’ Best New Restaurant and Best New Bar. Photo by Amber Williams

Exile Brewing Company owner, R.J. Tursi, proudly addresses a VIP crowd in the new restaurant’s beer hall during a soft opening ceremony a few months ago. Readers voted Exile Brewing Company as Des Moines’ Best New Restaurant and Best New Bar. Photo by Amber Williams


Best New Bar

Exile Brewery Co.

For years Cityview readers have proven the Tursi family has its fingers on the pulse of what people seek in quality dining with the east side staple, Tursi’s Latin King Restaurant. That legacy continues, as Bob Tursi’s son, R.J., followed his heart and proudly displayed his Italian heritage by opening his own brew pub downtown, earning the honors of Best New Bar by voters. With beer flavors named after local women of the scene, the crafts are just as rich in history as the building transformed.

1514 Walnut St., 883-2337, www.exilebrewing.com

Runners-up: The Standard; Brecks


Best Patio Bar

Saints Pub + Patio

Whether they’re chilling in the quiet Beaverdale hub or mixing it up in West Des Moines, readers agree Saints has the best outdoor drinking or dining spots in the metro. The patios are spacious and comfortable, offering a balance of sunshine and shade. Even the picky, high-maintenance Goldie Locks would agree with voters that Saints’ patios are just right.

4041 Urbandale Ave., 270-6175; and 265 50th St., West Des Moines, 440-4703, www.saintspub.com

Runners-up: Wellman’s Pub and Rooftop; Mickey’s Irish Pub


Best Irish Bar

Mickey’s Irish Pub

Never mind its truly righteous St. Paddy’s Day beer tent parties, its live music nights and green beer specials, its eclectic menu of food and drinks and its ornery leprechaun logo, Mickey’s is a staple in the metro among our readers, taking the top spot this year over two fighting Irish contenders.

Multiple locations, www.themickeysirishpub.com

Runners-up: Cooney’s Tavern; Sully’s


Best Dive Bar

Carl’s Place

What defines a dive bar? Crappy, cheap beer, pool, darts and a jukebox in the corner most likely playing Johnny Cash? Beards grazing the bar top and dripping in Old Mill? A big guy behind the bar pouring Fireball shots and one lady bellied-up among a line of dudes getting all her drinks paid for? How about its non-Main Street location where folks can go for a good time or to drown their sorrows without being noticed, or the fact that in the 21st Century it still doesn’t have a website (and probably never will)? Cityview readers claim Carl’s offers all those cozy qualities and more, giving it the Best Dive Bar honors again this year.

1620 Woodland Ave., 243-9727

Runners-up: Locust Tap; Greenwood Lounge


Best Sports Bar

Johnny’s Hall of Fame

Since 1962 Johnny’s Hall of Fame has been bringing live sports action to Court Avenue, remaining a long-standing favorite among Des Moines’ Best Of voters. It offers plenty of room for hoards of sports fans to sprawl out and cheer on their teams and enough diversity in food and drinks to please pretty much anyone.

302 Court Ave., 280-6679, www.johnnyshalloffame.com

Runners-up: Saints Pub + Patio; Jethro’s BBQ


Best Bar (Overall)

el Bait Shop

To be considered by voters as the best over all others, a certain criteria must be met, and Cityview readers decided el Bait Shop has what they’re looking for in a night out: good food, live music, a convenient, bar-crawl location and a spacious patio. Are we forgetting something? Oh, how about literally hundreds of beer flavors to choose from? When el Bait Shop debuted in Des Moines, Cityview readers voted it the Best New Bar. Since then, it has earned itself a wall of like titles from the Best Of Des Moines’ contest, including this year’s Best Bar Overall.

200 S.W. Second St., 284-1970, www.elbaitshop.com

Runners-up: (tie) Lime Lounge; The Standard; Beer Can Alley


Best Bar District

Court Avenue

People of Des Moines like to have their bars nice and close in proximity so they can walk, bike or crawl to the next door down for a change of scenery. Cityview readers say Court Avenue is the best such district, offering countless pubs and taverns, each unique in atmosphere and offerings. What would Des Moines be without the Historic Court Avenue lure? Not as fun or as interesting, according to voters.

Runners-up: East Village; West Glen


Best Downtown Bar

el Bait Shop

Cityview readers indisputably love el Bait Shop above all others. Despite a medley of eclectic neighbors, el Bait offers more than the massive beer menu it’s famous for. It’s home to several local bands offering free live music on Wednesdays and Sundays (days when most bars have crickets chirping) as well as Jimmy Carter Happy Hour, which is a celebration of local, beer-makers looking to experiment on willing patrons with tastings of their latest flavors.

200 S.W. Second St., 284-1970, www.elbaitshop.com

Runners-up: Royal Mile; Mickey’s Irish Pub


Best West Side Bar

Wellman’s Pub and Patio

There’s no question our readers know what they’re doing when it comes time for Best Of Des Moines’ voting, because their choice for best west side bar is no doubt one based on wisdom and experience. West Glen offers many diverse drinking atmospheres, but none draw the crowds that Wellman’s hosts. We think it’s the second-story patio that does it for people. There’s nothing like a cocktail under a starlit sky.

597 Market St., West Des Moines, 222-1100, www.wellmanspub.com

Runners-up: Tonic; Blue Moon


Best Central Bar

Star Bar

This is a tough category, because there are so many bars in central Des Moines to fit any number of tastes, but Star Bar was voted by our readers as THE place, and it’s easy to see why. Perfectly poised along the Ingersoll crawl, voters know it offers a place for carousers to get a bite to eat, grab a cocktail and catch some live music, whether on their way to keep a date or as a destination all its own.

2837 Ingersoll Ave., 244-0790, www.starbardsm.com

Runners-up: Carl’s Place; Wellman’s


Best North Bar

Cooney’s Tavern

Brian Cooney is cool. Our readers know it, and so do we. His Irish pub in the heart of Beaverdale is an obvious winner in this category. Its history in the neighborhood dates back to 1984, so it’s a reliable go-to for people looking for friendly conversation in a laid-back atmosphere. Brian can tell you a story about every piece of décor in the dimly-lit hideaway, and his regulars also have a few good tales of their own.

3708 Beaver Ave., 255-5566, www.cooneystavern.com

Runners-up: Derry’s Lounge; Trophy’s


Best East Bar

Toad’s Tavern

Sunday Funday often starts on the east side where the bars are known for opening early, and our readers say Toad’s is a must-stop along the route. It opens at 10 a.m. every day. Every day, no exceptions. When having a brunch-time brew or cocktail is a must, our readers know Toad’s has got them covered. But it’s a hoppin’ night spot, too, with live entertainment, pool leagues and more.

3002 State Ave., 264-TOAD (8623), www.toadstavern.net

Runners-up: Ron’s Dawg House; Gerri’s Tavern


Best South Bar


The battle for this title might be over, as Francie’s has taken the honor for the second year in a row. Our readers know the south side has a lot to offer in late night carousals, but voters made a clear choice to deem the cozy comforts of this neighborhood bar as the best home away from home on the south side. Whether to get the bar hop started, to draw it to a close, or for a bite to eat or a night cap, Francie’s is a Cityview reader favorite.

2100 Wakonda View Drive, 285-5207

Runners-up: Kung Fu Tap and Taco; Le Boi


Best Beer Selection

el Bait Shop

El Bait Shop has hundreds of beers that make it famous not only among our readers but nationally as well. And the crafts are always rotating to keep options fresh and innovative. The Jimmy Carter Happy Hour makes way for local brewers to hone their hops, furthering the selection potential at the bar.

200 S.W. Second St., 284-1970, www.elbaitshop.com

Runners-up: High Life Lounge; Royal Mile


Best Place to Get Drunk for Cheap

The Blazing Saddle

When the goal is to get drunk, our readers know it’s ideal to go to a bar that will be just as generous on your wallet as it is on your portion. The Blazing Saddle has unmatched happy hour and daily specials that keep loyal patrons flocking to the East Village even on what most places consider their slowest nights.

416 E. Fifth St., 246-1299, www.theblazingsaddle.com

Runners-up: High Life Lounge; Carl’s Place


Best Cold Beer

el Bait Shop

When it comes to beer, voters can be counted on to favor el Bait Shop. Whether it’s served in the air-conditioned haven or the shaded patio on a hot summer day; whether ordering a draw, a bottle, a homebrewed craft or a limited-time promo, our readers say it’s sure to arrive in your hand frosty and drinkably smooth.

200 S.W. Second St., 284-1970, www.elbaitshop.com

Runners-up: Twin Peaks; Toad’s Tavern


Best Place for the Strongest Drink

The Blazing Saddle

With the motto “never a cover, always a double,” The Blazing Saddle is making an intoxicating promise, and our readers know they’re good for it. That’s why it’s held the title of Best Place for the Strongest Drink for countless consecutive years. Whether you’re gay or straight or somewhere in between, you’re guaranteed a stiff one at this East Village favorite.

416 E. Fifth St., 246-1299, www.theblazingsaddle.com

Runners-up: Toad’s Tavern; Cosmo Lounge


Best Bar to Play Games


Here’s a newcomer to this category, edging last year’s winner, All Play, completely off the board. The host of arcade games is only part of what makes this place the best with our readers. We suspect its elite status might also have something to do with its fitting atmosphere — a basement bar that feels like home amidst the bustling Court Avenue crawl. It’s a hideaway hot spot with games that entice even the grimmest wallflower off his or her chair for a jab at the Ultimate Big Punch or NBA Jam with friends.

207 Fourth St., 943-4995

Runners-up: Johnny’s Hall of Fame; Flying Moose


Best Place to Hook Up

Le Boi Bar

Always fighting for affection, several downtown bars tag-team this hot spot in Cityview’s annual contest (hence the all-tied-up ménage a trois in runners-up row). But Le Boi takes the prize for the second year in a row, as readers voted it the best place for finding someone new to wake up to in the morning.

508 Indianola Ave., 280-3807

Runner’s Up: (tie) The Standard; Beer Can Alley; Heroes


Wellman’s Pub and Rooftop was voted as Des Moines’ Best West Side Bar and Best Place to See Beautiful People. Photo by Cady Colosimo

Wellman’s Pub and Rooftop was voted as Des Moines’ Best West Side Bar and Best Place to See Beautiful People. Photo by Cady Colosimo

Best Place to See Beautiful People

Wellman’s Pub and Rooftop

No, not the Iowa State Fair. That’s “the best place to people watch” — not the same thing. Readers say the best cream of the crop people to watch are kicking it somewhere in Wellman’s Pub. On a hot summer night, follow the sounds of chicks chatting and dudes laughing out onto what is sure to be a populated patio where the rounds keep coming.

597 Market St., West Des Moines, 222-1100, www.wellmanspub.com

Runners-up: The Standard; Heroes


Best Happy Hour


Ascending from runners-up row to the top spot, Americana fans got out the vote this year to ensure this classy but casual restaurant/bar got its due recognition. Although the innovative and reasonably-priced drinks are a good reason to make the happy hour, as well as the convenient Western Gateway location, we suspect it’s probably the food that draws our readers in after work. Priced between $4 and $6, patrons can enjoy smoked bruschetta, shrimp cocktail, fried cheese ravioli and more to complement a chill afternoon buzz. This is a happy hour worth skipping lunch for.

1312 Locust St., 243-1397, www.americanadsm.com

Runners-up: Django; The Standard


Best Bartender

Noah O’Toole – Lime Lounge

Cityview readers love Noah O’Toole, who graces the top spot for a second consecutive year. Perhaps it’s his dimpled smile and stylish dress, his witty conversation or his smooth moves behind the bar. Or maybe he just knows how to pour ’em good and strong. Regardless, he’s a hardworking bartender who puts in some late nights in the East Village, and our readers are showing their appreciation yet again.

425 E. Grand Ave., 333-4643, www.limelounge.com

Runners-up: (tie) Bruce Huckfeldt (Mickey’s Irish Pub downtown); Sherry Wanier (Cosmo Lounge); Joe Wells (Heroes); Austin Rogers (Beer Can Alley)


Best Martini Menu

The Lift

No matter how hard they try, competing martini bars in Des Moines just can’t bump The Lift from the winner’s circle in this category. Our readers love its tradition of Wednesday night martini specials, the variety on the martini menu, and the two for $8 deal is a great way to pair up with a friend or lover on a night out.

222 Fourth St., 288-3777, www.dmlift.com

Runners-up: The Standard; Lime Lounge


Best Margarita

Dos Rios

Naturally Dos Rios was chosen by readers for best margarita — the restaurant is home to one of the largest tequila menus in the Des Moines metro. With tequila grades ranging as high in price as almost $70 a shot, the bartenders who serve it are required to be knowledgeable of the Mexican staple if not connoisseurs themselves. That means they also have to know how to mix up a mean margarita and always keep the elixir on ice, ready to go.

316 Court Ave., 282-2995, www.dosriosrestaurant.com

Runners-up: Mi Mexico; El Rodeo


Best Gay/Lesbian Hangout

The Blazing Saddle

Anyone who’s ever been to San Francisco’s Castro district or Boy’s Town Chicago — even the straightest son of a nun — can’t deny it: Gay folks know how to get down. It’s always about love and laughter, acceptance and inclusion, and it’s almost always a good time. Party people in Des Moines have deemed The Blazing Saddle as that sweet G-spot over all others year after year.

416 E. Fifth St., 246-1299, www.theblazingsaddle.com

Runners-up: The Garden; Le Boi Bar


Best Place for a Game of Pool

Raccoon River Brewing Company

Pool players need a lot of space. It can be awkward to maneuver around people and objects in hole-in-the-wall pool halls — ass in people’s faces, nudging tables, chairs and walls with the butt of a pool cue. At Raccoon River Brewing Company, our pool shark voters have plenty of space, with a line of tables on the second floor and their own bar. It’s easy to see why it was voted the best again this year. Get there early on free-pool Saturdays, because from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the tables fill up quick.

500 Mulberry St., 362-5222, www.raccoonbrew.com

Runners-up: Stix; Big Dog Billiards


Best Jukebox

Alpine Tap

The Ingersoll area is a haven of music lovers, so it’s fitting that its neighborhood bars would have great jukeboxes. But this year, a new king is crowned, as Alpine Tap edges out Greenwood Lounge after years on top. There’s never a dull or quiet moment at Alpine — not if our readers have anything to do with it.

2720 Ingersoll Ave., 245-9717

Runners-up: Greenwood Lounge; Carl’s Place


Best Live Music Venue


It would have been an interesting tit-for-tat between People’s on Court, the longstanding champion of this category, and the newcomer, Wooly’s. However, with People’s closing its doors a few months ago, it naturally eased voters into the Wooly’s corner, though it’s certainly no default victory. This was an informed vote by readers. Even in its infancy, Wooly’s has quickly risen to concert venue fame, already establishing itself as an East Village live music staple, voted as the best live music venue in Des Moines.

504 E. Locust, 244-0550, www.woolysdm.com

Runners-up: Gas Lamp; Wooly’s


Best Dance Club

The Garden Nightclub

For years night-lifers of Des Moines have called The Garden home, and this year voters have called it their favorite dance club. It’s one night club in town where any adult — regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation — can go to get their groove on without feeling uncomfortable or out of place. The lower-level dance floor easily separates the bump and grind from bar minglers and is spacious enough to welcome participation. Even if someone doesn’t feel like dancing, it’s a fun center stage for spectators. And chances are, the music and the alluring vibe will draw you to the dance floor before the night ends.

112 S.E. Fourth St., www.grdn.com

Runners-up: Jokers Lounge; Heroes


Best Local Artist

D. Ryan Allen

This self-proclaimed “mad scientist” of art has taken this title for the third consecutive year. We all have a darker side, a slight affinity for the sick and demented, and this guy gets that. His sci-fi/horror drawings, paintings and other works can be found on display throughout town, and readers recognize it when they see it, because he pulls in the votes year after year.


Runners-up: Jeff “Buffalo” Bonker; Meagan Tron


Best Strip Club

The Lumberyard

“Real men” have been going to The Lumberyard to get their wood for years, and they’ve been voting for it as Des Moines best for that long, too. With the latest “Magic Mike” craze, though, this all-nude after-party has likely garnered the votes of several female followers as well, especially after its recent male stripper night enticed hundreds of horny ladies looking to live a little vicariously.

1504 N.E. 54th St., 265-1019,


Runners-up: Beach Girls; The Minx


Best Drag Queen

Tyona Diamond

Tyona kept her crown for the second year as Des Moines’ Best Drag Queen. This saucy doll of sexuality has been hard at play making a name for herself among voters with sensational performances at nightclubs and bars such as Le Boi and The Blazing Saddle, with worthy versions of superstars Lady Gaga, Beyonce and other boody-licious babes. You go, girl.

Runners-up: Champagne Showers; Muffy Rosenberg


Best Local Band

Dead Horse Trauma

Metal runs in the veins of many Des Moines music lovers, which explains why Dead Horse Trauma takes this rank for a second year in a row. This band is everywhere, winning over the hearts and minds of local listeners enough to earn the best local band honor. As Cityview’s own music writer Chad Taylor put it, “DHT is generally regarded as one of the hardest working bands in the state, but what truly sets DHT apart from just about everybody else on this mortal coil is that they may just be the smartest working band around, as well… The band has one of the most dynamic stage presences around… and each show is something unique and amazing to behold.” Our readers agree.

Runners-up: The Snacks; The Nadas


Best Local Musician

Richard Arndt

Emerging from runners-up row, this solo picker pushes James Biehn into back-up for a front man spot on the stage this year. Musicians are hardworking, hard-playing and ever supportive of each other, as they tout their talents nightly from bar to bar in the metro and beyond. And Richard Arndt is one of the hardest working players in town. This vote by readers is well-earned and a great honor considering their love of local music.

Runners-up: Scot Sutherland; James Biehn


Best Place to Karaoke

Billy Joe’s Lounge

The Cityview weekly calendar proves Des Moinesians love to hear themselves wailing on a mic before a live audience. So we gave karaoke its own category of competition this year, and our readers say the debut honors go to Billy Joe’s. With the latest development of the Karaoke Idol contest, which doles out a fat cash prize to its winners, Billy Joe’s has taken karaoke to another level. Its packed house on karaoke night must translate well to the Best Of voting.

1701 25th St., West Des Moines, 223-9944, www.billyjoes.com

Runners-up: Trophy’s; Buddy’s Corral


Best Place to Gamble

Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Central Iowa is home to a host of quality gambling spots, but our readers prefer to look no further than the metro. Prairie Meadows has everything a gambler needs located in nearby Altoona, including food, booze and live music. From slots to tables to horse races, Prairie Meadows is considered the best to entertain the restless spirits of Des Moines regardless of the weather and the hour.

1 Prairie Meadows Drive, Altoona, 967-1000, www.prairiemeadows.com

Runners-up: Meskwaki; Lakeside


Best Place for a Wedding Reception

Masonic Temple for Performing Arts

Art, history, elegance, proximity and options — those are just a handful of reasons why our readers likely voted for the Temple as the premier place for celebrating one of life’s few milestone moments. The downtown relic has room for parties of people, whether the wedding includes hundreds or just a handful of family and friends.

1011 Locust St., 288-4700, www.templeforperformingarts.com

Runners-up: Hy-Vee Conference Center; Sticks


Best Place to Hold a Corporate Event/Party

Big City Burgers and Greens

Located downtown in the hub of business and networking action, Big City Burgers and Greens is a convenient, casual-but-classy meeting spot for lawmakers, big-wig bosses, corporate execs and company parties for all occasions. Readers decided it was a fine fit for this new Best Of Des Moines category, and the one to beat next year.

400 Locust St., Suite 195, 537-8433, http://bigburgersandgreens.com

Runners-up: Hy-Vee Conference Center; The Venue


The Sleepy Hollow Scare Park was voted Des Moines’ Best Haunted House. Photo by Amber Williams

The Sleepy Hollow Scare Park was voted Des Moines’ Best Haunted House. Photo by Amber Williams

Best Haunted House

Sleepy Hollow Scare Park

Hundreds flock to Sleepy Hollow Sports Park for outdoor sporting events throughout the year, but on Halloween, it’s transformed into a horrifying field of screams that earned the Best Haunted House award this year. The summertime Renaissance Festival site is a perfect scare park in the fall, as each Medieval building becomes a house of horrors, including a crowd favorite, the Zombie Shootout, where guests take the apocalypse into their own hands.

4051 Dean Ave., 262-4100

Runners-up: Linn’s Supermarket; Whitewater University


Best Car Show

Goodguys Heartland Nationals

If you haven’t browsed the endless lanes of more than 4,000 hot rods, customs, classics muscle cars and trucks at the annual Goodguys Heartland Nationals car show that comes roaring to the Iowa State Fairgrounds every summer, our readers say this is the one car show not to miss. Clear your calendar from July 5-7. This is a new category for our Best Of Des Moines contest, and voters deemed the Goodguys the best fit for its debut.

(925) 838-9876, www.good-guys.com

Runners-up: Salisbury House Concourse d’Elegance; Mecum Auto Auction


Best New Year’s Eve Event/Party

The Bash at Des Moines Social Club

It’s about time we added this one to our long list of Des Moines’ best. Cityview readers deliberated, but in the end, it was the Des Moines Social Club’s annual New Year’s Eve Bash that won voters over. Take a trip back in time to the swing days of 1938 to celebrate the birth of the Social Club and the New Year with live music, live art, hot food and cold drinks.


Runners-up: Nada Nother New Year’s Eve at The Venue; NYE Winter Wonderland at Lime Lounge


Best Transportation

Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART)

Voters deemed DART the best mode of transportation this year. It’s the largest public transit agency in Iowa, serving 19 cities in and around Polk County, and it shares its services with the Des Moines Public Schools, transporting thousands of kids daily. The extravagant Central Station, which was newly constructed downtown, has freed up traffic along Walnut Street and stands as a testament to readers that DART takes their customers’ safe travels seriously.


Runners-up: Absolute Transportation; Yellow Cab

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