The Drake University campus is small, but it packs in several party bars and parent-friendly restaurants between University and Forest avenues. In late April, as flowers bloom, the campus perks up for the annual Drake Relays track and field event that this year reaches its centennial.
Drake University neighborhood: Dogtown hangouts
By Cara HallMetromix
April 20, 2009
Though the Drake Diner will never be credited for reinventing the culinary wheel, the relaxed atmosphere and menu favorites have kept its clientele coming back for more. Attentive service and reliable food thrive in this Des Moines institution. Though its menu dabbles in some fancier fare, the heart of this historic diner is comfort food. As the name suggests, the decor is dominated by classic black-and-chrome accents. In the summer, enjoy a meal on their screened patio, and don't forget to try one of their delicious shakes or malts.
The former punk rock club Hairy Mary\'s was made over as a Drake-only bar. During the school year the bar is normally packed with Drake students dancing and playing beer pong. A bus is available to pick up students from campus.
Jethro's is not just some joint run by a barbecue nut with a serious smoker and a good sauce recipe. These guys are professional restaurateurs as well as barbecue enthusiasts, and a commitment pervades everything they do. The sides are typical but with Jethro's twist - try the jalapeno creamed corn, sweet potato fries or the baked beans. They also offer five distinct kinds of homemade barbecue sauces.
This funky, space-aged themed coffee house doubles as a smoke-free lounge by night. They have a fantastic wine and beer selection to go along with their other food and beverage offerings. Take advantage of their Sunday movie special, which gives customers 2-for-1 drinks with a Varsity Theater ticket stub.
Peggy's Tavern, a stone's throw from the Drake campus, looks like the inside of one of those cool off-campus houses that's been desecrated by frat boys. There's a nifty original mural of a German beer hall on one wall and the ceiling tiles are papered with dollar bills signed by former barflies. The seating is wooden benches and bar stools in one small room. A second room is solely for darts, bags and Silverstrike. If you've got college-age siblings in town and want to make them feel at home, this is a good place.
This hole-in-the-wall area favorite is a hot spot for Drake students. Enjoy some of the best nachos in town for lunch or dinner and stop in at night for a laid-back bar atmosphere.
This stalwart independent theater located across the street from the Drake University campus used to represent nearly the only choice in town for anything approaching arthouse cinema in a pre-"Pulp Fiction," pre-BluRay world. Owner and longtime Des Moines theater businessman Bev Mahon maintains the Varsity as a sublimely simple option for your next foreign flick with subtitles: The single, large screen and gently sloping theater floor - no stadium seating or video game room here - come complete with reasonably priced popcorn and concessions and familiar faces on the other side of the box office window. Stop for dinner at Drake Diner down the street before a show.
The West End is a Drake bar that is at its busiest late at night. The bar has been around more than 30 years and is a campus favorite. Drake students flock to West End on weekends to relax after a long week of classes. In the summer, enjoy an outdoor patio.
A whole menu of smoked Iowa meats (brisket, pork, ham and chicken). The selection of homemade pies includes rhubarb, strawberry, gooseberry, apple and mixed berry. Woody's smoker is always running - the pork and brisket smoke all night and the ribs and chicken are thrown on in the mornings.