Shorty’s, located in the basement of the restaurant Sbrocco at 208 Court Ave., has been a fixture for years, but the bar has suffered from something of an identity crisis.
It opened in 2008 as a kind of High Life Lounge Jr. Then floods wiped it out. Then the space was reduced for Sbrocco seating, before spending some time as a wine bar. Then it was an Irish bar.
Now it’s back as Shorty’s Somewhat Fancy Bar, and hopefully the new style will stick.
The bar is a nod to working-class neighborhood bars of Milwaukee, where you can get a cheap meal and an even cheaper beer. The most expensive thing on the menu is $6.99, and you get a goblet of Schlitz for just $1.40.
The menu includes an hors d’oeuvres section with deep-fried cheese curds and deep-fried pickle spears, soft pretzels and boneless wings. The sandwich section offers pastrami, a burger, hot turkey, hot ham and Shorty’s Shummer Shausage Shandwich.
If you’re looking for an entree, there’s chicken and country dumplings, Frito pie, beer-battered fish and fancy Italian meatloaf.
Want healthy or meat- free? They’ll probably let you order something from Sbrocco upstairs.
For my lunch, I ordered the Italian sausage with Swiss cheese and peppers, a deal at $3.99. It had some nice heat to it, but didn’t really stand out from the countless other Italian sausage sandwiches around town. That’s probably a good thing, since bad Italian sausage in Des Moines is pretty rare.
My co-worker ordered the chicken-fried turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, an impressive serving of food for only $5.99. This is a hearty meal that will fortify you against a cold day and have you ready for a nap within half an hour.
There was only one server (the bartender) and the place was pretty packed. He was attentive, and we didn’t wait an unreasonable amount of time, but you might want to allow a little extra time if you’re stopping in for lunch.
After nearly four and a half years, Shorty’s seems to have found its calling and can stand alongside the other great bars and restaurants operated by the Full Court Press folks. It’s somewhat fancy, maybe, but completely delicious.
Shorty’s Somewhat Fancy Bar
Find it: 208 Court Ave. (in the basement of Sbrocco)
Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday; 11 a.m.-midnight Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday
Info: shortyssomewhatfancybar.com or 288-3536
Italian sausage sandwich: $3.99
Chicken-fried turkey: $5.99
Two lunch Schlitz: $1.40 each
Total with tax and tip: $17.44