The Harbor Grille may be the only bar in the area where wearing a swimsuit is not only accepted, but encouraged and not out of the ordinary. A lakeside, on-the-dock bar and grill at Saylorville Lake, the Harbor Grille is an open-air experience, with no walls in place to impede the cool winds coming off the water or the view of the boats chugging into the marina.
On the Saturday night we were there, the place was teeming with people fresh off the lake. Sun-kissed families and 20somethings with swimsuits mingled with bikers and a group who wandered in for some sort of Hawaiian-themed party. Some enjoyed buckets of canned beer, while others opted for more tropical-inspired cocktails in plastic cups.
THE TWO DRINKS
Bartender Justin Smith, 23, brought me a Hurricane and a Shipwreck, the bar's signature drink. The Hurricane was a mix of Three Olives Grape, Sprite, lemonade and Hypnotiq, and tasted like raspberry lemonade. The Shipwreck contains 2Â½ shots of fruit-flavored rum, a splash of Jose Cuervo, and pineapple, orange, and cranberry juices. Both were fruity and delicious and packed quite a bit of alcohol - a lethal combo for the dehydrated lake-goers looking for liquid refreshment. For those not into the hard stuff, the Harbor Grille also serves beer on tap and in the can, including the usual domestic suspects and Corona.
One peek through the screened window into the kitchen revealed an arsenal of fryers. The Harbor Grille also serves handmade pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and more.
The night we were there, the sky turned black as ominous storm clouds rolled in. Rain was imminent, and as some customers ran for cover under the roof and others for their cars, we couldn't help but smile at the carefree crowd who continued to dance without concern. If there were ever a place in the Des Moines area where you could forget where you were for a few hours and just have a good time, the Harbor Grille is it.