El Bait Shop

El Bait ShopEl Bait Shop
El Bait ShopEl Bait Shop
Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

200 SW 2nd St
Des Moines, Iowa, 50309-4706
United States

(515) 284-1970 | map

Notes: Open Everyday: 11 am to 2 am
View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 50 | Ratings: 96 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Beerandraiderfan:
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Beerandraiderfan from Nevada

3.5/5  rDev -21.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

A pretty cool place, hit it up late on our trip to DLD, was completely empty. Looks neat, the usual tgif/moe's family feedbag "all kinds of crazy crap on the walls" feel to it.

Lots of brews by quality breweries. Problem: the vast majority of them were out. Plenty of average to slightly above average beers available. I dunno what the trend is with places saying they have 100+ beers, but then 1/2 of the best beers are "tapped" and invariably, you'll be told "they just ran out" even if when you stop by 5 days later, you get the same story.

So the selection would be off the charts if they, you know, actually kept the stuff in stock, but with 30+ tap handles unavailable, meh.

Apr 29, 2010
More User Reviews:
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NCSapiens from Indiana

4.78/5  rDev +7.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

This place is a 10/10. It has 300 taps. Let that sink in. Well, in the time of coronavirus it has more like 220 active taps. But still. I found myself in Des Moines randomly. Decided to stop in this place that looks interesting. Ask to have a stout. Reply: we have 33 on tap. WTF??Turns out stout list is world class. Really, really cool place.

Jul 30, 2020
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slasich from Pennsylvania

4.35/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

May 16, 2020
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YvesB from Belgium

4.59/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

Dec 13, 2019

4.8/5  rDev +7.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

Jan 25, 2019
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Mason_Whitham from Iowa

4.95/5  rDev +11%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Love this place. Can't go wrong considering it's the largest selection of beers I've ever seen. Great bartenders and awesome fishing vibe. My favorite place to drink in my hometown city Des Moines.

Dec 29, 2018
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zeff80 from Missouri

4.3/5  rDev -3.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.75

It totally looks like a dive bar on the outside and it delivers on the inside. It was actually too hot on the inside. Great Iowa beers and all other beers available in the state. Service was slow. They appeared understaffed even though the owner was there and chatting with beer reps. Didn't have any food.

Jul 10, 2018
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Foxman27 from Iowa

4.61/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4 | selection: 5

I’ve been here a few times and can give a fair review now. It all starts and ends with the 220+ beers. They have a good mix of styles, and the bartenders knew most of them. It can get busy, but that is to be expected. It is the best beer bar in Des Moines and I’ll be back for sure.

Mar 28, 2018
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Harrison8 from Missouri

4.59/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Vibe: El Bait Shop side of the house is focused on beer, with simple natural-colored wood walls, and concrete floor. The walls are absolutely covered in craft beer signage, with loads of craft beer stickers all around. There are several tables, both low and high top, but most of them are for family or a family plus one or two. We had a little trouble finding space for our group of 10.

Quality: Very well kept. Only problem is there is not a lot of open floor space except right around the bar. Due to this, there was a large crowd blocking access to the bar. Finding a place to shift these people, or making a defined ordering space may help.

Service: Fast, even when it was packed. They were efficient and helpful, without ever been condescending.

Selection: With 212 taps, and some bottles and cans, selection here is top notch. There are some great things on tap to sip and savor, followed by some things to chug. There was a good mix of styles, with a little more focus on the hoppy styles on our late November visit. The menu breaks down beers by overall taste (i.e. light and refreshing; dark, caramel, rich; hoppy; etc.), which helps expedite the process of picking which beer to have out of 212+.

Food: Food menu is the same as the High Life Bar next door (shares the same building, and alcohol can move between the two spaces). The food was good. Tasty, and it complimented the beers nicely.

Nov 20, 2017
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Toynk from Illinois

4.65/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

May 19, 2017
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stevens3mo from Texas

4.43/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4

Wow! Really impressed with the selection. Drove over two and a half hours to get there and was not disappointed. Get the peanut butter burger!

Apr 20, 2017
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Flachs from Illinois

4.74/5  rDev +6.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 3.75

We heard about this place and the beer selection was great. 225 taps! The service still the bar was slow but they were busy. The food was so so not great not the worst. Will try again when in Des Moines.

Feb 20, 2017
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craigbelly from Iowa

4.64/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Jan 23, 2017
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SD-Alefan from South Dakota

4.85/5  rDev +8.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Funky, slightly run down look with beer stickers and signs covering nearly every available inch of wall space. And then you see all those taps! Great selection of Iowa and regional beers as well as world-class stuff. The service was top-notch both nights I was there. The food was mainly American diner classics and it's very good and affordable. A great experience.

Oct 15, 2016
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coldriver from Texas

4.45/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25

This place makes me want to move to Des Moines! 180 taps with a great diversity of styles including many Iowa locals, great share plate appetizers (mmm, bacon wrapped tater tots), and a wonderful vibe with cool people. Not much to complain about here!

Jul 09, 2016
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lupercmda from North Carolina

4.7/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

May 08, 2016
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fooferjw from Florida

4.39/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3

Apr 30, 2016
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emerge077 from Illinois

4.42/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Cool eclectic atmosphere, definitely a beer destination if you're spending any amount of time in Des Moines. Feels like a cross between a roadhouse and desert oasis/beachbum paradise. Beer-itaville? Inside, the bar kind of meanders around on it's own path, with table seating in the middle and towards the back. Standing room only beer shelf around the perimeter of the place. Wood beams and paneling, covered in all manner of beer swag.

Service was quick and friendly. I'm sure they're used to people hemming and hawing over the huge beer selection, and were patient as I navigated the uniquely designed beer menu. They helpfully pointed out that Iowa beers were in bold, and from there we were off to the races. Enjoyed beers from 515, Alluvial, and Turner Alley, new Iowa breweries I wasn't able to try elsewhere. When the bartender saw we were from out of town, he handed us a fistful of beer swag.

Selection overall is unparalleled for the area. Cellar Peanut is probably a close 2nd for a multi-tap bar in the surrounding area, and Sanctuary in Iowa City. That's based only on my limited experience though. El Bait Shop did not disappoint.

Apr 05, 2016
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atlbravsrno1 from Tennessee

4/5  rDev -10.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Apr 04, 2016
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tdmccarthy from Illinois

4.75/5  rDev +6.5%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75

Mar 30, 2016
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StoutSnob40 from California

4.69/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Feb 26, 2016
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Averwo from Iowa

4.58/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Jan 09, 2016
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rodbeermunch from Nevada

4.1/5  rDev -8.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5

Cool place not where you'd expect it in Des Moines. They really do or are supposed to have 100 taps. A lot of stuff was out when we were there, but I bet they still had 60-70 beers on tap.

Most of them were good, there was about 25 stinkers. Good friendly service, it was kind of dead the night we were in town. Selection was wide and varied, no complaints there other than they were out of a lot of stuff.

Dec 28, 2015
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SomewhereInTheMiddle from Indiana

4.38/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Dec 23, 2015
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NickTheGreat from Iowa

4.78/5  rDev +7.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I should have reviewed this sooner. But EBS is probably the best beer bar I've ever been to. Check that, it IS the best beer bar I've been to. I only live 15 miles away, and it's a shame I don't spend a couple days a week here!

Over 180 taps of quality "craft" beer. No Bud, Miller, Coors to be seen. Local brews or brews around the country. If you're looking for something they probably have it.

Now I'm the type of guy who knows more about TV's than the kid at Best Buy. Knows more about trucks than the guy at the Chevy dealer. Knows more about power tools than the old man at Home Depot. But the staff at EBS knows their beer. Are able to tell you about the beer, answer questions, and recommend things. Aren't shy to offer you a little sample if you want.

The food is okay. I mean, some of the stuff is kinda creative or interesting. It's good enough, but like someone else said, you'll not come to EBS just for the food. But if you're drinking beer, and there anyways, the food is good enough.

Dec 04, 2015
El Bait Shop in Des Moines, IA
Place rating: 4.46 out of 5 with 96 ratings