Hessen Haus

Hessen HausHessen Haus
Hessen HausHessen Haus
Bar, Eatery

101 4th St
Des Moines, Iowa, 50309-4741
United States

(515) 288-2520 | map

Notes: Open for lunch on Friday & Saturday at 11am.
Dinner served everyday from 3pm - 1am.
Bar closes at 2am.
View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 16 | Ratings: 32 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Quaffer:
Photo of Quaffer
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I hit the Hessen Haus while in Des Moines for the BA gathering in fall of 2004. It is one long building, complete with wooden tables and chairs and quite a few long tables with benches, which help to give it that authentic feel. This, combined with the decor, the music, and the waitstaff's attire, added to the whole German feel. It was not perfect (I assume. Like I've been to Germany), but they sure did try. While I didn't go outside, it looked like there was a large outdoor area as well.

Though these two things were not an issue for me, they might be for others. First, the seating on a Saturday night was "seat yourself." This became an issue for those that entered after us. Secondly, there didn't seem to be any non-smoking section, so the air could get a little think at times.

The selection of German beers was very good, in my opinion, especially so if you consider the fact that we were in Des Moines. I would say that it was very comparable to Zum Schneider in NYC.

The food was terrific. I had the Hunter's Pizza (complete with pheasant, duck, and wild boar sausages and cheeses that I can't pronounce) and beerlovergirl had the brat plate. Both were enjoyed to the point of miserable over-fullness.

The wait staff that we encountered were friendly enough, but they didn't show much knowledge of the beer that was being served. Plus, they just didn't seem to be present a lot of the time.

I would definitely recommend the Hessen Haus to anyone visiting Des Moines.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Djon1rpt
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Photo of Redrover
4.06/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 3.75

I was back in Des Moines recently for work. I was very impressed by the growth and vitality of the downtown compared to how it used to be. Kudos to the city planners as are doing a great job.

I had not had German food for a while so decided to head to the Hessen Haus, which was just a short walk from my hotel.

I entered from the side through the nice beer garten. I chose to sit inside at the long bar.

Inside there is a lots of dark wood, some exposed rafters that were hung with German beer flags and some other German decorations. The room is kind of divided into two spaces. There are plenty of tables and room for larger groups. I saw plenty of these groups with the boot on the table.

I counted roughly 36 tap beers and about 30 are German. I had one of their rotating HB beers. It was described by the batenderess as a marzen and that was pretty much spot on. It was fresh, malty and had some nice spice type bite from the hops. I also had a Dunkel and an Alt and all the beers were in great condition.

My Jager Schnitel was good, not great but it did hit the spot.

My bartender was good about checking back and she was quick with recommendations.

I really enjoyed my 2+ hour visit and would have no problem returning for another.

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Photo of Rubezahl
4.23/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Photo of craigbelly
4.58/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Photo of Kramerbarthomer
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Photo of 22Blue
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

Photo of ALC82
4.48/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Photo of Boomer4ES
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of UrbanCaveman
4.64/5  rDev +9.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 5 | food: 5

An unassuming, yet outstanding, little German bier hall tucked right into the downtown Des Moines area, this place gets it right. The menu is a delightful mix of American and German cuisine, and downright tasty to boot. The serving staff seem to know their bier, and their German pronunciations, though service can be a little on the slow side during busy times (such as lunchtime on a Saturday). Any place that can make a good kassler rippchen and schweinshaxe is good by me, and even better when they offer muenster cheese in multiple dishes!

As far as bier selection goes, I have not seen a wider nor better curated selection of tap and bottled German imports anywhere else in the US (or what few parts of Canada I've seen). Various standbys from Weihenstephaner, Ayinger, and Schneider have permanent taps, with a decent rotating mix of other German imports, local German-style brews, and the occasional Belgian thrown in. Beer sizes available for order include the expected half-liter, liter, and, of course, boot. This may not be a hop addict's dream bar, but as far as my dream bar is concerned, it's a reasonable facsimile thereof!

 1,140 characters

Photo of cyclonece09
5/5  rDev +18.2%

Photo of afinepilsner
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of bufante
3/5  rDev -29.1%

Photo of Liverocks
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of 319Hawksfan
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of boogs
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of BuzzG
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of wshell1
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of Herky21
3.44/5  rDev -18.7%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.25 | food: 1.75

Atmosphere - it looks nice, big long German bar with Paulaner Mugs all over. A nice railing lines the back tables. The patio is huge with long benches. The bar is too narrow though and difficult to navigate at times.

Quality - German everything. You can get everything from half-liters to Boots. It's great. The atmosphere could probably use a little updating, even by German standards.

Service - sometimes oyu will stand for 5-10 minutes, other times its fast. I guess that's average.

Selection - great selection of German and European beers. Nothing with hop presence here, but a lot of malty beasts.

Food - It's edible. However, I would not recommend it.

Value- you can get some sizable German beers for great prices. During the week, or maybe Sunday, there's even a $10 boot deal.

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Photo of OregonGrown7
4.95/5  rDev +17%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Great rustic atmosphere, feels very traditional German. Huge beer selection of very high quality beers. Awesome beer boots. Great bottled selection as well. I got two boots of Ayinger Oktoberfest and Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen, a bottle of Samichlaus Helles and a Stiegl Pils, plus kraut balls and a wild game queasadilla for $56!! Amazing food and prices are not that bad at all but it varies when you go( early as opposed to late). Staff is actually incredibly knowledgeable as well, our waitress lived in Germany and knew how to properly pronounce everything. Best place in Des Moines for sure.

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Photo of Goode
5/5  rDev +18.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Hands down one of the best places to drink and eat in Des Moines. Perfect combination of great atmosphere chill and laid back with great food at reasonable prices and a beer selection that will educate you as a beer drinker as well as broaden you horizons to great beer. The waiting staff is more knowledgeable than any other place I've been. No matter what your taste you can find a beer to your liking. Not enough could be said about the awesomeness of this bar!!

Additionally the location is great to easily visit neighboring places just an easy walk away.

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Photo of birchstick
4.4/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

A - Having never been to Germany, I am guessing this is what a German restaurant would be like. A nice bar that is backed by a lot of long picnic tables.

Q - I couldn't believe the tap selection. Tons quality German brews on tap: Celebrator, Aventinus, Korbinian, plus a ton of others. I wish this place existed in St. Louis - I would be here at least once a month.

S - being that it was 2 degrees with a windchill of -9, there were not many people venturing out that night so the place was pretty quiet. Therefore it is hard the gauge the quality of the service, however the bartender was very helpful and knew his beer.

S - This is a 5 only in terms of German brews. I couldn't believer the amount of quality German brews that they had on tap and in the cooler behind the bar.

F - I had sauerkraut balls and a Wild Boar sausage - both of which were delicious. There were a couple of other menu items that I want to try.

This is a really good beer stop in Des Moines. I am not too familiar with the city, however I was really impressed. I would definitely recommend this as a place to stop and grab a meal and some pints.

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Photo of Mud
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

The Hessen Haus has had many names over the years each est. was great in their own right. I frequented the many incarnations of the Old Depot Station. Today the Old Depot as reach a zenith in the Hessen Haus.

The atmosphere is what you would expect a American Bier Haus. The selection is the best you are going to find in Iowa. I found on my visits there a leaning towards Wiese beers. Occasionally you will find German seasonals because it is Iowa the selections is goin' to be like that in Bavaria. When compare to where you would find German Beers on tap with well over 14+ beer/styles to choose from in Iowa you are gonna have to do some major traveling!!! The lines are well maintained and the beer is always good.

The food is awesome. I have since moved from DSM but the times I visit always requires a stop for food at the Hessen Haus. Only 5 mins from the Interstate why wouldn't ya? The Wild Boar Sausage/wild schwienewurst is the Bomb. At $17 USD it may seem pricey for a couple of links of sausage but it is worth every penny!!!. I didn't really appreciate that my server asked if I really wanted kraut? She wasn't impressed by it but I don't thinks she likes it in the first place. The kraut was fresh and very good as well.

The staff was somewhat knowledgeable about the beeir and food. So if you know your way around German beer and food you are not going to be impressed. If you don't well.... ignorance is bliss. None the less discover things for yourself anyway.

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Photo of BretSikkink
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Most of the time, Hessen Haus is a large, quiet room with interesting and unusual decor. Plenty to look at while you're downing liter mugs (also available in half liters and boots). At times it is irredeemably busy and loud, but for the most part it's an awesome, relaxed atmosphere.

The quality and breadth of the beer selection is good, not great. About 20 taps that are decent if somewhat predictable beers, mostly German (Paulaner, Hacker Pschorr, Beck's, Spaten products), while the bottles are somewhat more numerous but also varying in quality (Bud Light to Ayinger, e.g.). A good number of seasonals; the rest favor the lighter side, including hefeweizens, pilsners, and wits.

The service is impeccable at the bar when it's quiet; obviously you take your chances on a busy night. I've never found it impossible to get a beer, although pouring those giant mugs and boots does take a while.

The food looks and smells authentic, but very vegetarian-unfriendly. Since I don't love pretzels, I've never hit up the kitchen at the Haus.

I like it a lot. It's a more pleasant experience than the Royal Mile building and the Bait Shop building for me. If you want more of a partying atmosphere I'd try those instead - or wait for Oktoberfest!

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Hessen Haus in Des Moines, IA
Place rating: 4.23 out of 5 with 32 ratings