Last updated on October 31, 2022 by Wandering our World

Iowa is home to Cedar Falls, a not-too-big, not-too-small town where it always feels like the weekend. Whether you walk or bike through its streets, you will always find something to do here. Museums, agri-tourism activities, shopping, and sports are all on the cards. But what about nightlife?

Well, luckily Cedar Falls is filled with bars and restaurants, especially when you head to downtown.

From fun line dancing bars to taverns with over 140 beers on tap, as well as countless happy hour deals and plenty of places for live music, the bar scene in Cedar Falls is surprisingly impressive.

Since there are many excellent options, we’ve put together a list of our favorite bars in Cedar Falls to help you out. You’ll surely find something you like as there’s truly something for everyone here!

CONTENTS:

  1. The Three Best Cocktail Bars
  2. The Two Best Bars In Cedar Falls For Beer
  3. The Two Best Bars In Cedar Falls For Food
  4. The Three Best Bars In Cedar Falls For Live Music & DJs
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The Three Best Cocktail Bars In Cedar Falls

1. Bar Winslow

Sophisticated bar that offers top-tier craft cocktails, snacks, and an outdoor seating area.

Bar Winslow‘s interiors are elegant but incredibly inviting. The seating area has a modernized speakeasy style, featuring earth-colored sofas, marble tables, and some armchairs. The marble-top bar combines classic and contemporary, and the golden rustic pipe shelves behind it display endless bottles, which you can observe from the sleek cushioned stools.

Although Bar Winslow has its fair share of indoor seating options, you might prefer spending your evening outdoors while people-watching or enjoying the nice weather. In that case, you can sit at one of the tables at the front of the venue.

Regarding the drinks, it is safe to say that Bar Winslow’s cocktails are some of the best in Cedar Falls. They offer some classics, such as the Old Fashioned, and interesting specialty cocktails with eccentric ingredients, like the Thyme Warp and The Sound of Her Wings. Note that the cocktail menu changes every season, so there will always be something new to try here.

In addition to the quality of the drinks, the service is impeccable. Cocktails are meticulously but quickly crafted right in front of you by the friendliest bartenders with impressive mixology skills and knowledge.

The bar also has a small selection of beers, wine, and mocktails, which you can pair with charcuterie boards or bread and butter as a snack.

Bar Winslow is closed Monday through Wednesday but operates from 4 pm to midnight on Thursdays and Fridays and from 10 am to 2 pm on Sundays. Saturdays have two different shifts: the first one goes from 10 am to 2 pm, and the second one from 4 pm to midnight.

On top of that you can enjoy happy hour deals on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 4 pm to 6 pm.

Address: 115 Main Street (inside The Black Hawk Hotel), Cedar Falls

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/iMaximFesenko

2. The Ragged Edge

Intimate art gallery with a bar that serves unique cocktails and hosts dancing parties.

The Ragged Edge is not your usual bar. That’s because it is an art gallery, too!

The walls are covered in fascinating paintings, drawings, and photographs by local artists, which are all up for sale. Each piece of artwork is exhibited for a month and then replaced by a new one, which makes for a dynamic, ever-changing display. This bar also functions as a music hub, with low-key live performances that set a relaxed mood for the evening.

As you can see, this bar thrives on creativity, and the drinks are no exception in that regard. The menu has many original or modified craft cocktail recipes — like the Grapefruit Hibiscus Margarita — that results in colorful beverages with new, unique, and exciting flavors.

The Ragged Edge has numerous seating options to keep you comfortable while you sip your cocktail, beer, or wine glass. You can sit by the window, relax at one of the sofas with the artsy cushions, or choose one of the stools at the bar and chat with the bartender.

But if you attend on a Friday, know that you won’t remain seated for long as the bar hosts fun dancing parties from 8 pm until closing!

This bar’s homey atmosphere, excellent drinks, and welcoming staff have earned it uncountable plaudits from customers. You, too, can enjoy it on Thursdays from 4 pm to 9 pm, Fridays from 4 pm to 10 pm, Saturdays from 2 pm to 10 pm, and Sundays from 2 pm to 6 pm.

Address: 504 Bluff Street, Cedar Falls

two cocktails on a bar
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Alessandro Biascioli

3. The Stuffed Olive

Luxurious bar that specializes in martinis, offers various happy hour deals, and serves tapas.

Because the area has a vintage vibe, The Stuffed Olive‘s black and white modern decor is quite striking. The elegant marble-top bar has small chandeliers hanging above it and black stools surrounding it. The rest of the seating options consist of leather sofas and cushioned chairs — they are all very comfortable and contribute to the luxurious ambiance.

The Stuffed Olive has vast gastronomic offerings, but the cocktails are the main attraction. Moscow mules and mojitos are just two examples of what you can order. However, martinis are the specialty here. They have over a hundred on the never-ending menu, most of them containing the signature olive toothpick, hence the bar’s name. That variety and — most important — the quality of cocktail on offer here always wows customers and make The Stuffed Olive a favorite local hangout spot.

The food menu is finger-food style, featuring various flatbreads, charcuterie boards, tapas, and sushi. Everything is of remarkable quality, but we definitely recommend the last two options!

And if happy hour deals are what you are looking for, The Stuffed Olive is the place for you. They have a different one each day: on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, there are 2-for-1 deals in martinis, tapas, and wine glasses, respectively. You can take up those offers at any hour throughout those days.

While on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, there is a $2 discount on different kinds of martini, which you can ask about when you make your order. The Thursday deal lasts the whole day, while the other two are valid from 9 pm until close.

Hours of operation go from 4 pm to 1 am Monday through Saturday.

Address: 314 Main Street, Cedar Falls

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The Two Best Bars In Cedar Falls For Beer

1. Second State Brewing & Co.

Brewery renowned for its wide beer variety and unique specialty brews.

People travel long distances to try this brewery‘s beer and never leave disappointed. It is not only the excellent quality, but also the unbeatable variety that attracts so many customers to Second State.

The brewery has a TV where you can see which beers are on tap at that moment. You can also see the beer style and name, tasting notes, bitterness, and other helpful facts. So there’s no excuse not to try something new!

Second State offers many one-of-a-kind ales, IPAs, fruit, and specialty beers too. There is one in particular that is the talk of the town: Peanut Butter Stout. Frequent visitors always recommend and praise it, so it is definitely worth a try.

There are several seating options to choose from, ranging from elevated tables and stools to outdoor tables for you to enjoy good weather days. However, know that the patio is only available from May to October.

Second State opens at 4 pm and closes at 10 pm from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays, you can visit from 4 pm to midnight, Saturdays from noon to midnight, and Sundays from noon to 8 pm.

Address: 203 State Street, Cedar Falls

Selection of beer
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2. The Brass Tap

Well-rated brewery that serves all kinds of drinks, has an endless beer menu, and hosts fun evenings.

The Brass Tap combines beer, cocktails, food, and fun in one. Of course, the beer is the star of the show. With over 140 taps and a hundred bottles and cans, this place has to have one of the widest beer selections in Cedar Falls.

The cocktail and wine menu makes it even harder to choose, but luckily, the bartenders are friendly and glad to guide you if you feel lost.

The kitchen also does a great job of keeping clients happy. They make standard bar food, but done even better: you can choose burgers, shrimp, flatbreads, pretzels, fish, and chips, among many other dishes. The shrimp is especially popular, and considered one of the best in Iowa.

What about fun? Well, on Wednesdays the pub hosts music bingo sessions! They also have several TVs where you can watch sports, either from the bar stools or one of the brewery’s many tables.

This bar opens at 11 am every day and closes at 10 pm Monday through Thursday, at 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 4 pm on Sundays.

Happy hour deals at The Brass Tap run from 3 pm to 7 pm on Monday through Friday, except for Thursdays, when they are valid from 11 am to 10 pm.

Address: 421 Main Street

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/AnnaStills

The Two Best Bars In Cedar Falls For Food

1. Wild Hare American Bar & Grill

Low-key sports bar that serves large meals, offers happy hour deals on work days, and even hosts volleyball matches!

The atmosphere and decor in Wild Hare are similar to a fun sports bar. It has a traditional wooden bar, numerous TVs, darts, and some tables. But if you are not the biggest fan of this kind of bar, don’t let the ambiance put you off, as you will be missing out on some of the best meals in Cedar Falls.

The food menu is quite extensive: you can get burgers, wraps, tacos, pizza, sandwiches, soups, salads, and desserts, among others. However the most outstanding dish of all is the meatloaf. It is served as a special on Sundays, and the locals absolutely love it. The burgers are also a favorite — no wonder why too! They are generously sized, well-seasoned, and reasonably priced.

Regarding the drinks, Wild Hare has beers on tap and in bottles, coffee, soft drinks, and a few cocktails — the Bloody Mary is the most favored one amongst regulars.

One thing you wouldn’t expect about this bar is the sand volleyball court they have on the patio! You can join the Wednesday tournaments and then recharge your batteries with a delicious meal afterwards.

The bar opens at 10 am every day and closes at 10 pm on Sundays and Mondays, 11 pm Tuesdays to Thursdays, and at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

You can enjoy happy hour offers from 2 pm to 6 pm Monday through Friday.

Address: 2512 White Tail Dr, Cedar Falls

Many types of tacos on the table.
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Gulcin Ragiboglu

2. Whiskey Road Tavern & Grill

Well-rated bar that serves all kinds of quality meals, has a wide whiskey selection, and cocktail happy hour deals.

This bar‘s interiors consist of a large wooden-floored salon with many tables and booths you can sit at, as well as a bar adorned with no less than twenty-seven beer barrels!

While the decor is relatively simple, the menu is brimming with flavor. The tavern has three menus: lunch and dinner, brunch, and a seasonal menu. The options are endless, and it is good to know that Whiskey Road doesn’t only serve bar food, but also more elaborated meals such as salmon, steak, and pasta.

We recommend having the chicken and waffles, the burgers, the raspberry donuts, or the prime rib (only available Thursday-Saturday). The flavor is unmatched!

As the name indicates, the tavern has a large selection of excellent quality whiskeys — an 8-page menu, to be exact. It includes everything from bourbon, to Scotch, to American rye, to flavored whiskey. They also have cocktails, tap beer, and wine by the bottle.

Hours of operation are from 11 am to 10 pm every day. Cocktail happy hour is valid from 3 pm to 5 pm Monday-Friday and 8 pm until close Monday-Saturday.

Address: 402 Main Street, Cedar Falls

man with whisky
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Deagreez

The Three Best Bars In Cedar Falls For Live Music & DJs

1. Octopus

Friendly bar with live music shows most nights, vinyl records, beer, and cocktails.

Octopus is ideal for those who seek the ultimate hole-in-the-wall experience. Its interiors give off classic dive bar vibes, with heavy decorations featuring paper garlands, fairy lights, colorful led lamps, and vintage posters.

It is a music lover’s paradise: the staff plays vinyl records nightly and exhibits them as a collection behind the bar. However, the music doesn’t end there. Octopus hosts live music shows almost every night, where local bands and artists from other states are part of the repertoire. The performances usually start at 8 or 9 pm, and the usual ticket price when there is a show is around $10. All the earnings from the door money go to the artists.

All the singing along and rockin’ out will make you thirsty, and that’s when the draft beer and cocktails here come to the rescue. We recommend the Bloody Mary, which never fails to amaze those who try it.

Hours of operation are from 3 pm to 2 am every day.

Address: 2205 College Street Cedar Falls

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Pro2sound

2. Deringer’s Public Parlor

Fun bar with live country music, line dancing lessons, and happy hour specials.

This bar’s interiors intend to imitate an old Wild West saloon, with hard wooden floors, faux antler chandeliers, a few round tables, and a classic wooden bar. It has some more seating options, like elevated tables and stools.

In front of all the tables, there is a stage where country music bands play, while customers crowd the dance floor and line dance. No need to worry if you’re a beginner — Deringer’s instructors teach fun line dancing lessons several times a week. Expect to have the time of your life!

It is worth mentioning that, because Cedar Falls is home to the University of Northern Iowa, a dancing venue like Deringer’s attracts many young crowds of college students. You may want to keep that in mind in case you are looking for a more adult, mature bar.

The drinks menu at Deringer’s is not that extensive, but because this is more of a dancing bar rather than a tasting room, that’s not a problem. It still has several can and bottled beer options, seltzers, and cocktails.

Deringer’s Public Parlor is closed Sunday through Wednesday but opens its doors on Thursdays from 7 pm to 2 am and on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 pm to 2 am.

Keep an eye out for the happy hour specials on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The Thursday deal is valid until 9:30 pm, while Friday’s and Saturday’s offers last until midnight.

Address: 314 Main Street, Cedar Falls

country music guitar and boots
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/BrianAJackson

3. Roxxy

80’s-themed, well-decorated bar with live DJ performances, and a quality food and drink menu.

Roxxy‘s interiors are filled with retro musical references. From the cassette wall to the guitars hanging from the ceiling to the old pictures, everything is beautifully arranged for customers to feel like they’re in a time capsule.

The live DJ performances here just enhance that retro atmosphere when they start playing 80’s classics. Sometimes, current popular music genres take over for a few minutes to cater to all ages, but the bar usually sticks to Rock N’ Roll. There is also a small dance floor for those who feel like getting up and enjoying the music with their friends.

Roxxy doesn’t only excel when it comes to music, but it also has a wide array of quality food and drinks. The cocktails are strong, colorful, and reasonably priced. We recommend the Purple Rain and the Roxx & Roll for its refreshing fruit-flavored delights. If you’re in a group of four people or more, you can also order bottle service, which includes vodka, whiskey, rum, gin, and tequila.

The menu consists of bar food: burgers, tacos, chicken strips, and wings are some options. Customers always praise Roxxy’s food for its quality, so it is a good place to grab a bite surrounded by a great atmosphere and decor.

Hours of operation from Monday to Thursday are 6 pm to 2 am. On Fridays and Saturdays, Roxxy opens at 5 pm and closes at 2 am.

Address: 314 Main Street Suite B, Cedar Falls