Traveling to downtown Des Moines, Iowa allowed us an opportunity to park our car and stretch our legs. This area is very walker friendly and we knew we would be wanting to burn off the extra calories that were sure to be heading our way. One of our favorite parts of visiting new destinations is sampling the flavors of the city. Since we all have to eat to survive, we assume you all enjoy good meals as much as we do. The task of identifying which eateries we will visit falls on my shoulders, and I gladly take up the challenge. Our goal is to search out locally owned places (Or at least regionally) that offer a good sampling of the various cuisines found in the area.
Getting A Good Start
One of the best ways we have found to uncover the local favorites is to ask. We will join a Facebook group that is specific to the food lovers of the particular destination. From them we can glean some excellent suggestions, as well as interesting background information. While we wish we could visit every single place they suggest, in the end we must narrow the field to the ones that fit our itinerary best. The morning we spent at the downtown Farmers Market allowed us a chance to pop into Java Joe’s for a cup of morning wake-me-up. This local chain has an eclectic retro vibe that is perfect for its Court Avenue District location. With our caffeine covered, it was time for more exploring. Java Joe’s does offer some breakfast bites as well, but we decided to test out some of the items being sold at the market.
We were fortunate enough to have a second morning in Des Moines, which meant that we had the opportunity to visit St. Kilda. The idea of dining at an Australian style restaurant certainly piqued our interest. With an open, airy interior and some unique flavor combinations, this place certainly left us with delicious memories. (You can read more about St. Kilda here.)
Munching On Handhelds
Lunchtime for us is usually reserved for sandwiches of some style. During a busy day of exploring, it is important to refuel. We have found that this particular meal time is good for a protein boost, and a nice juicy burger really hits the spot. The Walnut is the brick & mortar child of a long loved food truck named The Food Spot Truck. Adding the non-moving destination to their portfolio has allowed them to increase the number of fans they can serve. We stopped by after a visit to the Pappajohn Sculpture Park and soon found out why they are so popular. Dishes like their Mushroom Swiss Burger and Mediterranean Chicken Pita offer plenty of flavor, while filling us up for more downtown time.
Do you ever get so hungry that you feel like you are running on empty? You know the times when you feel like a zombie just staggering through life. Well then, downtown Des Moines has the perfect dining destination for you. Stop in Zombie Burger for a frightening good time filled with good eats and interesting decor. Be sure to bring your camera, (Or phone camera) as you will certainly want to document this world changing event. (You can read more about Zombie Burger here.)
Since you have the camera handy, why not check out some of the local art that can be found in and around the east Village and other downtown areas in Des Moines. There are some nice murals, tucked away on the sides of buildings, just waiting to be discovered. It pays to get out of the car and do some exploring by foot.
Dining Around The World Without Leaving Downtown
The availability of so many cuisines makes downtown Des Moines a food lovers paradise. With dozens of choices, it would be easy to dine in the area every weekend all year long and not have to repeat locations. Some include interesting entertainment, like what we found at Olympic Flame Restaurant in the East Village. This Greek food eatery thrills customers with their flaming cheese, which has to be seen in person. (We have a short video of it in the linked article.) We also had the chance to be entertained by a local belly dancer who clearly enjoys interacting with the crowds. (You can read more about Olympic Flame here.)
What could be better than sampling a different cuisine in a new destination? How about a restaurant that combines two cultures into one great space. Welcome to Fong’s Pizza. From the outside you expect to find a Chinese eatery and the feeling continues inside. Then the menu comes out and you see it is filled with pizza pies. But wait! These aren’t your standard everyday pizza toppings. Here’s where the Chinese meets the pizzeria with flavors like General Tso’s or the ever popular Crab Rangoon. Finish off your meal with a sweet treat of Raspberry Cheesecake Egg Rolls.
Now that brings up the subject of dessert. Everyone knows it’s the best part of the meal, and we try to always seek out a couple on each of our trips. After all, we don’t want to waste all of that walking we do. Just down the street from Fong’s, we came upon Royal Mile. This English style pub draws in plenty of people for a pint, but also has an interesting menu. Since we had already had plenty of main meals, our visit was specifically to test out their dessert menu. As you can see, it has some deliciously decadent dishes available. (You can read more about Fong’s Pizza & Royal Mile here.)
While the other desserts were scrumptious, for us nothing holds a candle to some sweet ice cream. This is especially true in the summertime. When planning our Des Moines weekend, we looked high and low for something unique to that city. When we stumbled upon Black Cat Ice Cream, we knew we had hit the motherlode. This small batch business makes their products with quality ingredients, which is apparent in the taste and creaminess. It was a perfect accent to the amazing foods we found in downtown Des Moines. (You can read more about Black Cat here.) Which of these places look most appealing to you? Let us hear from you in the comments section below. We love getting feedback.