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Best restaurant in Des Moines?

I just moved here for the summer and I'm looking for some good places to eat out. Recs anyone?

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  1. I used to live in Des Moines and I've done a lot of dining there :D For Mexican, try Raul's. It's been around for aaaages and the food has always been excellent. I like Taki for Japanese/sushi, try the tempura ice cream. To.die.for. My absolute favorite place, though? The Flying Mango. Caribbean inspired food and REAL smoked bbq. It's a bit pricey (the 24 hour brisket is $15 but you get two good-sized cuts of meat and two sides) but well worth it. My dad, the meat snob, loved it. I was going to recommend the Chat Noir Cafe, but it's now the Cafe de Scala. I was only there once, for a glass of wine and dessert. So all I can tell you is that the tiramisu is excellent and so is the live jazz on Saturday nights.

    I haven't ever been there, but I've always wanted to go to the Raccoon River Brewing Co. Their menu looks nice. Oh, and for chain dining, you cannot beat the IHOP on SE 14th street, next to Walmart.

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    Taki Japanese Steakhouse
    2677 86th St, Urbandale, IA 50322

    Flying Mango
    4345 Hickman Rd, Des Moines, IA 50310

    Cafe Di Scala
    644 18th St, Des Moines, IA 50314

    5 Replies
    1. re: spellweaver16

      Sad to say, Raul's is gone. He couldn't compete with the large number of taco trucks, food stands, and smaller mexican places that have sprang up in the East Grand area the last few years.

      1. re: Bobfrmia

        Raul's really wasn't all that great anymore. They were stretched too thin with their two locations, in my opinion. There are still good Mexican restaurants in Des Moines. I like Plaza Mexico and El Aguila Real. I also like El Bait Shop and Hessen Haus for good, dependable food. And I've mentioned Christophers on this board before.

        1. re: Bobfrmia

          Darnit! I remember going there with my dad when I was younger and it was always a huge treat.

        2. re: spellweaver16

          The Flying Mango sounds fantastic! I'm definitely going to try it ASAP. I love your sushi recs as well. Thanks!

          1. re: reubensandperrier

            You're welcome! You can get sushi at the Waterfront restaurant in Clock Tower Square as well, but I was more impressed with Taki.

        3. I don't live in Des Moines, but went to Sage Restaurant when I was there for my honeymoon. It was an awesome dinner. We had great service and it has a cool atmosphere. According to the website, the chef was nominated for a James Beard Award. They use locally sourced food, which is important to me

          We also ate at a wonderful vietnamese place, which I think had the word orchid in it, but I can't be sure.

          We also ate a few times at the Court Ave. Brewing Company. Their beer was very good and the food was pretty good.

          1. My top 10 in no particular order:

            1. Sage: When I’m in the mood for an over-the-top 3-4 hour multi-course meal this is the place. I fervently believe this is one of the few places in town that could survive in a major metro area. The atmosphere is very intimate. The menu is a sort of modern American/French fusion that is somewhat seasonal (I wish Andrew would mix it up a little more often). The wine list is good, the food is great, and the service is exceptional.

            2. Lucca: This is the hot new(ish) place riding high on the prix-fixe menu trend. Food is modern Italian in the loosest sense. The interior is minimalist chic and the atmosphere is as close to a “scene” as can be found in DSM. I almost struggle to recommend this because the food has been somewhat inconsistent. Given the quick menu turnover and what I can only imagine to be economic considerations (prices are very reasonable) – some of the courses are not very well thought-out and some have been nearly inedible. The wait staff is above average and the wine list is serviceable. Despite my hesitations, the cheese course always sends me out the door with a smile on my face.

            3. Dish: Best when you’re in the mood for a cocktail party with friends, but no one wants to host. The place serves up a Midwestern take on tapas with a pseudo wine bar. The small plates are fairly inventive and the wine list is good (though not nearly as comprehensive as you would guess). Service has been problematic. It can be very difficult to score a table or even floor space on a Friday or Saturday evening.

            4. Le Mie: Best Breakfast in town…period. When fully stocked, the pastry case is food porn on a grand scale. Located in a non-descript strip-mall; this is the place for coffee and croissant any day of the week. The interior is the love-child of an industrial warehouse and Ikea show-room. The full brunch menu (excellent) is available on Sunday. I think you can score a slice of the wicked quiche all week (3-4in deep; velvet consistency).

            5. Big Tomato: Best late night pizza. The venue is like a walk-in glory hole. The staff is composed of highly tattooed folks who excel at producing pizza and angst. The topping combinations are delightfully absurd (my last involved crushed nacho cheese Doritos).

            6. Continental & Star Bar: Toss up between these two for the “gastro-pub” title. Star Bar (and its patio) have the edge if it’s sunny out.

            7. 801 Steak & Chop: The best of the local steakhouses and one of the better expense account venues in town. Very aggressive wine list. Mature & competent staff.

            8. B-Bops: My favorite fast-food-sin.

            9. Cool Basil: My favorite cheap Thai place.

            10. Flying Mango (already mentioned): When I crave barbeque, and lacked the foresight to get something on the smoker, this is the place. Very friendly folks.

            Notable mentions: Centro (brick oven pizza), Bistro Montage (French bistro fare), The B&B (gastro-pub), Latin King (Italian-American), and Snookies (malts and ice-cream).

            …I think Café de Scala is crap.

            That should keep you busy.

            5 Replies
            1. re: double_Windsor

              Double Windsor,

              What a great list. I would add Thai Flavors on the east side, although I think they are run by the same folks as Cool Basil.

              1. re: double_Windsor

                I enjoyed the Chat Noir Cafe. It was quaint, fairly unpretentious, and I loved the mufaletta (ergh, I'm sure I spelled that wrong) sandwich. I do agree that modernizing the place like they seem to be attempting is a crappy move. It's a huge old house in a historic district! They should work with it. But I can't say much about the food. Would you mind posting about your experiences with Cafe di Scala so far?

                1. re: double_Windsor

                  I just had breakfast at La Mie yesterday and hoo boy, you weren't kidding. One of the best croissants I've ever had and the spread was just gorgeous. I'm grabbing a baguette next time i'm in. They smelled heavenly.

                  1. re: double_Windsor

                    I see that this was posted in 2007. Not sure if you've been back since, but Cafe di Scala has quietly become one of the best spots in Des Moines. Check them out again sometime.

                    1. re: PKJ

                      Cafe di Scala has become one of the best spots in D.M.. Bistro Montage has also established itself. Sage is now gone but Baru 66 is suppose to be superb and taking Des Moines dining up a notch. I also highly recommend Alba & Lucca.

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                      Bistro Montage
                      2724 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312

                      Lucca
                      420 E Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309

                  2. i just returned from a trip to des moines. i had two great meals at lucca (two different nights!), i thought it was superb. the cheese course is a lot of fun. i had an excellent meal at sage.....on a different note i had a good graziano suasage sandwich at kelly's little nipper ( a pleasant little dive tavern on the eastside) very good and quite a bargan.

                    1. For a very special dinner, Baru 66 in Windsor Heights! Best meal I have ever had in 49 years in DSM!!!

                      1. I love the chicken spidini at Latin King. This spot is a bit tough to find (it's right next to the roberts dairy plant) and is really goood...but not latin at all! lol

                        Lori
                        http://foodloverlori.blogspot.com/

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                        Latin King Restaurant
                        2200 Hubbell Ave, Des Moines, IA 50317

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: foodloverlori

                          Slight correction.
                          It's across the street from Anderson Erickson Dairy. Makers of the worlds best Cottage Cheese.

                          1. re: Bobfrmia

                            you're right! thanks. Lost my head :

                        2. Recently I've been incredibly happy with the new Smokey D's (BBQ) location on 2nd St just north of the 35/80 overpass. I've had all the meats except turkey and they've all been good (and most of them excellent). I've had about half the sides as well and they're all good as well.

                          1. Anyone have a report about Baru 66? It sounds amazing per the newspaper writers but I haven't heard anything from an actual person.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: jamiski

                              As I mentioned above, it is fantastic....everything they say it is!

                              1. re: msb

                                Agreed - anybody I've sent there has been very impressed too. I couldn't even talk it up so much that it disappointed them, which often happens. You'll be very happy you went.

                            2. I'm a big fan of George Formaro's restaurants Centro and Django and for an interesting take on fast food Mexican, it is Tasty Tacos [original flour tacos] for me!

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                              Centro
                              1007 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309

                              Django Restaurant
                              210 10th Street, Des Moines, IA 50309