L.A. Chowhounder here. My husband is staying at the Chase Suites Hotel on business for 3 months. He's been there for a few weeks and the poor guy has been living on Chili's for his dinner. I told him about Thai Basil (think that's the name) and hoping for more options for him -- specifically, dinner "to-go" (so he can take back to his room. Looking for restaurants near'ish the hotel. I've got a downtown list going for when I visit but I understand downtown is too far to go to on a nightly basis. Thanks!
There are about 15 family owned Italian restaurants in Des moines.Christophers,Marino's,Mezzodi's Ricelli's and Noah's to name a few .These restaurants not only serve the best Italian outside of Chi. they do great steak ,fried chicken you name it.He should check with the Des Moines Reg. for other opinions. This has been a real found treasure for my many visits to DM...Jfitz
Out that way is chain hell. I just gave you a really post with some ideas, that crashed when i clicked post my reply. So, I'll Readers Digest it for now. In the area that I would try, The Tavern, Felix and Oscars, Granite City Brewery (midwest chain), even the Cajun Chicken Strips at Cheddars should be better than Chili's. Cool Basil is what you're thinking about. Waterfront Seafood is also just off University very close. Seafood, Sushi, of a quality that you'll be amazed to find here. Very reasonable. Try Waterfront for lunch, it might hook you.
Wow, that post reads like it was from someone that just spent several hours drinking beer at the Casino. ;-)
Allow me to expand a bit.
The Tavern and F&O's are mostly pizza and sandwich places. They do some entree's, nothing I'd shout about. The Tavern does thin crust, very good pizza, and good Grinders. Grinders here are usually ground Italian sausage, sauce, cheese, and various add ons, on a Hoagie bun.
F&O's is pan pizza. People either love it, or hate it. Few in betweens. I like the version with white sauce, not a fan of the red. The F&O's combo is one of my favorite sandwiches. Italian Sausage patty, with roast beef, cheese, and Marinara. Sounds weird, but it works. Good onion rings, also.
Granite City does a Bleu burger that is very good.
I second the Waterfront Seafood Market. I miss that place, it had the best Sushi in DSM, IMO (or at least a couple of years ago it did). The peel and eat shrimp were also very good. I also love the bar there--excellent bloody mary's and you can get fresh shucked oysters.
Granite City is also quite nice for a regional chain. As Bob said, the Bleu cheese burger is wonderful, perhaps the best burger I've ever had. A lot of the apps are pretty good and they have giant salads that are quite tasty. Lots of good things to try and the beer is fairly decent.
Ok, have a couple more suggestions, I live in CO right now but my folks are in Clive. I love the tavern pizza, it is thin pizza but so good and they have the thin, stringy onion rings that are awesome as well as basic salads. Noodle Zoo is nearby and they have sandwiches, salads, noodles - but... their sandwiches ROCK! They somehow grill their bread with cheddar or parmasen, not sure but I am hooked. Again, being in CA, not sure you are into the calorie thing but I do yoga, exercise, watch what I eat, and those are worth it.
Watercourse as others have suggested is very very good and coming from LA should be healthy. You do have fresh seafood in CA but Watercourse has always been wonderful.
Sam and Gabe's is up University and 86th and we have always loved it. They are family owned and care about their food. It is the second place that I go when in town next to Ginos which I will talk about. Their fish of the day is always good and I am hooked on their chicken asiago.
He is also near Machine Shed which is supposed to be an Iowa thing, but never been there. Granite City is new, have not been there but have not heard bad things.
Palmers Deli is on 50th, right near the tavern, and they had good sandwiches.
If he ventures out - he HAS to go to Ginos. They have steak deburgo, it is a midwest thing but OMG it is the best ever. Seriously, I never finish my meals, I live in healthy old Denver and I finish this one every time, I miss it. I am obsessed about it. :-) It is tenderloin that is grilled with butter, garlic and butter and garlic. Anyways, Gino's does it the best and is worth the drive, it is so worth it. Please have him go there. Iowa is known not for their healthy cooking but for hearty, wonderful cooking. If he goes to Ginos, have him tell the owner that he is coming her on behalf of Dr. Merricks daughter. My parents love that place. They even have their own salad dressing served in stores. Sam and Gabes would know my parents as well.
Christophers, Noah's, Latin King, they are all local. I was not blown away by any but they are all better than chains.
I used to work at cheddars - how funny. It has been jeez, almost 20 years.
Anyways, have fun!
Bob, I think you are missing a couple of local spots. First, Cosi Cucina, a local "new" Italian wood fired joint. Although I have never carried out from there, I would expect that they would do a nice job. I seem to get my "usual," the ziti made with Graziano sausage.
I would pass on the Machine Shed. It is a poor attempt at "Midwestern" food that relies more on quantity than quality.
How about the Urban Grill, also on 86th north of Cosi. I have enjoyed their soups and appetizers, and the bar is a good place for a single to eat.
I was not too terribly impressed the last time I went to the Machine Shed, early June last year. It's a quaint place but the chairs are REALLY uncomfortable. I had the stuffed pork and it was fine, but not stellar. I had cooked carrots on the side but I wish they'd have put something on them. There wasn't even salt. A pat of butter would not have been amiss. The apple dumpling, however, was fantastic and my grandma and her boyfriend loved the pork tenderloin. If he's looking for home cooking, it's not a bad place to go, and since it's right off I-35 on Hickman, it's not hard to find. If he zips up the road a little further, he'll find the Great China on the corner of Hickman and 86th in a strip mall. Yeah, it's American-Chinese, but the service is out of this world and the Sunday lunch buffet is reasonable. If your water glass goes down an inch, somebody is right there to top it off. My dad took me there for lunch the day after my senior prom. Good memories.
I hope I caught this post before your husband leaves the area -- because just to his west on University Ave. (literally in Clive) is one of my most-very-favorite restaurants in the city, Dish. It's actually called "Trostel's Dish," if he'd like to Google it & read through their menu online.
As you might've guessed from the name, Dish is a small-plate restaurant, & remains one of the best at that genre in the 4 states (albeit all Midwestern states) I travel; as an added touch, their menu is organized by region, & thus you'll have 5-6 Asian small plates, 5-6 Latin small plates, 5-6 European small plates, etc. Their selection is immense.
(I'd list my favorites here, but I'd run out of room.)
I don't know if your hubby is an ethnic-eater, but even people I've taken there who are not can typically find things they like -- it's creative but still mostly-accessible food. Personally, I'll order 2-3 dishes, so he should be able to make a meal pretty easily... & not many people know this, but they have a FABULOUS to-go preparation. The bartender &/or hostess who takes the order by phone isn't always that organized, but everything is packaged up in individual containers with raised lids, sauce cups, etc. It's always very fresh & warm & neat.
Or.... he could hang out at their very nice bar & wait for his order in person.... that's fun, too. (warning if he's a wine-person: they serve in those stemless Riedel "O" glasses unless you request otherwise.)
I would second Dish, Waterfront, Cool Basil, and The Tavern.
I haven't been, but I hear good things about Phat Chefs - silly name, but serious food I’m told. The restaurant is hidden in a small strip center just south of 235 on the west side of 50th St.
If he's willing to travel as far as Urban Grill he might consider heading a little further North on 86th to the very new Torroco Italian Grill (4810 NW 86th St Urbandale). The new restaurant is owned by the chef/owner of Sage – a James Beard nominee and Golden Clog award winner (“Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places”) ;). Sage is worth a stop if he can manage it. I see singles eating at the bar several times a week.
Call ahead and you can arrange take-out from Taki, a Japanese restaurant at 2601 86th St. Des Moines sushi should help him truly appreciate what you have back in L.A. Rumor has it that the owners recently sold to some Minneapolis buyers so the service and execution may be in a transitional state.
Thanks for this thread! I just spent some time in Clive and found this info very useful in avoiding chain restaurants. I enjoyed Waterfront and Cool Basil quite a bit - good food, consistently executed, and a good value.
Trostel's Dish was fine, too Their wine flights are a great deal but the food while decent was not as well executed as I had hoped considering the price, atmosphere, and overall concept of the place.
Nana's in Urbandale was another place I went to for lunch and would have gone back to try more.