HOME > Chowhound > General Midwest Archive >
What's your latest food project? Get great advice

Dinner in Des Moines?

Shaggy Aug 24, 2009 01:40 PM

Does anyone have a suggestion for a decent dinner in Des Moines? I will be on the road, so wanted something quick and no frills, but regional and hearty (ribs, burgers, diner food, etc). Anything that is a Des Moines staple would be great, as long as it doesn't take me forever to get a table, or i don't have to drive 45 minutes off of the highway to find it.

  1. j
    jamiski Aug 25, 2009 07:33 AM

    What's your travel route so we don't direct you too far off your path?

    7 Replies
    1. re: jamiski
      Shaggy Aug 25, 2009 10:58 AM

      I'm coming from Chicago, and then heading south to Kansas City.

      1. re: Shaggy
        jamiski Aug 25, 2009 01:01 PM

        A couple thoughts:
        A good steak: The Big Steer: Casual steakhouse with great quality beef and reasonable prices, located right off I-80 just outside of Des Moines in Altoona. And I do mean casual; the kitsch makes it entertaining.
        BBQ: Jethro's is overall pretty good and has a nice atmosphere. Some unique menu items, and it's just a few blocks away from the interstate.
        Woody's: Also in the Drake neighborhood. A little more standard BBQ menu. Jethro's is a more fun atmosphere.
        Casual: Star Bar has good food and is pretty laidback. Small plates, burgers, sandwiches. Nice place for a good quick bite.

        1. re: jamiski
          Shaggy Aug 25, 2009 02:01 PM

          Those sound awesome, thanks a lot.

          1. re: Shaggy
            jhojati Aug 25, 2009 03:01 PM

            I second both Jethro's and Star Bar. What day are you coming through? Tuesdays are great at Jethro's with half price wings, and they are pretty amazing. In terms of some newer places that have really gotten Des Moines interested in finer dining, downtown we have many choices (and right off of I-235) including: Alba (very fresh, innovative preparation and menu items), Django (a French restaurant with great steak frites, foie gras, and a full raw bar), Centro (an Italian American spot that has been a DSM favorite for quite a while, with very good pizza), Miyabi 9 (the best sushi in Des Moines, and arguably on par with some of the best sushi in coastal states), and Bos (featuring primarily local products). A Des Moines staple is also Tasty Tacos, with several locations throughout the Des Moines area - the tacos are unique, with a very puffy fried shell, meat with beans (not refried), lettuce and bright orange cheese, but the star is more often the hot sauce. It's greasy, but definitely an experience you will never forget.

            1. re: Shaggy
              jhojati Aug 25, 2009 03:03 PM

              And when you get to Kansas City, you must try Oklahoma Joe's and/or LC's bbq. Don't leave until you do.

              1. re: Shaggy
                Bobfrmia Aug 25, 2009 08:07 PM

                I'll agree with the Big Steer. They've been around for years, and they still pack em in. Depending on when you come through, they may not make your not having to wait forvever for a table stipulation. In fact, without knowing what day/night or time, many places will be a tough call on that one. Then again, forever is a somewhat relative term. Coming from Chicago, you may not consider 1 -2 hours forever.
                While I haven't had the BBQ at Jethro's or Woody's, if I'm on my way to KC, I don't stop for BBQ in Des Moines. I drive from Des Moines to KC just to eat at LC's.
                If you are coming through early, like between lunch and dinner times, for a truly Des Moines staple I would direct you to Kelly's Little Nipper. I've posted about this place before, and either nobody ever tried it, or they were never to be heard from again. Just kidding, but it is a dive with a Capital D. Not bad for lunch, but at night it is a neighborhood bar in a pretty old neighborhood. The owner pounds out his tenderloins, and breads them by hand for his sandwiches, but what I go for, at least a few times a year, is the Italian Sausage sandwich. Made with the famous Grazianos sausage, they fry a full 1 lb patty of this magic, with sauce, cheese, and peppers, on half a loaf of fresh bread. Cost about 5.50. It's an adventure, but if out of the way, truly Des Moines food is a possibility, give it a try. When you hit Des Moines, take I-235, get off on E14th South, turn left on Grand, just a block or 2, and go 3 blocks back East.
                There is a large Mexican population in the area, and most of the taco place's are pretty highly regarded also.
                Again, this is not Star Bar, Azalea, or anything else previously named. This is not just a meal, it's an adventure. While I don't advocate the drinking of Bud, or any of the similar beers, last time I was there, they were still just 1.50,

                1. re: Bobfrmia
                  trza Aug 26, 2009 05:11 PM

                  I uploaded some of my pics from Kelly's Little Nipper to my flickr page:


        2. b
          Bobfrmia Aug 25, 2009 08:24 PM

          Oh, barring adventure, I-235 to MLK, South To Fleur, which MLK will turn into if you stay straight. 4000 Fleur, is Skips. Skips doesn't get much attention. They don't advertise, coupon, or put their name in the paper for drink specials and great parties, They just serve good food. They are hard to see because they're in an old house, so barring Garmin, I'd mapquest it. I've heard they have a really good breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, but will confess to never having one. They just fly under the radar. From there, you would just shoot South to the bypass, and your Southbound on 35 in minutes.
          Google Skips, you'll get some reviews.

          Show Hidden Posts