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Mar 26, 2010 07:22 AM

mngal is heading to Des Moines with the kids (9&10) for a few days - Any places to not miss?

We have never been to Des Moines and are looking for a few great places to eat. Adults like good, locally run restaurants - No chains. Need a few good lunch spots and dinner. Thanks in advance.

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  1. Bobfrmia, Jhojo, and Inthewater all eat in Des Moines regularly, you should give us more criteria for some reccomendations.

    5 Replies
    1. re: trza

      Casual lunch spots - good pizza, burgers or ethnic food. We are staying DT on the river but are willing to travel for good eats.

      Would like to have dinner at a chef driven restaurant that we are able to bring the kids without feeling out of place. Entrees under $20.

      1. re: mngal

        I think you could eat at Django or Centro with the kids, no problem, and be in for a treat. Centro has some awesome pizza, but practically everything is above average. Django is my favorite restaurant in Des Moines. There is no corkage fee there, so you can bring your own wine if you want. Both of these are trendy spots that can get busy on weekend nights (or weekday nights, depending on what is going on). Attached to Centro is South Union Bread Company, which serves outstanding sandwiches.

        I haven't eaten, but have heard good things about, Open Sesame, a Lebanese spot down by where you'll be staying.

        For lunch, I'd swing over to the Drake neighborhood and try Jethro's for bbq. It's a sports bar, but if family friendly. Wings, mac and cheese, and ribs are all good there.

        If you like Thai, there are a couple of really great places near downtown on E14th and University - Thai Flavors and Cafe Fuzion. I prefer the Pad Thai at Cafe Fuzion, but you can't go wrong with either place.

        For burgers, I like Gateway Market or Star Bar, both in the same vicinity just west of downtown. Star Bar is a "gastropub" of sorts. Gateway Market is a local higher-end grocery store with a cafe serving pretty good food.

        A little out of the way, but definitely worth a visit, is El Chisme on Urbandale Ave. and Merle Hay Rd. It's probably a 15-20 minute drive from where you are, but has great food and a great owner. Their Al Pastor pizza is one of my favorite foods I've ever eaten.

        Also out of the way, but equally outstanding, is Wig & Pen - it's a family friendly "English pub" (I use that loosely) that has great thicker pizzas. I recommend going for the Flying Tomato.

        If you like sushi, some of the best sushi I've ever eaten, from coast to coast, is at Miyabi 9 on East Grand, not far from where you are staying also. It can get busy at night, so lunch may be a better bet if you are going with kids.

        Finally, Tasty Tacos on East Grand not far from your hotel is a Des Moines icon. Fried, soft, puffy flour tacos are the standard, and I'd suggest stopping here if you never have.

        Inthewater has the scoop on the Vietnamese food, so if you are interested, I'd point questions that direction.

        I didn't hit on anything in West Des Moines, as I think there is plenty for you around where you are staying. If you are thinking about going out to Jordan Creek Town Center or West Glen Town Center, I may be able to think of a couple of good places to visit, although there isn't much by way of locally owned restaurants out that way.

        1007 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309

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

        Thai Flavor Restaurant
        1254 E 14th St, Des Moines, IA 50316

        Cafe Fuzion
        1240 E 14th St, Des Moines, IA 50316

        El Chisme
        2920 Merle Hay Rd, Des Moines, IA 50310

        Gateway Market
        520 Market St, West Des Moines, IA 50266

        1. re: jhojati

          Great recommendations! We are on our way this am. Looking forward to visiting.

          1. re: mngal

            Sorry, I was out of commission over the weekend, had a full plate of chores. In any case, jhojati covered most of the places I would have recommended. I may have thrown in Tumea and Sons as another good option in that price range and area, but you sure couldn't go wrong with any of those options already mentioned.

            Also, I am a big Court Ave Brewing Co. fan, so I would also have mentioned that.

            Anyway, how was your trip? Did you hit any of the spots that were offered up? Are you still in town? :)

          2. re: jhojati

            Another option, would be Open Sesame, a recently opened Mid-Eastern restaurant downtown not far from the river. That could be some interesting ethnic eats.

            If you are interested in some SE Asian food, there are 4 or 5 not terribly far from downtown that would be great to try, just let me know.

            Could also hit Jesse's Embers for a nice steak dinner, or head down to Bordenaro's pizza for some nice local pie. Thin crust.

            Just pipe up if you need more specifics, jhojati used to live in DSM, and I have my whole life. More than happy to point you towards some good chow.

            Jesse's Embers
            3301 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312

      2. Ok...Here is the list we managed to visit in our 60 hours in Des Moines...Django, Centro, Flying Mango for dinner with Tasty Tacos, Court Ave Brewing for lunch with a beer break before dinner at Raccoon River Brewing.

        Loved Flying Mango for BBQ - Great food and service, chatted with the owner who has a connection to St. Paul...Fantastic time had by all 4 family members.

        Django and Centro both had a great feel to them. Loved the atmosphere....clearly related restaurants. Hubby loved his Cassoulet at Django, my halibut special was good, but less than I hoped for. Spot on service! Kids chose to order off kids menu - enough fries to feed 12. Pizza at Centro was ok...maybe an off night for it??? Would have been nice for the server to tell us the calzone was WAY too much when we asked.

        Tasty Tacos lived up to its' name - Great, quick food. Place was packed!

        Court Ave Brewery was good quality pub/bar food. Enjoyed the brews as well. Not as impressed with the beer at Raccoon.

        All in all, a great trip with food to match! Thanks for the great suggestions! Happy to return the favor if you get up my direction.


        Flying Mango
        4345 Hickman Rd, Des Moines, IA 50310

        1007 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309

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

        1 Reply
        1. re: mngal

          Awesome, glad to hear it.

          As far as pizza at Centro goes, there is honestly better pie in town, the place gets a lot of attention, but I have seldom been impressed. Its more of a place to be seen in town, than a great restaurant. Very nice, though. I like the sandwich shop in the same building much better.

          Beer at CABCO is better than Raccoon River, in my opinion. I have always preferred it (which may be why we are mug club members at CABCO and rarely visit Raccoon River..)

          Flying Mango is great, just simple, low key and great. A real hidden treasure in our town. Glad you liked it.

          Tasty Taco's is simply a Des Moines tradition. Great places with really good quality food.

          Anyhow, glad you enjoyed your time here, come back again sometime. Maybe try and stop in the summer and check out the downtown farmer's market on a Saturday morning.


          Flying Mango
          4345 Hickman Rd, Des Moines, IA 50310

          1007 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309