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40+ Must-Try Restaurants In Des Moines

Des Moines is a city full of great places to eat. Whether you want a quick breakfast or a farm-to-table experience, there is more than one restaurant to choose from. I’ve rounded up a list of some of the most recommended restaurants in Des Moines.

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Breakfast & brunch

Maybe breakfast is just a donut or a bagel for you most days. Or maybe you prefer a hearty meal to start your day. Whatever your preference, this breakfast and brunch list will have what you’re looking for.

Mini donuts at Mahalo's
Photo courtesy Mahalo’s Coffee and Mini Donuts

1. 5 Borough Bagels

If bagels are your breakfast food of choice, you won’t want to miss out on 5 Borough Bagels. This New York-style bagel shop is always bustling and offers a wide variety of bagels, housemade cream cheese and breakfast sandwiches, among other delicious options. 5 Borough Bagels also has a full coffee bar in addition to a menu of specialty drinks that changes seasonally. 5 Borough Bagels, 13435 University Ave., Suite 300, Clive

2. ChuChu Donuts

ChuChu Donuts is one of the city’s hidden gems. With a wide variety of donuts and pastries made fresh daily, ChuChu Donuts is a must-visit shop for donut lovers. In addition to traditional donuts and donut holes, the shop also sells cronuts, honey buns, bear claws, cinnamon rolls and more. ChuChu Donuts, 580 SW Ninth St., suite 116, Des Moines

3. Coaches Kolaches

While the word “kolaches” might immediately make you think of the round, fruit-filled Czech pastry, Coaches Kolaches brings a taste of Texas to the Midwest.

In addition to the more traditional fruit pastries, Coaches Kolaches also offers a savory pastry option that resembles a stuffed roll. These soft doughy pastries are filled with a variety of mixtures of eggs, cheese, meat and veggies. Coaches Kolaches, 8527 University Blvd, Suite 1, Clive

4. Donut Hut

With friendly service and a neighborhood atmosphere, Donut Hut has a great selection of both traditional and filled donuts alongside fan favorites like their glazed cherry cake donut. Donut Hut, 4941 Douglas Ave., Des Moines

5. Donut King

Easily one of Des Moines’ most iconic places to find a donut is the Donut King. Traditionalists will love the shop’s classic cake donuts. Every year during Lent, Donut King also makes the most delish Polish paczkis to celebrate Fat Tuesday—but be sure to pre-order because they go quick! Donut King, 3304 E University Ave., Des Moines

6. Drake Diner

Opened in 1987, the Drake Diner has been a Des Moines landmark for more than 30 years. This ‘50s-inspired diner is known for its hearty portions and all-day breakfast—making it the perfect place to satisfy a craving should you want pancakes at 9 p.m. Drake Diner, 1111 25th St., Des Moines

7. Eggs and Jam

Eggs and Jam makes breakfast fun — no matter the occasion! This ‘90s hip hop inspired eatery has walls covered in graffiti-style murals alongside dozens of cleverly named dishes like the You Can Touch This and Yo Homes to Bel Air. Eggs and Jam also has an extensive bar menu with fun twists on favorite brunch cocktails including mimosa flights, bloody marys and more. Eggs and Jam, 1907 EP True Pkwy, West Des Moines

8. Gilroy’s Kitchen + Pub + Patio

Gilroy’s serves a family-style, all-you-care-to-eat brunch on the weekends.  Gilroy’s Kitchen + Pub + Patio, 1238 Eighth St., West Des Moines

9. Hiland Bakery

Consistently voted as having some of the best donuts in the state, Hiland Bakery is a northside staple. Fan favorite specialty donuts include the frosted champagne or massive apple and cherry fritters. Hiland Bakery, 3615 Sixth Ave., Des Moines

10. La Mie Bakery

This French-inspired bakery serves a variety of breakfast items as well as grab-and-go sandwiches, but where La Mie really shines is with its baked goods. From flaky croissants and sugar-coated scones to gooey chocolate eclairs and sticky caramel rolls, this selection of sweets is sure to make your mouth water.

Be sure you get there early! Especially on the weekends, La Mie favorites tend to sell out quickly. La Mie Bakery, 841 42nd St. and 601 Locust St., Des Moines

11. Mahalo’s Coffee & Mini Donuts

With a laidback Hawaiian theme, this West Des Moines coffee shop also has a delicious menu of mini donuts. Customers can opt for the classic style mini donut covered in cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar. Or, Mahalo’s also has Island Style mini donuts in flavors like Apple Tiki, Coconut Cove, Hula Honey and more. Mahalo’s Coffee & Mini Donuts, 4800 Mills Civic Pkwy, suite 105, West Des Moines

12. Mullets

Mullets is the self-proclaimed best breakfast in Des Moines. In addition to traditional American fare and an offbeat, roadhouse atmosphere, Mullets also has a fantastic multi-level patio. There is outdoor dining on the ground level, as well as a rooftop patio that offers fantastic views of the Des Moines River and city skyline.Mullets, 1300 SE First St. #1253, Des Moines

13. St. Kilda

Home to Des Moines’ most instagrammable avocado toast, St. Kilda is an Australian-style restaurant with modern twists on classic dishes, fresh-baked pastries and artisanal coffee drinks. In addition to its photo-worthy toasts, the eatery also offers a variety of eggs, breakfast sandwiches and more.

Now with two locations in the metro, St. Kilda is the perfect place to take a breakfast meeting or enjoy a weekend brunch. St. Kilda Collective, 333 5th St., West Des Moines, and St. Kilda Cafe & Bakery, 300 SW Fifth St., Des Moines

Avocado toast at St. Kilda Cafe and Bakery in Des Moines
Photo courtesy St. Kilda Cafe and Bakery

14. University Library Café

There’s no better place than the University Library Cafe to meet up with friends for a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast. While this tiny eatery in the Drake neighborhood has an impressive selection of craft beers on top, their breakfast is also worth the wait.

You won’t want to miss out on the restaurant’s Breakfast Nachos, which are piled high with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, onion and peppers then topped with a mouthwatering cheese sauce. University Library Cafe, 3506 University Ave., Des Moines

15. Waveland Café

If you’re in the mood for a classic diner breakfast, look no further than the Waveland Cafe. This iconic Des Moines eatery is known for its long line, tradition for attracting political candidates (and national media) and its out-of-this-world hash browns. Waveland Cafe, 4708 University Ave., Des Moines

Lunch restaurants and delis

Looking for a light lunch? Or seeking a lunch spot with outdoor dining? This is the section for you. Once you’re done eating, go out and explore Des Moines.

16. B&B Grocery

A classic deli is a community staple and B&B Grocery on Des Moines’ south side is a must-visit for any sandwich lover. Head to B&B for their long list of “killer” sandwiches that include everything from fried tenderloins and burgers to Italian grinders and kosher corned beef. B&B Grocery, 2001 SE Sixth St., Des Moines

17. Ceviche Bar

What the patio at the East Village’s Ceviche Bar lacks in size, it makes up for in charm. The outdoor space at this Cuban restaurant feels like dining in a tiny, secret garden. Ceviche Bar, 223 E. Walnut St., Des Moines

18. Cheese Bar

The restaurant’s menu consists of mac and cheeses, grilled cheeses, raclettes and more. Enjoy your food with a pairing of Champagne or any of the Cheese Bar’s other sparkling wines. Cheese Bar, 2925 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

Food and drinks at Cheese Bar
Photo courtesy Megan Bannister

19. Des Fresh Foods

Des Fresh Foods started as a stand at the Downtown Farmers’ Market and a traveling trailer before opening a brick and mortar location in early 2021. This plant-based eatery has a variety of options, including sandwiches, spring rolls and some of the best crispy potato wedges ever. They also have incredible teas and Thai iced coffees. Des Fresh Foods, 520 SW Ninth St., Des Moines

20. Gilroy’s Kitchen + Pub + Patio

Gilroy’s serves casual American food with a twist. Its patio is spacious and fully covered with ceiling fans and portable heaters to help extend the outdoor dining season and make it as enjoyable as possible. Gilroy’s Kitchen + Pub + Patio, 1238 Eighth St., West Des Moines

21. Kitchen Spaces

While not technically a restaurant, Kitchen Spaces is a commercial kitchen space that a number of small culinary businesses base their operations out of. While some of the businesses sell at other locations, a large number of them have days where their foods are available to the public at Kitchen Spaces’ location.

Whether you’re looking for handmade ramen, chicken and waffles, or anything in between, you’ll find something delicious here. Kitchen Spaces, 1139 24th St., Des Moines

22. Lucky Lotus

If you’re looking for southeast Asian cuisine in Des Moines, there’s no better place than Lucky Lotus. Located along Ingersoll Avenue, Lucky Lotus serves a delectable menu of shareable snacks, noodles, curries, and more. With pastel interiors and floral paper umbrellas hanging from the ceiling, the atmosphere at Lucky Lotus is just as beautiful as the food served. Lucky Lotus, 2721 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

An up-close look at entree at Lucky Lotus in Des Moines
Photo courtesy Megan Bannister

23. Mi Patria Ecuadorian Restaurant

Located in a West Des Moines strip mall, Mi Patria Ecuadorian Restaurant is a hidden culinary gem. This Ecuadorian restaurant has delectable Latin classics like empanadas, ceviche, plantains and more. Mi Patria Ecuadorian Restaurant, 1410 22nd St., West Des Moines

24. Trellis Café

Located inside the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens, the ambiance at Trellis Café is as beautiful as the food on diners’ plates. In addition to indoor dining just off the gardens’ dome, Trellis also has a sprawling patio that overlooks the blooming gardens along the Des Moines River.

During the warmer months, the Trellis patio is the perfect place for a weekday lunch or relaxed Saturday brunch. Trellis Café, 909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines

25. Zombie Burger

When it comes to both ambiance and its unique menu, it’s hard to find a quirkier restaurant than Zombie Burger. With a dining room inspired by some of Hollywood’s classic monster movies, Zombie Burger has the perfect spooky setting to enjoy a meal at its burger and drink lab.

Burgers like the Walking Ched — with a breaded and deep fried macaroni and cheese bun—and Undead Elvis—complete with peanut butter, fried bananas and bacon — are fan favorites for their unique take on the classic dish. The fun continues with a variety of cake and cereal milk shakes that can be ordered normally or spiked with the alcohol of your choosing. Zombie Burger, 300 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines

Dinner restaurants and fine dining

Dinner restaurants in Des Moines range from casual and chic to high-end dining.

26. Angry Goldfish

With unique takes on American classics like a candied bacon mac and cheese and merlot and mushroom burger, Angry Goldfish is full of unexpected surprises. In addition to a delicious food menu, this restaurant also has a great patio and daily specials. It got its name from their signature Sriracha-seasoned Goldfish crackers. Angry Goldfish, 2301 SW Ninth St., Des Moines

27. Aposto

Located inside an 1880 Victorian mansion in Sherman Hill, Aposto is a on-of-a-kind restaurant offering classic cuisine with a modern twist. Aposto offers outdoor dining on the home’s wraparound porch as well as at tables on platforms in the yard. The restaurant’s cozy, homey atmosphere extends to its outdoor spaces, making it the perfect place to enjoy an intimate date nightAposto at the Scala House, 644 18th St., Des Moines

28. Eatery A

A contemporary Mediterranean restaurant with an incredible selection of beer and wine and wood-fired pizzas. When the weather is nice, don’t miss out on their patio. Eatery A, 2932 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

Interior of Eatery A in Des Moines
Photo courtesy Catch Des Moines

29. El Patio Mexican Restaurant

El Patio is a Mexican restaurant is located in an old house with a sprawling, flower-covered back patio. On a warm day, this intimate patio is the perfect place to enjoy a margarita (or two). El Patio Mexican Restaurant, 611 37th St., Des Moines

30. Fat Tuesday

You’ll find authentic Cajun food in the heart of Des Moines at Fat Tuesday. Owned and operated by a New Orleans native, this local eatery serves up Cajun favorites like gumbo, po’ boys, oyster platters and more. Fat Tuesday, 6112 SW Ninth St., Des Moines

31. Fong’s Pizza

Fong’s Pizza is famous for their quirky fusion dishes like the crab rangoon pizza, and they have an amazing menu of unique tiki drinks. Fong’s Pizza, 223 Fourth St., Des Moines

32. Harbinger

This vegetable-focused small plates restaurant is known for its innovative dishes and seasonally changing menu. Harbinger, 2724 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

33. Irina’s Restaurant and Bar

Enjoy a taste of Russia with infused vodkas, pierogies and more at Irina’s. Irina’s Restaurant and Bar, 2301 Rocklyn Drive, Urbandale

34. Jesse’s Embers

If you’re looking for a classic supper club experience in Des Moines, look no further than Jesse’s Embers. This classic eatery has been a staple of the city for more than 55 years and offers hearty portions of steak, pasta, and even a signature Emberburger for lunch and dinner in a cozy, neighborhood atmosphere. Jesse’s Embers, 3301 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

35. Kathmandu Restaurant

Taste some of the best Nepalese and Indian dishes at Kathmandu Restaurant. Stop in for an impressive lunch buffet or order off-menu for dinner to enjoy the restaurant’s wide variety of specialities including momo, biryani, tandor dishes, and more. Kathmandu Restaurant, 7229 Apple Valley Drive, Windsor Heights

36. Proof

Often rated as one of the best fine dining establishments in the city, Proof is known for its inventive cuisine. With a mixture of both small and large plates and an ever-changing menu, diners can expect a meal the kitchen has put thought and talent into.

If you’re dining on an extra special occasion, consider making a reservation for Proof’s Second Saturday 10-course blind tasting menu. Proof Restaurant, 1301 Locust St. C, Des Moines

37. RC’s Diner

A neighborhood restaurant that serves Jewish inspired diner food. From latke flights and matzo ball soup to house-made lox, RC’s Diner has an incredible menu of hearty comfort food with a modern twist. RC’s Diner, 6587 University Ave., Windsor Heights

38. The Hall

Located in a reclaimed 1890s railcar barn, The Hall is a beer and food hall worth the stop. The Hall has 54 rotating taps in addition to a seasonal menu of craft cocktails with food available from the Justice League of Food. The Hall, 111 S. 11th St., West Des Moines

Interior of The Hall, a food and beer hall in Des Moines
Photo courtesy Catch Des Moines

Sweets, desserts & ice cream

I have a sweet tooth, so whenever I plan a trip, I always seek out a good ice cream spot. If you’re the same way, keep reading.

39. Bauder’s Pharmacy

If you’re searching for a classic soda fountain, Bauder’s Pharmacy is the place for you. This Des Moines institution offers ice cream, sundaes, shakes and malts at a classic ice cream counter. Bauder’s makes an Iowa State Fair favorite: A fudgy peppermint ice cream bar. Bauder’s Pharmacy, 3802 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

40. Black Cat Ice Cream

With unique flavors like Saturday Cereal and Chocolate Ghost Chili, Black Cat Ice Cream is a shop worth visiting. Plus, if you’re feeling indecisive, they also offer ice cream flights. Black Cat Ice Cream, 2511 Cottage Grove Ave., Des Moines

41. Classic Frozen Custard

This southside custard shop has a rotating menu of flavors that are made fresh daily. Ice cream lovers can order custard in cones, shakes, sundaes and malts, but come hungry: The portions at Classic Frozen Custard are notoriously large. Classic Frozen Custard, 4000 SE 14th St., Des Moines

42. Dairy Zone

Opened in 1990, Dairy Zone is an eastside favorite for frozen treats of all kinds. From classic cones to ice cream tornados with a variety of mix-ins available, there’s something to satisfy every sweet tooth. Dairy Zone, 2219 E. University Ave., Des Moines

43. Monarca Paletas

Why opt for plain ice cream when you have something more creative? Monarca Paletas brings an unexpected dessert option to the west side of the metro with its mouth-watering handmade ice cream bars. With a wide variety of paleta flavors to choose from, there is no shortage of options for dipping or toppings these sweet treats. Monarca Paletas, 9901 University Ave., Suite 150, Clive

A sweet treat a Monarcha Paletas in Clive, Iowa
Photo courtesy Monarca Paletas

44. Snookies Malt Shop

This Beaverdale favorite serves up classic soft serve ice cream with a range of dips, toppings and sundae combinations available. On a summer evening, it’s not uncommon for the line at this popular shop to wrap around the building. Snookies Malt Shop, 1810 Beaver Ave., Des Moines

45. The Outside Scoop

While they have brick-and-mortar locations in Indianola and Ankeny, The Outside Scoop got its start as a bright pink ice cream truck. This local favorite makes small batch ice cream from scratch and can be found parked around downtown or at special events across the metro. Expect funky flavors like goat cheese with roasted cherry. The Outside Scoop, 602 N. Jefferson Way, Indianola, and 2410 SW White Birch Drive, Ankeny

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