The lighter side of real estate

These 15 Des Moines Restaurants Will Blow The Taste Buds Out Of Your Mouth

These 15 Des Moines foodie spots are outstanding. Once you try them you’ll want to keep them all to yourselves too.

Leah McBride Mensching

15 articles, 0 comments

1. Centro Does It All, And Does It Right

Best Restaurants In Des Moines

Source: CentroDSM Facebook page

1003 Locust St
(515) 248-1780
Yelp: 4 stars, 153 reviews

Pronounced “chen-tro,” this restaurant is where basics done right (like a cheeseburger) meets chic, specialty cuisine (like pancetta-wrapped shrimp).

Located in the heart of downtown, this is the place to impress your date or your in-laws, or just enjoy a great meal with friends. The menu also has something for everyone, from wood-fired pizzas, to sandwiches, to pasta, to seafood.

And the portions are generous, so you’ll have plenty for lunch the next day. Perfect.

2. Django Is Off The Chain

Best Restaurants In Des Moines

Source: DjangoDSM Facebook page

210 10th St
(515) 288-0268
Yelp: 4 stars, 131 reviews

See what I did? Django…is unchained?


Django boasts classic French fare and the atmosphere of a bustling brasserie in Montmartre. Diners can choose from a menu that ranges from beef bourguignon and moulard duck confit, to a variety of fruits de mer and mussels frites, or a classic croque madame.

And if you have a picky eater dining with you, never fear. There are awesome burgers and slightly less French sandwiches on the menu too.

This is Iowa, after all.

3. Flying Mango Is Iowa’s BBQ Destination

Best Restaurants In Des Moines

Source: Flying Mango Facebook page

Flying Mango
4345 Hickman Rd
(515) 255-4111
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 115 reviews

Flying Mango is where BBQ and flavors of the Caribbean turn into delicious love and happiness on a plate.

This is the place for BBQ classics like a rack of ribs or pulled pork, as well as favorite dishes with a twist, like “Red Neck Surf-n-Turf” or lime and garlic shrimp with mango salsa over black pepper fettuccine.

4. Tursi’s Latin King Rules Over Des Moines

Tursi’s Latin King
2200 Hubbel Ave
(515) 266-4466
Yelp: 3.5 stars, 34 reviews

Tucked alongside a dairy and a used car dealership, Tursi’s Latin King is an east side institution. If you’re just driving by you might never think to stop, but locals know this is the place to be. Do a double take, and you might notice the parking lot is completely full.

Known for their house specialty, chicken spiedini, other menu favorites include antipasti, pretty much any pasta dish you could imagine, and Italian fried mozzarella. The wine menu is comprehensive, Italian-focused and won’t gouge your wallet.

Done, done and done.

5. Fong’s Is The Go-To Place For…Asian Pizza?

Best Restaurants In Des Moines

Source: Urbanspoon

Fong’s Pizza
223 4th St
(515) 323-3333
Yelp: 4 stars, 145 reviews

Were you expecting that? Well, you know what happens when a pizza place moves into the location of the city’s oldest Chinese restaurant? The ultimate in Asian fusion, that’s what.

Pizzas are handmade with names like “Crab Rangoon,” “Happy Family” and “Moo Shu Pork.” It would be so easy to get everything wrong, but Fong’s somehow turns Asian-Italian fusion (a head-scratcher, for sure) into a delicious adventure.

And don’t forget to order a tiki drink; after all, you’re a Fongolian now.

6. Kitschy Awesomeness Awaits At El Bait Shop

Best Restaurants In Des Moines

Source: el Bait Shop Facebook page

El Bait Shop
200 SW 2nd St
(515) 284-1970
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 67 reviews

Do you like ‘70s fishing themed, Mexican-ish restaurants? Us too! Especially if there are well over 100 beers on tap to choose from and more than 150 in bottles to wash down all those delicious tacos and enchiladas.

The ambiance at El Bait shop is fun all year round, but things really get going in the summer, when the patio opens and an I-Cubs game is going on nearby.

7. Go Small But Mighty At Trostel’s Dish

Best Restaurants In Des Moines

Source: Facebook user Trostel’s Dish

Trostel’s Dish
12851 University Ave
(515) 221-3474
Yelp: 4 stars, 33 reviews

Not sure what you’re in the mood for? Why not sample flavors from around the world on small plates so you can try as many as possible?

At Trostel’s Dish on University (technically located in nearby Clive) you can jump from pork tostadas to tuna tataki to an antipasto flight.

Heck, throw in a wine flight too. Go crazy.

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8. Sample Every Pastry There Is At La Mie

Best Restaurants In Des Moines

Source: Facebook user La Mie Bakery

La Mie Bakery
841 42nd St
(515) 255-1625
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 78 reviews

Ask anyone in Des Moines about pastries and the name La Mie is sure to come up. La Mie is synonymous with the city’s best flaky goodness and has been a favorite bakery and café for more than a decade.

Whether you’re in the mood for a classic croissant, tart or danish, or would like to take home a loaf of your favorite bread, La Mie is the place to be. The tough part is holding yourself back from buying all the pastries.

Seriously, you will want them all.

9. “Thai” One On At Cool Basil

Cool Basil
8801 University Ave
(515) 225-8111
Yelp: 3.5 stars, 48 reviews

In the Des Moines area, “Thai” and “Cool Basil” are synonymous. The best part is, when you order almost much any of their delicious dishes, you can specify how spicy, or how mild, you would like it.

In addition to curry, noodle, rice and stir-fry dishes, the restaurant also serves great sushi, maki, sashimi and nigiri.

10. You’ll Be Defeated By The Zombie Burger

Best Restaurants In Des Moines

Source: Zombie Burger + Drink Lab Facebook page

Zombie Burger
300 E Grand Ave
(515) 244-9292
Yelp: 4 stars, 176 reviews

Sometimes you just need a really great burger. Zombie Burger has you covered, to the tune of 26 to choose from as well as salads, appetizers, deep fried hot dogs, chili, sides, desserts and a full menu of shakes.

Ordering will be tough – how to choose between the Raygun and the Fulci burgers, or the carrot cake shake and the pumpkin pie shake?

But beware, after consuming a giant burger and needing an immediate post-burger nap, you may just feel like a zombie. Wait…

11. Savor The Spectacular Sushi At Wasabi Chi

Best Restaurants In Des Moines

Source: Wasabi Chi Asian Cuisine & Sushi Bar Facebook page

Wasabi Chi
5418 Douglas Ave
(515) 528-8246
Yelp: 4 stars, 46 reviews

Des Moines has a number of good sushi restaurants, but Wasabi Chi is known for being fresh and delicious, not to mention truly artistic, each time you visit.

The restaurant features classic rolls, sushi and sashimi as well as signature rolls like the Des Moines Monster Roll, a definite local favorite.

And if you’re not in the mood for sushi, try the other hot Chinese and Thai dishes. Whatever you do, be sure to strike up a conversation with the great bartenders.

12. Jethro’s BBQ Doesn’t Mess Around

Best Restaurants In Des Moines

Source: Jethro’s BBQ Facebook page

Jethro’s BBQ
3100 Forest Ave
(515) 279-3300
Yelp: 4 stars, 104 reviews

Don’t go to Jethro’s BBQ by Drake because it was on TV. Don’t go because you’re curious if an ambulance is going to show up after someone stuffs themselves during an eating challenge (it’s an American restaurant that serves a lot of meat; of course they have an eating challenge!).

Go because you want to eat amazing BBQ and a lot of it. The restaurant’s signature dish is The Jethro, a pork tenderloin, topped with Carolina-style pulled pork, house smoked pit ham, and a double order of thick slab bacon.

You might just want to have a salad tomorrow.

13. All Pizza Lovers Can Live In Harmony At Gusto

Best Restaurants In Des Moines

Source: Facebook user Gusto Pizza Co.

Gusto Pizza Co.
1905 Ingersoll Ave
(515) 244-8786
Yelp: 4 stars, 38 reviews

With two Des Moines locations there’s no reason to miss out on a delicious pie from Gusto. And the pizza’s awesome too. Whether you want a simple pepperoni pizza, a specialty pizza like the Vincent Van Goat, or one with a gluten-free crust and vegan mozzarella, Gusto has you covered.

The menu also offers sandwiches, pasta, appetizers and desserts and a selection of Iowa Craft Beers, including selections from Peace Tree and Millstream.

14. Throwback To Simpler Times At Drake Diner

Drake Diner
1111 25th St
(515) 277-1111
Yelp: 3.5 stars, 50 reviews

Drake Diner is everything a diner should be: Great diner atmosphere meets great diner food.

The pumpkin pancakes are the best you’ll ever have; the omelets are loaded with your favorite ingredients, and the lunch and dinner fare range from the expected (salads, sandwiches and burgers) to the surprising (chicken deburgo and black bean hummus).

And you’ll find just about everyone there, from students at nearby Drake University, to families, to young professionals. Everyone loves Drake Diner.

15. Brag To Your Uncool Friends About Your Meal At Americana

Best Restaurants In Des Moines

Source: Americana Facebook page

1312 Locust St
(515) 243-1397
Yelp: 4 stars, 93 reviews

Americana is just one of the trendy restaurants helping revitalize the downtown area. And, beyond the chic décor and nice location (gaze outside at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park), is some seriously good food.

From a brunch buffet and mimosa bar to lunch, dinner and cocktail menus for later in the day, there’s something tasty for everyone. On the dinner menu, Thai tacos, steak with a choice of sauces and seared tuna with miso noodles are all favorite dishes.

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posted on: April 15, 2014
[views], 12 comments


  1. Amber

    Louie’s Wine Dive should definitely have made this list.

  2. hebshesh

    Did any of you notice this article is under the “opinion” site of this website? While it is your right to voice your opinion, you can’t say the author is wrong for his viewpoint. Plus, everyone knows the best food is at Urban Grill! 😉

    • Denny B in response to hebshesh

      Everyone looking for a new place to eat , with great food should take a drive to Newton for Moo’s BBQ?????

  3. Anita Leveke

    Missing Christopher’s… a Beaverdale icon! Also have to take issue with Flying Mnago… have given them several chances… the food is good but the experience from the owners leaves you feeling like “Odd Man Out” from Junior High… they cater to the “Roosevelt crowd”” in the Beaverdale (Hoover) neighborhood… Move to the Roosevelt Shopping Center with your ELITE crowd!

  4. Anita Leveke

    ANNNDDD… my sentiments were echo’d by the Des Moines Register “Grumpy Gormet”… He/She had the same “Odd Man Out” experience at Flying Mango!!

  5. Lovefood

    I agree with this list minus one that I won’t mention but has cockroaches. Also where’s baru 66!! Best restaurant.

  6. Geri Seiberling

    Cafe Di Scala should have been on the list- the homemade pasta is exquisite.

  7. Cary

    I only know of the Drake Diner(fabulous)Looking forward to Jethro’s the next time I’m back home in Des Moines. Others look good too.

  8. Roger

    I was surprised that steaks were not specifically mentioned. The best steak I have had is the steak de burgo at Latin King. They also have one of the best chicken dishes in their Chicken Spedini. So I suggest to those folk who think it is overrated to try these. The pasta is average at best. I like Noah’s for Fried Chicken. Best pizza Chucks who also have good Italian friend chicken as does Gino’s. For comfort food any of the Cozy Cafe’s or Patrick’s in Adel. Large steaks, Rube’s in Waukee. Best pasta Same and Gabe’s Thai food, Thai Flavors or Zuzap.

  9. Roger

    Latin King for the steak de burgo or the chicken spedini. Noah’s for fried chicken. Chucks for pizza and Italian friend chicken. Gino’s for Italian friend chicken. Cozy cafe or Patrick’s in Adel for comfort food. Thai Flavors for Thai food.

  10. D

    Eaten at Patrick’s plenty of times over past 10 years. There pizza is good and the large selection of pies. Most of there food is very plain and tasteless. Rarely go anymore.

  11. Doug

    How bout Jesses. Embers. I think they have great steaks! !!


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