Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Iowa dining


Recommended Posts

Although Des Moines is one of the smaller "cities" in america it does not lack in the dining experience. I reside in this small town for about seventy five percent of the year and thought Iwould put it on the egullet map.

If you are ever traveling through here are a few places to consider:

Sam & Gabe's- this italian bistro is owned and operated by to italian immagrints. The atmosphere is intamate but casual. The food is the best italian around except in Italy. Everything is housemade. You must order the De Burgo and one of the desserts. There is always a good italian wine to compliment your meal.

Ohana Steakhouse- If you are looking for an entertaining meal this place is a must. It serves American cusine cooked hibachi style at your table, and that is just the begining (The cooks use to have knife throwing contests until there insurance decided it was too much of a liability). The seafood and vegetables are usally your best bet. This is a mid-priced place that welcomes children.

Mosaix- this is one of Des moines wine bars and by far the best. It has an extensive wine selection that would please anyone's palate. It's cusine is mostly mediterranean and the Paella is always excellent. Mosaix can be a bit expensive but is worth it.

Forty-Three- This elegant restaurant is located in a histroic hotel in the heart of dowtown Des Moines. The menu changes weekly and varies from french to asian and everything in between. This is one of my top three choices, but you will probably have to break out the credit card for this one. NOTE: there is a Bistro 43 also in Des Moines that is NOT worth a visit.

Big Tomato- If you are out late and want to eat quick this pizza place is a must. This is not just you cheese and pepperoni joint. My favorite pizza is the alfredo, corn , sun dried tomatos with pineapple, but you can choose from about fifty other toppings of your choice. This place is cheap and there is no place to sit. It IS a hole in the wall and the service is not with a smile. but for two bucks a slice i wouldn't complain.

Trostel's Greenbriar- On the flip side this white table cloth restaurant is know for its steaks, serves wagoo regularly and it is always in the house if not on the menu. The menu is quite extensive with a page of apps and three pages of entrees plus the chef's specials of the week. As a whole this is the best restaurant in Des Moines. It  features an award winning chef and an extensive wine list with a full bar. If you go, the chef's specials and the catch of the day are musts. The fish is always fresh. One thing to stay away from is the duck. This is Iowa not France.  

A few notes on dining in Des Moines: reservations are a must on weekends unless you feel like waiting, there are no dress codes but casual business is always prefered, the service usally is not top quality but very friendy. Finally, you are in the breadbasket and nowhere will you fined better cuts of beef or pork, so enjoy.

I hope I have enlightned a few on midwest dining and hope you can experience one of these fine restaruants at sometime.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...

Hi. I couldn't resist responding to this message since I live in Oskaloosa. There are some very good restaurants in Iowa. (Also some really, really bad ones.) One of our favorites is Cafe Phoenix in Grinnel. Wonderful place. Strawtown Inn in Pella used to be good. They recently reopened under new owners, but we have not tried it yet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hail Fellow Iowans!

Those Des Moines places sound very nice!

I'm located in Sioux City, and can offer a nice low-priced Mexican-American restaraunt.

Navarates - located on old Hwy 75 on the northeast edge of town. Very good basic menu. Located in an old truck stop. Very plain, even a bit untidy due to the amount of nonstop business they have. Meals are served on piping hot platters, big homestyle portions! From what I know of their kitchen they are a family ran business who make all their food from scratch including their sauces, and wonderful chili gravy.

Years ago, when they were located in an old diner, I used to have a great open view of the kitchen. There would be two or three eldery Grandma's in there sweating over huge pots of wonderful chili gravy. Their younger children would be placing orders in rapid fire spanish. The food tastes just like it did 20 years ago!

Oh my! I'd better go have lunch today....hmmmm a tamale and burrito with chili gravy, black olives and hot sauce.....

Kerouac1964 :wink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello, folks!

Any of you have any input on Big Daddy's Bar-B-Q?

I'm in Omaha, and we usually head up to Des Moines every other year (and will probably be up there this summer) to do Adventureland with the kids.

I'm a big chile-head so their $10,000 hot sauce contest kind of intrigued me and is how I initially heard about the place...don't know what the heat level of their sauces are, but I would bet I could at least hit that $500 prize.

Link here:

Big Daddy's Bar-B-Q

Any other input on decent Mexican food would be welcome as well...thanks for posting everyone!

...I thought I had an appetite for destruction but all I wanted was a club sandwich.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oskaloosa has a new Mexican restaurant on the south side of the square called Mi Ranchito that is excellent. I have not had a bad meal yet, the margaritas are good, and the service is fast and friendly. Those guys really hustle. It's worth the trip if you like Mexican food.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, the Iowa State Fair begins August 8. There will be Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang carved out of butter. There is a different butter carving every year.

I was rereading this strand and saw the comment about not going to Bistro 43. I disagree. My husband and I ate there Thursday night, and it was absolutely delightful. We had an excellent meal, good wine, and perfect service. The ambiance and view are not the best, but that is the only fault I could find.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

to add on to the comment about sage. I had not had the experience of dining there on my first entry and since have become a regular. It is the best dining experence in Des monies with impecable service and outstanding food.

The partners are the chef and front of the house manager. Their both have worked at one sixtyblue in chicago which is amazing. and have an outstanding knowlege of the industry.

elizabeth :biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 years later...

I'm not from Des Moines, but I stayed there for a weekend this past summer and could make two quick recommendations.

Rube's Steak House

More of a place just to have a good time and an experience. It's one of those places where you cook your steaks yourself. Great with a group or if you're just a social person. You pick your steak out of a case, grill it on huge charcoal grill pits and load up with lots of extras.


The Machine Shed

This was a surprise winner. It looks almost exactly like a Cracker Barrel with a very similar menu, but their food was outstanding.


Gastronomic Fight Club - Mischief. Mayhem. Soup.

Foodies of Omaha - Discover the Best of Omaha

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My quick, cut-n-paste Des Moines List

Star Bar

Village Bean

Continental – East Village

Gong Fu Tea

De Colores

Tandoor – 72nd St

India Star


La Rosa – 23rd & Forrest

Mars Café

El Halal

The Varsity

25th St Café


African Cookery

Jay Benjamin’s

Tumea & Sons

Java Joe’s – Mike Cappola

The Lift & Vaudeville Muse – 4th St –

Barratta’s – South Side

Highland Park Neighborhood


Chicago Dog & Deli

Flying Mango


The Bake Shop – 70th & University


Café de Scala – Sherman Hill Neighborhood – Anthony

A Dong - Awsome Vietnamese

Thai Flavors – E. 14th & University

Racoon River Brewery


Court Ave Brewing




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Call all the presidential campaigns Des Moins offices and see where all the visiting journo's hang out. :laugh: They travel endlessly and seek good food relentlessly because most of their lives are boring as hell and food and drink is their only respite (you try listening to Hillary or Rudy say the same damn thing six times a day, seven days a week, for 12 straight months). They also bring eating experience from a cariety of backgrounds, so they have a different spin than the locals.

OK, not quite a practical suggestion, but it beats the heck out of the old saw "eat where the truckers eat."

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...
to add on to the comment about sage. I had not had the experience of dining there on my first entry and since have become a regular. It is the best dining experence in Des monies with impecable service and outstanding food.

The partners are the chef and front of the house manager.  Their both have worked at one sixtyblue in chicago which is amazing. and have an outstanding knowlege of the industry.

elizabeth :biggrin:

Is Sage still open? Also, are there any other updates?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As an Iowa Girl Born and Raised, and a former political hack. If you want to see all the journalists and big money donors/vips in town head to 801.

For campaign hacks, the Dem's usually start the evening at Centro, 43, or the Brewing Company right there (since they try to stay at Hotel Fort Des Moines), Court Avenue Brewing Company is popular as well.

Towards the end of the night, they head up Ingersoll to a couple of bars there, topping off the night at Big Tomato.

There's also a dive up in Sherman Hill were you can find them playing pool.

Oh, the good ol'days of working campaigns. Eating in your car, drinking too much coffee and booze and working 20 hours a day.

I found a lot of good places through out the state in the 6 years I worked politics in the state of Iowa.

The Diner on the northside of the square in Marshalltown has the best Sour Cream and Raisin pie in the world. The day of the election I picked up a whole pie to bring back with me while I hid out and slept for the week after election day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i ate at 801 ateak and chop for an entire week during the world pork expo..

to die for.........

ended up w/ a nasty gout flare up......it was that good...

the absolute sundae, homemade vanilla ice cream, pralines, decadent chocolate and a couple shots of absolut vodka....wow

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...