524 E 6th Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
Imagine diving into heavenly light gnocchi and perfectly flowing chocolate lava cakes. These classics are still available. But this bistro finds savvy ways to mix things up, such as their recently added steak-and-sides section and a constantly expanding wine list. Look for fan favorites plus new twists on salmon, beef and pasta. Click here for more on Alba’s 2021 plans.
Americana Restaurant & Lounge
1312 Locust St, Suite 102, Des Moines, IA, 50309
Known best for brunch, Americana offers much more than mimosas and omelets. The lunch and dinner menus include comfort foods with a twist, featuring options on the lighter side (avocado wedge salad) and indulgent (bacon-wrapped meatloaf). Watch for a similar theme on their Restaurant Week menu, and pair your order with a classic cocktail.
644 18th Street, Des Moines, IA 50314
It’s the place if you’re seeking a romantic Mediterranean meal. Italian pastas, braises and snacks star, although French, Latin and other flavors sneak into chef Shawn Bennigsdorf’s thoughtful recipes. Ask for a table on the wraparound patio lined with petunias that originated in the garden of owner Tony Lemmo’s mom, Lou Ann. (Also, a must-try is her mascarpone-frosted walnut Italian wedding cake.)
Aura Restaurant and Lounge
12851 University Ave #400, Clive, IA 50325
In his latest addition to the Wasabi Restaurant Group, Jay Wang offers global fusion in a renovated setting complete with a patio. Hop from Korea (Korean-fried cauliflower) to Greece (a honey-lemon vinaigrette-drizzled farro salad) to Mexico (pulled pork carnitas tacos) at this new-in-2021 bistro. If you like seafood, consider adding a few oysters on the half shell to your order.
200 10th Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
Chris Diebel’s downtown locale is so beautiful, you might want to cozy up on one of the couches all night. But make your way to a table in the dining room and you’ll be rewarded with crab cakes, chicken-fried steak or a po’boy sandwich. Save room for Bourbon Bananas Foster or a classic Southern pie. Check out the menu for one of the largest selections of brown liquors in town
1003 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
For just shy of two decades, chef-restaurateur George Formaro and his team have been delivering consistent takes on Italian-American food (massive meatballs, wood-fired pizzas and more). Feeling fancy? Take a look at the entrees spotlighting Angus steak and seared scallops. Click here for a feature of what will be on the menu during Restaurant Week.
Clyde’s Fine Diner
111 E Grand Ave, Suite 111, Des Moines, IA 50309
Chef-owner Chris Hoffmann and his team became total patty pros during the pandemic, when they adjusted their concept to be takeout-only burgers. Now those top-notch burgers (including their signature double smash patty cheeseburger) join the diner’s pre-pandemic faves and a mix of new cozy yet classy comfort food dishes. Save room for soft-serve!
1375 SW Vintage Parkway, Ankeny, IA 50023
Now part of Dave and Jean Thompson’s three-location Urban Restaurant Group (see Urban Grill and Urban Cellar, below), this Ankeny grill creates American fare with an upgrade. A basic BLT gets better with grilled salmon, while beef tenderloin is stuffed with sausage and caramelized onions, then wrapped in bacon. Enjoy it outside on the patio.
1420 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
George Formaro and chef Derek Eidson team up to offer their unique flair on all things French. In addition to cheese and charcuterie, the fried Brussels sprouts, and plenty of vegan options, two dishes are especially worth the trip: Moules Frites (mussels and fries—splurge on the duck-fat fried version) and the runny egg-crowned Croque Madame.
2932 Ingersoll Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312
The wide-ranging Mediterranean lineup offers something to please pretty much every palate. Wood-fired cheese pizzas satisfy pickier eaters, while the eclectic small plates take spice inspiration from Spain, Morocco, Egypt and Italy to impress the more adventurous diners. Plus, happy hour is still every day from 3 to 6 p.m.
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
440 68th Street, Suite 450, West Des Moines, IA 50266
Open for lunch and dinner daily and with seating inside or out, this steakhouse is not just about steak (although they do excel at that!). The regular menu features lobster spinach queso, seared tuna superfood salad, chicken-bacon pasta, and Kobe beef meatloaf. Expect similar dishes—for a steal—during Restaurant Week.
1450 SW Vintage Parkway, Ankeny, IA 50021
You’ll feel the warm, familial vibes the moment you set foot in this husband-and-wife-helmed eatery. Beyond the friendly welcome, paella, pitas and piled-high platters of homemade Mediterranean goodies await. The menu also includes gyros, falafel, paninis and salads. The dishes are designed and often whipped up by Lisa Morales, who co-owns the bistro with her husband, Hector.
111 E Grand Avenue, Suite 101, Des Moines, IA 50309
One of many elegant pandemic pivots in the restaurant industry, the St. Kilda team flipped their Surf & Turf restaurant into this takeout-friendly but beautiful dine-in Neapolitan pizza spot. The wood-fired menu features fresh locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, supplemented by Italian imports. Pair your pie with a salad or small plate, or try a sandwich or calzone.
2724 Ingersoll Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312
James Beard Award-nominated chef Joe Tripp has been a harbinger himself of the ever-diversifying and innovating food scene in Iowa. His recently renovated Ingersoll hot spot fuses local, seasonal components with Southeast Asian flair inspired by his travels to the area.
303 E 5th Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
Farm-to-table can be found in fantastic form at Suman and Cynthia Hoque’s airy restaurant. The frequently shifting menu showcases the farms and growers whose organic or chemical-free produce appears on your plate. Free-range chicken, grass-fed beef and bison, and other carefully sourced proteins, plus seafood and vegetarian options, can often be found on the menu.
900 Mulberry Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
Salsa over to the patio at Malo, another venue under the George Formaro/ Orchestrate Management umbrella. The Mexican cantina is best enjoyed with a basket of chips and dip, a mojito or margarita, and a platter of tacos, fajitas or nachos. If you happen to have room after the ample portions of all of the above, finish with cherry-filled dessert empanadas.
Mulberry Street Tavern
206 6th Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50309
Chef Marque Collins and team turn out some surprising twists on classic American fare. Mama’s meatballs become perfectly seasoned lamb merguez meatballs with a zippy cucumber, dill and yogurt salad. That Sunday chicken dinner can be devoured in super-succulent fashion (thanks to an overnight brine) that only gets better when paired with a vibrant, Peruvian-inspired Aji amarillo sauce.
505 E Grand Ave Suite 105, Des Moines, IA 50309
Another Port of Des Moines property (see Trellis), this East Village market is great for more than grab-and-go pastries and wine. From cheese boards and other light bites to sandwiches on homemade bread and fresh salads, you can make a meal out of the goodies gathered here. Can’t miss are Doré Bakery sweets, which include buttery-crusted tarts and tasty cakes.
Range Restaurant + Cocktail Bar
11865 Hickman Road, Urbandale, IA 50323
Tee up a unique dinner experience at this sports bar that feels straight out of a country club. Beyond the golf simulators, you’ll score above-par grill favorites. Some have an eye toward nutrition (bison steak bites, mountainous salads and lean elk burgers), while others are right on path for what you’d crave at a bar—just with a slightly elevated twist (Wagyu beef flat-iron steak with Parmesan risotto).
St. Kilda Cafe & Bakery
300 SW 5th Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
All-star service, Instagrammable brunches and great coffee have become the trademarks of the bright, trendy cafe helmed by Alex and Whitney Hall. The character and chef Ken VanMilligen’s vibrant recipes (truffle-topped country peas with ricotta and a colorful Moroccan riff on avocado toast) combine to make you feel like you’re in a major hub city, but you can find it all downtown near Principal Park.
St. Kilda Collective
333 5th Street, West Des Moines, IA 50265
Step inside the airy dining room—Alex and Whitney Hall’s most spacious venue yet—in this historic district for some thoroughly modern, beautifully plated food. Acting as the bakery for the other St. Kilda properties, a variety of homemade breads and pastries star in dishes like the pistachio-topped hummus with homemade pita. Swing by at brunch or visit at dinner for small and large plates. For a sneak peek at what they’ll serve during Restaurant Week, click here.
Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens, 909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, IA 50316
Matching its verdant backdrop at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, chef Lisa LaValle, chef Rebekah Kohl and Doré Bakery pastry ace Nik Pugmire sprout up a new plant-inspired, seasonal menu each month. The Port of Des Moines cafe isn’t just about leafy greens, though. It has entrees that will please everyone including staunch vegetarians and meat-and-potato lovers. Click here for a look at one of their Restaurant Week offerings.
5810 Merle Hay Road, P.O. Box 445, Johnston, IA 50131
A favorite dining destination since 1987, Greenbriar offers an experience to suit any palate and any mood. With its inviting ambiance, the restaurant’s expansive patio is the perfect place to relax. Prefer fine dining? Book a table in the elegant dining room. Likewise, the menu is sure to please everyone in your party, whether you order a classic splurge-worthy dish (gunpowder-crusted ribeye, pan-seared scallops) or more casual fare, such as a thin-crust pizza or Boursin beef slider. Also, be sure to check out the seasonal specialties; a recent offering included smoked salmon linguini with capers and cream sauce.
640 S. 50th Street, West Des Moines, IA 50265
A newer member of the Urban Restaurant Group (and a sibling to Urban Grill and District 36), this cozy bistro offers an eclectic mix of comfort food. Case in point: crab Rangoon-flavored dip with wonton chips, garlicky de Burgo sauce served atop chicken, and a gumbo-inspired sausage and seafood dish on a bed of pasta instead of rice.
3651 86th Street, Urbandale, IA 50322
You can feel the family-owned climate at this Urbandale haunt, a relative of Urban Cellar and District 36. The cozy, separate dining spaces are decked out in mahogany touches and tavern-like lighting, and the kitchens’ creations will please those who prefer American, Asian and Italian eats. Work your way from appetizer (blackened seafood quesadilla) to entree (cavatelli with Graziano’s sausage) to dessert (candy bar pie) on the regular menu for a flavor of things to come during Restaurant Week.
7105 Mills Civic Pkwy #160, West Des Moines, IA 50325
New Kids on the Block fans aren’t the only ones who think Wahlburgers, a fast-casual chain owned by Donnie, Paul and Mark Wahlburg, has the right stuff. Vegans swing by the Jordan Creek-area spot for the Impossible Burger, and kids appreciate the grilled cheese sandwich made with “government cheese,” a nod to the Wahlberg brothers’ humble beginnings in Dorchester, Massachusetts.