Keeping a “to do” list is not uncommon for most people, but unlike most people I have a restaurant “to go” to list. I keep it on my phone so when someone says “where should we go?” I’ll be ready and won’t get stuck in a restaurant rut. I thought I’d start out with a little sample of 5 places.

1.        Scenic  Route
Address: 350 E Locust Suite 104
Known For: French onion soup sandwich

This coffee shop/ bakery nestled in East Village is the closest thing Des Moines has to a college campus coffee house. If coffee isn’t your thing they also serve beer, wine, and lunch options including a french onion sandwich made with roast beef, swiss, caramelized onions on white. Mr. Fancy Pants made with rosemary/apricot chutney, brie, honey drizzle on white also caught my tastebud’s attention.

2.    Wong’s Chopsticks
Address: 5500 Merle Hay Rd, Johnston
Known For: dim sum

This restaurant has flown under the radar, but can offer Des Moines residents something other chinese restaurants cannot: dim sum. Dim sum can be likened to tapas: small plates served with tea. This Chinese speciality serves a host of different flavors and textures it’s no surprise their popularity has risen exponentially in the states. This is a novelty to me and I want to see what the hype is about. Dim Sum is served on Sundays 9am-2pm.

3.        Strudl Haus
Address: 1951 Indianola Ave

With a name like Strudl Haus it’s hard not to think about wursts and dutch letters, both of which they sell! According to the website you can buy bratwursts by the pound something I want to try. Other than that I was really hoping there would be pretzels, but it doesn’t look like it so I’ll happily settle for a lindzt pastry and espresso.

4.        Taste Place
Address: 2512 Lincoln Way, Ames

Though this is not in the metro I felt I needed to include it or I would be doing a great disservice. I love spicy food, the spicier the better– even if it makes you cry and your nose run.  Szechwan food is supposed to be some of the spiciest food in the world, which is exactly the type of food this restaurant serves. One commenter on Yelp said this is the most authentic food she’s had in Iowa since she returned from living in China. I really want to try the beef spicy hot pot. They don’t have a website, but I’ve included a link to their menu.


5.        El Rincon Catracho
Address: 3310 E 14th St.
Known for: fried tilapia with fried green plantains
Website: none

I love that Des Moines has hidden gems like these. Not a lot of frill or pomp is involved since the focus is on the food. These diamonds in the rough serve the most authentic foods with the greatest hospitality. Cityview did a raving review confirming my suspicions that this place is great.

Been to one of these restaurants? Tell me about your experience in the comments!


***This photos are from the Yelp website and I do not own the rights to these photos.