Fast-casual cafe and frozen yogurt shop opens in East Village, the dream of two friends
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A new kind of restaurant has made its way to the East Village by way of Iowa City.
Nosh Cafe & Eatery, located at 424 E. Locust Street Des Moines, opened on Aug. 7. A sign on the wall defines the Yiddish word "nosh" as a verb meaning "to eat a snack; munch" or a noun meaning "a light meal; snack."
Owned by longtime friends Veronica Tessler, 34, and Lesley Rish, 31, Nosh had its start one winter night in 2018 as the pair chatted over a glass of wine. Both have backgrounds in food service and an affinity for East Village — they had been kicking around business ideas for years.
"We're an all-day operation," Rish said. "And there's a definite need, especially on Sundays, to get coffee and a bite to eat around here."
Rish is the owner of Dumpling Darling with locations in East Village and Iowa City while Tessler owns Yotopia, a frozen yogurt shop, and co-owns The Makers Loft, a retail shop selling artisan goods and clothing with a walk-up coffee bar — both in Iowa City.
And just like its ownership, Nosh Cafe & Eatery's concept has two distinct personalities.
On one hand, the restaurant is a fast-casual cafe with bowls, toasts, bagels and grab-and-go options — and a specialty beverage line including smoothies, kombucha and coffee. The restaurant has an eye on sustainability with sourcing ingredients locally and a recycling program.
On the other, Nosh is a frozen treat emporium with a full menu of shakes and an entire wall of serve-yourself frozen yogurt, custards and non-dairy options sold by weight and topped with a choice of over 70 toppings including Molly's Middles cupcake crumbs from Molly's Cupcakes.
With hardwood floors and a tin ceiling painted white, the feel in the 1,600 square-foot space, designed by recent Kirkwood grad Erica Kite, is clean, bright and airy with pops of vibrant green tile, golden cushions and rows of hanging plants. The restaurant seats about 30 people inside and about 8-10 more outside the entrance.
"I call it Yotopia's older, cooler, more sophisticated half-sister," Tessler said. Yotopia was recently featured in an article in The Best Ice Cream Shop in Every State by Food & Wine magazine.
Whatever your mood in food, Nosh has something for everyone, from health- and diet-conscious options to decadent desserts. Gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian choices abound.
Noshes and nibbles
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu centers around a series of bowls based with steel-cut oats or yogurts, bagels and sourdough toasts with spreads and toppings.
Choose between a bowl based with organic steel-cut oats or a choice of yogurts such as plain Greek, vanilla, aronia-blackberry, lemon custard or vegan berry patch.
- Granola Berry — Granola, blueberries and agave ($6)
- PB & B — Peanut butter, agave, banana and flax seeds ($7.5)
- Strawberry Banana — Strawberries, banana and chia seeds ($8)
- Smoothie Bowl — Choose a smoothie and add granola, fruit, chia seeds and agave ($8)
For a build-your-own option, choose a base and then three toppings like fresh fruit, nuts and sweeteners like kiwi, avocado, shredded coconut, pistachios, clover honey, Stevia and monk fruit ($6, additional toppings are $1 each).
Bagels and toasts
The Local Crumb, a bakery in Mount Vernon specializing in bread made with Iowa-milled grains, provides plain or everything bagels and sourdough bread for the toasts.
Bagels can be topped with plain, vegan or flavored cream cheeses like cilantro-lime or scallion or with other spreads like Nutella, Parmesan-truffle butter and almond butter ($3.50-$4).
- Avocado Toast — Avocado spread, tomatoes, balsamic drizzle, seas salt, herbs ($5.50)
- Cashew-Habanero Toast — Cashew-habanero spread and red pepper flakes ($5.50)
- Banana Toast — Choice of peanut butter, Nutella or almond butter with banana and agave ($5.50)
A list of "health boosts" can be added to any bowl or smoothie including hemp hearts, whey protein, blue spirulina, flax seeds and wheatgrass for an upcharge.
Grab-and-go options include sandwiches, salads, sides and bowls. The selection rotates to include items like pork belly avocado barley bowls, tempeh or curried chicken salad wraps, tuna Nicoise or apricot salads, sea salt edamame, spicy peanut noodles, Korean barbecue tofu, Italian cold cut sandwiches and smoked turkey clubs ($5-$13).
Frozen yogurts and custards are self-serve using cups and are 55 cents per ounce.
- Mango sorbet, coconut milk or tropical sunrise
- Wild blackberry, original tart or blackberry parfait
- Cake batter, strawberries and cream or strawberry shortcake
- Vanilla, chocolate or a twist of the two
Most of the 15 mixes for the frozen treats come from Country View Dairy in Hawkeye. Tessler takes frequent trips to the farm and works hands-on with the owners, Dave and Carolee Rapson and Bob Howard, director of marketing and sales, to come up with new and interesting flavors for the soft-serve machines.
Look for flavors like taro, matcha, Nutella, pumpkin, chai and more, rotating through the seasons and with popularity.
Over 70 mix-and-match toppings like Molly's Middles cupcake crumbs, fresh fruit, nuts, candies, Ghirardelli chocolate and cereals.
Classic shakes can be made using a frozen treat of your choice ($5.50) plus add-ins for $1 each or you can choose from one of the house faves.
- S'more Nutella — Vanilla custard with graham cracker crumbs, marshmallow cream and Nutella ($7)
- Peanut Butter Smash — Vanilla custard or chocolate frozen yogurt, peanut butter, and Reese's peanut butter cups ($7)
- Birthday Blast — Cake batter frozen yogurt, Molly's Cupcakes middles and rainbow sprinkles ($7)
Beverages and smoothies
Ten kinds of gluten-free smoothies plus a build-your-own option are available and can be made vegan with almond milk, vegan berry patch yogurt or sorbet.
- Green Goodness — Spinach, banana, pineapple, kiwi, almond mild, wheatgrass, agave ($7.50)
- Aronia Superfood — Aronia-blackberry yogurt, blueberries, spinach, banana and superfood powder ($7.50)
- Tropical Paradise — Sorbet, pineapple, mango, peaches and strawberries ($8)
- PB & J — Vanilla yogurt, mixed berries, peanut butter and agave ($8)
Nosh features Wild Culture kombucha and Cobra Verde green coffee drinks. You can even have the two mixed, called a "booch bite." Other non-alcoholic beverages include coffee, iced blueberry-lavender tea and assorted hot teas.
Nosh Cafe & Eatery
Location: 424 E. Locust St., Des Moines
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m-11 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.