Des Moines restaurants: More than 30 new, diverse dining spots opened in 2019
Parks Community Thanksgiving Dinner has been serving the free meals for 34 years.
Pull out those forks and loosen your belts, Des Moines, because the city's culinary scene grew a lot this last year.
More than 30 restaurants opened their doors in the metro in 2019, showcasing both new owners and the culinary prowess of established Des Moines restaurateurs. From Mediterranean to Korean to Peruvian, the new eateries also brought a welcome bit of cultural variety to our corner of the Midwest.
Below is our list of some of the restaurants that opened.
3 Sons Bar & Grill
Opening 3 Sons Bar & Grill fulfilled a lifelong dream to open a restaurant dedicated to his boys for Dave Anders. Anders completely renovated the space, which previously housed Legends American Bar and Grill. The neighborhood restaurant specializes in wings, burgers, salads and chicken dishes.
Location: 5906 Ashworth Rd., West Des Moines
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
The Bartender’s Handshake
For lighter fare, The Bartender’s Handshake is an intimate neighborhood bistro specializing in craft cocktails, unique wines and craft beer. Savory bar snacks include crudite, salad and the warm Parker Roll, filled with a squash-mushroom fondue and served with sweet-chili mustard and pickles. The mid-century modern vibe makes this the perfect spot for a date night, and we also love the origin of the name: In the hospitality biz, bartenders frequently greet colleagues with the so-called “bartender’s handshake,” a free shot of spirits on the house.
Location: 3615 Ingersoll Ave.
Hours: 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday through Saturday
This new Mediterranean restaurant joined the row of eateries looking out over the sea of sculpture in downtown Des Moines.
Named for the iconic alphabetical sculpture "Nomade" positioned across the street in the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, Bistro Nomad opened on March 28 in Des Moines in the former space of +39 Restaurant, Market & Cantina.
Bistro Nomad serves Mediterranean fusion cuisine, featuring Grecian, Italian, Spanish and Moroccan foods.
(This restaurant closed at the end of December 2019, after the publication of this article.)
Location: 1430 Locust St., Des Moines
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1: 30 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1: 30 p.m. and 4 to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 4 to 8 p.m.; closed Mondays.
Blue Sushi Sake Grill
Blue Sushi Sake Grill, a regional sushi restaurant based in Omaha, opened a new location at 316 Court Ave. in the former spot of Goldfinch and Dos Rios on Thursday.
Blue offers a diverse menu of Asian-inspired dishes, including a selection of fresh maki, sashimi and nigiri, along with small, medium and large plates, and desserts. The menu features plenty of vegan, vegetarian, keto and gluten-free options, too.
Location: 316 Court Ave., Des Moines
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; Sunday, 12-9 p.m. Happy hours: Monday-Saturday, 3-6:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10-11:30 p.m.; Sunday, 12-8 p.m.
The restaurant features specialty burgers, milkshakes, salads and several classic dishes found at its established kin eatery in Urbandale, the Machine Shed, like the turkey Reuben, pork tenderloin, baked potato soup and chicken pot pie.
The menu offers about 10 burgers, ranging from a standard patty with lettuce, onion and tomato called "All burger, no BS," to unique offerings like the "Salmon Godzilla Burger" — a patty of salmon, quinoa and other ingredients served on a brioche bun — and the "Mac Attack Burger," which tops a beef patty with homemade macaroni and cheese and bacon jam.
Location: 500 Bass Pro Drive, Altoona
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Clyde's Fine Diner
A new restaurant in the East Village features fun takes on comfort food classics.
Clyde's Fine Diner, which opened Oct. 16 and is located in the new building at 111 East Grand Ave., serves a variety of appetizers, soups and salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts.
Owned by chef Chris Hoffmann, 41, the 78-seat restaurant pays homage to Hoffmann's grandfather, a major culinary influence in his life.
Location: 111 E Grand Ave., Suite 111, Des Moines
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 5-11 p.m.; closed Sundays and Mondays.
Curbin Cuisine had its start as a food cart in 2013 at the Beaverdale Farmers Market and Beaverdale Fall Festival. Before they knew it, they were being asked to cook at the Clive Festival and Johnston Green Days.
The restaurant serves globally-inspired dishes like fry baskets, sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas, salads, kids' meals and desserts.
Location: 2713 Beaver Ave., Des Moines
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; closed Sundays and Mondays.
This ’80s/’90s dive bar is inspired by iconic movies as well as classic TV shows from those decades. The menu puts a new spin on childhood favorites and comfort foods like meatloaf sandwiches, grilled cheese and burgers, and offers a fun, family-friendly atmosphere.
Location: 2710 Beaver Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m.-12 a.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday through Saturday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday
Des Moines' East Village just landed a new spot specializing in fast vegan food.
Dirt Burger, located at 407 East Fifth St., in the former space of Tacopocalypse, opened in late June.
The restaurant specializes in vegan fast food revolving around its flagship product: a vegan patty made with ingredients from local and regional farms.
Three years in the making, Dirt Burger is a fast-casual concept serving burgers, fries and sodas with a focus on veganism, simplicity and sustainability.
Location: 407 East Fifth St., Des Moines
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 a.m.
El Aguila Real Mexican Restaurant
The restaurant serves traditional Mexican specialties alongside jumbo margaritas, affordable lunch specials and 31 assorted combination dinners for $8.99 each.
El Aguila Real's original location at 3520 Beaver Ave. in Beaverdale took on five feet of water during a flood that peaked on the evening of June 30, 2018, and continued into the next day.
Mexican food aficionados have anticipated the return of a popular Beaverdale restaurant after flooding shuttered the eatery in 2018. Now, it's finally back.
Location: Haymarket Square, 4351 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
El Guapo's Tequila + Tacos
The new eatery showcases a modern tequila bar featuring more than 50 tequilas, distinct tequila and margarita creations, tequila tasting flights, a variety of Mexican and domestic beer and a mouthwatering taco experience with housemade tortillas.
From tacos and quesadillas to sopes and churros, the menu complements El Guapo's full line of specialty cocktails such as Guapo’s Margarita, the Smokey Seco and El Mulo (Mexican Mule).
Location: 8950 University Ave., Ste. 105, West Des Moines
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 3 p.m.-2 a.m.; Friday, 1 p.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 a.m.
El Molcajete Mexican Restaurant and Cantina
This new Mexican restaurant opened July 8 and offers both authentic dishes, Tex-Mex favorites, a full line of burgers and margaritas. Enjoy fajitas, burritos, tacos, enchiladas and appetizers like queso dip, shrimp ceviche and nachos. Or go for a combination plate for variety. Vegetarian options are also available, along with kids' meals. Be sure to save room for flan or churros.
Location: 301 E. First St., Ankeny
Hours: Open daily, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Fong's Pizza — Drake
Fong's Pizza in the Drake University neighborhood is the latest branch to open of the fusion pizza restaurant.
Fong's has three other locations in Iowa: 1450 S.W. Vintage Parkway, Suite 120 in Ankeny; 223 Fourth St. in Des Moines; and 1006 Third Street, S.E. in Cedar Rapids.
Location: 3018 Forest Ave., Des Moines
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Gameday in Merle Hay Mall
If you’re feeling hungry and sporty, head to Gameday in the Merle Hay Mall, near Flix Brewhouse. The Des Moines Metro area’s newest arcade and bar is nearly 14,000 square feet, offering sports bar fare, flatbreads and salads and an arcade with state-of-the-art games and classic favorites such as Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. Customers will be able to collect game points that can be redeemed for high-dollar prizes – you might even find yourself heading home with an Xbox.
Location: 3800 Merle Hay Road
Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday to Saturday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday
Originating in Chicago, Giordano's has more than 40 stores, mostly in the Chicago area but also in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and Ohio. The West Des Moines store is the company's first in Iowa since 1986.
The flagship item on Giordano's menu is its stuffed deep-dish pizza in 12-, 14- and 16-inch sizes featuring six to 10 slices. The pizzas are known for their "cheese pull," meaning the melted cheese stretches in midair as you pull slices away from each other.
Location: 120 S. Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant — Altoona
The locally owned restaurant, which serves regional Mexican cuisine, opened a second restaurant in late September at 3221 Adventureland Drive in Altoona. The building is the former location of Bigfoot Bacon & Brew, which closed last fall.
Location: 3221 Adventureland Drive, Altoona
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Lua Brewing Company
This craft brewery and restaurant offers a full selection of handcrafted beers. The menu ranges from avocado toast to braised short rib. The space features a pet-friendly outdoor patio with views of the downtown skyline and a fire pit to keep you cozy on cooler nights.
Location: 1525 High St.
Hours: 3 p.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday through Saturday; 11a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
The new restaurant off Ingersoll Avenue serves Laotian, Vietnamese and Chinese specialties like scallion pancake wraps, bún, pho, curries, fried rice and noodle dishes in a space that seats about 68 people.
The fast-casual restaurant features largely the same menu as Café Fuzion, a popular pan-Asian restaurant formerly located at 1240 E. 14th Street. In fact, the owners of the restaurant are the children of the owners of Café Fuzion.
Location: 2721 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; closed Sundays.
Magee's Irish Pub & Eatery
The newest addition to the District at Prairie Trail in Ankeny features a menu full of traditional Irish fare and a bar with a wide variety of Irish beers and whiskeys.
The menu features a range of traditional favorites like fish and chips, shepherd's pie, and bangers and mash. A selection of certified Angus burgers includes the "Irish Hangover" — which is topped with a fried egg, Irish Dubliner aged cheese, Irish rashers bacon and thousand island dressing — and the Bushmills burger, which has grilled onions, Bushmills barbecue sauce and Irish Ballyshannon cheddar cheese.
Location: 1610 SW Main St., Ankeny
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Plans to begin opening earlier on weekends for breakfast sometime after the beginning of next year.
Mamma's features the food truck's popular puffy tacos filled with beef and bean, bean and cheese, along with burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas and tostadas using recipes passed down to the owner, Melinda Burriola, 52, from her mother.
Location: 2811 SE 14th St., Des Moines
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; closed Sundays.
Motley School Tavern
This new neighborhood tavern serves fresh takes on nostalgic foods in a dining room and bar that have been transformed into a bright, airy space. With 85 seats, diners can nestle into cadet blue leather booths and banquette seating with plenty of hickory wood accents.
From a build-your-own meat and cheese board to a fried bologna sandwich, there's a little bit of comfort food for everyone.
Location: 1903 Beaver Ave., Des Moines
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-12 a.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; closed Mondays.
Nomi's Asian Cuisine
A new family-owned Asian restaurant is serving up homemade Korean, Chinese and Japanese dishes in Altoona.
Nomi's Asian Cuisine features several made-from-scratch Chinese, Korean and Japanese dishes. Offerings include chicken teriyaki, steak, bulgogi (Korean marinated beef), tonkatsu (Japanese breaded pork with teriyaki), orange chicken, kimchi (Korean pickled vegetables), fried rice and lo mein.
Location: 404 8th St. SW, Altoona
Hours: Open daily 4-9 p.m.
Nosh Cafe and Eatery
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 also has an eye on sustainability with sourcing ingredients locally and a recycling program.
Nosh is also 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.
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.
Panka Pervuian Restaurant
Named for the ají panca pepper — central to Peruvian cuisine — Panka is the only Peruvian restaurant in Des Moines at this time. It seats 49 people.
Peruvian cuisine is a blend of traditional Incan dishes using ingredients such as quinoa, potatoes (over 4,000 varieties exist in Peru), peppers, tomatoes and corn. But influences from Europe, Asia and West Africa have blended into Peruvian culinary culture to include ingredients such as chicken, beef, pork, rice and pasta. That extension includes preparation techniques such as stir fry and sashimi, too.
Location: 2708 Ingersoll Ave., Ste. B
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m.; Sundays, 12 to 5 p.m.; closed Mondays.
Pho Real Kitchen and Bar
A new pho restaurant downtown is bringing a unique twist to the Vietnamese cuisine scene in Des Moines by offering a vegan option and late-night dining to the entertainment district.
Location: 200 Fourth St., Des Moines
Hours: Open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays until 2 a.m. for dine in and 3 a.m. for carry out.
Pig n' Pedal
A new bicycle-themed restaurant and bar in Ankeny's Uptown district caters to those using the High Trestle Trail.
Menu items include hot dogs, sausages, sandwiches, a handful of macaroni and cheese dishes, a rotating menu of dinner options, several appetizer plates and more. The restaurant does all of its its butchering in-house.
Location: 710 SW Third St., Ankeny
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday
R I Restaurant
The fine-dining restaurant offers playful takes on New England tourist town seafood dishes creatively meshed with Iowa ingredients. The menu includes appetizers, entrees and desserts.
Location: 6587 University Ave., Windsor Heights
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 5-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m.; closed Sundays and Mondays.
The restaurant pays homage to ancient Scandinavian culture. Plenty of antlers and wooden shields adorn the sage-green walls with unfinished wood trim. Reclaimed wood accents, flickering lanterns and charcoal-colored brick flooring complete the cozy, rustic look.
The food menu at the new Des Moines eatery is broken up into sections of appetizers, eight kinds of wings, salads, sides, Viking tacos, burgers and sandwiches.
Location: 401 SE Fifth St., Des Moines
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-12 a.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
(This restaurant closed in January 2020.)
St. Kilda Cafe & Bakery at the Temple for Performing Arts
You can now have dinner and watch a live theater production in the same downtown building without having to step outside.
The new St. Kilda dinner menu features appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrees, sides and desserts.
St. Kilda, owned by Alex and Whitney Hall, opened its Temple location in May at the former location of Starbucks serving breakfast and lunch. Dinner service is available in addition to breakfast and lunch.
Location: Temple for Performing Arts, 1013 Locust St., Des Moines
Hours: Monday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
St. Kilda Surf & Turf
St. Kilda Surf & Turf is located in a new four-story mixed-use building north of the new City Hall parking garage. The restaurant focuses on fish dishes and fresh and healthy foods.
Grilled fish and chips makes an appearance on the menu, a divergence from the usual battered and deep-fried classic. The menu offers healthy salads with meat or seafood add-ons; sandwiches that include Greek souvlaki with grilled chicken, lamb, pork, beef or falafel; fish and vegetarian tacos; and side dishes.
Location: 111 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines
Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The Indian Chef Bar & Grill
This new Indian restaurant opened June 30. The menu features both vegetarian and non-vegetarian appetizers and entrees for lunch and dinner — with plenty of naan and roti varieties cooked with a clay oven to go alongside. Try some potato and green pea samosas and then go for some palak paneer, butter chicken or mutton masala. A lunch buffet is featured daily.
Location: 711 S. Ankeny Blvd., Ankeny
Hours: Sunday-Monday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m.; closed Tuesdays; Wednesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-11 p.m.
The Poke Company
The Poke Company specializes in the traditional Hawaiian raw fish dish marinated in a blend of soy sauce and sesame oil. The fish is typically cubed for maximum surface area. Sauces for the bowls are housemade using traditional Asian ingredients. The bowls themselves are biodegradable.
At The Poke Company, customers line up at one end of the counter and a member of the team builds the perfect bowl with offerings of toppings, sauces, garnishes and seasonings.
Location: 300MLK Building, second floor; 300 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Des Moines
Hours: Open daily, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The Station on Ingersoll
A new "dining depot" has moved into the Ingersoll neighborhood, featuring plenty of daily specials, happy hours and kicked-up, locally-sourced bar fare.
The Station on Ingersoll opened Oct. 10 at 3124 Ingersoll Avenue in the former location of Zimm's Food & Spirits, which closed after 26 years in operation at the end of May.
The restaurant is first and foremost a sports bar, but with classic pub fare made with as many local ingredients as possible.
Location: 3124 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines
Hours: Open daily, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Urban Cellar Wine & Spirits
Lunch consists of a variety of appetizers, salads, entrees, sandwiches and pizzas. Most items are $15 or less with the exception of those with fresh fish and steak. The dinner menu combines the lunch menu with more extensive offerings of entrees and cuts of beef.
Guests at the restaurant can tour the in-house market selling wine, cheese, charcuterie, gourmet products, utensils, gift baskets, coffee from Smokey Row Coffee Co. and Pappardelle's Pasta from Colorado.
Location: 640 S. 50th St., Ste. 2110, West Des Moines
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; closed Sundays.
The Wasabi group of sushi restaurants opened its fifth location in Ankeny's Prairie Trail, Wasabi Asian Grill & Lounge.
The new restaurant offers sushi and Asian-style tapas with unique sauces. It showcases a rare Japanese grill noted for exceptional cooking of meat and seafood.
Location: 1615 SW Main St. #100, Ankeny
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.