It can be easy to get stuck in a restaurant rut or rely on the top-rated restaurants on sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor. But Des Moines is full of hidden restaurant gems worth a visit!
Whether you’re looking for a new twist on classic dishes, an eatery that’s been a neighborhood institution for more than 50 years or a food truck that’s a plant-based powerhouse, there are lots of options to choose from. The next time you’re looking for a place to eat, try one of these 10 Des Moines restaurants that you don’t know about yet but definitely should.
1. Angry Goldfish
Named for their signature Sriracha seasoned Goldfish crackers, Angry Goldfish is a pub and eatery worth checking out. With unique takes on American classics like a candied bacon mac and cheese and merlot and mushroom burger, Angry Goldfish is full of unexpected surprises. In addition to a delicious food menu, this restaurant also has a great patio and daily specials.
Angry Goldfish, 2301 SW 9th St., Des Moines, IA
2. B&B Grocery
A classic deli is a community staple and B&B Grocery on Des Moines’ south side is a must-visit for any sandwich lover. Head to B&B for their long list of “killer” sandwiches that include everything from fried tenderloins and burgers to Italian grinders and kosher corned beef.
B&B Grocery, 2001 SE Sixth St., Des Moines, IA
3. Des Fresh Foods
Des Fresh Foods started as a stand at the Downtown Farmers’ Market and a traveling trailer before opening a brick and mortar location in early 2021. This plant-based eatery has a variety of options, including sandwiches, spring rolls and some of the best crispy potato wedges ever.
And you won’t want to miss the beverages at Des Fresh—they also have incredible teas and Thai iced coffees.
Des Fresh Foods, 520 SW 9th St., Des Moines, IA
4. Fat Tuesday
You’ll find authentic Cajun food in the heart of Des Moines at Fat Tuesday. Owned and operated by a New Orleans native, this local eatery serves up Cajun favorites like gumbo, po’ boys, oyster platters and more. Around Mardi Gras, you can even find whole King Cakes for sale and pre-order at Fat Tuesday.
Fat Tuesday, 6112 SW 9th St., Des Moines, IA
5. Jesse’s Embers
If you’re looking for a classic supper club experience in Des Moines, look no further than Jesse’s Embers. This classic eatery has been a staple of the city for more than 55 years and offers hearty portions of steak, pasta, and even a signature Emberburger for lunch and dinner in a cozy, neighborhood atmosphere.
Related post: 18 Midwest Supper Clubs I Want To Visit (Jesse’s Embers is on the list!)
Jesse’s Embers, 3301 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines, IA
6. Kitchen Spaces
The best thing about Kitchen Spaces is that it’s not technically a restaurant—it’s a commercial kitchen space that a number of small culinary businesses base their operations out of. While some of the businesses sell at other locations, a large number of them have days where their foods are available to the public at Kitchen Spaces’ location.
Whether you’re looking for handmade ramen, chicken and waffles, or anything in between, you’ll find something delicious here.
Kitchen Spaces, 1139 24th St., Des Moines, IA
7. Mi Patria Ecuadorian Restaurant
Located in a West Des Moines strip mall, Mi Patria Ecuadorian Restaurant is a hidden culinary gem. This Ecuadorian restaurant has delectable Latin classics like empanadas, ceviche, plantains and more.
Mi Patria Ecuadorian Restaurant, 1410 22nd St., West Des Moines, IA
Whether you’re planning a date night or want to enjoy a cozy night with friends, Simon’s is the place. Tucked into a residential neighborhood, part of the charm of Simon’s is the process of waiting for a table crammed amongst other diners.
In addition to potentially long lines, this iconic eatery is known for its onion rings, house salad dressing, Italian pasta dishes and—a Des Moines classic—steak de burgo.
Simon’s, 5800 Franklin Ave., Des Moines, IA
9. Tacos Mariana’s
Des Moines has taco options aplenty, but Tacos Mariana’s is one of the city’s best kept secrets. In addition to a variety of delicious tacos, this Mexican eatery has sensational guacamole that includes cucumber to give it a refreshing crunch.
Tacos Mariana’s, 1305 University Ave., Des Moines, IA
10. Veggie Thumper
While Veggie Thumper is technically a food truck rather than a restaurant, this vegan eatery is worth tracking down. Housed in an old, colorfully painted school bus, Veggie Thumper offers a rotating menu of eats from red bean burgers and veggie Philly “cheesesteaks” to taco pizza and buffalo mac and cheese.
No matter the menu, Veggie Thumper’s vegan cuisine is always delicious.
About the Guest Blogger
Megan Bannister is a freelance writer and blogger at Olio in Iowa based in Des Moines, Iowa. When she’s not sampling and writing about food, Megan enjoys visiting unique destinations, roadside attractions, and “world’s largest” things across the Midwest and beyond. Her book, Iowa Supper Clubs, highlights classic eateries past and present from around the state.