Des Moines Food Guide: 10 Must-Eat Restaurants & Street Food Stalls in Des Moines

April 14, 2018 Madelene Haan

Today the capital city and cultural center of Iowa is revitalized. A versatile destination everyone will enjoy, Des Moines has an itinerary for almost every interest. Culture and art enthusiasts may want to roam through the Des Moines Art Center, spend the weekend museum-hopping or attend a Broadway-caliber performance at the Civic Center. Golfers can spend their time and energy teeing up at any of the area's fine championship courses. The Blank Park Zoo and the Iowa State Fairgrounds should be on the list for families. And gardeners will savor the fantastic blooms at the Botanical Center and the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden. Mix it up a little and sample all this "big city with a small town heart" has to offer.
Things to do in Des Moines

1. Skip's

4000 Fleur Dr, Des Moines, IA 50321-2322 Takeout, Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar American, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner +1 515-287-1820
Excellent
61%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 278 reviews

Skip's

Reviewed By 2jbsdad - Kent, Ohio

Had dinner here with a group (six) of friends. Very crowded restaurant, but worth the wait...I'm not a steak eater, but server said "You're in Iowa...have a steak" so I ordered the ribeye. Perfectly prepared. Cheddar potatoes were rich, rich, rich...but very tasty. Onion ring appetizers also very good...crisp, plentiful and tasty. Calamari appetizer? Not so great, but the sauce made it for the spongy chunks of calamari. We waited almost an hour...worth it, I think. But i would want a reservation If possible, or come on some other no so busy night. Very crowded.

2. The Cheese Shop

833 42nd St Ste B, Des Moines, IA 50312-2604 Takeout, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol American Lunch, Dinner +1 515-528-8181
Excellent
80%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 140 reviews

The Cheese Shop

Reviewed By Tom B - Carroll, Iowa

Stopped for the first time Saturday, read some outstanding reviews. This place does not dissappoint, daughter had the "Breakfast" great sandwich, wife had Mac & cheese w/ bacon yum, and I had the Muffaletta WOW!

The staff was extremely helpful with our selections. Felt like I was in the "Cheers" of cheese shops.

3. Johnny's Italian Steakhouse

6800 Fleur Dr, Double Tree Hotel, Des Moines Airport, Des Moines, IA 50321-3127 Television, Free Wifi, Takeout, Reservations, Private Dining, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Free Off-Street Parking, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Wine and Beer, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Accepts Discover Steakhouse, Italian, American, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options, Vegan Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night SGD 20 - SGD 52 +1 515-287-0848
Excellent
60%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
3%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 395 reviews

Johnny's Italian Steakhouse

Hot Steaks, Hot Music, Hot Italian….Cool Place!Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse is reminiscent of supper clubs of the past known for their great food and good times.Steaks take center stage at Johnny’s whether it is the signature Steak DeBurgo or the ever-popular Drunken Steak. The Italian menu features favorite pasta entrees including Lasagna and tasty and unique creations like Veal Sinatra or the Chanel No. 5 (Marilyn’s favorite!). Enjoy classic martinis, specialty cocktails and an extensive wine list, all of which sets Johnny’s “Stage” for lunch or dinner. With new-fashioned luxuries, old-fashioned service and personal relationships, Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse brings the Rat Pack era to the 21st Century. Join the party that is always in full swing, with new-fashioned luxuries and old-fashioned service and relationships, Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse brings edgy cool of the Rat Pack era into the 21st century.

Reviewed By michigandollie_9 - Cadillac, MI

I stay at the double tree attached to this restaurant whenever I am in Des Moines and I have never been disappointed. The food, service and atmosphere are very good after a long day working with customers. Julia was a very good waitress.

4. Centro Restaurant

1003 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309-2805 Takeout, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Street Parking, Television, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Wine and Beer, Reservations Italian, American, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Breakfast, Late Night SGD 13 - SGD 39 +1 515-248-1780
Excellent
59%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 850 reviews

Centro Restaurant

Conveniently located in downtown Des Moines lives one of the city’s most popular restaurants, Centro. The urban eatery specializes in delicious Italian-inspired food featuring fresh ingredients and masterful preparation by Chef George Formaro. Whether you’re ordering a multi-course meal or grabbing a drink and pizza at the bar, Centro’s lively, casual yet upscale atmosphere makes it perfect for dining with friends, family, clients and business associates.

Reviewed By Brian L - Urbandale, Iowa

After years of hearing of Centro, I'm glad we finally went. I was pleased to see the variety on the menu. You can hit a number of different price points, which is nice. My wife and I both had pasta and enjoyed our selections. Good variety of wines as well.

Service is often the difference for me, and Centro had it nailed. Very prompt and attentive, but not bothersome. Well done.

This will become a place for us, but also with visitors.

5. Flying Mango

4345 Hickman Rd, One mile East of Merle Hay Road on Hickman Rd., Des Moines, IA 50310-3352 Takeout, Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar American, Barbecue, Cajun & Creole, Gluten Free Options, Vegetarian Friendly Dinner +1 515-255-4111
Excellent
63%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 292 reviews

Flying Mango

Reviewed By 40brendap - West Liberty, Iowa

The restaurant was packed with a 1-hour wait, so we took our food to go. A nice variety to choose from: BBQ to Cajun. Will definitely go again to try more. The cornbread was delicious!

6. Smokey D's BBQ

5055 NW 2nd St, Des Moines, IA 50313-1701 Takeout, Outdoor Seating, Private Dining, Seating, Parking Available, Television, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar American, Barbecue, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Drinks +1 515-243-2747
Excellent
63%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 647 reviews

Smokey D's BBQ

"Opened by award winning pitmasters, this restaurant just off I-80 on Des Moines' north side is a BBQ lovers dream and would be a real gem for travelers". New Smokey D's location. There are two others.

Reviewed By IowaTravellinGuy

I go here quite often but I haven’t written a review for it in over two years so figured I would this time. Great barbecue style meats at a reasonable price. I find the menu a tad limited but they do have tenderloins and a few other things and they are all good. We ordered a large order of nachos to share and it was huge. Probably could feed four and cost about ten bucks. They were pretty basic - liquid cheese, meat and chips so probably not something I would order again but they were fine. If you are passing through, I would recommend it. It has featured on a few television shows so you should go for that reason. Just as importantly , the food and service are always good and consistent and it’s not a chain

7. Fong's Pizza

223 4th St, Des Moines, IA 50309-2205 Television, Takeout, Seating, Waitstaff, Street Parking, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Accepts Discover, Accepts Credit Cards Pizza, Asian, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Late Night SGD 4 - SGD 33 +1 515-323-3333
Excellent
60%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 674 reviews

Fong's Pizza

We are home to the original Crab Rangoon pizza. We offer Asian-inspired and traditional pizzas, sandwiches, salads and desserts. Lunch time slices are served Monday through Friday from 11am-2pm and late night slices are from 10pm until close. Our full menu is served daily from 11am until midnight.

Reviewed By Laurie M - Pensacola, Florida

I was craving pizza and found this little Jewel downtown. I went in during happy hour and ordered a draft beer and the bartender told me that I get a free slice of pizza with every beer that I order until happy hours over with. I had 3 beers and two slices of pizza and took one with me. The staff was very accommodating and it started to get very busy through the evening. The pizza was phenomenal and everything else that was served looked like it was delicious and the beer was cold as a bonus!! Check it out if you're in Des Moines! Thanks for a funky time Fong's Pizza!! I loved it!

8. Tursi's Latin King Restaurant

2200 Hubbell Ave, Des Moines, IA 50317-2594 Takeout, Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar Italian, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Late Night +1 515-266-4466
Excellent
65%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
4%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 302 reviews

Tursi's Latin King Restaurant

Reviewed By Phyllis B - Garwin, Iowa

We arrived for a late lunch. In the middle of the week. The decor is very attractive. We were waited on very quickly. Our server was very attentive without hovering.

The calamari was well prepared. The salad with house dressing was excellent. We really enjoyed our chicken speidini!

This was our first visit but it won’t be our last!

9. El Bait Shop

200 SW 2nd St, Des Moines, IA 50309-4706 Takeout, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Television, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar American, Bar, Pub Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Drinks +1 515-284-1970
Excellent
56%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 227 reviews

El Bait Shop

Reviewed By rdubbs08 - Edmond, Oklahoma

There is no question that based on the plethora of beers available here, I have been hooked by their bait! Seriously - the list of beers (changes weekly) is quite impressive, the vibe chill and the food legit. We both opted for a burger, fries, tots and mac & cheese for our little guy. Our only mistake was not adding a fried egg to our burger! They happened to be out of stuff for the Reuben, but oh well - it was the day after Thanksgiving. Des Moines has some awesome local gems and this is one of them - it is my type of bait shop!!!

10. Django Restaurant

210 10th St, Their web site says their last day was 2/17/2018. They are looking for new location., Des Moines, IA 50309-3656 Reservations, Private Dining, Seating, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar French, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night SGD 26 - SGD 52 +1 515-288-0268
Excellent
59%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
4%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 387 reviews

Django Restaurant

Reviewed By Terry A

Went to restaurant on New Years Eve with three couples. They do not charge a corking fee so we brought two bottles of wine. We all like wine with our dinner so that was a big reason we went to this restaurant. My wife and I split the 14oz Ribeye steak it came with potatoes and creamed spinach.
The whole meal was very good. They did not charge a fee for splitting the meal we also ordered a house salad with vinaigrette dressing.
Our waitress was excellent and took good care of us. I would recommend this restaurant.

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