Des Moines, Iowa, boasts a thriving restaurant scene. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the city is absolute heaven for foodies and casual diners alike. Aside from its reputation as “an oasis of fine dining,” the city is also a wonderful place to treat yourself to something special.
From award-winning steakhouses at 801 Chophouse to the lively ambiance of local tapas bar Stuffed Olive, your taste buds will love all the charming restaurants in Des Moines.
Any visitor to the capital city of Iowa would wish to explore the best restaurants in Des Moines. The state has one of the most diverse food offerings due to various cultures that have settled here since the 19th century.
Enjoy a delectable selection of authentic ethnic cuisine, world-class steakhouses, and gourmet cuisine right here in the heartland.
The 11 Amazing Des Moines Restaurants
524 E 6th St, Des Moines // +15152440261
Alba is an upscale American restaurant and wine bar serving colorful dishes made from fresh fruits and vegetables and a wide variety of grains.
In an iconic, well-restored building reminiscent of European architecture in downtown Iowa City, the restaurant offers beautiful street views through curved windows and features reclaimed vintage wooden doors hanging from the ceiling.
Because of the location and design, Alba has made it a mission to use as many local products as possible.
Here you will find a tapas-style menu consisting of small portions of fresh salads, antipasti, and cured meats, some dishes more familiar than others.
My favorite was the inventive cheddar cheese wontons with sunflower seeds, honey, and pears served in a tray. Also, the French onion soup with aged Gruyère cheese was superb.
801 Grand Ave STE 200, Des Moines // +15152886000
A great restaurant located in the heart of downtown Des Moines is 801 Chophouse. Established in 1996, the restaurant has served local patrons and visitors seeking a unique dining experience since it opened its doors.
Today, it’s considered one of the best restaurants in Iowa for locals and tourists to dine on The Best Food In Town!
A visit to 801 Chophouse should definitely be included on your list of excellent Des Moines restaurants. One look at the menu, and you’ll know you’ve found the perfect place for an upscale dinner in Des Moines.
The restaurant serves classic steakhouse dishes and fresh seafood, along with dishes like creamed spinach, shrimp cocktail, and caviar. They also have a wide variety of pasta, hand-carved meats, and house specialties that’ll leave you asking for more.
The tranquility and quality of the food are seen as the top reasons to eat at 801 Chophouse, but they are also quick to point out that their warm and friendly service is just as important to their reputation.
The wine list is comprehensive, and the knowledgeable staff can suggest a bottle or two based on your preferences. So, I recommend giving 801 Chophouse a try because it’s one of the best Des Moines restaurants, if not the best!
644 18th St, Des Moines // +15152441353
It would be a shame not to check out Aposto at the Scala House if you look for an outstanding restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa.
It’s located inside a 100-year-old Victorian mansion in the Sherman Hill neighborhood of downtown Des Moines and features a stellar wine cellar and an elegant fine-dining atmosphere.
The restaurant, which serves seasonal wine-paired Italian, French, and Mediterranean fare, is the brainchild of award-winning restaurateur Tony Lemmo.
The restaurant offers Southern Italian, French and Mediterranean dishes paired with seasonal wines, prepared with locally sourced produce and ingredients. As well as providing an extensive wine list, the restaurant offers a fine selection of international wines and classic cocktails.
The decor is stunning and alluring, with tall ceilings, glamorous chandeliers, gorgeous artwork, modern furnishings mixed with elegant banquette seating, walnut tables, and plush cream-colored chairs. The glass-enclosed wine cellar adjacent to the kitchen is built upon the sleek wood tones that emanate throughout the space.
The ambiance is comfortable and warm yet elegant and extraordinary. The service was attentive, friendly, and thoughtfully paced, which made for a great overall experience. I enjoyed my meal immensely at Aposto!
200 10th St, Des Moines // +15152574744
Housed in a 1912 Caldwell Banker’s Mansion, Bubba combines excellent food with the atmosphere of a turn-of-the-century home. The former executive dining room has been converted into an elegant restaurant while maintaining the charm of its historical roots.
The staff at this restaurant aims to make all customers feel like part of the family. Bubba’s is a great place to get together with friends and chat over a glass of wine or beer while enjoying your meal with excellent, attentive service.
The Bubba, a Southern-inspired restaurant, offers a genuine one-of-a-kind dining experience. There are classic dishes from the South on the menu, such as fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, po’boys, deviled eggs, fried chicken and waffles, meatloaf, and gumbo.
Bubba’s menu also consists of Southern specialties that include a variety of shrimp, scallops, and fish. All the seafood is sourced from the Gulf Port and shipped in fresh every week. Vegetarians can order from a separate menu that features many of the Bubba staples but with non-meat ingredients.
It makes an excellent spot for a romantic dinner since it has upholstered chairs and backboards, exciting artwork, and crystal chandeliers.
208 3rd St, Des Moines // +15152434456
The Stuffed Olive is a popular and buzzing restaurant located in the heart of downtown Des Moines. With martinis and tapas on the menu along with hearty entrees, you’ll be faced with the challenge of trying to decide what is best on the menu at this contemporary bistro-style restaurant.
The Stuffed Olive is known as the best restaurant in downtown Des Moines, and for a good reason. Their cuisine is unique and exquisite. Everything from their tapas to their martinis is perfectly crafted, including the olives stuffed with literally everything, from prosciutto to blue cheese.
The restaurant serves a wide variety of Mediterranean tapas, including Bruschetta, Risotto Croquettes, Crab Rangoons, Calamari, Seared Tuna Tartar, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Mediterranean Shrimp Skewers, and many others. In addition, the bar menu features over 100 outstanding but straightforward Martinis that one can pair with miniature masterpieces of bites.
So whether you are an enthusiast of Mediterranean cooking or a novice exposed to this style of food for the first time, you are in for an enjoyable culinary experience.
2925 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines // +15152777828
There’s an entire restaurant dedicated to dairy delicacies called The Cheese Bar. By expanding to a more prominent restaurant location along Ingersoll Avenue, the Cheese Shop brought even more cheesy goodness to the city.
You can not only customize your cast-iron mac and cheese, but you can also order grilled cheese sandwiches and tabletop fondue along with truly impressive dessert fondues (complete with chocolate delicacies).
The place is energetic with its island bar-like seating and upbeat vibe. You’ll always find a few daily specials on the chalkboard, which goes hand in hand with their drinks menu.
For those who want to stick with mainstays, you can get risotto, shrimp and grits, and fried green tomatoes.
The menu also features appetizers, salads, entrees, and items from their award-winning bar. If you love wine and cheese, there are plenty of affordable wine flights to choose from to complement your meal.
2932 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines // +15152828085
Eatery A provides a flavorful, Mediterranean twist to American favorites, from delectable pizzas and tantalizing entrees to unforgettable desserts. The restaurant’s intimate setting adds the perfect backdrop for a date night or a family dinner.
Tuck into traditional pizzas, salads, and sandwiches, or give the mouthwatering entrees a try and munch on fresh seafood seared with lemon butter or savor juicy pork tenderloin on a bed of creamy grits.
Pair perfectly prepared plates with flavorsome wines from around the globe or sip on specialty drinks such as apple martinis or delicious ice tea cocktails.
For those who prefer the traditional American dining experience, consider sampling appetizers like seared scallops or short rib pot pie before moving to the main course. However, leave room for dessert — Eatery A is well known for its incredible selection of pastries that are all made in-house.
The mark of a great restaurant is not only backed up by the food but also the ambiance. The proper mood lighting and decor can elevate even the best meal from delicious to unforgettable. And for years, Eatery A in Des Moines has been among the best restaurants because of its inviting atmosphere.
223 4th St, Des Moines // +15153233333
Fong’s Asian Bistro in Des Moines, Iowa, has become a favorite place for pizza lovers. The restaurant opened in 2010 and is located downtown along Court Avenue. It’s situated right up against several popular bars.
People flock here to feast on the upscale Chinese/Hawaiian fusion food that has made this restaurant a favorite of locals for years now.
They serve pizza, pasta, and Asian fusion food such as Chicken Pot Pie Eggrolls, Polynesian BBQ Tofu, and Portland Crab Rangoon Pizza.
With tiki-inspired drinks and specialties like the famous Crab Rangoon Pizza, this fusion restaurant is a must for any lover of unique cuisine. The late-night crowds prove just how convenient this place is, particularly for those wanting to grab a slice of pizza after midnight.
2721 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines // +15152628488
Lucky Lotus is the place to go in Des Moines when you’re looking for Southeast Asian food. This eatery along Ingersoll Avenue offers a variety of delicious assorted snacks, noodles, and curries.
At Lucky Lotus, the atmosphere is just as beautiful as the food served, with interiors featuring pastels and paper umbrellas hang from the ceilings.
Lucky Lotus serves in a family-style; two people can easily eat a meal and still have leftovers. They also have an array of gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and meat options, making it easy for anyone to bring along friends or co-workers.
Whatever you’re looking for when it comes to Southeast Asian cuisine in Des Moines, Lucky Lotus offers something for everyone.
Featuring a creative menu that combines traditional Thai food with fascinating flavors from Japan, France, the U.S., and more, you’ll be hard-pressed to choose just one dish while at Lucky Lotus.
The food there is already unique enough, but the restaurant also offers a full bar. Plus, the patio has an unforgettable view of Des Moines’ skyline.
1301 Locust St C, Des Moines // +15152440655
With Chef Sean Wilson at Proof, you’ll get to enjoy an unforgettable fine dining experience with local, organic ingredients.
They serve delicious foods like Bay Scallop Crudo, Berkshire Pork Secreto with cashew cream, melted leeks and black garlic, and for dessert, you can get the delicious coconut cake Matcha Meringue.
The restaurant has been home to multiple James Beard Award semi-finalists and finalists for Best Chef Midwest awards. Esquire Magazine also selected it as one of the best new restaurants in America.
It’s hard to find a restaurant that will blow your mind and cause you to wonder where else you can get food as delicious as the meal you just had. Proof does just that.
Anchoring the new Court Avenue district with its minimalist industrial and rustic decor, Proof serves up Mediterranean-inspired dishes that aren’t just some of the best in town but among some of the best I’ve ever tasted.
2400 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines // +15152882246
Noah’s Ark Restaurant & Lounge is a vintage-style, old-school Italian restaurant in the heart of downtown Des Moines. Dating back to the 1940s, the original Noah’s Ark serves classic Italian and Mediterranean fare. The restaurant boasts beautiful stained glass detailing and cozy leather booths that make for an intimate setting.
With a selection of fun, retro-themed cocktails, champagne, and beer on tap, Noah’s Ark’s twist on traditional Mediterranean dishes is as eye-catching as its interior design.
Among the restaurant’s delicious Italian menu highlights are its tender veal medallions served with lemon butter and white wine sauce, fresh seafood like baked stuffed clams, and plump jumbo shrimp cocktail served with paper-thin potato chips.
French classics like veal liver parfait smothered in onions sautéed in a buttery brandy sauce and mushroom-stuffed snails also make for worthy splurges.
The ambiance of the dining room and bar area is delightful. On the walls are all sorts of anthropomorphic animals and toy soldiers. You’ll almost feel like you’re sitting in the middle of a garden paradise.
Summary Of The 11 Amazing Des Moines Restaurants
There’s no question Des Moines is full of outstanding restaurants. As a result, both residents and visitors can be hard-pressed to decide where to dine in the metro.
Publications have nationally recognized many Des Moines restaurants. So whether you’re looking for fine dining in Des Moines or a more relaxed atmosphere, you’ll find the perfect spot to suit your mood.
Thousands of choices can be a little overwhelming, but if you’re not sure where to start, check out my suggestions above for some of the best Des Moines restaurants.
The city’s restaurant scene has been growing at the speed of light, with hot new restaurants opening every year. In case you still have any doubt about how good it is, just ask a local. Then check out these restaurants during your visit to Des Moines.