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Des Moines Best (or Worst) Kept Dining Secrets

Dining Secrets of Des Moines

This article was written by two DSM Fellowship Program fellows:

One of the most underrated aspects of Greater Des Moines (DSM) is how exceptional the food scene is. While other cities have a distinct claim to fame, Des Moines is well rounded with a variety of great options and dishes that will be sure to speak to any pallet. So, whether you’re looking for date night recommendations or just want to treat yourself here are some of our top picks and why we love them. 

Skip’s in Des Moines

Skip’s, located in a quaint building off Fleur Drive, has been a DSM staple since 1981. This restaurant has a cozy atmosphere, and you feel like you’re enjoying dinner in a friend's house thanks to its excellent ambiance for a romantic evening or celebratory dinner. While I don’t think you can go wrong with any of Skip’s variety of American-style options, we’d highly recommend giving the Steak or Chicken De Burgo a try.  For those that might be new to the region, De Burgo sauce is a Des Moines specialty that you can find at several local restaurants. De Burgo sauce is made with some variation of butter, garlic and Italian herbs.

Eatery A in Des Moines

Eatery A is located off Ingersoll serving Mediterranean-inspired food. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention their exceptional happy hour deals that run from 3 – 6 p.m. every day of the week, most notably the half-off wood-fired pizzas during that time. Don’t get me wrong the pizza is well worth paying full price for … the unique combination of ingredients works together flawlessly! Eatery A's pie is like nothing you've ever tried before. With a contemporary but welcoming space and great patio (weather permitting) this is sure to become one of your favorite happy hour hangs.

Fong’s Pizza in Downtown Des Moines

Another excellent choice for pizza would be the infamous Fong’s pizza. Featured on Man V. Food, this eatery seamlessly marries two favorites — pizza and Asian flavors — to create an unforgettable fusion experience. The crab Rangoon pizza, a playful blend of cream cheese, crab and sweet chili sauce, is a must-try. The restaurant’s eclectic decor, featuring vintage Chinese restaurant memorabilia, adds a quirky charm to the dining experience. Another excellent choice is the Orange Chicken pizza. This culinary beauty combines the zest flavors of orange chicken with the comforting allure of pizza. The crispy yet tender, orange-glazed chicken pieces are set atop a bed of melted cheese and mixed vegetables, perfectly nestled on a thin, crispy crust.

Pho888 in Des Moines

One of the standout dishes in Des Moines is the beloved Pho888’s Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup that warms both the heart and the soul. The fragrant broth, filled with tender slices of beef, meatballs, chicken or seafood accompanied by fresh herbs, bean sprouts and jalapeno create a harmonious blend of textures that’s perfect for the cold winters in DSM. Other champions of excellent Pho in the city include: A Dong, Pho Real and C Fresh Market.

Beer in Des Moines

For beer enthusiasts, Des Moines does not disappoint. The city boasts a variety of breweries that cater to different preferences. Lua Brewing is a popular choice, offering a selection of craft beers bound to satisfy any palette, especially lovers of a Hazy IPAs. Other gems in the city include Big Grove (try their Citra Surfer!), Singlespeed Brewing, PeaceTree (featuring two gold medal-winning beers), Exile and Confluence. If for some reason none of those breweries suit your tastes, Downtown Des Moines’ El Bait Shop is a bar with nearly 250 beers on tap.

Food at the Iowa State Fair

Des Moines also has a once-a-year culinary experience known as the Iowa State Fair. If you like fried food, sweets, bacon or all of the above, the fair is the place for you. You can find just about anything you could possibly imagine fried or served up on a stick. This year the fair runs Aug. 10-20 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. We highly recommend checking it out if you’ve never been and also recommend showing up hungry. Here’s a link to their website for further information.

Author Profiles

Pawel Barnes

Pawel Barnes is a Cloud Engineer at Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. 

Renee George

Renee George is in Accounting Advisory at F&G Annuities and Life, Inc. (F&G).  

When dining out — or in — in Greater Des Moines (DSM), locally-owned restaurants, craft breweries, local wineries, coffee shops and more have this foodie scene covered. Find out more about the region’s most popular restaurants and new additions here.

More Downtown Des Moines (DSM) restaurants are opening all the time. Don’t miss out on bakeries, brunch, breakfast, lunch, dinner, pizza, seafood, bars and breweries in downtown. Here’s the in on where to eat locally in Downtown DSM.

Pawel Barnas and Renee George

Pawel Barnas and Renee George are fellows with the 2023 cohort of the DSM Fellowship Program. Fellows are exposed to opportunities that accelerate their professional track over two years, including networking and mentoring.