The Ultimate DSM USA A-Z Restaurant Challenge Guide
As a member of Young Professionals Connection (YPC), I go to a lot of networking events. As I’m talking to people, I typically discuss my job as a Social Media Specialist, which I love, but I also almost always mention my second, self-given job title — self-proclaimed foodie.
For those of you who don’t know, being a self-proclaimed foodie is a lot of work. I spend my free time keeping up with food trends, attending cooking classes, watching my favorite Food Network and Gordon Ramsay shows, engaging with my favorite chefs online (one time I was retweeted by Geoffrey Zakarian!), listening to food-related podcasts, traveling to cookbook signings, testing new recipes, and exploring the Greater Des Moines (DSM) food scene with the A-Z restaurant challenge.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t come up with the concept of the A-Z restaurant challenge. The premise is simple — visit at least one restaurant that starts with every letter of the alphabet. Last year, one of my good friends and I decided to commit to tackling this challenge in DSM. When developing our list, we ensured every letter of the alphabet covered was by a locally owned restaurant in the major metro area.
For me personally, I’ve used the A-Z restaurant challenge to help rediscover the city I grew up in. As I’ve grown, so has the city I call home, which is evident in the evolution of the food scene.
What I love about participating in this challenge, is that I’m able to try so many different types of food, try restaurants I may have never stepped into otherwise, learn about different cultures, gain inspiration for my own culinary adventures and get to know some of the hardworking individuals who help make my experiences memorable. Just recently, while at Trostel’s Dish in West Des Moines, I met Samantha Daily, a girl who grew up here and is competing on the most recent season of Fox’s MasterChef.
Food & Wine got it right: DSM is cool. There’s so much to learn just by exploring the food scene that so many local entrepreneurs have helped cultivate. So, loyal blog reader, this is my challenge to you — join me! Join me in my effort to learn more, gain inspiration and support locally owned restaurants by participating in the A-Z restaurant challenge. I’ve provided my list as a start below, but the great thing about this challenge is you can customize it based on your preferences.
For me, I’m still working on getting to all of these restaurants, and next up, I hope to create a similar challenge for locally owned bars. If you have recommendations on restaurants or bars to add to my list, cooking classes or recipes to recommend, or reviews of places you want to share, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to drop me an email.
DSM A-Z Restaurant Challenge List
- Alba, Americana
- Bubbas, Barn Town Brewing, Baru 66, Baratta’s
- Cheese Bar, Chicago Speakeasy, Christopher’s, Coopers on 5th, Chucks, Cool Basil
- Django, District 36 Wine Bar & Grille
- Eatery A, Eggs and Jam
- Fongs Pizza, Firecreek, Flying Mango, Francie’s Bar & Grill
- G Migs
- Harbinger, HoQ
- Jethro’s BBQ
- Krunkwich Ramen House
- Le Jardin, Latin King, Lucca, Louie’s Wine Dive, Leaning Tower of Pizza
- Mullets, Malo
- Noah’s Ark, Nick’s Restaurant
- Olympic Flame, Open Sesame
- Quinton’s Bar & Deli, Qpits Smoked Meats, Quijano's Bar & Grill
- RoCA, Reed’s Hollow
- Skips Restaurant, Simon’s, Spaghetti Works, Splash Seafood
- Tavern Pizza, Table 128 Bistro, Trostel’s Dish
- Urban Grill
- Viva Mexican Restaurant
- Waveland Cafe, Wasabi, Whiskey River, Wig and Pen, Waterfront Seafood Market
- Exile Brewing Company
- Gilroy’s Kitchen
- Zombie Burger
Young Professionals Connection (YPC) aims to attract and retain young professionals in Greater Des Moines (DSM) by connecting emerging leaders to each other and to the community through social, civic, charitable and professional development endeavors. Learn how you can get involved.
Erin Fry is a Greater Des Moines (DSM) native who returned home after finishing her Bachelor's at Iowa State University and her Master's at the University of Missouri. She works at Two Rivers Marketing as a social media specialist. At night she can often be found at Young Professionals Connection (YPC) events, trivia nights around town, cheering on the Cyclones, dining out or cooking up some new recipes.