16 of the best restaurants in the East Village in Des Moines - Des Moines Register

16 of the best restaurants in the East Village in Des Moines – Des Moines Register


The view of the East Village from the State Capitol.

Eclectic shops and good dining sit side-by-side in the East Village, snuggled between the Iowa State Capitol and the Des Moines River, just east of downtown Des Moines.

This vibrant neighborhood offers a cornucopia of shopping: clever gifts from snarky shirt purveyor Raygun and pet accoutrement boutique Jett & Monkey’s Dog Shoppe, women’s apparel and gift stores Leona Ruby and Aimee, antiques galore from Porch Light and Reclaimed, men’s apparel from Fontenelle Supply Co., and kitchen supplies from Allspice Culinarium and Kitchen Collage.

After an afternoon of shopping, dine at one of these local restaurants that make the East Village so special, or hop from one to the next eating an appetizer, entrée and dessert at each. Here’s a look at TK.

Alba Restaurant

Alba opened under Jason Simon in 2008 with contemporary American cuisine served in a modern and eclectic space with accents of reclaimed wood, including doors hanging from the ceiling. Seasonal menus define the restaurant, named for the white oak trees at the front. Request a seat in front of the kitchen to watch the chefs conjure up their dishes. The cocktail program and house burger are must-tries.

Location: 524 E. Sixth St., Des Moines

Hours: Daily from 4 p.m. to close. Happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. in the bar and on the patio.

Contact: 515-244-0261; albadsm.com

Bar Nico

Restaurateur Jason Simon opened Bar Nico in October with Mexican fare and a takeout window. Chef Matt Small relies on heirloom corn as the centerpiece for many dishes, including tetela, a potato and cheese stuffed crepe, and the masa “olé,” an ode to Taco John’s potato olés with queso fresco and salsa verde. Tacos here come stuff with braised short ribs, mushrooms, carne asada, shrimp, carnitas, Berkshire pork, queso fresco, or grilled arctic char. The bar leans into tequila, mezcal and bourbon. Look for the Alaskan wolf overlooking the long, narrow dining room overhead.

Location: 428 E. Locust St., Des Moines

Hours: Open Tuesday through Thursday from 3 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 3 to 9 p.m.

Contact: 515-243-0611; www.barnicodsm.com

More:Bar Nico opens in the East Village with modern takes on Mexican food

The Breakfast Club

In February 2021, The Breakfast Club opened for the early crowd starving for brunch seven days a week. The restaurant serves more than 40 brunch items with spiced-up classics such as stuffed French toast, chicken fried steak and omelets, as well as novelty items including breakfast corndogs and totchos. Diners can find ample vegan and vegetarian options as well as an extensive brunch cocktail menu of bloody marys, coffee cocktails and mega mimosas. In warmer months, diners can brunch on the restaurant’s adjacent patio. Jammies encouraged, but be prepared to wait for a table. It’s that popular.

Location: 212 E. Third St. Suite B, Des Moines

Hours: Daily from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Contact: 515-280-5251; thebreakfastclubusa.com

Ceviche Bar

Owner Tanya Suarez channeled her Cuban heritage to create dishes she grew up making and eating. Feast on ceviche, of course, Cuban sandwiches, ropa vieja, arroz con picadillo and bistec de palomilla. Vegan and gluten-free options are available. Sip on mojitos, smashes, mules, Cuban-inspired cocktails and martinis. Or just enjoy a simple Cuba Libre (rum and cola with lime). Sit out on the patio in warmer months.

Location: 223 E. Walnut St., Des Moines

Hours: Open Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; closed Sunday.

Contact: 515-770-9795; cevichebardsm.com

More:How to spend a perfect day in downtown Des Moines with food, drinks and more

Clyde’s Fine Diner

Clyde’s Fine Diner owner and chef Chris Hoffman moved to Des Moines from Chicago to make the most of classic dishes that he adds his own spin to. Steak frites come with creamed spinach and pickled mushrooms while the CB & J features cashew butter, smoked apple jam and raclette on house-made whole grain bread for an adult version of a childhood favorite. Be sure to try the seasonal soft serve, which often comes in funky flavors like Lucky Charms cereal, as well as the zero proof drinks.

Location: 111 E. Grand Ave. Suite 111, Des Moines

Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday. Open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Contact: 515-243-3686; clydesfinediner.com

More:33 of the best places to eat in Des Moines: 2022 edition

The Continental

The stylish Continental returned to the East Village with its dark interior, contemporary artwork on the walls, weekly jazz and tapas. Favorite dishes from the old menu return, including melon and prosciutto crostini, truffled mushrooms, pomme frites, a roasted pear salad and blackened chicken sandwich. New dishes include fried mozzarella on a stick, baked goat cheese and a double smash burger. Much of the menu is a tribute to New Orleans, from the beignets and blackened tilapia. But cocktails were always a staple at The Continental, and many favorites such as the all day bloody mary or maria are on the menu as well.

Location: 407 E. Fifth St., Des Moines

Hours: Open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., closed Sunday. Happy hour every Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. with discounted small plates and drink specials.

Contact: 515-528-2300; continental-lounge.com

More:The Continental returns to Des Moines’ East Village with New Orleans-inspired fare


Chef and co-owner Suman Hoque serves Iowa-focused fare at his restaurant in the East Village. The constantly changing menu adapts as ingredients come in season so those bright, fresh flavors shine through. Look for dishes such as local grass-fed steak, salmon en papillote, lamb shank, and a vegetarian dish that can become vegan upon request. Gluten-free and vegan options available as well. Head here on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon for a pop-up breakfast market outside the restaurant.

Location: 303 E. Fifth St., Des Moines

Hours: Open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. for lunch; Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner. Closed Sunday and Monday. 

Contact: 515-244-1213; hoqtable.com

More:Prominent chef celebrates five years of bringing local food to East Village

The Iowa Taproom

This ode to Iowa beers features 120 brews on tap in a beer hall setting replete with a bar top from the 1880s salvaged from a bar in Jewell, reclaimed barn wood, historic signs, grain bins, machinery parts, salvaged furniture and more. Customers can swill beer with Iowa ham balls, fried cheese balls, or wings swaddled in one of nine sauces. Other options include a barbecue meatloaf, breaded pork tenderloin, and burgers, burgers, burgers. 

Location: 215 E. Third St., #100, Des Moines

Hours: Open Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Contact: 515-243-0827; iowataproom.com


James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef Midwest in 2009 Steve Logsdon serves his elevated four-course prix fixe that changes weekly at Lucca. A pasta course and mains such as salmon, eggplant, scallops or a New York strip steak anchor the menu. During lunch, spiced chicken sandwiches, light salads and ricotta and spinach rigatoni lead the way. 

Location: 420 E. Locust St., Des Moines

Hours: Lunch served Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner served Thursday through Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m.. closed Sunday and Monday.

Contact: 515-243-1115; luccadsm.com

Miyabi 9

Osaka, Japan-native Mike Miyabi stepped down from his role as owner of Miyabi 9, but the restaurant still serves Japanese favorites for Des Moines patrons. Diners can try udon noodles, katsu, teriyaki favorites, and yakitori dishes, but the main draw here is the sushi and sashimi.

Location: 512 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines

Hours: Open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Contact: 515-288-8885; miyabi9official.com

More:Des Moines’ 2021 skywalk dining guide: Where to find food downtown (without having to go outside)

Nosh Cafe & Eatery

This frozen yogurt shop and fast-casual eatery offers healthy bowls, smoothies, bagels and toasts, along with quick grab-and-go items. Frozen yogurt sold by the ounce in cups comes topped with more than 70 different kinds of nuts, candies, sauces, fruits and cupcake crumbs called Molly’s Middles from Molly’s Cupcakes. Or order a shake with a healthy boost of superfoods. Frozen custards and sorbets are also available.

Location: 424 E. Locust St., Des Moines

Hours: Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Contact: 515-280-5277; nosh-eats.com

Olympic Flame Restaurant

For more than 30 years, this East Village eatery served a big fat Greek menu of gyros, flaming saganaki, crispy spanikopita, dolmathes, and pasticcio. Diners should save room for baklava. Belly dancers can sometimes be seen weaving their way through the dining room. 

Location: 514 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines

Hours: Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; closed Sundays.

Contact: 515-243-4361; Facebook

Open Sesame

This restaurant in East Village serves Lebanese fare in a vibrant, cozy space. Mediterranean dishes here include hummus, baba ganoush, gyros, falafel and shawarma. Try the kibbeh plate — a baked patty made with ground sirloin, bulghar, onion and Lebanese spices with laban (yogurt), hummus and pita — or grape leaves stuffed with rice, garbanzo beans, sun-dried tomato, parley and onion.

Location: 313 E. Locust St., Des Moines

Hours: Open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 8 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Contact: 515-288-3151; opensesameiowa.com

Plain Talk Books & Coffee

For the more literary-minded, Plain Talk offers organic coffee and locally sourced food made with produce from Raccoon Forks Farms in Redfield, as well as new and used books, records, and local art. Customers can order from the prologue (drinks), chapter one (breakfast) or chapter two (sandwiches). 

Location: 602 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines

Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Contact: 515-243-0815; raccoonforks.com/plaintalk

Railroad Bill’s Dining Car

This quirky little spot offers breakfast and lunch dishes such as biscuits and gravy, steak and eggs, burgers and sandwiches. Do try a hash brown platter or corned beef brisket hash. A full line of classic sodas are available as well as a separate vegan menu, and there’s a sizable kids’ menu to boot. After filling up at Railroad Bill’s, take a spin around the attached antique store. 

Location: 621 Des Moines St., Des Moines

Hours: Open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily

Contact: 515-243-0247; raccoonforks.com/railroad-bills-diner

Zombie Burger + Drink Lab

Gaining national attention for its wildly popular burgers with zombie references, Zombie Burger offers a wide selection of ingredients for burger personalization. Customers can choose a specialty such as the Dawn of the Dead with bacon, egg, American cheese, red onion and mayo or the vegetarian Mushroom Apocalypse with a breaded mushroom cheese croquette, and order a cocktail or a thick, rich milkshake with a basket of chili cheese fries.

Location: 300 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines

Hours: Open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Contact: 515-244-9292; zombieburgershakelab.com

Susan Stapleton is the entertainment editor at The Des Moines Register. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, or drop her a line at sstapleton@gannett.com.


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December 18, 2022 at 04:14AM

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