Extend Patio Season With These Restaurants

Django’s bouillabaisse is perfect for warming up in the chilly temperatures (rich seafood stew featuring snow crab, scallops, mussels, shrimp, white fish, veggies and saffron-scented seafood broth). 

After last week’s unseasonably warm weather, temperatures are sliding back to more-typical November levels this week. But thanks to the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s new grant program, “Extend the Season,” there are dozens more patios from Ankeny to Indianola to the East Village that now feature heaters to allow for patio dining even later into the year.

Research has proved that there’s about 19 times greater risk for coronavirus transmission indoors compared with outdoors, and spacing tables 6 or more feet apart drastically cuts into peak capacity. So the Partnership hustled to obtain hundreds of patio heaters—which they offered for free to local eateries chosen through an application process—so restaurants could keep their al fresco seating available and comfortable even as the mercury drops. 

“We installed a plastic vinyl wrap to block wind, and now with the heaters it makes a huge difference in comfort level,” says Chase Eslinger, managing partner at El Guapo’s Tequila + Tacos in West Des Moines. (You can take a virtual tour of the space on Facebook here.) “Every bar and restaurant in the country will be trying to utilize their patio for as long as possible due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, and thanks to the Partnership we’ll be able to do so. Maybe we can all enjoy a few margaritas on our patio for months to come.”

Unsure of where to start? Here are a few heated patio-inclusive restaurants that offer cozy cuisine we love, too.

Dine here: Aposto (544 18th St.)
Order: Osso buco. The specialty of chef Shawn Bennigsdorf, this hearty entree includes braised Berkwood pork, porcini ragu and creamy polenta.

Dine here: Django (1420 Locust St.)
Order: Bouillabaisse. Grab a spoon and a hunk of warm bread and dive into a big bowl of rich seafood stew featuring snow crab, scallops, mussels, shrimp, white fish, veggies and saffron-scented seafood broth.

Dine here: HoQ Restaurant (303 E. Fifth St.)
Grass-fed steak. With a side of homemade potato tots and sauteed vegetables, this main dish is a lovely, locally sourced upgrade on classic comfort food.

There are also several restaurants that had already invested in their own heaters or fire pits, including Bartender’s HandshakeBubbaJuniper Moon and 
Proof. If
 you don’t see your favorite venue on the complete list of Partnership patio heater recipients below, contact them by phone or check out their social media pages—they might still be “fireside” and accepting outdoor diners.

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