Experience Some of the City’s Diverse Offerings

From left: Interpreter Peggy Chicoine with Life Interpretation Inc., Suzanna de Baca, Kate Hightshoe and Abena Sankofa Imhotep at Tuesday night’s Discover Diverse Des Moines event.

An energetic crowd of about 250 people joined dsm last night at Discover Diverse Des Moines, where seven community leaders let us in on their favorite places to enjoy the city’s diverse offerings. Moderated by Abena Sankofa Imhotep, director of Sankofa Literary and Empowerment Group, and Suzanna de Baca, president and CEO of Business Publications Corp., the event also included a performance by the always dynamic Isiserettes.

The panelists’ recommendations included the performing arts (Pyramid Theatre Company, Ballet Des Moines); outdoor spaces and attractions (the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Jester Park, Dale Maffitt Reservoir); buildings (the Harkin Center), and, of course, food and dining. Some food-related highlights:

Jen Carruthers, owner of 11 Eleven Productions and president of Capital City Pride, recommended Palm’s Caribbean Cuisine, which offers curbside pop-up orders and also can be found at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers’ Market. She’s also a fan of Chu Chu Donuts (580 S.W. Ninth St.), owned and operated by Cambodian immigrants. (Read more about Palm’s in this story from the dsm archive and about Chu Chu’s in this story in the current issue.)

Tar Macias, president of Hola America, loves Monarca Gourmet Paletas (9901 University Ave., Clive). The Mexican treat is similar to a Popsicle, but “super creamy,” Tar said. His favorites are the lime paleta with a slice of lime in the middle, and the avocado paleta, one that he said “pleasantly surprised me.” When you’re at Monarca’s, be sure to take a selfie in front of the colorful mural. He also recommended La Cuscatleca South (2580 Fleur Drive), a restaurant that serves a variety of Salvadoran and Mexican-inspired dishes; try the papusas.

Tej Dhawan, strategic initiatives officer for Principal Financial Group and co-founder of Plains Angels, encouraged the crowd to think beyond butter chicken and garlic naan (though we admit we love both!) when seeking Indian cuisine. His go-to spot is India Star (5514 Douglas Ave.), which offers a variety of seafood, lamb and vegetarian specialties, among other enticing dishes.

Thanks to all who attended as well as to our panelists, who also included Michael Egel, general and artistic director of Des Moines Metro Opera; Kate Hightshoe, assistant vice president and diversity officer of QCR Holdings and Community State Bank; Tiffany Johnson, producing artistic director of Pyramid Theatre Company; and Daniel Van Sant, director of disability policy for the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement.

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