Five new restaurants we loved this year

Panka Chicken in the Drake neighborhood recently rebranded to Panka Coffee to include breakfast offerings and coffee for sleepy students and others. Photo: Panka

Writer: Mathany Ahmed

This year we covered everything from the best side dishes in town to our favorite chicken wings. We told you about restaurants that earned national recognition for their wine lists and the spots with the nonalcoholic cocktails so good you won’t even miss the booze. Now that the year is almost over, we wanted to give a special shoutout to just a few of our favorite newcomers to the scene. Here are five, in alphabetical order:

1. Either/Or: The spinoff restaurant of Lua Brewing made a splash when it hit the scene in September. The menu has plenty of the items that Lua fans have come to expect, like the Smush burger, with a few elevated dishes like hanger steak and braised pork belly, served with polenta, apple and kale.

2. HomeGrown: Any place that makes Nutella pop tarts from scratch gets a spot on our list. This year, a Kansas-based chain opened this brunch-all-day restaurant in Sherman Hill. HomeGrown has embraced its new home, using coffee from Ames’ Windmill Coffee Roasters and locally produced ingredients on the ever-changing menu. We love the salsa verde pork and egg, with slow-roasted pork and rosemary potatoes, but there’s something for everyone on the large menu.

3. Oak Park: I mean, you knew this one was coming. The October opening of this Ingersoll restaurant felt like some of the buzziest news this year. Chef Ian Robertson’s menu features local ingredients with careful attention to the tiniest details, like the slow-roasted pears in a beet salad and show-stopping cuts of 21-day-aged steak. Bonus: If you don’t have plans to watch the ball drop, a few spots may remain for the four-course prix fixe New Year’s Eve menu.

4. Panka Chicken: The new addition to the Drake neighborhood is the more laid-back version of its sister restaurant, Panka on Ingersoll. We’ve previously written about pollo a la Brasa, a Peruvian rotisserie-style chicken, but this place offers so many other options. We recommend the salchipapas: french fries loaded up with beef franks, tomatoes, green onion, cilantro, all laced with colorful house-made sauces. The establishment recently began offering breakfast options and coffee during the morning hours as well as the traditional rotisserie chicken.

5. Ruth’s Chris Steak House: The August opening of this 15,000-square-foot steak house in West Des Moines was a big deal. The restaurant spans three dining rooms and three separate bars, giving diners options for an intimate romantic dinner or a full-on holiday party. The steaks are the star of any meal here, of course, prepared with a patented broiling method, but generous portions of sides like roasted garlic mashed potatoes or pan-roasted cremini mushrooms round out the meal.

You May Also Like

Brewing Up a Distinction

Top-notch coffee is only the beginning.

Take an immersive ‘semester abroad,’ no passport needed

Explore uncharted flavors in these new cocktails. Photo: Nate Evans Writer: Mathany Ahmed Ever since ...

Local Gifts For Cooks And Food Lovers

Gift towers from Chocolate Storybook, which can be delivered locally or shipped elsewhere. Writer: ...