Dining Destinations

Your essential guide to dsm Restaurant Week, Aug. 16-25

Bar Nico

Writers: Hailey Evans and Michael Morain
Photographer: Duane Tinkey

Summer vacations may be over, but don’t pack up and pack in just yet. We’ve mapped out a tour of flavors to be found close to home during dsm Restaurant Week. Plan to eat your way through the city’s ever-growing list of dining options, from modern Mexican and Korean banchan to bicoastal seafood and Southern fried chicken. A total of 36 participating restaurants throughout the Des Moines metro are offering prix-fixe dinners ($40-$80) and lunch specials ($15-$25) to show off their most delicious dishes.

Book a table at your favorite spot or try a new one you’ve been meaning to check out. Peek at the menus posted in August at dsmRestaurantWeek.com to start planning your grand tour.


East Village

Alba

Jason Simon’s stylishly understated spot in a former auto shop in the East Village serves delicious seasonal fare for folks who appreciate creative flavors and attentive service without too much fanfare. When you go, be sure to try the deviled eggs and gnocchi. And don’t forget dessert — the rum sponge cake is chef Brailyn Tankersley’s current favorite.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $40-$50
Find it: 524 E. Sixth St., albadsm.com

Bar Nico

Bar Nico

Go for inventive, upscale Mexican dishes and stay for the cozy, hidden-gem ambience. You just might miss it walking along East Locust Street, but follow your nose to the smell of cheesy elote, pork belly tacos and crispy churros for a revitalizing meal. The entire kitchen is gluten free, so diners with sensitive stomachs can eat with ease. During dsm Restaurant Week, look for ceviche specials, smoky enchiladas and some entrees inspired by the Yucatán.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $50-$60
Find it: 428 E. Locust St., barnicodsm.com

HoQ Restaurant

HoQ Restaurant

This farm-to-table restaurant on a quiet corner of East Village has been serving scratch-made, American-Mediterranean fusion since 2012. The kitchen team sources as much as possible from top-notch Iowa producers, so the grass-fed burgers and seasonal salads are guaranteed fresh. Earlier this spring, the spot expanded next door to add a cocktail lounge, HoQtail, featuring seasonal craft drinks paired with small bites.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $50-$60
Find it: 303 E. Fifth St., hoqtable.com

Republic on Grand

Everything about this prime East Village spot feels elevated, from its rooftop patio views on the sixth floor of the AC Hotel to the cheese boards and craft cocktails. The abundant small plates are great for sharing, but if you want something all to yourself, savor rich main dishes like shrimp gnocchi, duck confit or creamy spinach fettuccine. Their seasonal cocktails are perfect for summer sunset happy hours. Try a spicy blood-orange margarita or a dill pickle martini next time you stop in.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $40-$50
Find it: 401 E. Grand Ave., therepublicongrand.com


Downtown & Nearby

Aposto

The beautifully preserved 1880s Victorian house with a wraparound porch in Sherman Hill houses a bustling kitchen that serves handmade pasta, osso bucco and other delectable dishes four nights a week to diners looking for elegance and a touch of intimacy. Some dishes, like owner Tony Lemmo’s homemade cavatelli with Calabrian sausage, have been winning over fans for nearly 20 years, but the menu is anything but stagnant. In fact, there are new entrées each week.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $50-$60
Find it: 644 18th St., apostodm.com

Big Grove

Like the Big Grove’s other locations across Iowa, this spot on the west edge of downtown is known for its long list of carefully crafted beers and laid-back ambience, especially on the patio. But even though the vibes are comfy, the menu is ambitious, with high-quality ingredients and global influences. To start, try the mushroom confit, made with locally sourced oyster mushrooms, then move to the sushi-grade tuna poke bowl or the pepper-crusted steak.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: TBD as of press time
Find it: 555 17th St., biggrove.com

Bubba

We hope you’re hungry. Southern hospitality means large portions and no shortage of buttery goodness at this sunshine-filled dining room. You’ll find gooey pimento mac, crispy buttermilk chicken, jambalaya and other Southern comforts on the menu. Their dsm Restaurant Week brunch specials are perfect after the downtown farmers market, and if you come back for dinner, too — hey, we won’t judge.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $50-$60
Find it: 200 10th St., bubbadsm.com

Centro

Ever since it opened in 2002 in the historic Temple for Performing Arts, this see-and-be-seen spot has delivered Italian classics with a modern, big-city sensibility, including portobello fries, calamari, New York-style pizzas, handmade pasta and a juicy Niman Ranch pork chop. Book a table on the patio or inside by the big windows, where you can watch the world go by.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $50-$60
Find it: 1003 Locust St., centrodesmoines.com

Django

Des Moines’ flagship French restaurant serves all the classics that you know and love from Paris (or Julia Child), including fresh oysters, escargot, duck-fat frites, bouillabaisse, coq au vin, boeuf Bourguignon and even poutine (merci, les Quebecois). Pop in for Tuesday’s extended happy hour, 4 p.m. to close, or book the Reinhardt Room for your next soiree, right across from the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $70-$80
Find it: 1420 Locust St., djangodesmoines.com

Fresko

This popular walkable downtown spot takes inclusivity to new levels. The seasonal kitchen aims to please all kinds of palates, with everything from sushi rolls and street noodles to wood-fired wings and grilled filets. And many items are also modifiable to be made vegan, vegetarian and gluten free, just ask your server before ordering. But here’s the kicker: Even with all those options, everything tastes like a specialty.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $50-$60
Find it: 909 Locust St., freskodsm.com

Harbinger

For adventurous eaters, ordering omakase from the Asian-inspired menu is like jetting off to another hemisphere. Try Malaysian pickled eggplant, Thai-style fried chicken and strawberry mochi cake all in one place. The menu changes with the seasons and the inspirations of chef/owner Joe Tripp, but the mainstay steam buns are always ready when you want to pop in for happy hour.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $50-$60
Find it: 2724 Ingersoll Ave., harbingerdsm.com

The Latin King

This Italian restaurant’s kingdom of fans stretches far and wide. For nearly 80 years, the East Side mainstay has offered generous portions of chicken spiedini, toasted ravioli, pollo alla Sorrentina and steak de Burgo, one of chef Zach Boals’ favorites since he was still a bambino. There are daily specials and live music on Tuesdays and Thursdays, perfect for a date or family outing.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $40-$50
Find it: 2200 Hubbell Ave., latinkingdsm.com

Motley School Tavern

This Beaverdale spot feels a bit like an old-school diner, but the wood and natural tones give it an upscale spin. It serves a similar style of fare: familiar American classics, but with an updated flair. The fried bologna sandwich is chef/owner Nic Gonwa’s personal favorite, reminiscent of his own after-school snack of choice, but you’ll also find pierogi, chicken wings, pork chops, beef stroganoff and a handful of customizable salads.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $40-$50
Find it: 1903 Beaver Ave., mstdsm.com

Mulberry Street Tavern

This luxurious restaurant and bar opened at the end of 2020 in the Surety Hotel, where large windows and a stately wooden bar give the place an air of swanky nostalgia. The menu offers traditional tavern fare and classic cocktails, along with eclectic wines and a thoughtful array of local, regional and foreign beers. Chef Michael Holman cooks up a host of worldly flavors, from classic burgers to grilled chicken with aji amarillo crema. During dsm Restaurant Week, make sure to try the seasonal vegetable pot pie.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $50-$60
Find it: 206 6th Ave., suretyhotel.com/mulberry-street-tavern

Park Street Kitchen + Bar

Even if you’re not a guest upstairs, this sleek spot in the downtown Hilton is open to anyone who’d like a good meal. Go for light flatbreads and sandwiches or try the heartier entrées like blackened salmon or steak mac and cheese. Take it outside on the spacious patio for the fireplace ambience and a beautiful hilltop view over downtown. Keep in mind, the restaurant is part of the global Hilton chain, but chefs source ingredients from local vendors like Milton Creamery, Lola’s Fine Hot Sauce and Ray Family Farms for homegrown Iowa flavors.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $40-$50
Find it: 435 Park St., hilton.com

Splash Seafood Bar & Grill

It’s not every day a decades-old institution can still make a splash. But with fresh seafood flown in from around the world, this restaurant is still making waves in our landlocked city. Order shellfish by the pound, like Alaska king crab and lobster tails, or choose from tinier sea creatures like Prince Edward Island mussels, shrimp, scallops and oysters on the half shell. If you prefer turf over surf, Splash also serves chicken, pork chops and choice cuts like filet mignon.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $60-$70
Find it: 303 Locust St., splash-seafood.com

Table 128

Table 128

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? The former suburban hotspot recently made its long-anticipated move downtown, and the slick new space on Southwest Ninth Street is ready for its inaugural dsm Restaurant Week run. Reunite with the famous Table 128 Brussels sprouts or try out new items like steak tartare, pan-seared scallops and risotto carbonara. The menu includes a handy key to identify vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $60-$70
Find it: 220 S.W. Ninth St., table128bistro.com

Tupelo Honey

Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen and bar

Southern charm and flavors greet diners in this spot in the sleek Miesblock building on Grand Avenue. Founded in North Carolina, this restaurant’s Des Moines outpost serves up Tupelo shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes and chef Krysten “KP” Pierce’s favorite, the cast-iron pork shoulder, laced with a sweet-spicy Sriracha honey glaze. The bar team has concocted some strawberry cocktails for summer, plus a range of new nonalcoholic options.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $40-$50
Find it: 665 Grand Ave., tupelohoneycafe.com


Suburbs

BeerStyles Taproom & Gastropub

This casually cool spot opened in 2017 as a sister company to WineStyles, the popular wine shop. Find a compelling mix of social settings all under one roof: a family-friendly restaurant, a taproom, a lounge, a patio and a venue for special events. The refined pub welcomes foodies of all kinds with its smashburgers and rotating beverage selections. Chef Karston Ausborn’s creativity shines during the monthly pop-up dinners, when diners can try handcrafted cocktails and seasonal small plates.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $40-$50
Find it: 5513 Mills Civic Parkway in West Des Moines, beerstyles.com

District 36 Wine Bar & Grill

This popular Ankeny spot serves American fare in an intimate and elegant space inside or out. The patio overlooks one of the ponds in the ever-evolving District at Prairie Trail. Start with a Caprese platter before the Steak Delmonico or prime rib (chef Judson Eddy’s favorite on Friday and Saturday nights) and top it off with Snickers bread pudding.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $40-$50
Find it: 1375 S.W. Vintage Parkway in Ankeny, district36winebar.com

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill

This polished but casual spot near Jordan Creek Town Center specializes in steak and seafood with a few twists to keep things interesting. (It’s a good spot for brunch, too.) Dig in to the lobster-spinach queso, blue cheese filet with port mushrooms or ahi tuna salad, and save room for the five-layer lemon cake. During dsm Restaurant Week, you can’t go wrong with the prime rib and Double Black Diamond Martini.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $40-$50
Find it: 440 S. 68th St. in West Des Moines, firebirdsrestaurants.com

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

This upscale Jordan Creek restaurant has drawn a loyal following since it opened in 2005 — diners who appreciate tender full-flavored steak, a thoughtful wine list and impeccable service. The sweet chili calamari and prime Tomahawk ribeye are customer favorites, and chef Tyler Barsetti is a fan of the ahi tuni poke with soy-ginger sauce and avocado. Toss in a luxurious dessert or two, and what more could you want for a business dinner or a special night out?

dsm Restaurant Week special: $70-$80
Find it: 150 S. Jordan Creek Parkway in West Des Moines, flemingssteakhouse.com

Gastro Grub & Pub

This casual eatery with a roomy patio in Waukee offers made-from-scratch, locally sourced dishes that simultaneously satisfy your inner kid and grown-up palate. The short rib grilled cheese sandwich is a meaty, melty stroke of culinary genius, rivaled only by the steak de Burgo poutine. The kitchen dreams up new specials every week, which reward repeat visits.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $50-$60
Find it: 1378 Hickman Road in Waukee, gastrogrubpub.com

Gilroy’s

Its formal name is Gilroy’s Kitchen + Pub + Patio, but that’s about the only formal thing about this friendly neighborhood spot in West Des Moines. You and your crew can find a comfortable spot inside or out on the sprawling patio, where live music livens up Wednesday nights. The menu, billed as “stylish American comfort food,” offers daily specials — fried chicken, smashburgers, tacos and more — but you can’t go wrong with the jambalaya pasta anytime you go.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $40-$50
Find it: 1238 Eighth St. in West Des Moines, gilroyskitchen.com

Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse

At Johnny’s, the steaks take center stage. Each of the tender cuts of premium beef are chosen with care and aged a minimum of 28 days, but the beef Wellington — a filet baked inside a flaky puff pastry with duxelles and prosciutto — takes things to the next level. When you go for dsm Restaurant Week, start with the calamari marinara or bruschetta and pair it with the signature Dirty Bird, a cocktail made with vodka, gin, olive juice and blue-cheese-stuffed olives.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $50-$60
Find it: 6800 Fleur Drive, 6075 Mills Civic Parkway in West Des Moines, and 550 Bass Pro Drive N.W. in Altoona, johnnysitaliansteakhouse.com

Prime & Providence

Few new restaurants in town received more anticipatory buzz than this locally owned steak and seafood place that opened a few months ago in West Des Moines. Foodie folks chatted about the stylish décor and massive custom-built grill, but the menu is the real star, with chef Dominic Iannarelli’s takes on tried-and-true classics like sea scallops and prime steaks cut from Iowa-raised Wagyu beef. It’s the perfect spot for a date or special occasion, fancy but not formal.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $70-$80
Find it: 595 S. 60th St. in West Des Moines, primeandprovidence.com

Range Restaurant + Cocktail Bar

Find a meal and entertainment all in one at this Urbandale hot spot. Beyond your typical sports bar, Range offers PGA-endorsed golf simulators great for pros and non-golfers alike. The restaurant serves brunch, lunch and dinner along with signature drinks and reserve whiskey to celebrate your hole-in-one. You’ll find sports bar favorites like nachos, soft pretzels, flatbreads and burgers, as well as swanky surprises like bison New York strip steak and poached lobster.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $50-$60
Find it: 11865 Hickman Road in Urbandale, rangedesmoines.com

Trostel’s Greenbriar

This enduring Johnston eatery knows how to take care of you with a satisfying sandwich or bowl of soup for a weekday lunch, or more refined fare like the garlic butter beef-tip pasta — made with beef tenderloin, white wine and stone-ground mustard — for a weekend date. Pro tip: Check out the burger and brew deals every Monday, and save room for one of the housemade desserts.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $40-$50
Find it: 5810 Merle Hay Road in Johnston, greenbriartrostels.com

Urban Cellar

True to its name, the wine market here offers more than 600 options that you can take home or drink in the restaurant without a corkage fee. The food menu features plenty of tempting choices, including blackened shrimp nachos, seared scallops over a cheddar polenta, ahi tuna tartare and a host of burgers and pastas.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: TBD at press time
Find it: 640 S. 50th St. in West Des Moines, urbancellarwdm.com

Urban Grill

Come as you are to this quintessential neighborhood restaurant on 86th Street, where you can dig into PEI black mussels, Korean steak tacos, a Cajun burger or a classic like chicken Marsala. The prime rib is nearly tender enough to cut with a spoon and pairs well with any number of cocktails, wines and beers from the extensive list.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: TBD at press time
Find it: 3651 86th St. in Urbandale, theurbangrilldm.com

Wasabi Johnston

Wasabi Johnston

The growing Wasabi empire opened its Johnston location in 2018 and has been winning over fans ever since. Chef Jack Li’s team recently added some new sushi options to the pan-Asian menu that includes popular mainstays like Korean fried chicken, crispy jumbo shrimp and Li’s favorite, crispy orange chicken. The rest of the menu offers colorful salads, noodles, curries and stir-fried entrees, plus an extensive selection of wine, beer and cocktails.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $40-$50
Find it: 8481 Birchwood Court in Johnston, wasabidsm.com

Wasabi Urbandale

Wasabi Urbandale

The newest addition to this local sushi chain sits right off Hickman Road. You’ll find all the classic Wasabi favorites on the menu, plus special features from the chefs. During dsm Restaurant Week, enjoy curated bento boxes that showcase the Asian-fusion specialties for which Wasabi is known. Plus, check out their signature cocktails or sushi happy hour.

dsm Restaurant Week specials: $40-$50
Find it: 2301 Rocklyn Drive in Urbandale, wasabidsm.com


Side Dish

Local chefs share their thoughts on their favorite menu items.

Cole Gruis, Aposto

His favorite is the roasted bone marrow entree, bursting with flavor from the carmelized onion, shallot and parsley over linguine. “It pairs well with our bone marrow-infused Basil Hayden shot with burnt-onion simple syrup and lime bitters, available as a luge shot from the bone once the dish is finished.”

Laura Vircks, Django

“My favorite dish is the vegan gnocchi. In an effort to stay true to French tradition, I like to incorporate ingredients that are local and highlight seasonal flavors. With summer rapidly approaching, I wanted to use the flavors that make me excited for the season.”

Sean Gleason, Gastro Grub & Pub

The braised short rib grilled cheese ranks high for him “because it’s a delicious comfort food with all the right textures and flavors.”

  • Show Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You May Also Like

Perfect Pie Crust

To make a perfect pie crust, “start with cold fats and ice water, and ...

The Breakfast Club to Open Second Location

The Breakfast Club’s chicken and biscuit sandwich includes scrambled egg, fried chicken, pepperjack cheese ...

New Dining Opportunities

Fresh ideas to consider when choosing where to eat.