If you’re planning a night out with the boys or the girls, why not make a reservation at one of the best restaurants in Des Moines, Iowa? We’ve featured 10 of them below.
Simon’s is a Des Moines staple – though the building has housed several local loves over the years. For the past fifteen years, owner Simon Goheen has been running Simon’s in the same tradition as those who came before – building community through tasty food. Simon’s is open from 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and closed on Sunday.
The menu at Simon’s is somewhat limited, but that’s due to their fine attention to detail. Each meal is a French or Italian-inspired classic, plated with love and care from some of the best chefs in Iowa. And their drink menu is extensive, making Simon’s an excellent place for a nightcap – especially on Wednesdays when live jazz fills the halls.
Swing by Simon’s Facebook page for more information.
2. 801 Chophouse
801 Chophouse is a small Midwestern steakhouse chain that’s the self-described home of “the best steaks in Iowa.” This family-owned chain began in 1993 in the heart of downtown Des Moines, earning a reputation for excellent entrees and innovative accompaniments to each plate. 801 Chophouse is open from 5-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and from 5-9 p.m. on Sunday.
The menu at 801 is a pretty straightforward steakhouse menu. It’s adorned with countless juicy steaks and tasty sides – though there are a couple of important notes. Each steak is butchered and dry-aged in-house, including their Wagyu cuts. While the steaks here are undoubtedly immense, they’re some of the best cuts of meat you’ll ever have – so what are you waiting for?
Head to 801 Chophouse’s reservation page to grab a table.
Harbinger is one of the best-known and most unique restaurants in Des Moines. Founded in 1991, Harbinger focuses on making veggies pop on the plate – and it earned them a James Beard semifinalist spot for their efforts. Harbinger is open from 4-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, from 4-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and from 4-8 p.m. on Sundays for basic plates.
Each offering at Harbinger is unique and highly seasonal. You’ll find meals inspired from all corners of the globe – on one end, the French potato pavé, and on the other, Korean-inspired fried chicken and wild porcini broken rice. Ultimately, Harbinger is the best stop for those seeking a genuinely unique, well-recognized meal in gorgeous downtown Des Moines.
Go to Harbinger’s contact page for more information.
Lucca is another incredibly well-known name in Des Moines – in fact, it was on our list of the ten best Italian restaurants in Iowa! The long and short of things is that Lucca serves some of the best Italian food in the state inside one of the most upscale spots you’ll ever dine. Lucca is open for lunch service from 11-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, for dinner service from 4-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, and closed Sunday-Monday.
While the lunch menu is a bit more relaxed, allowing a (limited) selection of various light meals, the dinner service is quite different. You’ll find a prix fixe menu consisting of four courses – an amuse bouche, pasta entree, seafood or meat plate, and a small dessert. Each dish is highly seasonal, meaning you’ll just have to swing by to find out what’s specifically on offer this time around.
Go to Lucca’s contact page to reach out.
5. Aposto at the Scala House
Aposto at the Scala House is another excellent Italian joint in the heart of Des Moines. The unique differentiating factor here is the setting – modern southern-Italian eats are served in the bones of a genuine Victorian mansion. Aposto at the Scala House is open from 5-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and closed Sunday-Tuesday.
Each meal is served by James Beard nominee Tony Lemmo, bringing out the personality of southern Italy with each bite. Classic Italian entrees consisting of handmade pasta, delicate fish and seafood, and flavorful meat are accompanied by an extensive wine list in this incredibly unique setting. In short, those seeking an experience need to visit Aposto.
Swing by Aposto at the Scala House’s Facebook page for more information.
6. Proudfoot & Bird
Proudfoot & Bird is another fine dining mainstay in Des Moines. Built in the bones of the historic Hotel Fort Des Moines, Proudfoot & Bird serves incredible meals in one of the most lavishly gorgeous buildings you’ll ever enter. Proudfoot & Bird is open from 4-11 p.m. Monday-Sunday with brunch service from 11-2 p.m. on Sundays.
Each meal is crafted with sustainability and morally-sound practices in mind. Poultry is sourced from humane breeders, produce is sourced locally, and all seafood is caught with the most sustainable methods available. This, combined with the award-winning wine list, extensive tap, and impressive cocktail menu, earns Proudfoot & Bird some well-deserved recognition.
Head to Proudfoot & Bird’s Facebook page to get in touch.
In stark contrast to the previous entries in this list is Skip’s. It’s a classic American-style diner that’s been around since 1981, with a full-service bar and surprisingly large wine list. They’ve developed a reputation for traditional Midwestern friendliness paired with excellent, simple all-American eats. Skip’s is open from 11-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and closed on Sundays.
The meals on offer at Skip’s are simple yet very well-crafted. You’ll find several easy appetizers, from bruschetta and mussels to onion rings and fries. For the main course, massive steaks, tender seafood, and juicy chicken are just waiting for you. And if you’re feeling a bit more… Italian, you could always opt for their handmade pasta!
Go to Skip’s contact page to reach out.
Centro is yet another Italian joint that’s gained local fame in recent years. They’re a self-described “urban-Italian eatery,” serving many inspired modern Italian meals. And best of all, Centro boasts yet another James Beard semifinalist in head chef George Formaro. Centro is open from 4-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 11-10 p.m. on Saturdays, closing an hour earlier on Sundays.
The meals at Centro are simple and made with local, fresh produce. You’ll find loads of classic Italian eats, including pasta, antipasti, pizzas, calzones, and (of course) seafood, poultry, and beef entrees. Over the weekends, you’ll find inspired brunch service chock-full of both light meals and hearty American breakfasts.
Go to Centro’s contact page to get in touch.
RōCA is a relatively new entry into the Des Moines food and cocktail scene, having opened in 2014. They serve small plates and handcrafted cocktails, allowing their clientele to relax and form a bond over tasty snacks. RōCA is open from 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and is closed on Sundays.
As mentioned above, RōCA focuses on small shared plates. As such, they offer quite a few appetizers and smaller snacks rather than a traditional prix fixe or extensive entree menu. They also offer cheese and meat boards, flatbreads, and a small (6) selection of high-end entrees ranging from blackened red snapper to grilled beef tenderloin.
Head to RōCA’s Facebook page to reach out.
10. The Iowa Taproom
And finally, we make it to the Iowa Taproom. They hold an exceptional venue, considering that the building was created in 1882 – when Iowa was only in its mid-30s in terms of statehood. In March 2016, they opened their doors to highlight the ever-growing craft beer industry, building the bar top with a salvaged 1880s bar from Jewell. The Iowa Taproom is open from 11-12 a.m. Monday-Saturday and from 11-10 p.m. on Sundays.
First things first – the drinks are the highlight here. Check out the Iowa Taproom’s massive tap list here, filled with local brews. As for food, they boast loads of gastropub classics – fried sides, wings, sandwiches, burgers, and a handful of larger plates, such as mac n’ cheese, penne, and BBQ meatloaf, to name a few.
Head to The Iowa Taproom’s contact page for more information.