Just because Des Moines isn’t known for its food scene (yet) doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
One of the greatest attributes of Des Moines is that it has so many varieties of cuisine to offer. Most of the time, I’m lucky enough to crave Mexican, Chinese and Italian food all at the same time.
With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the 17 best dishes to eat in Des Moines. Now go, explore and fight the urge to eat all of these dishes in one day.
1. Dipped Cone at Snookie’s Malt Shop
With tons of flavors and even a treat for your dog, this vintage shop is the best place for your ice cream craving in the summer.
2. Bacon Cheeseburger at B-Bop’s
With its 50s diner theme, B-Bops has been a staple in fast food around Des Moines since before most of us can remember. Stop in, grab a burger, fries and a shake, and eat your way to happiness.
3. Cabernet Fudge Cupcake at Créme Cupcake + Dessert
Indulge yourself in this cupcake and wine combo. Warning: You will want a dozen.
4. Truffle fries at Exile Brewing Co.
Although Exile is known for its brews, the truffle fries pair perfectly with any beer or burger.
5. Pulled Pork Sandwich at Woody’s Smoke Shack
Sure, Kansas City is known for their quantity of barbecue joints, but Des Moines is known for their quality. #SpoonTip: Take a to-go box and pile in as much cornbread as possible.
6. Vincent Van Goat Pizza at Gusto Pizza Co.
A gourmet pizza topped off with goat cheese? I’m in.
7. Lime and Garlic Chicken with Mango Salsa Over Black Pepper Fettucine at Flying Mango
Flying Mango offers caribbean, cajun and barbecue dishesm and sometimes they combine all of these cuisines in one dish — like this one.
8. Sautéed Catfish and Shrimp Over Rice at Fat Tuesday
You may not think of eating seafood in the heart of America, but Fat Tuesday does it right with their cajun inspiration.
9. BBQ Nachos at Smokey D’s BBQ
Because we need more comfort added to this comfort food.
10. Macaroni and Cheese at The Cheese Shop
Baked to perfection with the best cheese sauce in Des Moines, The Cheese Shop makes mac ‘n cheese even better by piling on the add-ons, like this pulled pork.
11. Chipotle Shrimp Tacos at Malo
These tacos have the right amount of spice, and the best part is you can pair them up with any of the other 13 tacos on the menu.
12. Tableside Guacamole at Dos Rios Cantina and Tequila Lounge
I will readily admit that sometimes I go into Dos Rios just for the guacamole.
13. Fresh Lemonhead Custard Ice Cream at The Outside Scoop
You know it’s the real deal when you can see the lemon zest in the ice cream.
14. Mr. Salmon Roll at Sakura Sushi
Sakura can get pretty crazy with their rolls, but the salmon adds a touch of familiar flavors for those who aren’t experienced sushi eaters.
15. Any Burger of the Week at Zombie Burger + Drink Lab
Zombie Burger gets crazy with their burgers of the week, and we love it. Challenge: Don’t ask what the burger of the week is, just get it no matter what. Then, try and guess all the ingredients on the burger. It’s a daunting task, but it can be done.
16. Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots at El Bait Shop
These crispy, golden brown bites of goodness pair wonderfully with one of their 180 beers on tap.
17. Oyster Bar at Splash Seafood Bar & Grill
Worth. Every. Penny.