A selection of 40 themed rooms at the Hotel Pattee celebrates historical contributions to Midwestern life. Standard stayers can pass notes in the Alton School room or sleep under the stars and stripes of the marching-band room. A space celebrating Japanese culture is available to premiere guests, and the aura of Louis Armstrong resides in a New Orleans-inspired suite room. Personalized touches include a wood-burning fireplaces in select rooms and more than 130 pieces of original artwork. Active bodies can find a niche in the fitness center, which features cardio equipment and a hot tub, a sauna, and a steam room.
At the beginning of the 20th century, horses whinnied and snorted in the basement of The Livery building, according to the Des Moines Register. Today, though, the cleaned-up space is home to a cozy cafe run by Betsy and James Gideon. Betsy and James strive for thoughtful quality in the form of single-pour brews of coffee and the pastries they bake in-house. The café's ovens are not only for pastries, though; the Gideons also bake fresh bread for sandwiches rather than using prepackaged bread or reconstituted croutons. Guests can recline on wooden furniture that James Gideon constructs himself, or head to the outdoor patio in warm weather.
In the summer of 2000, Bob Young took over Italian Villages, and made the restaurant a family affair by running it along with his children Brenna and Perry. Thirteen years later, the chefs are still crafting a menu of familiar Italian staples alongside American dinner entrees such as steak, seafood, and chicken breast draped in American flag sauce. And in keeping with the restaurant's family-friendly vibe, the menu also offers a kids menu featuring classic childhood favorites such as grilled cheese and spaghetti.
Nestled in the hills of rural Iowa, Snus Hill Winery hosts a diverse range of regional wines crafted by in-house vintners. Siphon samples from stores of the winery’s award-winning inventory, including a lauded edelweiss, laced with floral notes, and the dry Snus Hill red, imbued with suggestions of oak, smoke, and cherry. The 90-minute winery tour leads curious groups on a thorough behind-the-scenes view of the estate and its operations, giving visitors access to everything but the bedtime stories that winemakers read to each crop in the night. A wine-tank tasting invites oenophiles-in-training to sip prebottled elixirs, and the wine 101 class crams craniums with vital wine vocabulary and facts. A wine-terminology handout keeps the fruits of the experience fresh and plump in pupils’ minds, and an engraved glass reminds sippers of the vineyard’s sweeping panoramas and how many e's are in the word “estate.”
Fat Randi's Bar & Grill, a casual gathering spot where cooks grill burgers and bartenders tap brews, has a claim to fame: its hand-breaded tenderloins were ranked as one of the state's top five Best Breaded Pork Tenderloins by the Iowa Pork Producers Association. That ranking inspired Des Loines—a blog entirely dedicated to pork-tenderloin sandwiches—to review Fat Randi’s version, describing it as "nice, thick and juicy" with a "nice golden brown color,” and noted that its wealth of toppings caused it to lean to the side. The staff of Fat Randi’s hosts events regularly, such as a steak fry, Daytona 500 party, and a New Year's Day brunch.
A quaint Italian restaurant with old-country roots and classic flair, Pazzesco heaps piles of pasta and charm onto guests’ plates while leaving ample room for a succulent hand-cut steak. Founder Chris Patterson’s fusion of fresh Italian and chophouse fare incorporates menu items that have been passed down through generations or decoded from complex metrical schemes in Virgil’s lost epics. The antipasti freddi ($13) starts meals off heartily with an assortment of Italian meats and cheeses served with peppers and olives, and diavolo eggs ($3) make spicy souvenirs from Dante’s trip to the Inferno. Spaghetti marinara ($8.50) and lasagna layered with sausage and cheese ($12) co-star in an extravagant production of pasta dishes that includes a supporting cast of homemade meatballs or sausage links ($3 each). Hand-cut chophouse steaks such as the thick 12-ounce Iowa Chop ($15) or the juicy 14-ounce rib eye ($18) are chargrilled or broiled in butter and garlic and topped with a rich brown-butter sauce.