When George Rivera-Davis first tasted coffee from beans grown on his uncle?s farm in Panama, he was amazed?it tasted nothing like the brown liquid he?d been taught to call coffee in Des Moines. Inspired by the delicious brew, he ventured into the coffee business. Now, George and his wife, Jan?herself a certified tea blender?grow their own coffee in Panama with the aid of their family, bringing gourmet brews to Des Moines through their award-winning coffee shop and caf?, Grounds for Celebration. Grounds for Celebration?s coffee connoisseurs roast beans onsite before brewing fresh cups of java, blending espresso creations, and flavoring lattes with Monin syrup and Ghirardelli chocolate. Thirsty patrons can also opt for yerba mate, chai, and smoothies, or venture into Jan?s area of expertise and gulp tea in varieties that range from gunpowder green to ginger peach.
While sipping from steaming mugs, patrons can also munch croissants and cinnamon rolls baked fresh each day. At midday, they fortify themselves for afternoon paperclip jousts with lunch sandwiches, salads, and wraps. Some take their time to savor natural, from-scratch gelato while sitting amid the caf??s local art and connecting devices to free WiFi.
For 20 years, indoor fun park Planet X has been mesmerizing families with its sheer number of activities. Guests of all ages can zap their least favorite cousins during laser tag, release pent-up road rage in bumper cars, practice their putting on the mini-golf course, challenge themselves to climb a craggy indoor rock wall, and immerse themselves in flashing lights in the expansive arcade room. And those are just a few of the activities at Planet X.
Planet X fuels the merriment with its own Pangea Pizza?made-from-scratch pizzas sprinkled with fresh, hand-sliced toppings?and Full Moon ice cream. This handcrafted, organic-milk ice cream satisfies sweet teeth with more than 24 ultra creamy flavors and nearly 80 toppings.
The fun park hosts sports-team celebrations and church gatherings, holiday and birthday parties, and even corporate team-building activities. Its party space gives patrons a bird?s-eye view of the action.
There's 12th-century German stencil work above the bar at Embers of the Phoenix, and the old-fashioned elegance doesn't stop there. It extends to the eatery's building itself, dubbed the Bix Biederbecke building, which was built in 1912. The chefs aren't quite as old school as their environs, though. They whip up classic dishes, such as filet mignon topped with blue-cheese crumbles and the house specialty, made-from-scratch cheesecake, along with more modern ones, such as baked fish tacos. The bartenders' pours cover a similar range, from classic red wine to Carrot Cake and Monster Cookie martinis, the 2013 and 2014 winners of HAV Life Foundation's Martini Shake Off! dessert category.
An unwavering devotion to freshness permeates Tomacelli's kitchen, where pizza chefs adorn their daily made dough with house-made sauce, all-natural cheese, and more than 50 market-fresh toppings. Millions of possible build-your-own combinations complement 23 creations brainstormed by a husband-and-wife team, from a ham-and-pineapple-studded hawaiian pie to the seafood supreme's maritime medley of fresh ingredients. Not content to recline on the edible laurels of their circular masterworks, the Tomacelli's kitchen team rounds out the menu with piping-hot pasta dishes and fresh salads.
Nominated for Best Family Restaurant on CityVoter's 2011 A-List, Steamboat Garden has been serving up affordable family food since 1933. Today, guests at the boat-shaped restaurant can peer through its bright red portholes to watch as the friendly staff fills tables with steaks and seafood, breaded pork loin sandwiches known as Tug Boats, and seven incarnations of a signature hamburger that has been a Falls Avenue favorite since the 1940s. Between bites, diners sip old-fashioned floats made with 1919 draft root beer and then send instant photos of their empty plates to mom by accessing the restaurant's WiFi with a laptop or aluminum foil helmet.
Sometimes the most satisfying meals are the simplest. Leaf Kitchen's cubano sandwich, for example, a semi-regular special with braised pork and melted swiss, was so good that it inspired Little Village's Scott Samuelson to declare, "a part of me [wanted] to check into some private room to be alone with my sandwich and its sauces." And this isn't the only dish that the restaurant's chefs effortlessly elevate. Their rustic cooking spans breakfast and lunch, ranging from sweet and savory crepes to grilled chicken-club sandwiches, focusing on sustainability as well as simplicity. Meals make use of locally sourced produce and meats, and even the coffee is an exclusive blend crafted by a certified organic, fair-trade roaster.
While the cuisine at Leaf Kitchen is minimalistic in design, the dining space is anything but. Midwest Living praised it by remarking that the "eclectic more-is-more interior offers so much to take in that you may not know where to look first." Servers flit among wood and formica tables set with mismatched dinnerware and clustered with turquoise stools and canary-yellow chairs. These vibrant touches find their complement in a retro-inspired soundtrack of jazz, soul, and world music, which gets knees bouncing without the spring-loaded floorboards used by other restaurants.