When the esteemed James Beard Foundation nominates you as the Best Chef: Midwest not once, but twice, you’re obviously doing something right. That something? Small vegetable-focused plates, such as haikuri turnips grilled over Thai fruit wood. Harbinger’s chef and co-owner Joe Tripp creates these gorgeous Instagram-worthy plates using local Iowa produce. His veggies are the star here, but he appeals to carnivores too with things like dry aged beef tartare in a bone marrow mousse.
Fans of the former The Spot food truck can take comfort knowing that their favorite restaurant on wheels still serves up some of the best food in town, albeit at a more permanent location in one of Des Moines trendiest neighborhoods. And the new space in downtown’s Western Gateway doesn't disappoint. It's located inside a former tire company complete with exposed brick and expansive windows that let in loads of light. The Walnut also has an expanded menu featuring kalua pig sliders, loco moco rice bowls, and Chilean street-food sandwiches. It’s a bit of a mishmash, but there’s a reason it’s one of the best downtown Des Moines restaurants.
Chef Roque Heidler, the resident plating expert at The Chalkboard, an elegant New American restaurant in Tulsa, has posted gorgeous Instagram images of food over the years. Here are his five tips to crafting a drool-worthy photo:
One of the more unique West Des Moines restaurants, the ’90s hip-hop-themed Eggs and Jam serves up creative breakfast eats with fun names. For instance, there’s the Mimosa Chicken and Waffles (fried chicken and a waffle smeared with orange mimosa marmalade) and the Slim Shady (salmon cakes paired with poached eggs, wilted spinach, and dill cream).
Mad Meatball is a favorite spot in the East Village, especially for our customers. Here’s what some of them have said:
“OK, you have to understand that my favorite restaurant in the world is in Des Moines. I discovered it the last time I was there, and I will be back this time. I will be at Fong's Pizza.” That’s what celebrity chef Alton Brown told the Des Moines Register when he visited the city.
That’s right, Food Network star Alton Brown adores this Chinese-Italian fusion eatery with serious pizza, Chinese decor, and tiki drinks. He even called it “one of the coolest establishment’s I’ve ever been to,” and lamented that it was not closer to him in Atlanta.
If you’re visiting Drake you almost have to stop at Drake Diner. The ’50s-style diner has been catering to students and their visiting friends and relatives since 1987, serving up hearty breakfasts and greasy drunk food. Do yourself a favor and indulge in the burger smothered in a spicy cheddar cheese sauce.
Michael O'Hair, who founded The Murder Mystery Company, offers a few helpful tips: