Cold weather calls for warm comfort food. From casual to date night, these Greater Des Moines restaurants are so good you'll almost wish it was winter all year long. Almost.
Don't let the unassuming strip mall façade fool you. One of the true hidden gems in Greater Des Moines, it's been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and has legions of dedicated fans. Don't be intimidated…this is hearty, rib-sticking goodness.
Order This: Mi Patria for Two – a combination of slow-roasted pulled pork, grilled steak, grilled chicken, potato patties, white corn, fried egg, white rice, beans and fried plantains
High Life Lounge
Just like grandma's house, minus all the afghans. Serving old school classics such as goulash, chicken pot pie, meatloaf, and pizza burgers, washed down with beers that would make your grandpa nod in approval.
Order This: Hot beef with mashed potatoes, side of bacon-wrapped tater tots
Its original location, The Cheese Shop, was named the #1 Cheese Shop in America. But this is the location where you'll find their blissfully gooey grilled cheeses, paired with one of the most impressive beer lists in town.
Order This: House fondue, side of cast-iron mac and cheese
Whatcha Smokin' BBQ + Brew
While we don’t get the same recognition as our Midwest neighbors located a few hours south on I-35, Greater Des Moines is an underrated BBQ destination, and no place quite embodies that like Whatcha Smokin’, a short drive north on I-35. This has quickly earned the reputation as the place to go for BBQ aficionados and a must stop after a day at Ledges State Park.
Order This: Baby back ribs, cheesy potatoes, cheese curds.
This small-town café happens to serve the best traditional breakfast in Des Moines. You’re not here for style points, you’re here for soul warming dishes like the Monster Skillet and The Lumberman (biscuits and gravy over hash browns).
Order This: Da Momoa – biscuits and gravy on top of hash browns with two sunny side eggs and a side of bacon, named after native Hawaiiowan Jason Momoa.
You can't go wrong with any of the Wasabi locations, but for comfort food, we're partial to the Johnston location, which specializes in ramen. A hot bowl of ramen on a cold day goes a long way in making the winter more tolerable.
Order This: Old School ramen, side of crispy brussels sprouts
Listen, if you want to get their famous chicken spiedini, we won't stop you. But that Steak de Burgo. Just look at this.
Order This: Steak de Burgo, if you're lucky, strawberry shortcake
Located among all the cool kids on Ingersoll’s Restaurant Row is the decidedly old-school and unpretentious Noah’s Ark, serving up casual Italian eats since 1946. Get your fill of Rat Pack vibes along with your fill of thin crust pizzas and pastas.
Order This: Onion rings, chicken parmesan
Cooper's on 5th
Historic Valley Junction is an underrated foodie mecca and Cooper's may just be the best of the bunch. You can't even read the words "port braised short ribs" or "maple butter salmon" without getting hungry.
Order This: Port braised short ribs, garlic white cheddar mashed potatoes
We don't know anyone that doesn't love this place. Get there early because a line usually forms - and for a good reason too. It's unique, charming, and pretty much everything we love about Des Moines. And if you're nice, you may even be rewarded with red velvet cake at the end.
Order This: Manicotti, half and half (marinara and alfredo)
This is the type of place you probably won't find in a Zagat guide, but that locals all know and love. Dark, unpretentious, and welcoming, Francie's is the kind of place you wish someone had told you about a long time ago. You're welcome.
Order This: Patty melt, crinkle-cut fries
Clyde's Fine Diner
This East Village hot spot earns raves for its chic interior, killer drink list, and small yet delicious menu of elevated diner favorites like Wild Boar Ragu, Hot Bird, and Crispy Shrimpwich.
Order This: Hot Bird, Bang Bang Potatoes, Brownie Sundae
Skip's does many things, all of them well. While it might not be the trendiest place in town, it just might be the best place in town. From steak to pecan-crusted chicken strips and chicken piccata, there's something for everyone at Skip's.
Order This: Bowtie creole pasta, onion rings
You may know it for its giant boots of hard to pronounce German beer, but you should also get to know its easier to pronounce German food as well. There's something oddly comforting about a plate of schnitzel, and it's fun to say too.
Order This: Bavarian Stroganoff, Giant Bavarian Pretzel
Tacos La Familia
Tacos are inherently good and should be eaten as much as possible, but Tacos La Familia ups the comfort level by delicious bowls of birria – savory beef stew with a side of tortillas. Pair with an ice cold glass bottle of Coca Cola and let the happiness wash over you.
Order This: Tacos Ahogados – tacos dipped in birria sauce and then fried with gooey melted cheese, with a side of the birria stew. Think French Dip by way of tacos.