Des Moines, Iowa has many fantastic restaurants and bars that, while great any time of the year, are particularly noteworthy during the summer months. From lively patios to seasonal dishes, here is a list of some of Des Moines’ must-visit summer restaurants.
Alba delights customers again and again with its award-winning contemporary American cuisine, with an emphasis on seasonal fare. The dining space itself is equally impressive with its art-adorned walls and unique ceiling featuring an array of colorful wood-panelled doors. During the summer, guests will definitely want to take advantage of the lovely weather and relax on Alba’s seasonal patio. As for creative plates, seasonal highlights include the herbed ricotta tortellini with roasted sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, plus lemon-basil beurre blanc and the pan-roasted chicken breast served with roasted baby carrots, lentil croquettes, and pickled raisin vinaigrette.
Upscale yet relaxed, Centro serves creative, Italian-inspired dishes. Located downtown in the historic Masonic Temple, Centro’s interior is spacious, airy, and beautiful while the patio is perfect for al fresco dining and people watching. As for the delicious fare, the menu changes often in order to reflect the freshest, seasonal ingredients available but always features salads, sandwiches, entrées with seafood, chicken, beef, and pork and much more. Highlights include the New Yorker pizza topped with mozzarella, meatballs, roasted peppers, mushrooms, and red sauce and the tofu gnocchi with veggies, basil, shallots, and olive oil.
Tucked inside a modern building, the Riverwalk Hub is a casual, bustling eatery serving an ever-changing selection of appetizers, sandwiches, and other delights. Whether guests visit for lunch to sample baguette sandwiches or after work for wine, beer, charcuterie plates, or pizza, they will find the environment to be a relaxing and friendly one. The restaurant boasts outdoor seating with lovely views of the river and a lively atmosphere enhanced by special events, including live music.
There is nothing like a cold brew on a hot summer’s day and Confluence Brewing Company is a wonderful venue to gather with friends and relax. The brewery not only offers visitors an open interior space but also a large patio with plenty of seating where they can try a number of selections from flagship beers to seasonal and limited varieties. The brewery also hosts events, including live music and tasty food trucks, including Gastro Grub and Pyro’s Pizza, plus offers brewery tours.
Court Avenue Restaurant and Brewing Co. is Des Moines’ original brewery. Located in the heart of the Court District — the city’s entertainment area — inside the historic Saddlery Building, this brewpub continues to attract customers with its selection of award-winning brews and tasty fare. From house brews to premium brews to cocktails and other special libations to wine and more, the beverage list is endless while the menu will have something to suit every taste from carnivorous eaters to vegetarians. Particularly noteworthy are their Moscow Mules, made with their very own Wertzberger’s Ginger Beer.
Bar, Restaurant, German, American, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
With a large patio containing several communal-style tables along with a few smaller ones, Hessen Haus is another fun place to visit in the summer. A German bier hall-style venue tucked inside a former train station, this lively restaurant and bar offers a menu brimming with made-from-scratch German plates and other fare alongside an array of beers, including domestic and German varieties. While they currently have 50 selections on tap, another 146 in bottles, plus 20 in cans, the numbers can change, so its best to check their website for current selections. Adding to the fun environment is the venue’s many events, including live music.
Bar, American, Mexican, Cocktails, Wine, Beer, $$$
Offering the largest selection of American microbrews in the world, El Bait Shop is an award-winning bar that will appeal to any beer lover any time of year, but especially in the summer, when the action heads outdoors. The 1970s fishing-themed bar offers approximately 180 beers on tap plus an additional 175 in bottles ensuring that there is something to suit any taste. The lively atmosphere is enhanced through the venue’s events, including live music and the Jimmy Carter Happy Hour where local home brewers showoff their creations.
Bar, Pub Grub, American, Cocktails, Wine, Beer, Belgian, $$$
The Royal Mile is a vibrant, multi-award winning bar offering an extensive beer selection plus flavorful British dishes of both the traditional and modern varieties. Guests can spend their time within the comfortable interior or on the brick courtyard, complete with ample seating for the entire family. For the drink list, adults will find 28 ales and lagers on draft, over 120 bottled varieties, plus over 100 single malt Scotches while the menu has everything from appetizers to sandwiches to entrées and more. Highlights include the chicken and leek pasty with a choice of side and the Big Ben banger and mash, which includes house-made sausage, mashed potatoes, and peas.
Bar, Pub Grub, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, American, $$$
While it is open throughout the day every day, Star Bar really comes alive during the late night hours, and when the weather is nice, the patio adds to the liveliness. This neighborhood bar serves lunch and dinner in the form of small plates, large plates, burgers, and more along with weekend brunch. The steamed pork dumplings with soy, the stir-fried green beans with garlic and ginger, and the Cajun pasta with chicken, shrimp, and andouille sausage all in a Cajun cream sauce are just a few of the highlights. Whether visitors are looking for a leisurely weekend brunch or a lively night out with friends, they will find it all at Star Bar.
Featuring a spacious patio with ample seating, Zombie Burger offers a delectable array of gourmet burgers, tasty cocktails, and creamy shakes — try the chocolate Nutella marshmallow. Something for every diner, ZB offers a choice of patty from a special grind to a chicken breast to a veggie nut patty to a grilled portobello for the burgers. One innovative option is the ‘Dead Moines’ with smoked gouda, prosciutto, ham, and truffle mayo. Pair the burger with some house-cut fries with poutine gravy and cheese curds to complete the meal.