Eat Des Moines 1.0
Here are some of the things I have been up to lately here in Des Moines…
Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival: Yes, a festival dedicated specifically to bacon. Baconus Festivus. This is what happens when a group of guys who had indulged in a yearly private bacon fest decide to share their love for bacon with the public. In 2008 some of the founders decided to start a festival of bacon. The High Life Lounge here in Des Moines offered to host. A few people showed up and it was a hit. The second year it grew to a few hundred. Tickets were nearly impossible to acquire. The next year it moved to a bigger venue at The Scottish Rite Center, then the next on to an even bigger venue at the Iowa State Fair. This year they sold 8,500 tickets in 3 minutes and 22 seconds. Iowans are very passionate about of their pork products. Finally, a chance for all of us commoners to get in on this porky goodness. Conclusion: If you love bacon, you should try to get tickets.
Deets: Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival – Held annually, Des Moines, Iowa
The Cheese Shop of Des Moines: I think I could visit this shop everyday and be a very happy man. Although I would need to spend twice the amount of time at the gym to make up for it, but I am thinking it might not be so bad. Hmmm I have written a bit about this place before, but it is one of my favorite places to bring our out-of-town guests on their visits to Des Moines. Opened in November of 2011 it has become a hot spot for a great evening of good wine, local charcuterie, and excellent cheese. CJ, Kari, and staff will take care of you and get you what you need. If you can – find a seat. If you can’t, grab a glass of wine or craft beer and chill. Otherwise get it to go! If you can talk cheese, this is the place to put your knowledge to the test with the cheesemongers. Oh… and don’t forget the local nationally-praised La Querica meats made just a few miles south of the city in Norwalk, Iowa. They have an in-house kitchen offering a fine selection of tasty bits. There’s also retail wine, beer, and other accoutrements for your cheese board or your pantry. Conclusion: You should have visited this place last month. Go early, go often, and enjoy!
Deets: The Cheese Shop of Des Moines, 833 42nd Street, Suite B, Des Moines, Iowa
Vom Fass: This is a great little find located right next to The Cheese Shop of Des Moines. I believe it is one of only six German Vom Fass stores located in the United States. A great place to try different varieties of vinegar, oils, and spirits. The Cognac, Armagnac, and whiskey are all housed in their individual casks for sampling. The different specialty vinegar and oils in decorative jars are easily accessed for a taste. The staff is very friendly and informative about their products and pairings. You can purchase an assortment of different sized containers for your choice. Rinse them out and bring them in again to refill on your next visit. Conclusion: Stop in before or after The Cheese Shop. The perfect place to find that specialty oil or vinegar. A great place to buy gifts for your foodie friends.
Deets: Vom Fass, 833 42nd Street, Des Moines, Iowa
Full Court Press: A couple of people got together in 2000 to come up with some concepts for overhauling the bar scene here in Des Moines. The result 10 plus years later was 9 of Des Moines’ favorite watering holes along with some delicious food. When we have friends that visit the city, we are sure to bring them to one of these places for a few drinks and some amazing bites.
Fong’s Pizza: Recently featured on Pizza Paradise 2 for the infamous and delectable Crab Rangoon Pizza. This place is a must stop if you can get a table. The food is delicious and the drinks are awesome. Try a Madhouse beer brewed locally or a Green Hornet shot. Tasty. You will not be disappointed.
Deets: Fong’s Pizza, 223 4th Street, Des Moines, Iowa
High Life Lounge: This place will take you back to the 1960’s as soon as you walk in the doors, shag carpeting, vintage beer signs, black and white televisions, and Miller High Life, The Champagne of Beers. You can also get some bacon-wrapped tater tots or some of the only broasted chicken I know of in the city. It’s a very cool place to hang out and get a bite to eat. Adam Richman (Man vs. Food) has even stopped in to check it out.
Deets: High Life Lounge, 200 Southwest 2nd Street, Des Moines, Iowa
El Bait Shop: If you are looking for a massive selection of beers, then this is the place for you. Literally right next door to the High Life Lounge. This place serves up some great beers and Mexican influenced food. Listed as one of the “Top 200 Bars” in Draft Magazine for several years, most recently in 2013.
Deets: El Bait Shop, 200 Southwest 2nd Street, Des Moines, Iowa
Hessen Haus: Das Boot! A fun place to take 3 or 5 of your friends for some German food and to share a boot full of German beer. Family style tables and strong beer await you at this former depot. It is a great place for a night on the town before your wedding to get your out-of-town guests liquored up before the big day. I know from personal experience…
Deets: Hessen Haus, 101 4th Street, Des Moines, Iowa
Mullets: Yes, an homage to the many mullets in this world. Business in the front, party in the back. This place has great patio views of Principal Park (Home to the Iowa Cubs) and the Iowa State Capitol Building. It also has a wonderful array of different pictures of famous mullets including, but not limited to Florence Henderson and Lionel Richie amongst my favorites. Killer food! Burgers, pizza, sweet potato tots with a marshmallow creme sauce. Yeah. Breakfast is also served and the rumor is the breakfast burrito is the bomb.
Deets: Mullets, 1300 Southeast 1st, Des Moines, Iowa
Royal Mile: The closest we get to a British Pub right here in Des Moines. The first and original bar serving a great pint and some wonderful Fish n’ Chips. A great spot for a quick downtown lunch or a drink after work. Plenty of beer and scotch options to assist helping you decompress after a long day.
Deets: The Royal Mile, 210 4th Street, Des Moines, Iowa
Overall, I have enjoyed many evenings here in Des Moines due to Full Court Press’ mission to overhaul the bar scene in this city. Check out these other places too, Red Monk, Sbrocco, Shorty’s, and The Library. Conclusion: If you are visiting, you should try at least one of them out. It would be a shame if you didn’t… If you are a local you are missing out. Jeez. Go now. Fong’s is calling.