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AROUND THE WORLD 25 local restaurants

Travel the globe just by sitting at the dinner table.

Pork tenderloins, sweet corn on the cob, apple pie with ice cream… Homegrown food hits the spot, but for times when you want to broaden your tastebuds’ horizons, we’ve gathered 25 area restaurants offering cultural cuisine. There are many more we couldn’t include without a much bigger magazine, but for those who’d like to embark on a food trip, here’s a start. Bon appetit!

AUSTRALIA: St. Kilda Cafe & Bakery
12695 University Ave., Suite 140, Clive
300 S.W. Fifth St., Des Moines

Named after owner Alexander Hall’s Australian hometown, St. Kilda offers healthy breakfast and lunch options, served daily until 4 p.m. Bread is baked fresh each day at its Valley Junction branch.

BURMA: MinGaLaBar Burmese Kitchen
8134 Douglas Ave., Urbandale

We’ll bet this is unlike any Asian food you’ve had before. If you want a little bit of everything, try the Zakaw Htamin: crispy fried beef, pork belly slices, eggplant with dried shrimp, mixed veggie salad, shrimp paste, rice and soup — served on fresh banana leaf on a bamboo tray.

BRAZIL: Brazil Terra Grill
2800 University Ave., Suite 405, West Des Moines

Founder Kleber de Souza founded Brazil Terra Grill on the foundation of good food, family and friends. The astonishingly hearty portions of churrasco (grilled meats) don’t hurt, either.

CUBA: Ceviche Bar
223 E. Walnut St., Des Moines

Offering what they claim to be the only authentic Cuban sandwich in Des Moines, this Cuban eatery specializes in ceviche and specialty cocktails like the Canchanchara and Cuba Libre.

ECUADOR: Mi Patria
1410 22nd St., West Des Moines

The first and only Ecuadorian restaurant is Des Moines opened in 2011, with recipes passed down through generations of the Miranda family. Here, you’ll find authentic Ecuadorian food like llapingachos (stuffed potato patties) and fritada con mote (pork tips with corn, rice, bean stew and plantain).

EL SALVADOR: La Cuscatleca
1240 E. 14th St., Des Moines and 2580 Fleur Drive, Suite 101, Des Moines

For delicious Salvadorian dishes served daily, check out La Cuscatleca. CITYVIEW’s Food Dude would suggest you sample their famous pupusas: stuffed cornmeal pancakes served with curtido (cabbage slaw).

2316 University Ave., Des Moines

Here, traditional Ethiopian dishes are prepared with fresh ingredients. Try one of many hearty varieties of wot (stew), tibs (pan-fried sliced beef or lamb) or sambusa (flaky dough stuffed with spices, meat or veggies).

FRANCE: Django
1420 Locust St., Des Moines

“Offering everything you love about French cuisine without the attitude,” promises the brasserie-style eatery, which serves French classics like steak frites, beef bourguignon and, yes, escargots.

GERMANY: Hessen Haus
101 Fourth St., Des Moines

Let’s be honest — you’re probably not here for the food. But if you’re looking to be transported into an old-world German bier hall, complete with 50 imported biers on tap and the occasional live polka music, then you’ve come to the right place. The menu of German fare includes schnitzel, wurst, spaetzle and much more.

210 Fourth St., Des Moines

On top of British beers and an extensive Scotch list, this British pub offers a full menu of favorite English dishes like bangers and mash and shepherd’s pie. Breakfast is served on weekends.

GREECE: Olympic Flame
514 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines

Olympic Flame has been a long-running East Village favorite since 1988. The flame is more than the name: Order an appetizer of saganaki (fried cheese), and it’ll be flambéed right before your eyes. For an extra cultural experience, stop in when the restaurant hosts a belly dancer each Friday evening.

HAWAII: Alohana Hawaiian Grill
802 S.E. Oralabor Road, Suite 128, Ankeny

There’s nothing like the rich cultural fusion of Hawaiian cuisine. Favorites include saimin (noodle soup), mouth-watering grilled meats and a Hawaiian favorite: Spam musubi, with rice and nori (dried seaweed).

INDIA/PAKISTAN: Lzaza Indo-Pak Cuisine
1409 23rd St., Des Moines

Tucked away near Drake University is a hidden gem on the ethnic food scene, serving up fresh breads, flavorful stews and vibrant entrees for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Their popular lunch buffet runs 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

ISRAEL: Maccabee’s Kosher Deli
1150 Polk Blvd., Des Moines

Jewish and kosher-practicing people don’t account for Israel’s entire population, it’s true, but for a truly welcoming experience, Macabee’s Kosher Deli is a unique local favorite. Tucked within a Judaic resource center, the deli is staffed by Rabbi Yossi Jacobson and his family.

ITALY: The Latin King
2200 Hubbell Ave., Des Moines

More than 75 years of Italian tradition are on the menu at The Latin King, dubbed an “East-side Institution.” Favorites like chicken spiedini (skewers) and tiramisu have been enjoyed in the villa-style restaurant by countless customers.

JAPAN: Sakari Sushi Lounge
2605 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

Searching for the best sushi in Des Moines? Look no further — plus, find tempura and other entrees straight from the wok and grill. Sakari Sushi Lounge was voted Best Local Sushi and Best Local Japanese Food in CITYVIEW’s Best Of Des Moines readers’ poll for 2023.

2611 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

It’s about time Des Moines had its own Korean BBQ. Patrons can fire up meats like kalbi, bulgogi and wagyu cuts on their tabletop grill, or order mouth-watering entrees and sides already cooked for them. DZÔ opened its doors in December last year.

LEBANON: Open Sesame
313 E. Locust St., Des Moines

Aromatic. Complex. Spicy. Flavorful. Those are just some of the ways to describe the Lebanese food served at Open Sesame’s colorful and intimate location in the East Village.

2932 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

If you’re looking for more than gyros and falafel, Eatery A serves elevated Mediterranean-inspired cuisine in a former Blockbuster video store — although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the tasteful interior. Pizza and sides are fired to perfection in their wood-burning oven.

NEPAL: Kathmandu
7229 Apple Valley, Windsor Heights

At Kathmandu, “each dish represents flavor, pleasure, affection and essence.” The restaurant’s specialties, to name a few, include variations of momo (dumplings), thupka (noodle soup), sekuwa (barbecued meat) and more familiar Indian dishes like biryani and tikka.

PERU: Panka
2708 Ingersoll Ave., Suite 200, Des Moines

Panka offers a taste of rich Peruvian history through authentic cuisine cooked with lots of love. Mariela Maya opened her dream restaurant just before the pandemic, thriving against all odds. Tip: Maya’s newest culinary pursuit offering “a unique Peruvian twist to the classic rotisserie chicken” is located at 3018 Forest Ave., Des Moines.

PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico Restaurant
6611 University Ave., Unit 101, Windsor Heights

They say they dish up the best Puerto Rican food in Iowa, but you’ll need to decide for yourself. One popular traditional meal is pernil: slow roasted pork shoulder served with gandules (pigeon peas), tostones (fried green plantains), rice, salad and a special sauce.

THAILAND: Silk Elephant
2410 S.W. White Birch Drive, Suite 108, Ankeny

Explore traditional Thai flavors in modern elegance at Silk Elephant. This newer restaurant serves up soups, curries, noodles, stir fry and rice galore. Our top picks: Duck Bacon Wontons to start, followed by Crazy Peanut Chicken or Kao Soi soup, then Silk Tea with boba.

VIETNAM: Vietnam Cafe
3800 Merle Hay Road,
Des Moines
Tucked away in the food court in Merle Hay Mall, Vietnam Cafe delivers big flavor in the form of steaming pho (noodle soup), bahn mi (baguette) sandwiches, bun thit nuong (noodle bowls) and more Vietnamese comfort foods — plus Chinese favorites. Always served with a warm smile from owner Brenda Tran.

WEST AFRICA: Home Touch Kitchen
1552 E. Grand Ave., Suite D, Des Moines

Jollof rice, cassava leaf soup, fufu and more. Before immigrating to the United States in 2001, owner Nathan Bohn lived in Libera, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. For homemade Afro-Soul food, head to Home Touch Kitchen.

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