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Travel the continents at Des Moines restaurants

By Cyote Williams

The traditional dine-out date night is a classic that couples have enjoyed for generations, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon. Thankfully, CITYVIEW has come up with a way to spice up or sweeten your night of indulgence around Des Moines. Iowa’s capital city goes under the radar when it comes to the tapestry of flavors woven within its borders. Here’s your guide through an innovative dining experience across five different continents. (Sorry, Australia and Antarctica.)

European cuisine takes on many forms and flavors across the continent. Famed French bakeries, English breakfasts, Belgian waffles, Swedish chocolate and Italian dinners and culture  — just to name a few — have their roots intertwined throughout the metro.

Appetizer: La Mie Bakery 
841 42nd St., Des Moines
La Mie Bakery has been routinely voted as Des Moines’ best bakery by CITYVIEW readers. Pick up a freshly baked pillowy loaf from this French bakery to nibble on as you make your way to the next location.

Entree: Tumea & Sons
1501 S.E. First St., Des Moines
A rich history accompanied by rich flavors. Voted best local Italian food by CITYVIEW readers. For 25 years, this restaurant has been serving Italian classics including several veal dishes, manicotti, chicken marsala and more.

Dessert: Chocolaterie Stam
2814 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines
Fine European chocolates right here in Iowa’s capital city. Chocolate or gelato are more than fine options to end your dining experience.

Drinks: Louie’s Wine Dive
4040 University Ave., Suite A, Des Moines
Wine, cocktails, beer, sangria — it’s not up to us what you drink, but whichever decision you make, Louie’s will cater to your drink needs in award-winning fashion.

Asian cuisine and dining have been steadily growing in the Des Moines food scene for decades. With a plethora of countries, cultures and flavors represented by restaurants across the metro, diners will be spoiled for choice.

Appetizer: Lucky Lotus
2721 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines
Lucky Lotus can start your night off with a bang. Enhanced salads that bring authentic flavors, the Crispy Rice Wraps or the Bing Bing Wrap will fire your tastebuds on all cylinders.

Entree: Spices of Nepal
4804 S.W. Ninth St., Des Moines
Tucked away on the southside hides a gem of an Indian and Nepalese restaurant. Homemade recipes ranging from tandoori bread, curry, lamb and more will give you a taste of the Himalayas.

Dessert: Crème
543 28th St., Des Moines
Des Moines’ first Asian-inspired bakery does not disappoint. Try freshly baked milk breads, lemon bars, cupcakes and more sweet treats.

Drinks: Fong’s Pizza
223 Fourth St., Des Moines
Fong’s boasts a wide range of cocktail options that feature an Asian twist, a new feature cocktail each month, frozen Mai Tais and more.

While there is some crossover between these two culinary worlds, they are not the same. However, where the two do intersect makes up the largest minority population in Des Moines, and their flavorful influence is heavily reflected in the city’s food scene.

Appetizer: Mi Patria
1410 22nd St., West Des Moines
An abundance of tasteful Ecuadorian starters that are packed full of flavor, choose between the empanadas with your choice of filling, patacones with cheese dip, their papa serrano and more.

Entree: La Cuscatleca South
2580 Fleur Drive, Suite 101, Des Moines
This El Salvadorian establishment with an old-fashioned diner interior is a must. With double-digit options of their specialty, load up with as many pupusas as you can or enjoy one of their decadent entrees.

Dessert: Monarca
9901 University Ave., Suite 150, Clive
Monarca’s focus is on paletas, which are ice cream popsicles. The Mexican dessert offers a wide range of possibilities for customization. Pick your paleta flavor, then your dipping, a topping and a drizzle to top it off.

Drinks: Ceviche Bar
223 E. Walnut St., Des Moines
This Cuban restaurant and bar is an excellent stop to end your night with several cocktails including mules, mojitos, martinis and Mexican beers with multiple styles of Modelo or Corona.

African and Mediterranean cuisine is continuing to gain a foothold in Des Moines. While there still are only a few to choose from in the metro, it does not diminish the bold and rich flavors you can experience from these dishes.

Appetizer: Home Touch Kitchen
1552 E. Grand Ave., Suite D, Des Moines
Warming soups, fufu, jollof and other rice plates, not to mention the chance at some freshly baked breads, are all a possibility to get your night of dining started.

Entree: Taste of Africa
2500 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Suite 3, Des Moines
This restaurant has no shortage of options for traditional, homemade African meals. With tandoori chicken, samosas, goat, lamb and fluffy basmati rice to enjoy alongside, a taste of Africa is certainly what you’ll get.

Dessert: The Green Olive
4221 Fleur Drive, Des Moines |
While African and Mediterranean desserts are hard to come by in the city, you’ll find some at The Green Olive: a flakey yet sweet baklava, cheesecake and a rich and creamy flan.

Drinks: Eatery A
2932 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines |
At Eatery A, you’ll find expert choices between white and red wines with Mediterranean origins and house-made cocktails from palomas to martinis and back.

American cuisine can be difficult to define since some of the country’s most iconic dishes originate from around the globe. Despite its relatively young age compared to the rest of civilization, plenty of soulful, comforting and downright delicious meals have originated right here in the U.S.

Appetizer: Bubba
200 10th St., Des Moines |
With options ranging from mac ‘n cheese bites, loaded potato skins, a southern bread basket and more, their appetizers will make it difficult for you to leave.

Entree: Lachele’s Fine Foods
2716 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines |
The smashburger at Lachele’s will make any mouth water with its crispy edges and savory and seasoned patty nestled between bun choices ranging from potato rolls to sesame buns and Texas toast. You’ll have no trouble finding one to satisfy your burger craving.

Dessert: Classic Frozen Custard
4000 S.E. 14th St., Des Moines
This iconic southside establishment stays open till 10 p.m. in the summer with rotating flavors, homemade ice cream, shakes, malts, cones and sundaes, the creamy treat is an American staple.

Drinks: El Bait Shop
200 S.W. Second St., Des Moines
Beer, beer and more beer. The hoppy beverage didn’t originate in the U.S., but it has certainly been co-opted over the years. Inside of El Bait Shop, you’ll be faced with 251 selections of beer on draft including many Iowa-based brewery creations.

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