dear foodies

You guys, let’s talk about one of my favorite things: food.

Since being here in DSM, I’ve found some great places to eat.  I’m compiling a list in my mind of the places I want to take my family and friends when they come here.  And maybe, just maybe, some of you out there in the blogosphere are planning a vacation to Des Moines (what? it could happen.) and are wondering what on earth to eat when you’re here.

Coming from Cleveland I was a bit spoiled.  You see, Cleveland has an amazing food scene.  We’ve got some up-and-coming wildly popular food trucks, some amazing chefs and some famous chefs and I managed to eat my way around my home and find the places that I’d return to again and again (mostly here and here).  I was worried when I made the move to Des Moines that I wouldn’t find places I’d love as much.  Food to me is all about the experience.  Whether eating in or out, I want to eat good things.  I’ve always had the food relationship a bit reversed… I live to eat, not eat to live (bad, Ryan!).

This list is, by no means, all-encompassing.  I know I’ve merely scratched the surface in four months but let’s get started.

The Royal Mile

I have to start with this place.  You guys, it has everything I love.  There is more beer than you’d be able to get through in a dozen visits, they have liquor, a roaring fire, soccer/football is on TV and (bonus!) it’s a sort of gastropub.  Their Steak & Guinness Pie is seriously in the top five best things I’ve ever eaten.  Can we just take a moment and think about that.  … Alright.  I digress.  The best part about The Royal Mile is that it’s so unexpected.  It’s an amazing bar hidden behind a small door and a small sign.  The decor is a bunch of wooden (are they wood?) tables, old pictures of people on St. Patty’s Day and football flags (as in Manchester United not Chicago Bears).  It all comes together to be my favorite place to grab a pint in Des Moines.

Fong’s

There was one place the people of Des Moines overwhelmingly advised me to go when I first got here and it was Fong’s.  Fong’s is located across the street from my number one but it’s clearly number one for the fine folks who live here.  It’s the place where people line up out the door for a pizza.  Pizza, people.  However, I do have to confess… their Crab Rangoon Pizza is out of this world.  Apparently their drinks are nothing to sniff at either but I can’t comment on that first-hand.

Court Avenue Brewing Company

You’d think that with my love for craft beer (oh, maybe I haven’t made that clear), dim lighting, lively conversation, sports on TV and delicious food that Brew Co’s would be my raison d’être but sadly, that’s not been my experience.  I’ve never found a place where the food is awesome but the beer is awesomer (it’s a word) till CABCo.

For breakfast, it’s Star Bar all the way.  In fact, I’ve never been there outside breakfast hours.  Everything that comes out of the kitchen is amazing.  It’s always mimosas and omlettes or mimosas and steak and mushroom hash or mimosas and Cuban sandwiches.

And I couldn’t leave a French place off my list: Django

The decor is fabulous.  Their wine selection is fabulous.  This is a place where you could go, park yourself at the bar (and get a birds eye view of the charcuterie-making action), get a drink and mange on the ratatouille with goat cheese appetizer.  I am a foooool for ratatouille.  Django’s take includes goat cheese that’s more like a cloud and adds such a zing to their traditional tomato-infused roasted veggies.

If you don’t want a sit down experience, here’s a shout out to my favorite on-the-go places: Planet Sub, Panchero’s, Orange Leaf

If you’re not, you should

Truth: I really enjoy TV.

I’m so dedicated to the cause that I have Netflix, HuluPlus and Apple TV (where I can rent seasons from iTunes).  However, lately I’ve been experiencing a TV lull.  I haven’t been as interested in what’s on.  My HuluPlus queue is backing up from unwatched episodes… with the exception of Downton Abbey, I’m bored.  It seems all my favorite shows have irritated me in some way because the plot lines are getting tired; some stuff I used to enjoy is currently off the air.  I’ve seen almost every episode of Top Gear so there’s nothing new happening there (correction: shout-out to the hilarious season premiere last night!!).

That boredom was recently cured by watching all of Season One of Homeland.  People, if you’re not watching this – you should be.  From the very first few moments, I was hooked.  I’ve not been under a rock – I know the cast has been applauded and awards have been won for its brilliance, I just don’t pay for Showtime so I never paid much attention.  I won’t go crazy on the plot details so that I don’t give away any spoilers but Claire Danes cries a lot and it’s really convincing.  And Damian Lewis is brilliant and his story gets so much deeper as the season progresses.  Even his annoying daughter gets me riled up.  And Mandy Patinkin… don’t even get me started (a-mazing).

Seriously, if that’s the kind of programming Showtime is turning out, I’m all.for.it.  So get out there and buy Season One of Homeland  and watch it in three days (the ONLY reason it was three days for me is because I have a job which required me to be off the couch and away from the television).