Written by Lisa Holderness Brown
Photos by Duane Tinkey
Restaurant walkabouts give a summertime twist to your progressive dinner party.
In England, it’s called a safari supper. Here, we call a moveable feast a progressive dinner or round robin. The idea is to nosh each course at a different locale, making the most of an evening of eating. Traditionally, this sort of dinner is an in-home affair—kind of a cousin to a potluck. But, hey, it’s warm-weather season, so why not take it outside the house to some likable neighborhood haunts and let the pros do the cooking? You pull together a group of buddies, then choose one of these three walkable restaurant strolls, each in a different Des Moines neighborhood. Included are spots for appetizers, dinner and dessert, plus a list of alternate options.
1. Miyabi 9
At this cozy East Grand Asian hot spot, order from a lengthy list of sushi and sashimi and pair your selections with beer or wine. For a local spin, check out the Des Moines roll, filled with salmon, crab stick, avocado and cucumber, or the Iowa roll, stuffed with deep-fried pork cutlet, carrots and asparagus.
512 E. Grand Ave., 288.8885
5-9 p.m. Tuesday–Thursday;
5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Walking east from Miyabi 9, turn left on East Sixth Street and continue to Alba, a contemporary dining room and cocktail bar. Though the menu spans from burgers to some ultra-creative American-inspired entrées, owner-chef Jason Simon suggests considering one of the vegetarian options. The spicy vegetarian hash (pictured) is made with mustard spaetzle tossed with vegetables and served with jalapeño cornbread and apple butter. The wild mushroom tart, layered with potatoes and garnished with heirloom veggies, is another inspired choice.
524 E. Sixth St., 244.0261
5 p.m-10 p.m. Monday–Thursday;
5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
3. Zombie Burger
Backtrack to East Grand and go west a few blocks to hit Zombie Burger + Drink Lab for a drinkable dessert on one of the biggest and busiest patios in town. If you like to be in the thick of things, this is your spot. Settle in. You have until 2 a.m. The Zombie Bride Wedding Cake Shake (pictured), made with vanilla ice cream and yellow cake mix, is the hottest seller. Try it spiked with cake-flavored vodka. The whole list of spiked and unspiked designer shakes is one crazy adventure.
300 E. Grand Ave., 244.9292
Dining until midnight daily;
bar until 2 a.m. daily.
East Village Alternatives
4. Olympic Flame: For an appetizer, try the flaming saganaki (kasseri cheese). Pair it with a glass of Greek wine. Belly dancing on Fridays from 7 to 8 p.m.
514 E. Grand Ave., 243.4361 olympicgreek.com
Until 9 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday
5. Lucca: For dinner, Lucca is a narrow and sleek-but-warm room with a variety of Italian-influenced dishes. The scallops are always a delight.
420 E. Locust St., 243.1115
5-10 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday
6. Open Sesame Lebanese Café:
For dessert, order baklava and Turkish coffee or one of the specialty cocktails such as an Arabian Nights (vanilla vodka, tamarin and cream).
313 E. Locust St., 288.3151 opensesamedesmoines.com
5:30-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5:30-midnight Friday and Saturday
Ingersoll Avenue is more than a way to get downtown; it’s a destination of its own. Walking to the restaurants, bars and coffeehouses is very doable, but you can also take advantage of the urban bike lanes on both sides of the street.
1. Star Bar
The whole front of this bar opens up to the sidewalk patio in the summer, making every table a great catch. Match any beverage from the fully stocked bar with the signature barbecue chicken spring rolls with mango salsa or a build-your-own platter of grilled bread with roasted garlic, goat cheese and roasted peppers.
2811 Ingersoll Ave., 244.0790 starbardsm.com
Until 2 a.m. Monday-Saturday;
until midnight Sunday
2. Bistro Montage
Across the street from Star Bar is Bistro Montage, the ultimate corner neighborhood restaurant. Though the food is upscale and changes seasonally, the room is comfortable and relaxed. The skate wing is always lovable, served with fingerling potatoes, buerre noisette (brown butter sauce) and fresh local vegetables (pictured). This is also a good place to order handmade pasta dishes.
2724 Ingersoll Ave., 557.1924 bistromontage.com.
5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday;
5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
3. Chocolaterie Stam
A few steps west of Bistro Montage is chocolate heaven. The outdoor courtyard at Chocolaterie Stam is where to go for its summer chocolate and wine tasting (pictured). Each flight consists of four chocolate medallions (white, milk, dark, and extra dark) paired with four wines. On most Fridays and Saturdays during the summer, enjoy live music as well. A comfy, living room setting indoors also holds an intimate group and is a prime wind-down spot for a filled bonbon or truffle fix.
2814 Ingersoll Ave., 282.9575 stamchocolate.com
Summer weekend evening hours:
Until 8 p.m. Friday and 9 p.m. Saturday
4. Red China Bistro: For appetizers, choose from a sizable list of inexpensive “Little Bit” options such as beef lettuce wraps, chicken satay, and pork shu mai. This artful, sleek room feels like a night on the town.
2925 Ingersoll Ave., 274.0097 redbistrodsm.com
5-11:30 p.m. daily
5. Jesse’s Embers: For dinner, this is the place for an aged prime sirloin steak in a dining room with a retro supper club feel. For dessert, crowd into the bar for a “Mad Men”-era pink squirrel or golden Cadillac ice cream drink.
3301 Ingersoll Ave., 255.6011
Until 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
This stroll is the most laid back. Beaverdale is a tight-knit community that gets out and supports neighborhood businesses, so you’ll see plenty of locals with kids and pets in tow as you trek from spot to spot.
1. Tally’s Restaurant and Bar
Nothing beats a rooftop patio when the weather’s right. Climb up for an orange-basil mojito with fresh squeezed juice (pictured) or a huge margarita and homemade Yukon Tally Chips with a side of blue cheese fondue. Owner Robert Sanda also recommends the breaded portobello strips with spicy marinara and
2712 Beaver Ave., 279.2067 tallysbeaverdale.com
Until 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday;
10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Dinner is a short walk going north on Beaver Avenue past Fagen Drive to Christopher’s. Generations of Des Moines families have grown up dining at this traditional Beaverdale mainstay. It’s welcoming, with an Iowa-nice vibe, and offers an Italian-infused menu. Consider the cedar plank salmon that’s drizzled with a citrus glaze, or the zesty pork au poive with a brandy crème sauce and mashed potatoes.
2816 Beaver Ave., 274.3694 christophersdsm.com
5-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday;
5-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
3. Grounds for Celebration
Backtrack south on Beaver Avenue and your dessert destination, Grounds for Celebration, will be across the street. This recently renovated coffeehouse has a patio as well as plenty of indoor seating. Cool off with a scoop or two of house-made gelato (pictured), available in a variety of flavors such as vanilla bean, maple bacon or balsamic strawberry. Cheesecake, petit fours, cookies and a variety of designer coffee drinks will also satisfy your end-of-the-evening sweet tooth.
2709 Beaver Ave., 255.4863
Until 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday
These require a few blocks of walking but are worth the schlep on a balmy evening.
4. Chef’s Kitchen: For appetizers, where else can you start your evening with beer-battered dill pickle chips with pesto ranch dressing? Or try the sautéed calamari or veggie quesadilla with optional chicken. This is a good option for homemade desserts as well.
1903 Beaver Ave., 255.4411 chefskitchendm.com
Until 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday
5. Flying Mango Restaurant and Catering: For dinner, go for the Smoked Goods, such as the 24-Hour Brisket. That said, the Cajun shrimp with dirty rice or Latin strip steak with chimichurri sauce might win you over.
4345 Hickman Road, 255.4111 flyingmango.com
5 p.m-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
6. Snookies Malt Shop: For dessert, locals swarm to this iconic ice cream shop for soft-serve sundaes and ice cream treats. Go for a decadent hot fudge malt. Cash only.
1810 Beaver Ave., 255.0638
Until 10 p.m. daily