The capital city of Iowa celebrates romance like no other with several charming restaurants and eateries that promise to delight. From elegant steakhouses like 801 Chophouse to fine Italian cuisine at Centro; from award-winning Southern Italian, French and Mediterranean fare at the Aposto at the Scala House to tapas at the Stuffed Olive. Here are some more great spots to celebrate your love in Des Moines. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Hours/availability may have changed.
Christopher’s is a long-standing restaurant that has been serving the community with creative cuisine for the past 50 years. Renowned for its unrivaled Italian-American cuisine, fine globally-inspired wines, and impeccable hospitality and service, Christopher’s serves a menu that combines classic dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs and olive chicken to modern interpretations such as pan-fried walleye, and oven-baked ribs. The full-service bar offers a wide range of libations, including local and global wines, craft beers and brews on tap, handcrafted cocktails and the restaurant caters for private events and functions with tailor-made menus. Christopher’s is open for dinner, Monday through Saturday.
2816 Beaver Ave, Des Moines, IA 50310, Phone: 515-274-3694
© 801 Chophouse
Located in the heart of downtown Des Moines, 801 Chophouse is an elegant and refined dining destination with award-winning cuisine, a world-class wine list, impeccable hospitality and service, and an intimate and romantic ambiance. The late 1920’s New York City-style restaurant serves a menu of classic steakhouse fare such as prime USDA steaks with innovative sides, fresh seafood, and salads, with signature dishes such as oysters on the half shell, live Maine lobsters and king crab legs, as well as a range of delicious steaks. The cuisine is accompanied by a selection of global wines, exclusive small-batch bourbons, and scotches, and imported spirits and exclusive events and functions of up to 48 guests are catered for in several private and semi-private dining rooms. 801 Chophouse is open for dinner only, seven nights a week.
801 Grand Ave #200, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-288-6000
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© Alba Restaurant
Alba is an upscale American restaurant and wine bar that serves a creative menu of colorful tumbles of market-fresh produce and offbeat grains. Featuring reclaimed vintage wooden doors hanging from the ceiling and gorgeous street views through curved windows, the restaurant’s culinary team use the bounty of Des Moines and surrounding regions to produce delicious dishes of rich meats such as wild boar, duck, and short ribs, fresh unusual vegetables like farro, kohlrabi, beet greens, red chard and rutabagas, and signature plates like the bacon-and-cheese-stuffed quail. The lively lounge serves lighter like chef-driven burgers and an array of drinks from craft beers and brews on tap to easy-drinking wines and colorful cocktails. Alba is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday and dinner only on Saturday and Monday nights.
524 E 6th St, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-244-0261
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Americana is an urban restaurant and lounge with modern décor that serves a menu of contemporary European and New American cuisine in a relaxed, laid-back setting. Situated in downtown Des Moines, the hip eatery features multiple levels and a street-side lounge with panoramic views of the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden where guests can relax with drinks before and after dinner. The menu features a variety of fresh seafood, prime steaks and chops, gourmet burgers, Asian-inspired sharing plates, fresh salads and sides, and several delectable desserts. The full-service bar offers a wide range of libations, including local and global wines, craft beers and brews on tap, handcrafted cocktails. Americana is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
1312 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-283-1312
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5.Aposto at the Scala House
© Aposto at the Scala House
Set in a century-old Victorian mansion in the Historic Sherman Hill Neighborhood District of downtown Des Moines, Aposto at the Scala House is an elegant and refined fine-dining restaurant with a stellar wine cellar. Founded by award-winning restaurateur Tony Lemmo, the romantic dinner spot serves seasonal wine-paired Southern Italian, French and Mediterranean fare that is chef-driven and uses locally sourced ingredients and regional produce. The cuisine is paired with an extensive list of fine wines from around the world, along with classic cocktails and Champagnes. Dinner is offered Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, in addition to a monthly “Pop-Up” dinner.
644 18th St, Des Moines, IA 50314, Phone: 515-244-1353
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Bubba is a family-owned and operated restaurant that serves creative Southern fare in a friendly and inviting setting. The restaurant has an elegant air with upholstered chairs and backboards, interesting artworks, and crystal chandeliers, making it a great spot for a romantic dinner. The menu reflects the rich heritage of the South with classic dishes like fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, po’ boys, deviled eggs, fried chicken and waffles, meatloaf, and gumbo, along with signature Southern cocktails. Bubba is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Sunday and dinner only on Saturday nights.
200 10th St, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-257-4744
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Conveniently located in downtown Des Moines in a beautifully restored ex-Masonic temple with high ceilings and elegant décor, Centro one of the city’s most popular restaurants and the go-to spot for fine dining. The urban eatery specializes in contemporary Italian-inspired cuisine fresh locally sourced ingredients and expert preparation by Chef George Formaro and Executive Chef Jon Baker. Signature dishes include the Italian meat-and-cheese plate, Mama’s Meatballs, cheese-and-prosciutto-stuffed chicken, and pork chops Milanese. Perfect for grabbing a drink and pizza at the bar or enjoying an intimate multi-course meal with fine wines, Centro’s lively, casual atmosphere promises to impress. Centro is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
1003 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-248-1780
Django is a downtown brasserie on Locust Street that serves classic French fare in a charming and inviting setting. The casual, family-friendly eatery takes the intimidation factor out of French dining by serving a menu of creative French dishes with seasonal ingredients and local produce such as Snow Crab Cocktail, Stirling Oysters Rockefeller, Beef Bourguignon, Seared Sea Scallops, Bouillabaisse, Filet Rossini, and Lobster Spaghetti. Don’t miss the beautifully presented charcuterie plates and the Burger Royal topped with a fried egg. The full-service bar offers a wide range of libations, including local and global wines, craft beers and brews on tap, handcrafted cocktails and doesn’t charge a corkage fee so guests can bring their tipple. Django is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
1420 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-288-0268
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© Flying Mango
Owned and operated by Michael Wedeking and Suzanne Van Englehoven, Flying Mango is a quirky hot spot with an open kitchen that caters to a full range of events from romantic dinners for two to special celebrations. Boasting red and white checkered tablecloths and a comfortable, family-friendly atmosphere, the restaurant specializes in barbecue and briskets, Cajun, Creole and Caribbean specialties, and handcrafted cocktails. The menu features slabs of Memphis-style ribs, smoked brisket, seared yellowfin tuna, cajun catfish, and lime and garlic chicken, and a variety of drinks from the full-service bar such as craft brews, cocktails, and casual wines. The restaurant hosts live jazz music and sometimes turns into a mini-concert hall for visiting blues acts.
4345 Hickman Rd, Des Moines, IA 50310, Phone: 515-255-4111
10.Irina's Restaurant and Bar
© Irina's Restaurant and Bar
Irina's Restaurant and Bar is a family-owned and operated sports bar and grill that serves traditional Russian and American food in a bustling and vibrant setting. Designed to satisfy all tastes, the menu features a range of classic American dishes like prime steaks, hearty burgers, chicken dishes, and fresh salads, along with Russian specials such as beef-stroganoff, Wellington salmon, Moscow filet, and pork shashlik. The full-service bar offers a wide range of libations, including local and global wines, craft beers and brews on tap, handcrafted cocktails and the restaurant caters for private events and functions with tailor-made menus. Irina's Restaurant and Bar is open for dinner only, seven nights a week.
2301 Rocklyn Dr, Urbandale, IA 50322, Phone: 515-331-0399
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Jesse’s Embers is a decades-old, family-friendly surf 'n' turf restaurant that exudes the charm of a quintessential mid-century steakhouse with captain’s chairs, comfy and intimate dining booths, an open kitchen and a snug bar. Specializing in meats cooked on the open grill such as delicious steaks like the bacon-wrapped filet mignon and the prime 12-ounce sirloin, along with Italian specialties like fresh seafood platters, fresh vegetables, and bread that is baked fresh daily. A tiny bar offers a range of drinks in frosted beer mugs, and professional wait staff provides exceptional hospitality and service. Jesse’s Embers is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday.
3301 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312, Phone: 515-255-6011
12.Johnny's Italian Steakhouse
© Fabio Balbi/stock.adobe.com
Conveniently located just minutes from the Des Moines International Airport on Fleur Drive, Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse is a classic steak house that serves prime steaks and an assortment of gourmet Italian cuisine and seafood and an expertly curated wine list. Bringing the Rat Pack era to the 21st century, the steakhouse exudes a Sinatra-esque ambiance and has semi-private curtained dining areas for exclusive dining or special functions. The Blue Bar serves a wide range of libations, including local and global wines, craft beers and brews on tap, handcrafted cocktails. Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
6800 Fleur Drive Des Moines, IA 50321, Phone: 515-287-0847
Lucca is a chic eatery that serves ever-changing Italian and Mediterranean-inspired fare. The dining room features original exposed red brick walls, and minimalist-urban décor and attracts a crowd to match who come to enjoy a creative menu of made-from-scratch and in-house made fare. Lucca is open for dinner only, Tuesday through Saturday and features a four-course prix fixe with weekly changes. The first course features a selection of light fare such as soups, salads, and appetizers, followed by the second course of favorites like handmade pasta, gnocchi, and risotto. The third course features hearty entrées of fresh seafood, chicken, pork, scallops, and prime steak, and desserts include sweet treats and cheese plates.
420 E Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-243-1115
Noah’s Ark’s is an old-school Italian restaurant that dates back to the 1940s and serves classic Italian and Mediterranean fare. Boasting beautiful stained-glass detailing and cozy leather booths, the long-standing restaurant is a favorite spot for late-night pizza and a glass of Chianti, as well as romantic fireside dining and drinks at the retro-style sunken bar. Signature dishes on the menu include fried chicken with real whipped potatoes, ravioli en casserole made with high-quality imported Italian semolina pasta, and homemade dinner rolls served warm. Desserts are paired with superb coffee drinks, and casual Italian and global wines are perfect for pairing with each dish. Noah’s Ark’s is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday.
2400 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312, Phone: 515-288-2246
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© Open Sesame
Open Sesame brings the taste and flavors of the Middle East to the heart of Des Moines with authentic Middle Eastern fare such as falafel, baba ghanoush, and other delicious Mediterranean dishes. Inspired by the ancient tastes, flavors and culinary traditions of the Arab, Roman, Phoenician, Greek, and Ottoman cultures, Open Sesame presents a menu of made-from-scratch dishes like tabbouleh, fattoush, baba ghannouj, chicken tawook, beef shawarma, and kafta. The restaurant has a petite, casual dining space with colorful décor and has a full-service bar that serves a range of non-alcoholic beverages such as Moroccan tea, Turkish coffee, tamarind juice, and coconut water. Open Sesame is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday.
313 E Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-288-3151
© Proof Restaurant
Proof Restaurant blends Old World culinary traditions with modern ingredients and locally sourced produce to serve seasonal menus of Mediterranean and Northern African cuisine. Chef-owner Sean Wilson and sous-chef Hal Jasa create sublime dishes such as lamb burgers topped with goat cheese, scialetielli pasta with green onion pesto and pistachios, roasted bone marrow, and a unique beet salad with balsamic marshmallows. The restaurant exudes a sleek and stylish atmosphere and boasts breath-taking views of the city skyline from large storefront windows. Proof Restaurant is open for dinner only, Tuesday through Saturday.
1301 Locust St C, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-244-0655
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RoCA, short for ‘Restaurant on Court Avenue,’ is a casual and stylish brick-walled eatery that serves New American cuisine in the form of small sharing plates, creative entrées, and handcrafted cocktails. Located in the Historic Court Avenue District of Downtown Des Moines, RoCA offers an innovative seasonal menu of market-driven fare prepared using locally-sourced ingredients and regional produce. Signature dishes include pomegranate pork tenderloin, seared scallop risotto, grilled flank steak, chicken marsala, and RoCA-smothered tots. A full-service bar offers a wide range of libations, including local and global wines, craft beers and brews on tap, handcrafted cocktails and the restaurant caters for private events and functions with tailor-made menus. RoCA is open for dinner only, seven nights a week.
208 Court Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-282-3663
18.Simon's - J. Benjamin's
Simon's, also known as J. Benjamin's, is a polished bistro and bar that serves a seasonal menu of American and Italian classics and an extensive list of libations in a casual and intimate ambiance. The highly revered, well-kept secret dining destination has a cozy interior with contemporary décor and romantic booths and offers a menu of classics such as spaghetti and meatballs, prime steaks, homestyle Italian lasagne, and Chicken Florentine. The cuisine is accompanied by local and global wines, signature cocktails, and craft beers and brews on tap, and live jazz music is performed on Wednesdays and Fridays. Simon's / J. Benjamin's is open for Monday through Saturday.
5800 Franklin Ave, Des Moines, IA 50322, Phone: 515-255-3725
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A long-standing Des Moines dining destination, Skip’s is a veteran restaurant that serves New American cuisine and housemade pasta dishes in a classy, casual setting with a full-service bar. Priding themselves on using only the highest quality and freshest locally sourced ingredients and regional produce, the culinary team prepares and presents a seasonal menu of creative cuisine with dishes such as jalapeno shrimps, chicken quesadillas, prime filet, and mignon steaks, baby back ribs, and chicken piccata. A full-service bar offers a wide range of beverages, including globally-inspired wines, craft brews, and beers on tap, and handcrafted cocktails such as pear mint and snickertini martinis. Skip’s is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday.
4000 Fleur Dr, Des Moines, IA 50321, Phone: 515-287-1820
20.Splash Seafood Bar & Grill
© Splash Seafood Bar & Grill
Located in the historic Homestead Building Ltd, Splash Seafood Oyster Bar & Grill is Des Moines’ premier seafood restaurant. The gourmet dining destination serves a seasonal menu of ocean-fresh seafood, daily catch-of-the-day fish and shellfish, along with fresh salads and healthy sides. Inspired by the varied styles and flavors of island-cooking around the world, the menu features seafood dishes cooked in different ways, such as Alaskan king crab, Chilean sea bass meunière, Kung Pao calamari and shrimp, and oysters Rockefeller. The menu also features prime steaks, salads and soups, and freshly shucked oysters on the half shell. The cuisine is accompanied by an award-winning wine list, classic cocktails, and imported spirits and guests can enjoy the original artworks of local artist and designer, Saley Nong as they dine. Splash Seafood Oyster Bar & Grill is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Friday, and dinner only on Saturdays.
303 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-244-5686
21.The Des Moines Embassy Club
© The Des Moines Embassy Club
Born from the merger of the Des Moines Club and the Embassy Club, the Des Moines Embassy Club is a members-only club based in the Ruan Building in downtown Des Moines. Boasting spectacular views of the city and State Capitol complex from the top floor of the building, the club exudes class and style and brings over 100 years of experience to the table when it comes to fine dining. Club amenities include a beautifully-appointed formal dining room with elegant décor and century-old chandeliers, a members-only bar with large-screen televisions for watching business news and sport, a private event space for up to 400 people, and modern restrooms. The Des Moines Club and the Embassy Club is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Friday, and dinner only on Saturdays.
7th & Grand Ave, 34th floor, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-244-2582
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22.Tursi's Latin King Italian Dining
© Tursi's Latin King Italian Dining
Tursi’s Latin King Italian Dining is a landmark restaurant that has been serving authentic Italian cuisine for nearly 70 years. Housed in a country-villa-style building on Hubbell Avenue, the East-side institution brings the tastes and flavors of Italy to the heart of the Midwest with a menu of classic Italian dishes like meatballs, lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese, Chicken Sorrentina, Filet Mignon Marsala, and the house specialty of Chicken Spiedini. Sauces are made from scratch in-house, bread is served warm with extra virgin olive oil, and the bar offers casual wines to enjoy with every meal. Tursi’s Latin King Italian Dining is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday.
2200 Hubbell Ave, Des Moines, IA 50317, Phone: 515-266-4466
23.The Stuffed Olive
© The Stuffed Olive
Offering a unique martini and tapas experience, the Stuffed Olive is a contemporary bistro-style restaurant that serves a variety of small sharing plates and tapas, along with hearty New American entrées. Boasting a warm and welcoming ambiance that encourages sharing and socializing, the restaurant presents a menu of tapas such as Bruschetta, Risotto Croquettes, Crab Rangoons, Calamari, Seared Tuna Tartar, Spinach Artichoke Dip, and Caribbean Grilled Pork. The bar menu features easy-drinking wines, local craft beers, and top-shelf spirits, and the restaurant is open for dinner only, Monday through Saturday.
208 3rd St, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 515-243-4456
23 Best Restaurants in Des Moines, IA
- Christopher's, Photo: Christopher's
- 801 Chophouse, Photo: 801 Chophouse
- Alba Restaurant, Photo: Alba Restaurant
- Americana, Photo: Americana
- Aposto at the Scala House, Photo: Aposto at the Scala House
- Bubba, Photo: Bubba
- Centro, Photo: Centro
- Django, Photo: Django
- Flying Mango, Photo: Flying Mango
- Irina's Restaurant and Bar, Photo: Irina's Restaurant and Bar
- Jesse's Embers, Photo: luckybusiness/stock.adobe.com
- Johnny's Italian Steakhouse, Photo: Fabio Balbi/stock.adobe.com
- Lucca, Photo: Lucca
- Noah's Ark, Photo: sebasnoo/stock.adobe.com
- Open Sesame, Photo: Open Sesame
- Proof Restaurant, Photo: Proof Restaurant
- RoCA, Photo: RoCA
- Simon's - J. Benjamin's, Photo: EdNurg/stock.adobe.com
- Skip's, Photo: Skip's
- Splash Seafood Bar & Grill, Photo: Splash Seafood Bar & Grill
- The Des Moines Embassy Club, Photo: The Des Moines Embassy Club
- Tursi's Latin King Italian Dining, Photo: Tursi's Latin King Italian Dining
- The Stuffed Olive, Photo: The Stuffed Olive
- Cover Photo: baranq/stock.adobe.com
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