20 Best Restaurants in West Des Moines, IA

This article was written by local contributor Katherine Thompson & edited by the Travel Lens team.

West Des Moines, IA

When it comes to dining out in West Des Moines, Iowa, I can confidently say that our city has a delightful variety of restaurants to satisfy every palate.

Having lived here for years, I've had the pleasure of indulging in mouthwatering dishes from various cultures, experiencing unique atmospheres, and discovering hidden gems tucked away in the corners of our vibrant town.

Allow me the pleasure of sharing with you a selection of the best restaurants in West Des Moines, Iowa, where you're sure to savor every bite and create unforgettable memories.

Pad Thai Garden

As someone who loves Thai food, I was excited to try out Pad Thai Garden in my neighborhood.

I visited the restaurant with my family and was immediately taken by its cozy atmosphere.

I have quite a few allergies, but Dolly didn't blink an eye and guided me through the menu, making sure my selections were safe for me to consume.

I ordered a pot of Tom Kha, served hot in a special serving apparatus kept warm over a fire, which was a nice touch.

The soup was creamy and delicious.

I also tried chicken Larb, while my sister ordered Tom Yum and Pad Se-ew.

We opted for different spice levels, and the dishes were flavorful and well-balanced.

The portion sizes were generous, and the prices were reasonable as well.

As a lover of tea, I appreciated the charming elephant pot in which our tea was served.

Despite it being a Tuesday evening, the restaurant wasn't too crowded, and our food arrived promptly.

Pad Thai Garden offers a variety of options, even though their menu is limited during certain seasons.

Pad Thai Garden · 1221 8th St, West Des Moines, IA 50265, United States
★★★★★ · Thai restaurant

Mi Patria

One of my favorite spots to eat in the area is Mi Patria Ecuadorian Restaurant.

Whenever I crave some delicious and authentic Ecuadorian cuisine, I know I can always count on this place to satisfy my taste buds.

You can check out their website, and trust me, it's worth a visit.

The food here is consistently well-made and flavorful and comes in generous portions.

I can't even remember how many times I've had leftovers that tasted just as good the following day.

Their lunch buffet has a diverse range of seafood dishes, so there's always something new and exciting to try.

I personally love their chicken, lentil beans, yellow rice, and plantains combo.

The texture and flavor of their beans are truly something special, and the chicken is always juicy and tender.

The atmosphere at Mi Patria is relaxed and quiet, making it an ideal spot for both casual lunches and romantic dinners.

It's evident that this family-run business takes pride in serving authentic Ecuadorian dishes and providing a warm and welcoming dining experience for everyone.

Mi Patria Ecuadorian Restaurant · 1410 22nd St, West Des Moines, IA 50266, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Northern Lights Pizza

Northern Lights Pizza has become my go-to pizza place in town.

Their thin-crust pizzas are simply amazing, with just the right amount of crispiness and chewiness.

The wide variety of toppings available ensures that there is something for everyone, and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised when I first tried their taco pizza.

You can check out their menu and order online at their website.

Not only is the pizza at Northern Lights delicious, but the other food options, like pasta and flatbread sandwiches, are equally tasty.

The breadsticks and cheese sticks, in particular, are a must-try, always cooked to perfection.

What sets Northern Lights Pizza apart from other pizza joints in Des Moines is their exceptional customer service.

I appreciate little gestures like providing me with plates and napkins when I'm staying at a hotel.

Northern Lights Pizza · 1237 Grand Ave, West Des Moines, IA 50265, United States
★★★★★ · Pizza restaurant


I recently dined at Harbinger, a charming New American restaurant in Des Moines, and I must say that it was an experience worth sharing.

First off, I would like to emphasize that making reservations is essential, as the space is quite cozy and intimate.

As soon as we arrived, we were greeted with outstanding service that remained consistent throughout the evening.

We indulged in the sweet potato and mushroom dishes, which were both delightful.

However, the steamed buns truly stole the show – they just melted in our mouths!

The pork was juicy and tender, while the fried chicken was nothing short of scrumptious.

While the prices were on the higher side, it was certainly worth it for the delicious food and memorable experience.

It was evident that there was a lot of intention and effort put into crafting each dish and creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

Harbinger · 2724 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312, United States
★★★★★ · New American restaurant

Taste of New York Pizza

Living in Iowa, I never thought I'd be able to find a truly authentic New York-style pizza, but Taste of New York Pizza has proven me wrong.

This low-key, family-run strip-mall pizzeria bakes NYC- and Sicilian-style slices and pies that taste just like the ones I've had in the Big Apple.

My first visit to Taste of New York Pizza was simply fantastic.

I was immediately drawn to their specialty pizza, which was just as delicious and floppy as I'd hoped.

I also tried the lasagna pizza, which admittedly didn't live up to my expectations, but I'd never turn down a slice of any of their other offerings.

In addition to their incredible pizzas, Taste of New York also serves up tasty garlic knots and cannoli.

The cannoli filling was soft and velvety, while the shell was perfectly cooked and crispy.

The garlic knots were soft and fluffy, with just the right amount of crispiness on the peaks and edges.

Taste of New York Pizza · 165 S Jordan Creek Pkwy Suite 160, West Des Moines, IA 50266, United States
★★★★★ · Pizza restaurant

Paula's Cafe

I must admit, Paula's Cafe has become my go-to spot for lunch on Saturdays.

Being a local resident, I've seen this veteran diner-like chain serve up some of the best ground-beef sandwiches, salads, sides, and shakes in town.

I work just down the street, so it's incredibly convenient to stop by and pick up a delicious meal for myself and my coworkers.

One of the things I love most about Paula's Cafe is their ever-changing seasonal specials.

The winter specials are hands-down my favorite, but even during the summer, I can't resist indulging in their famous Maid Rites.

On hot beef or meatloaf special days, you can guarantee I'll be there, ready to satisfy my cravings.

Not only does Paula's Cafe serve fantastic comfort food (seriously, if you haven't tried their chicken salad sandwich, onion rings, and chocolate malt, you're missing out), but the service is always incredibly kind and welcoming.

During lunchtime, you can always expect the cafe to be bustling with activity, a testament to its quality and popularity among locals.

Of course, I can't forget to mention their heavenly fried pickle fries - I've yet to be disappointed by any of their dishes and doubt that I ever will be.

Paula’s Cafe · 524 Elm St, West Des Moines, IA 50265, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

El Pollo Ranchero

As someone who lives nearby, I can't help but rave about El Pollo Ranchero.

This chicken restaurant has earned a special place in my heart and my stomach.

Whenever I'm in the mood for some delicious and satisfying food, this is where I go.

The portions are generous, and the prices are very reasonable, making it a great option for anyone on a budget.

The service is always friendly and prompt, making me feel welcome every time I visit.

One of my favorite things about El Pollo Ranchero is their creamy cilantro sauce, which I highly recommend trying.

It adds a unique flavor to any dish and keeps me coming back for more.

I typically order one of their burritos, but I prefer to have it in a bowl instead of a tortilla to save on calories.

Another great aspect of El Pollo Ranchero is the sheer size of their servings.

I often find that one meal will easily last me for two or three servings, making it an excellent value for the price.

I've introduced many friends and family members to this gem of a restaurant, and they never fail to be impressed by the quality of the food and the warm atmosphere.

El Pollo Ranchero · 1960 Grand Ave Suite 21, West Des Moines, IA 50265, United States
★★★★★ · Chicken restaurant

El Toreado Mexican Restaurant

I have been a regular at El Toreado for quite some time now, and I can honestly say that it never disappoints.

The restaurant offers a cozy atmosphere, and I especially enjoy spending time on their beautiful patio during the warmer months.

One of my favorite things about El Toreado is their Taco Tuesday special.

I can't resist their delicious El Pastor tacos, served with a spicy sauce and accompanied by beans and rice.

The guacamole is a must-have as well, always fresh and tasty.

While I'm not a huge fan of steak at Mexican restaurants, I decided to try their Cheese Steak Burritos one time, and it surprisingly exceeded my expectations.

The service is always top-notch at El Toreado.

I also appreciate their quick service, as the food arrives in no time without compromising on quality.

El Toreado · 3751 EP True Pkwy, West Des Moines, IA 50265, United States
★★★★★ · Mexican restaurant

Crêperie Viva la crêpe

I absolutely love going to Crêperie Viva la crêpe whenever I'm in the mood for something delicious and comforting.

Recently, I had the poblano and chicken crepes, which were super fresh and bursting with flavor.

I couldn't have asked for more.

One thing that's both great and challenging about this place is the vast array of options on their menu.

Every time I visit, I'm faced with the delightful dilemma of choosing between so many mouthwatering dishes.

The portions are quite generous, too, making it perfect for sharing or even taking some home for later.

The last time I went, my friends and I shared a chorizo crepe and a banana and peanut butter crepe.

While I was initially skeptical about trying a savory crepe, I was blown away by how delicious it was.

The sweet crepe, on the other hand, was heavenly!

The combination of flavors and textures was just perfect.

Not to mention, their prices are pretty reasonable, which is always a plus.

Crêperie Viva la crêpe · 9250 University Ave Suite 113, West Des Moines, IA 50266, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Teriyaki House

As someone who has frequented Teriyaki House several times, I must admit that my experiences here have been fantastic.

At times, the food can be quite enjoyable, but there have been instances when the quality has left much to be desired.

I've especially enjoyed their steak bowl, as the steak has been tender and cooked to perfection.

The scallop bowl and noodles are also worth mentioning, as they have added variety to my orders and have been cooked well too.

Teriyaki House West Des Moines · 9250 University Ave Suite 106, West Des Moines, IA 50266, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Dino's Bar & Grill

One of my favorite spots in town is definitely Dino's Bar & Grill.

The family-owned establishment offers a modern space with a sports TV and a kid's menu, making it a perfect place for both casual hangouts and family dinners.

Their menu features classic American fare, and you can check it out on their website.

My go-to dish at Dino's is the Chicken and Mushroom pasta, which has become a frequent craving of mine.

Their cheese curds are also a must-try, as they come lightly battered and absolutely delicious.

If you're in the mood for something refreshing, their salads are served on chilled plates – a simple yet thoughtful touch.

Dino's also boasts an impressive dessert menu.

I once took a chance on their lemon/lavender creme brulee and was blown away by the unique flavor combination!

My partner, on the other hand, always opts for the bananas foster and raves about it every time.

Happy hour at Dino's is not to be missed, with their amazing vodka martinis for just $5 and half-off wings.

Dino’s Bar & Grill · 5962 Ashworth Rd, West Des Moines, IA 50266, United States
★★★★★ · American restaurant

Ohana Steakhouse

I recently had the pleasure of dining at Ohana Steakhouse, a Japanese teppanyaki steakhouse, and I must say, it was an unforgettable experience!

The food was beyond my expectations, and the presentation was simply astounding.

One important tip I learned is to make a reservation well in advance, as their seating availability can be limited.

My friends and I decided to celebrate my birthday there last minute, and we were lucky enough to snag a table after a party of four didn't show up on time.

Just remember to make a reservation and give yourself at least 90 minutes to fully enjoy the meal.

Ohana Steakhouse · 2900 University Ave Suite 100, West Des Moines, IA 50266, United States
★★★★★ · Japanese steakhouse

OPA! Italian & Greek

One of my favorite spots to dine in town is OPA! Italian & Greek.

The food is simply amazing and has never disappointed me.

I remember the first time I went there with my fiancée, we had their onion rings which were crispy and packed with flavor.

I ordered the Greek lasagna while my fiancée had the Greek trio, and it was all delectable.

On another visit with my partner, we tried their combo appetizer with mozzarella sticks, homemade fried ravioli, and mini garlic knots.

They were fabulous!

We also had two Greek salads, manicotti and creamy steak debourgo.

Even their drinks, like the classic strawberry daiquiri and raspberry mule, were well-made and delicious.

OPA! Italian & Greek · 2800 University Ave Suite 450, West Des Moines, IA 50266, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano

One of my favorite spots to dine in town is Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano.

The atmosphere is always warm and inviting, and the elegant ambiance makes it perfect for a night out with family or friends.

What I love most about this place is the service - it's always top-notch.

Now let's talk about the food at Biaggi's - it's simply divine!

Every dish I've tried has been bursting with flavor and beautifully presented.

My all-time favorite has to be the butternut squash ravioli - it's flat-out amazing.

I've also tried the bruschetta and stuffed mushrooms, both of which were equally delightful.

And let me tell you, their drinks and bread are to die for.

The mojito is especially refreshing, and the ice cream dessert is sublime.

Every time I visit, I find myself eager to try more dishes from their extensive menu.

It's no wonder I keep coming back for more!

Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano · 5990 University Ave, West Des Moines, IA 50266, United States
★★★★★ · Italian restaurant

Early Bird Brunch

My absolute favorite restaurant for weekend brunch is Early Bird Brunch.

Whenever I'm in the mood for a delicious and satisfying meal, this is the place I head to.

Their menu offers so many delectable options that it's always hard for me to choose what to order.

During my last visit, I tried the Breakfast Nachos, Chicken Fried Steak, and Hash Holes, which were all mouth-watering and cooked to perfection.

The wait for a table during weekend brunch hours can be quite long, so I recommend putting your name on the waitlist through Yelp before leaving your house.

This way, you'll get notified when it's time to arrive at the restaurant.

But trust me, it's worth the wait!

Not only is the food amazing, but the service is always top-notch as well.

Another thing I love about Early Bird Brunch is their creative and refreshing breakfast cocktails.

I remember one time when I was hungover, I ordered their massive Bloody Mary, which came with a BLT sandwich on top.

It not only cured my hangover but also made me incredibly happy!

I always tell my friends about this place, and I can't wait to go back for another scrumptious brunch soon.

Early Bird Brunch · 9250 University Ave Unit 107, West Des Moines, IA 50266, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Smash Park

Last weekend, my friends and I decided to check out Smash Park, and it truly exceeded our expectations!

One of the things I really appreciated was the wide variety of gluten-free options on their menu.

I ordered the gluten-free Philly steak and cheese fries, and they were absolutely amazing!

My partner had the Buffalo Nachos, which he said were delicious as well.

The food was definitely a highlight for us, but it didn't stop there!

The pickleball courts were top-notch, and we had a blast playing with the locals who were just as passionate about the sport as we are.

After pickleball, we enjoyed a few rounds of indoor and outdoor games while sipping on some fantastic drinks from their full bar.

SMASH PARK · 6625 Coachlight Dr, West Des Moines, IA 50266, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Restaurant

PerKup Cafe

PerKup Cafe has always been my go-to spot for a delicious breakfast.

The cafe is located in a strip mall which might not catch your attention at first, but trust me, it's worth a visit.

Their website showcases their American breakfast and lunch fares, but I can never resist their breakfast options.

One weekend morning, I decided to treat myself and ordered their sausage, egg, and bacon breakfast.

The eggs were cooked to perfection, and the bacon was just the right amount of crispy.

I was pleasantly surprised by the coffee, too - it had a light nutty flavor that I haven't experienced in other diners.

On another visit, I decided to try their Chicken Parmesan omelet with a side of chocolate chip pancakes.

The pancakes were fluffy and loaded with chocolate chips, served with ample butter and syrup.

PerKup Cafe · 2700 University Ave Suite 324, West Des Moines, IA 50266, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Wasabi Waukee

One of my favorite spots to grab some sushi in town is Wasabi Waukee.

Their modern, light-filled atmosphere creates the perfect setting for enjoying their delicious bento boxes, sushi, and hot Japanese dishes.

Every time I go there, the service is friendly and relatively quick, even when the restaurant is busy.

I've tried a variety of dishes on their menu and have never been disappointed.

Their sushi always tastes fresh, and the presentation is impressive.

I've also tried their orange chicken, which is hands-down the best I've ever had.

And don't even get me started on their Crab Rangoon - it's truly addictive!

Wasabi Waukee · 9500 University Ave #2101, West Des Moines, IA 50266, United States
★★★★★ · Sushi restaurant

Fiesta Mexican Restaurant

One of my favorite places to unwind and enjoy some delicious Mexican food in West Des Moines is Fiesta Mexican Restaurant.

I usually visit at least once a month, and I always prefer to sit at the bar.

The friendly bartender, whose name I can never seem to remember, seems to know everyone at the bar personally, and his drinks are always top-notch.

The food at Fiesta Mexican Restaurant is consistently good, even if it might not be the best in town.

What really sets this place apart from other Mexican restaurants is the welcoming atmosphere.

The moment you walk in, you're greeted by the delicious smell of Mexican food, sports on TV, and pleasant background music.

The highlight of any visit to Fiesta Mexican Restaurant is, of course, the food.

I love starting with their hot and fresh chips and salsa, followed by a Mellow Yellow (though I have heard great things about their margaritas).

For the main course, I usually opt for their customizable combo.

Last time, I went for the Taco Supreme with chicken, Carne Asada Burrito, and Beef Enchilada with fries and Spanish rice.

The flavors of the meats and sauces are simply divine, and the $25 price tag is well worth it when you consider the generous portions and satisfying experience.

Fiesta Mexican Restaurant · 2025 Grand Ave, West Des Moines, IA 50265, United States
★★★★★ · Mexican restaurant

Urban Cellar

Urban Cellar has quickly become one of our favorite spots for a night out.

Just last week, my friends and I decided to meet up for a happy hour on Friday evening.

We chose to sit on their patio area, which allowed us to enjoy their half-off select beverages and appetizers.

The atmosphere was great, with a steady flow of customers and the sun shining down on us.

If you want to enjoy the best of Urban Cellar, I'd recommend arriving early to grab a good seat and avoid the direct sunlight.

The food and drinks at Urban Cellar have never disappointed me.

On this particular evening, we ordered a variety of dishes, including grilled calamari, seared Ahi tuna, pork chops, and steak.

I was particularly pleased with the fact that they offer plenty of gluten-free options for those with dietary restrictions.

The wine selection in their market area is also quite impressive, and they only charge a $10 corking fee.

During our previous visits, we've tried their fried zucchini, which is presented beautifully and tastes even better than it looks.

Their nachos are also noteworthy, as they come loaded with delicious shrimp and don't rely on an excessive sauce like many other places do.

One of my all-time favorite dishes here is the salmon BLT, which is perfectly seasoned and enhanced by a tangy and spicy aioli.

And let's not forget their sweet potato fries, which come with a delightful honey dipping sauce!

Urban Cellar - Wine Bar, Grille, And Market · 640 S 50th St Suite #2110, West Des Moines, IA 50265, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Final Thoughts

West Des Moines has a fantastic variety of restaurants to satisfy any craving.

From the rich flavors of Mi Patria Ecuadorian Restaurant to the cozy dinner at Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano, there's something for every palate.

I can't wait to continue exploring and enjoying these gems of my city.

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