How to Maintain that DC Brunch Lifestyle in Des Moines
You just arrived in Iowa. Welcome. Maybe you’re a campaign staffer, or a journalist, or someone else taking advantage of the first-in-the-nation caucuses. Maybe you’ve been here before, maybe you were a temporary Midwest escapee, or maybe you just learned how to pronounce Des Moines two days ago (please don’t pronounce the “s”). We’re not in the Eastern time zone anymore. It’s harvest season, and you’re on the campaign trail in the Iowa cornfields.
There’s just one thing you can’t give up: weekend brunch. How are you supposed to go over three months without the classic DC delicacies? Luckily, you have me: your local brunch guide. I get it. I’m with you. I spent a minute in the DMV. There are some things you can’t go without. Des Moines may seem weird and way-too-polite, but we know a thing or two about breakfast food. Here are the spots you can’t miss while you’re here:
Waveland Café, on University
Waveland is where you go for the classics. I’m talking pancakes. I’m talking eggs. I’m talking the best damn hash browns in the 515. Go there three times, and the waitresses will start to know your name. Sit on the stools and meet some local voters with stories of Des Moines past. Complain about the construction on University Ave., and you’ll be the most popular person there. Make sure to check out the wall on the right side with the signatures – you might even catch some familiar names from previous caucuses.
Must-try: Buttermilk pancake special, with chocolate-chip pancakes
Bubba, on 10th and Mulberry
Nothing feels more like DC than Bubba. The beautiful chandeliers, the bowtie wall art, and the giant bourbon menu will bring you right back to the Beltway in no time. The Southern-style food is excellent, the décor is beautiful, and the drinks are exquisite. Grab your favorite DC-to-Iowa staffer and have yourself the boozy brunch you’ve been dreaming about since you took the last flight out of National.
Must-try: Chicken and waffles
Americana across from the Pappajohn Sculpture Park on Locust
You may not believe me, but Des Moines has unlimited brunch. You better get yourself over to Americana on Saturday or Sunday for your most patriotic act of the week. You’ll be serving your stomach with the buffet of over 40 different items, including build-your-own grilled cheeses and breakfast tacos. Most importantly, you’ll get unlimited Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. Drink responsibly, friends, and book your reservation now.
Must-try: why not try it all? It’s unlimited, you know.
University Library Cafe at 35th and University
If you like your brunch places small, dark, and filled with your favorite people, then the Library is for you. A favorite for Drake University, patrons of the Library are family. They don’t mess around here. And the beer is flowing all day. You don’t need to get dressed up for this one. Whether you’re recovering from a hangover or want to start all over, you need to stop by.
Must-try: Breakfast nachos
Teddy Maroon’s, on the corner of Ingersoll and 23rd
New to the Des Moines brunch rotation, Teddy Maroon’s has come full-force into the Iowa political scene. For the past few Democratic Debates, they have been hosting the Polk County Democrats’ official watch party. During the weekend, though, they have some of my favorite brunch options in town. Sure, it’s expensive, but you’re from DC, so food prices mean nothing. The name is a reference to Roosevelt and Dowling Catholic, both local high schools with a huge rivalry. Since you’re new around here, that information should come in handy.
Must-try: French toast
Something I missed? Have thoughts on my choices? Let me know! Email me.