If I stumbled upon Des Moines’ East Village in another city, I would be all over it, excitedly popping into one interesting shop after another but because this East Village is so nearby, I tend to take it for granted. Big mistake. I don’t shop there (or anywhere) often but when I do I always find something new and worthy, and visit several standbys that have withstood the test of time. So today’s visit was great. We were originally going only to Raygun, our favorite witty-snarky T-shirt shop, to buy gifts, but ended up wandering around on an unexpectedly balmy December day when more stores than usual were open, for a Sunday, due to the holidays.
At Allspice, I used up the gift certificate I received last Xmas, refilling my bottle of fig vinegar and buying a few spices and rubs as gifts. Then onto petal and moss, which was like entering a tiny jungle full of mossy plants (we bought an unusual orangish-pink poinsettia). And we finally tried a “Dirt Burger” at the restaurant of the same name, which specializes in veggie burgers. The dirt burger looked like a meat burger and sort of tasted like one. I liked it. Dirck, the unrepentant meat eater wasn’t quite as impressed. We both liked the crispy pencil-thin fries a lot and I would like to try other menu items. Certainly preferred the place to zombie Burger, which used to be our favorite burger spot in the East Village but during our last few visits we have been disappointed by the service and the food.
We continue to be amazed and appreciative of the new restaurants and bars opening up in Des Moines, especially along our favorite bike route through the ever-growing East Village. Yesterday we stopped at the Iowa Tap Room which opened about two months ago in what would have been an anonymous building in a remote location just a few years ago. It’s a beer drinkers mecca with a giant Sukup metal grain bin in the center of the room’s wood, brick and metal furnishings that sprouts taps from about a 100 Iowa beers and ciders. There were plenty of tables (it’s got a roomy dance-hall feel) but we enjoyed sitting at the bar in from of the metal grain bin, sampling some Back Pocket Gold Coin (from Coralville,Ia) for dirck and Wilson Orchard Cider (from Iowa City). The onion rings were quite good – the rest of the menu didn’t particularly interest us, lots of fancy burgers, sandwiches, heavy stuff. But we’ll definitely visit again!
We were disappointed to find the new Scenic Route Bakery closed midday Sunday — would have been a perfect place for brunch. But fortunately, Tacopocalypse was open – a little different vibe and menu but just fine. I had two small tacos (lemongrass pork was best) and my husband had a breakfast burrito slathered with the same kind of heartland white creamy gravy with bits of sausage that you find on biscuits and gravy in these parts. Not my thing but he enjoyed.