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The Best Weekend Away in Des Moines

in Other, Restaurant Reviews

Just like that, the dreaded first day of the work week is upon us.  Some of you are lucky enough to have a three-day weekend thanks to MLK day.  I, however, am not so fortunate.  But instead of whining too much (I’m still going to whine a little), I am going to try my hardest to focus on the positive things.  After all, Jeremy and I had the best weekend away in Des Moines together!

Whenever we decide to meet halfway (ish) in Des Moines, we both leave our cities in the early morning hours in order to take advantage of as much time together as possible. After meeting up a little after 10:00, we spent a couple of hours killing some time at the mall.  I am lucky that Jeremy is so patient and doesn’t mind tagging along.

Des Moines tacosOur next stop after the mall was Granite City Food & Brewery.  Jeremy and I really enjoy eating at local restaurants, so we do not hit up chains very often.  As a result, we have acquired quite the collection of chain restaurant gift cards over the past several years.  We decided to save a little money and use one of the cards from our stash.  I ordered the fish taco trio because it was made using tilapia, and I decided it would be a great idea to try it for the first time at a restaurant.  I was so pleased with my choice.  I ate all three of them, and can now call myself a tilapia lover.  Now I need to figure out how to make them at home.  Does anyone have any recipes they love?

Des Moines 515 3Our next stop was a local brewery, 515 Brewing Co.  Checking out new-to-us breweries is certainly a favorite pastime of ours.

Des Moines 515We ordered a flight of four in an effort to try as many beers as possible, and ended up ordering another two tasters afterwards.

Des Moines 515 2I love a brewery who serves pretzels alongside their beer.  These “pub” pretzels were amazing!

Des Moines RiverOnce 3:00 rolled around, we headed downtown and checked into our hotel.  It was in a great location, and had a nice view of the river.

Des Moines J and HWe hung out for a bit and then got ready for dinner.

Des Moines Zombie Burger 2I took Jeremy to one of my favorite Des Moines restaurants: Zombie Burger.  After an hour-long wait (yes, it is that popular), we were more than a little hungry.  I ordered the Juan of the Dead burger with a veggie nut patty.  It was topped with a green chile and cheese croquette, Monterey Jack cheese, caramelized onions, and chipotle mayo.  When I cut into the croquette, the cheese oozed out.  It was amazing!  Jeremy ordered the ever popular Walking Ched (the “bun” is made from fried macaroni and cheese).  As a major burger and mac & cheese fan, it was perfect for him.

Des Moines Zombie BurgerWe also shared a basket of fries with their special sauce, but agreed that next time we could probably go without them.  Not because they weren’t good, but because we were stuffed just from our burgers!

Des Moines El Bait Shop 2After dinner, we went back to the hotel for a bit to let our bellies digest.  Then we were off to our favorite bar in Des Moines (or probably ever): El Bait Shop.  They have about a bazillion beers on tap, and even more in bottles.  This picture only shows about half of their tap handles.

Des Moines El Bait ShopWe each tried several different beers, and left around 1:00 a.m. a little more than tipsy.  It is a good thing that our hotel was only a one-block walk away!

Des Moines BBQ Angie'sI obviously could not end the night of drinking without a before bed snack.  I was so excited when I heard about this Hy-Vee-exclusive sweet barbecue popcorn from Angie’s a couple of weeks ago.  Jeremy was kind enough to bring some to me since he knew how eager I was to try it.  It is really good!  If you live in the Midwest, you need to get your hands on a bag of this popcorn.

Des Moines breakfastIt is safe to say that we slept in on Sunday morning.  We did make sure to take full advantage of the hotel’s continental breakfast, though!  I went with oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon, dried fruit, and peanut butter stirred in.  I peeled this hardboiled egg, only to find that it was incredibly flavorless.  It went straight into the trash.

Des Moines Gateway MarketOur breakfast kept us full for a while, but we made sure to hit up one of our other favorite Des Moines restaurants, Gateway Market, for lunch.  As usual, I ordered the vegan Tofu Bahn Mi sandwich with a side salad.  I cannot get enough of this meal!

After lunch, we went and saw American Sniper.  I didn’t love the fact that the theater was so packed we had to sit in the third row, but the movie was fantastic.  You should definitely go see it if you get a chance!

Des Moines Exhile HannahAnd finally, I just have to share one of my purchases over the weekend with you.  When you find a beer with your name on it, you buy it!

I am definitely sad Monday is here and our great Des Moines weekend is over, but I am so grateful for the time spent with Jeremy.  I hope y’all had a truly wonderful weekend, too!

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  • Joanna @Makingmine January 19, 2015, 7:36 am
    Looks like a really fun weekend! We love Granite City - if you're going to do a chain, it's a good choice! I really want to try Zombie Burger - everything looks so interesting! And Gateway Market is a MUST - does Omaha have anything like that? If not, we need to get on that ASAP! Joanna @Makingmine recently posted...weekend snaps: sunny januaryMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 10:01 am
      I was actually wondering that yesterday. Nothing comes to mind... I wish Gateway Market would expand and move here!
  • jess meddows January 19, 2015, 8:30 am
    That tofu banh mi looks to DIE FOR! Argh! Hehe. I'll have to make a note of this place in case we're ever in the area. :)
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 10:01 am
      It is SO good! It is easily one of my top 5 favorite sandwiches!
  • Katie January 19, 2015, 9:00 am
    HyVee hasn't made it into northern mn yet, but I'll have to make a trip to find bbq popcorn, yum!! Katie recently posted...Chance Chat 2015 #3: Critical ThingsMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 10:02 am
      They have plans to head into the Twin Cities area VERY soon, so maybe they'll head your way after that!
  • Kim January 19, 2015, 9:26 am
    Jeremy's burger looks gargantuan. I hope he was able to finish it. All the food dishes looked absolutely amazing! Would you return to some of those restaurants? Kim recently posted...He Writes My Story – A TestimonyMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 10:03 am
      I love ALL of those restaurants (and have been there before), so you can most definitely bet that I'll be back!
  • Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine January 19, 2015, 9:59 am
    Haha, fried mac n cheese bun! That's crazy! The Tofu Bahn Mi sandwich looks awesome! XOXO This is the first time in my life I actually don't have school on MLK day! WOOHOO COLLEGE!
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 10:03 am
      Ahh, you are SO lucky!!! Enjoy your day off :)
  • Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies January 19, 2015, 10:04 am
    Looks like a fun weekend - I'm jealous of that tofu sandwich and the enormous wall of beer! I'm kind of skeeved out by the way tilapia is raised so I don't ever eat it, but those tacos look delicious. Is that cabbage I spy on top? Yum. Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies recently posted...#FitTeaDetox ReviewMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 1:32 pm
      It sure is! I LOVE cabbage in tacos, so I was so happy to see it there!
  • Erin @ Her Heartland Soul January 19, 2015, 12:50 pm
    What a fun weekend! I need to try that Boom Chicka Pop flavor!
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 1:35 pm
      It is really really good! I bet you would enjoy it :)
  • Alissa Apel January 19, 2015, 1:12 pm
    All those different beers look tasty! I like the pin up illustration on that one bottle. Alissa Apel recently posted...Holiday Firsts Baby Month Stickers ReviewMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 1:36 pm
      They have some pretty interesting illustrations on their bottles, that's for sure! ;)
  • Miranda @ Miranda Writes Blog January 19, 2015, 1:37 pm
    Who the heck knew Des Moines had so many great place to eat! Zombie Burger? I'd wait an hour to eat there. Sounds amazing. For tilapia, I really like blackened or grilled tilapia. Just try seasoning it with whatever you want (might I suggest cumin) and then throw it on the grill or under the broiler. It cooks up pretty fast. For tacos, just shred up some lettuce and whatever veggies you want. Get good tortillas though. No flatbread. For a really good 'sauce' mix your favorite hot sauce (I'm partial to Cholulua) with some garlic paste and a little mayo and use it as a spread or topping. You could also try beer-battered 'fried' tilapia with Panko bread crumbs. Okay, I have to stop because I'm hungry now. =)
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 4:37 pm
      Ahh, thanks SO much for the suggestions Miranda! The tilapia was blackened in the tacos above and I really liked it. I'll have to give that a try at home!
  • Katie @ running4cupcakes January 19, 2015, 1:43 pm
    Love love love Des Moines. And these tilapia tacos are super yummy. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/55802482858558282/
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 4:38 pm
      Yes, Des Moines is such a great place!! I'd love to settle down there some day. Thanks for the taco link!! Those look amazing and super easy to make (which is a major plus).
  • Linda @ Veganosity January 19, 2015, 3:07 pm
    Tofu Bahn Mi is my favorite sandwich ever! There is a fabulous Vietnamese shop around the corner from Alex's apartment and I have one whenever I visit. American Sniper, OMG. We saw it on Saturday and it was incredible. Bradley Cooper was amazing. Walking out of the theater after the film was like walking out of church on Good Friday. It was silent. That's the sign of a truly good movie. Linda @ Veganosity recently posted...Spaghetti Squash with Tomato and HerbsMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 4:39 pm
      I had the same experience on Sunday, too. It was SUCH a great movie, but so so sad. Bradley Cooper definitely did such a fabulous job.
  • Dana | fresh simple five January 19, 2015, 3:09 pm
    The Whole Foods by us makes some awesome pre-seasoned tilapia. My favorite is the parmesan crusted, but I've also seen cajun and pecan crusted. I find that if you ask at the fish counter they can give you a lot of preparation tips too! Dana | fresh simple five recently posted...My Favorite Kitchen Gadget for 2015My Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 4:40 pm
      That's a great idea, Dana! I'll definitely have to check out Whole Foods to see what they have to offer. A cajun version sounds like it would be awesome!
  • Kim January 19, 2015, 3:23 pm
    Des Moines has come a long way since I last visited! I'm going to take note of those restaurants and bars for the next time we go. I'd heard about Zombie Burger, but none of the other places. Kim recently posted...10 Things To Know About Omaha Culinary ToursMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 4:41 pm
      They have SO many great places to eat and drink. I truly love visiting there!
  • Michelle January 19, 2015, 4:15 pm
    Oh, you've made me homesick. We moved out of Des Moines in October and every one of those food shops are old hangouts. Yum. Michelle recently posted...Erin Condren Planner: GiveawayMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 19, 2015, 4:42 pm
      Oh gosh, what a bummer! At least you know you have GREAT places to go to when you go back to visit!
  • Cynthia Cover January 20, 2015, 10:37 am
    Those zombie burgers sound amazing!! A cheese croquette that oozes melted cheese makes me long for Miami's Fried Queso Blanco! Cynthia Cover recently posted...The National Museum of Nuclear Science and HistoryMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 1:26 pm
      It was pretty darn delicious! Difficult to eat (because it was huge), but so worth it!
  • rachie January 24, 2015, 10:17 am
    Next time you're in Des Moines check out Fong's Pizza (if you haven't been there already.) They're veggie Rockin' Taco pizza is my favorite, but they have lot of veggie&vegan options.
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 24, 2015, 10:51 am
      I HAVE been there!! You are right, it's awesome! My favorite is the cheese pizza with honey on it. It's so stinkin' delicious!
  • Amand @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut January 24, 2015, 11:51 pm
    Des Moines is such a fun place to visit. It's a city but it's in the Midwest so everyone is super friendly. (Does that even make sense? Some big cities people aren't friendly lol) Dave also ordered the Walking Ched at Zombie Burger..rediculous burger haha macaroni for the buns?! I think I had the Elvis burger since it had peanutbutter, bacon and an egg. #idie I don't think I realized you are dating long distance! Dave and I did that for two years and it was rough but we somehow made it through! Amand @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut recently posted...10 Amazingly Decadent Pancake RecipesMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 25, 2015, 11:07 am
      Des Moines is so awesome! We both love visiting there, and LOVE trying out their yummy restaurants. I feel blessed to live somewhere with a great food scene, and then to be able to only travel 2 hours to another city with great food! Yes... we have been doing the long-distance thing for awhile now. It's tough, but one of these days we won't have to anymore!
  • Mollie @Sprinkles of Life January 26, 2015, 2:47 pm
    I will definitely be on the lookout for the popcorn!! Yum! Glad you had such a great weekend here! If only I had endless amount of money, we'd eat out every meal. So many great places in this city!! Mollie @Sprinkles of Life recently posted...This Weekend I...{January 23-25, 2015}My Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 26, 2015, 4:45 pm
      It is probably a good thing we don't have endless amounts of money... eating out all the time would be rough on our bodies. But our hearts/souls would be happy! ;)
  • Susanne Friedland June 3, 2015, 4:53 pm
    My daughter's going to start at Iowa State in the fall. I was thrilled to see some fantastic food choices on your blog. Can't wait to try the burger place.
    • ClnEatingVegGrl June 3, 2015, 5:04 pm
      That is so great! Des Moines has some awesome restaurants. I hope she enjoys her time at Iowa State :)

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