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The Stuffed Olive


As the Court Avenue district seeks solutions to revitalize the area, one restaurant – The Stuffed Olive — is eager to showcase its food and drink offerings.

The Stuffed Olive, a martini bar and restaurant, found success just off Third Street — so much so that the owners were turning away up to 200 people on weekends. The solution? To move kitty-corner to their new location at the Court District building.

In November 2022, several bars were forced out or closed on their own, leaving the building vacant for a fresh start. 

The Stuffed Olive, formerly The Standard, opened 12 years ago and moved to its new location at 216 Court Ave. on March 29. They brought some old décor yet splurged on new seating configurations. Gold-flecked tables surrounded by comfy black chairs and bar stools beg customers to lounge for a while. Black curtains and colorful wall art break up large areas.

Little touches, such as heavy silverware and diamond patterned plastic water glasses, add to the ambience. The TVs showed fireplace scenery, forcing attention toward your dining partner.

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The tall windows off Court Avenue open in nice weather, overlooking a large street-side patio.

Are you ready for the martinis? Get out your reading glasses to peruse the book of more than 100 martini flavors. Imagine any taste combo you desire, and it’s yours, all in a dainty martini glass. Think fruity, savory, sweet, spicy — all with various liquors. A dirty banana includes crème de banana, Skrewball peanut butter whiskey, Smirnoff caramel vodka, Tippy Cow Chocolate, garnished with chocolate and caramel swirls. Mmmm. And that’s just one. I asked the owner, Brendan Kelley, if he has sampled all the martinis. He hasn’t. Not yet. Most cost $12-$14 apiece. 

Not into martinis? There’s a full bar. Wine Down Wednesdays offers wine, which is buy one glass and get one free all night. Martini deals on Mondays include buy one get one free martinis. Late night happy hour, starting at 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, are buy two martinis and get one free. Remember that next time you’re looking for an afterparty following a Civic Center or Wells Fargo event.

Wednesday nights include live music. Shortly after the Downtown Des Moines Farmers’ Market resumes, look for a brunch menu and live music on Saturday mornings. 

Most of the food menu remains the same with new items being added. Their sharables pair well with the drinks. The smoked elote dip consists of chilled corn, cotija cheese, cilantro, onion and mayo, served with corn chips for $15. The grilled salmon tacos include salmon, mango salsa and aioli, served on a flour or corn shell, three for $18. A build-your-own mac and cheese offers four different flavors. Most entrees and sharables range from $13-$22. 

If you are craving something sweet, why not drink your dessert? Do like others and lick the inside of your chocolate and caramel-lined martini glass. Don’t worry, nobody is looking.

Head back to the revitalized Court Avenue district to check out The Stuffed Olive. You won’t be disappointed. ♦

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