‘There’s nowhere to eat on Sundays’7/15/2015
Some people believe that Sunday dining options are limited, at least if you are not interested in brunch. Sunday is actually my favorite day for going out to eat in Des Moines. Here’s why.
Most Asian and Latino restaurants have their best days on Sunday. They also do some special things on the Sabbath. Wong’s Chopsticks and Kwong Tung serve dim sum on Sundays alone. In bigger cities, dim sum (“heart point” in English) means carts rolling around so diners can point to the dishes they want — like cafeterias on wheels. In Des Moines, diners check off their choices from a list of special dishes one rarely sees any other day of the week: fried taro root, chicken feet, har gow (shrimp dumplings in translucent rice flour wrappers), turnip cakes, custard tarts and sticky rice in lotus leaves. Latino cafés such as Los Laureles have weekend-only menus that include their best soups, most of which are renowned hangover cures: seven seas, chock full of shrimp, crab meat and scallops; menudo made with cow intestines; caldo de res made with other parts of the cow; and posole of hominy and chicken broth.
Several of the best restaurants in town are open Sundays, and you don’t usually need a reservation to be seated. 801 Chophouse is Des Moines’ best steak house, the only one serving all prime aged beef. Sometimes they run three-course, fixed-price specials on Sunday. Centro is a stylish Italian restaurant specializing in coal oven pizza. It’s been voted the city’s best restaurant more than once, and, like 801, it’s a prime spot for spotting presidential candidates in caucus season. Django is perhaps my favorite Sunday hangout, now that Luigi’s has stopped serving on that day. It’s great for single dining with a large bar, and there is no corkage fee if you bring a bottle of wine with you. More than any other restaurant in town, it gives me the feeling that I am in another town. Maybe that’s just because it’s in a hotel, but I think it’s more than that. The floors, the bar and the menu all seem to be transported from another time or place.
Eatery A is not only open on Sundays, but it operates its famous happy hour then, too. If you have not heard, from 3-6 p.m. each day, Eatery A sells all its draught beers, all its wine (bottles or glasses) and all its wood oven pizza pies for half price. It’s another great place for singles, with a large bar and menu of true tapas-sized dishes. This is against the trend winds that inspire restaurants to serve gargantuan portions of appetizers. The popular patio — a non-smoking area — packed folks in during decent weather. Sound-deadening panels have been installed since some noisy opening months.
Bar food is getting much better in town. G Migg’s in Valley Junction leads the way with a simple menu superbly prepared — prime rib burgers, pastrami, crab and lobster rolls, etc. They also make an argument that the east and south sides do not have all the great bar food. Gerri’s chicken wings, East 14th Street Tavern’s burgers, and Kelly’s Little Nipper’s sausage sandwiches all represent the east well. On the southside, Park Avenue Pub and Club 2000 both have superb kitchens. Higher-end sports bar food has been spreading faster than Srichacha sauce. Saints, The Keg Stand, Mullet’s, The Library, Buzzard Billy’s and Jethro’s all are hard to label. People go there to watch games, but their kitchens are far larger and more diverse than those of “bars.”
So, don’t be saying “there’s nowhere to go on Sunday” anymore.
It’s official: The wing has conquered all other chicken parts. They now have their own place to crow. Barmuda companies opened Hurricane Grill & Wings last week in the old TGIF’s venue near Valley West Mall. CV
Jim Duncan is a freelance writer who has penned nine different columns for Cityview and its sister publications beginning in 1987.