New World Cafe: Vegan Fare in Des Moines

new world cafe - des moinesFor an updated review of New World Cafe, check out this post from June 2014.

I was able to check out Des Moines, Iowa’s newest and only vegan restaurant a couple of times recently while passing through the area.  Located in the trendy East Village, New World Café is a small restaurant with a focus on organic and local ingredients.  Their menu changes weekly (and can be found on their website and Facebook page).  A few of their most popular items show up regularly, and they also have a No Waste Saturday, in which they create new menu items to make the most of the ingredients they have on hand.  There’s always one sliding-scale menu option with a suggested price; although, people can pay what they can afford for it.  They also offer coffee, juices, shakes, and smoothies.

interior - new world cafe in des moinesmenu - new world cafeBoth times that I visited, I was pleased to see that the restaurant was busy and thriving.  A good sign for the future of vegan dining in the metro area!  Diners order at the counter, and then food is brought out to them.  There are tables available and also a counter for single seating and free wi-fi.

mexican bowl - new world cafeThe first time that I visited, I ordered the Mexican bowl, which seems to be a New World favorite.  The bowl was made with quinoa, brown rice, and millet, black beans, zucchini, broccoli, roasted potatoes and yams, and green herb salsa.  It was topped with a smoky vegan cheese and crumbled pumpkin seeds.  The dish was cozy and filling and reminded me of the kind of meal I’d make at home.  There was a focus on the simple, fresh ingredients, and with so many flavors, each bite added something different.  The creamy, nutritional yeast-based sauce didn’t overpower, but let the wholesome vegetables, beans, and grains shine.

taco burger - new world cafeThe next time that I visited, I tried their Taco Burger.  The soft, pliable burger is made with mushrooms and beans.  It’s topped with cilantro-lime red cabbage, a green herb salsa, vegan sour cream, a pumpkin seed spread, lettuce, and onion on a sprouted bun.  (Gluten-free bread is also available.)  It was served with a small kale salad on the side.  The burger had a strong taste of cumin and reminded me of a soft on the inside/crisp on the outside falafel patty.  This isn’t a patty that is trying to emulate meat.  It puts the veggie in veggie burger.

I visited the restaurant with two non-vegans, and they both really enjoyed their lunches as well.  (They both ordered the Mexican bowl.)  They said the food was easy to eat and not overly spiced.  They liked that it was simple, down-to-earth, feel good food.  I look forward to trying New World Café again the next time that I’m in the area and sampling more of their ever-changing menu.

New World Cafe is located at 223 E. Walnut Street in Des Moines.  They’re open Monday through Saturday from 8 am – 2 pm and 5 pm – 8 pm.


  1. You and I hit many of the same spots on our respective cross-country blogging trip! :-)

  2. Oh man, a burger that tastes like a falafel :) that bun looks hearty and delish!

  3. Iowa is moving on up in the vegan world! I’ll have to keep this place in mind the next time we go through Des Moines — the Mexican bowl and the taco burger sound and look wonderful, and the creamsicle shake on their menu sounds like the perfect pick-me-up!

    • Yes, it’s great to see Iowa getting some more vegan options! I’m intrigued by that creamsicle shake as well. It sounds delicious!

  4. Cadry, I love reading your blog, and the timing of this post is perfect!! I live in Maine right now, and my boyfriend and I are moving to Washington state in June, stopping in Michigan and Missouri on the way to see friends. The New World Cafe is directly en route to our friends in MO! I’m so happy that I read your blog and found out about this place :) There aren’t many of them in New England! Thank you!

    • Mae, thank you for the kind words! Congratulations on the move to Washington with your boyfriend. I hope you’ll enjoy your meal at New World Cafe, and if your friends live near Kansas City, definitely check out FUD while you’re there. It’s one of the best restaurants in the midwest!

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