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.
Both 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.
The 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.
The 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.