In the past four or five years, Des Moines has really stepped up its game where vegans are concerned! It used to be that when I was visiting my hometown, it was a strain finding exciting vegan-friendly options. But nowadays, the choices are plentiful and growing. Today I’m going to highlight my three favorite places for vegan fare in Des Moines.
New World Café
New World Café is Des Moines’ only all-vegan restaurant and is one of two vegan restaurants in the state. (The other is Trumpet Blossom Café in Iowa City.) The intimate, casual café is in the East Village, not far from the Des Moines capitol.
Their menu changes daily, but there are some items that show up regularly, like the Mexican bowl made with grains, beans, roasted potatoes and yams, mixed vegetables, avocado, salsa, cashew cheese, and topped with a pumpkin seed crumble. I’ve gone to New World Café with lots of different people, both vegan and non-vegan, and the Mexican bowl never fails to impress.
I’m also a fan of their taco salad, which is topped with a delicious mushroom-bean-millet taco crumble along with sweet bell peppers, cabbage, onion, avocado, tomatoes, and a cashew sour cream.
Additionally, New World Café offers coffee, juices, smoothies, and shakes. To read more about them, check out my full review from last year.
I just visited Tacopocalypse for the first time last month. It is a Mexican/Korean fusion eatery in the East Village. Tacopocalypse is a non-vegan restaurant with lots of unusual and clearly-marked vegan options. The vibe is very casual and a great place to pick up a quick lunch. (It was really hopping when we were there!)
Their vegan taco offerings include several kinds of housemade soft corn tacos with fillings like spicy seitan andouille (my personal favorite), Korean tofu topped with vegan kimchi, or vegan chorizo.
They recently moved locations, but they are still in the East Village, which is a really fun area to walk around afterwards and do a bit of window shopping.
Fresh Café & Market
Fresh Café & Market is a small vegetarian restaurant tucked inside a non-descript building in West Des Moines, not far from Toys R Us & Pier One Imports. From the outside, it looks like it could be a dentist’s office, but inside is a small seating area and that wonderful telltale scent of wheatgrass and kale being juiced.
Fresh Café offers both raw and cooked food, along with smoothies and freshly-squeezed juices. The menu changes regularly and can be found on their Facebook page.
Some things I’ve enjoyed from Fresh Cafe include:
These raw vegan tacos made with seasoned walnut, sunflower, and sun-dried tomato meat were stuffed into romaine leaves along with avocado, salsa, and cashew sour cream. They were fresh and popping with flavor.
This mango fried rice with peppers, green beans, onions, and cashews in a mango-curry sauce had a good balance of sweet and savory but was a little saltier than I prefer.
My friend and dining companion gave this Caribbean Quesadilla stuffed with a black bean puree a thumbs up. It was topped with coconut-cilantro crème and served with a pineapple avocado salsa.
To read more about Fresh Café & Market, check out this full review from a couple of years ago.
I’ll be back in a future post with other Des Moines-area restaurants, specialty stores, and grocery stores that are great for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone else who loves good food.