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 some of the options for vegan fare in Des Moines.
Krunkwich Ramen House
If you can only go to one place while in Des Moines, make it Krunkwich. It’s not unusual for me to dine in there and pick up an extra meal to go. It’s that good.
Krunkwich Ramen House is a super casual, order-at-the-counter type of place on Ingersoll Avenue. It’s a non-vegan restaurant with lots of interesting vegan options. Be sure to check out the separate vegan menu while you’re there.
My favorites include their vegan burnt ends sandwich, dandan noodles, and vegan ramen. (Pro tip: Ask for the udon noodles in the vegan ramen for extra bite and chewiness. I also prefer mine without the nori in it. That fishy taste is stomach turning to me.) My husband’s go to order is the Krunk rice with seitan.
They also have lots of interesting specials and vegan dim sum on Sundays. See a full review of Krunkwich here and highlights from their dim sum Sundays here. On Friday and Saturday nights from 10 pm to 3 am, they become Los Banditos Hot Dog Speakeasy. They offer unique vegan & non-vegan hot dogs.
Tacopocalypse is a sister restaurant to Krunkwich and founded by the same person, Sam Auen. Tacopocalypse is a non-vegan Mexican/Korean fusion eatery in the East Village with lots of unusual and clearly-marked vegan options. The vibe is very casual and a great place to pick up a quick lunch.
Their vegan taco offerings include several kinds of house made soft corn tacos with fillings like spicy seitan andouille (my personal favorite), Korean tofu topped with vegan kimchi, or vegan chorizo.
5 Borough Bagels
One of my favorite low cost things to do whenever I’m visiting New York City is to walk into almost any random bagel shop and get a vegan bagel. In places like Iowa, vegan bagel toppings are usually limited to peanut butter or hummus. But in New York City, non-dairy bagel spreads abound with fillings like olives and mixed vegetables in their vegan cream cheese. When I’m in the city, I’ll pick up a toasted bagel, filled to the max, and walk to Central Park to sit on a rock and tuck into breakfast.
Now that experience can be repeated at 5 Borough Bagels in Clive. (Sorry. Central Park not included.) When owners, Sarah & Toney Chem, moved to Iowa from NYC, they decided to take a doughy piece of the Big Apple with them.
A few months back they added vegan cream cheese options to their line-up of fillings. They currently have two offerings – spinach artichoke and cinnamon walnut. Both fillings are tofu-based and taste homemade. The spinach artichoke spread reminds me of Kristy’s tofu chèvre with a definite taste of tofu and highlights of spinach and artichoke. The cinnamon walnut is also tofu-based with big chunks of walnuts and some sweetness to make it more of a dessert-style filling.
They don’t skimp on the spread, which I appreciate. It pushes the bagel into meal category, and they can be topped with additional vegetable slices as well. Toney suggested adding cucumber, tomato, and spinach to my spinach & artichoke spread on an everything bagel. You know how I love a good bagel sandwich. This was perfection. David opted for the cinnamon walnut spread on a sesame seed bagel, which he also enjoyed. The bagels were fresh and chewy, just like you want.
With the exception of the chocolate chip bagels and cheese bagels, the rest of the bagel options are vegan. Toney checked with their bagel baker, and she confirmed that the seeded bagels do not include an egg wash. The seeds are applied right after the bagels are boiled.
They also have three types of non-dairy milk available for coffee drinks. Soy, almond, and coconut milk are on the menu. My husband ordered a black coffee, and I went with a soy latte. Both were full-bodied and delicious.
For more of a sit-down restaurant vibe, Cool Basil in Clive is a great option.
While this Thai restaurant isn’t entirely vegan, they’re happy to prepare dishes without fish sauce, oyster sauce, and eggs when possible. You just have to ask. Plus, when you get your receipt at the end of the meal, the words “no fish sauce, no oyster sauce” are printed right on it. That gives some assurance that the message got through to the back of the house. They don’t offer seitan. However, tofu is available or they can replace meat with extra vegetables.
I like to get something different every time I go, as there are plenty of vegan-izable options to go around to vary your order.
Fong’s Pizza in downtown Des Moines is a quirky, divey restaurant, specializing in unusual pizzas.
They have one listed vegan pizza on the menu, or you have the option of building your own. The white crust is vegan, but the whole wheat isn’t since it contains honey. They offer Daiya for vegan cheese, or you can go cheeseless, as is my preference. For the base, you can go with marinara or olive oil.
When we were there, we ordered one half and half pizza. Mushrooms, tomatoes, bell pepper, and onions on one side. On the other, sauerkraut and potatoes. The potatoes taste like they are simply blanched and sliced, as opposed to being browned on the stove or seasoned in any way. The pizza was pretty bland, but if you happen to be in downtown Des Moines, the atmosphere is fun, and they have late hours, which is nice.
Another pizza option in downtown Des Moines is Blaze Pizza. They also have vegan cheese on the menu, and they cook them in a brick oven. Read all about Blaze Pizza in this post.
For more vegan options in Des Moines and beyond, check out this post.