Top Ten Most Missed Des Moines Restaurants

20160611_122326Des Moines has been built, torn down, built again, flooded, revamped and remodeled.  Here are a few of the ones we miss the most.  All addresses are the former locations none of these restaurants are around anymore.

1. Younkers Tea room – The Younkers Tea Room held a aura of elegance in downtown Des Moines.  A 2015 fire destroyed most of  Younkers building.  The register did a great article on the Younkers tea room.  I have provided a link here.

2. Bishops restaurants – Bishops closed in 1995.  I never got the opportunity to dine there but I heard about Bishops from the book The Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson and also from some long time Des Moines residents.  In the book, he tells how he and his friend used to bring a fly into the restaurant, then drop it in the food so they could eat for free.  Bishops at its peak had 38 locations throughout the Midwest.

Great book about growing up in DM in the 50’s

3. Babes restaurant – Babes was in Des Moines for over fifty years, and was “the swankiest nightclub in Des Moines.” Babes gained popularity during world war two mainly with servicemen stationed here.  The original Babes closed in 1991.

4. Donut King – 220 Grand Ave West Des Moines.  Although we haven’t missed it for long, it is missed.  Donut Kings Donuts were not cookie cutter, small, mass produced identically shaped doughnuts.  They were HUGE, and delicious.  I think we are all hoping they can find another location.

5. Jimmy’s American Cafe – 1238 th Street West Des Moines.  Jimmy’s was a happening place when it was open.  I think the Jordan Creek development and the new competition was its undoing.  I hear the fried chicken was excellent.

6. Porky’s  Diner- 4444 Douglas Ave Des Moines.  Porkys was much loved as a car enthusiast hangout, and a stop while cruising around on a Friday or a Saturday night.  Porky’s was founded in 1982 and closed in 2009.

7. Nacho Mamas – 216 Court Ave Des Moines.  Nacho Mama’s besides being a great pun, was a casual option for court ave.  It closed suddenly in 2003.

8. Raccoon River Brewery – This brewpub was a relaxed place to hang out downtown.  They had good beer and decent food. The thing I liked most was the large open venue with dark woodwork throughout giving a decadent feel.  The register did a story on the closing.  Here is a link.

9. Mondos – I actually worked here for about a year and a half.  At the time that I worked there it was the third largest restaurant in the state of Iowa.  Mondos featured applewood  rotisserie chicken, and an excellent array of steaks with french style cream sauces.  Mondos also had a full bakery and hand made their pastas.

10. Buca Di Beppo – I was always impressed by Buca di Beppo.  The served their food family style and every ones eyes seemed to bulge when the server would bring a huge heaping bowl of pasta with meatballs.  My favorite was the Spaghetti with Meatballs, also the sauteed green beans were excellent.  If you need to get your Buca fix on there are locations in the twin cities.

Honorable Mention: The Knox Cafe

If you like this story you will probably like The Next Top Ten missed Des Moines Restaurants

If you like Des Moines nostalgia, check out our Nostalgia Page.



25 Comments Add yours

  1. Gregory Wells says:

    Big Daddy’s BBQ on Forest Avenue, a few blocks west of Drake campus

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gino’s, north of Downtown on Sixth Avenue.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The entire Younkers building was not destroyed in the 2015 fire. Half of the building, including the Tea Room is currently under renovation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwhite409 says:

      Thanks Roseann. You are correct I made the correction


  4. susan polden says:

    Johhny and Kays
    The Vets Club


  5. Jim Hyatt says:

    The list as a whole is fine although I think Johnny and Kays belongs in the top 10…and not have Babe’s as the “most missed” to me just seems foolish. More “iconic” than Younkers in so many ways.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Buca do Beppo was not a Des Moines restaurant. It was one location of a large chain that happened to have a location in the metro for a short time.


  7. Anonymous says:

    The Knox cafe


  8. Clyde Fickes says:

    Raul’s had the best tacos and Mexican food in Des Moines. And Johnnie and Fannie’s had the best spaghetti!!


  9. Clifford Moldovan says:

    TOPS….great quick food! (Was by the main post office on University. Porky’s on E 30th by the State Fairgrounds. Campbells on Hubbell Ave by K-Mart. Dahl’s cafeteria on East Hubbell. Boston Market…when it first arrived in Des Moines. All these food dives….great memories and now long gone.


  10. South side Mike says:

    In my opinion, a couple of your choices should never have been on your list. Buca had a neat atmosphere, but the quality of their food and service was rhird rate at best. Bishops food was good, but there was so much spilled food ground into their carpets that the restaurants always had the faint smell of a landfill. Not pleasant.


  11. Tom Clegg says:

    I’d suggest:

    The Rusty Scupper – outstanding seafood on Grand Ave.

    The Colorado Feed and Grain Co. – steaks and live music.


    The Mandarin – traditional Chinese in Beaverdale.


  12. Anonymous says:

    Cork & Cleaver and The Draw Bridge in West Des Moines


  13. Anonymous says:

    Chain restaurants in the Des Moines top 10 missed restaurants?! What a shame…soo many other amazing places that were locally owned!


  14. Anonymous says:

    Johnny and Kays fine and casual dining. Solace to go and celebrate!


  15. BB says:



  16. Warren says:



  17. Suz says:

    Vic’s Tally Ho, Wimpy’s, Fatino’s, Kings Food Host, Scarpino’s, Davy’s Supper Club


  18. Bishops? Really because it was mentioned in a book? The reality was that the only reason everyone went there was because it was cheap. The food was the same quality of Old Country Buffet. It was a chain cafeteria as in the same quality you get in a hospital cafeteria. In 1983 on the whole chain was owned by Kmart. I don’t think you can get more away from be local than that. Also Buca do Beppo was a chain restaurant. Why not list Churches Chicken, Boston Market and the countless other chains that have failed here?


  19. Heather Knapp-pettinger says:

    Crimmen’s cattle company on fleur or Hellen and pats on euclid. Those are most missed by my family friends and self.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. J.J. Kilroy says:

      Thank you Heather for the comment, I miss both of those as well


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