Whether you’re just trying vegetarian as a means to eat healthier or you’ve been practicing it for years, Des Moines has options for those who want to skip meat when they eat out.
- Open Sesame– This restaurant is one of the smaller locations in downtown Des Moines to get a meal but what they lack in size they make up for with authentic Middle Eastern food. All of their meals come with huge servings so be prepared to take half or more of your meal home with you. Everything tastes fresh and they use real ingredients instead of things that have clearly been thawed out in the kitchen. The vegetarian sampler is a great meal to share with a friend and their hummus is some of the best in town.
- Ritual Café– I recommended Ritual Café for their coffee here, but their food is just as note-worthy. For those getting breakfast, the Grateful oats is very hearty and has rice milk chai topped with hemp nut granola and hemp nuts. For those getting lunch here, try the Sweet & Spicy, which has chickpeas in curry sauce with massaman curry spread and mango chili jam on marbled rye bread. This café makes you feel like you walked into a college town restaurant without leaving Des Moines.
- Fresh Café & Market– Fresh Café & Market is located inside the YMCA Healthy Living Center in Clive but you can still eat here without being a member of the Y. This café is one of the few restaurants in town to offer fresh wheatgrass shots as well as using organically raised and seasonal food to create their menu. The tacos are a bit spicy but if you like heat then they shouldn’t be too much for you. The tofurkey cranberry panini will give you the Thanksgiving meal you’re craving year-round only considerably healthier. Their vegan cupcakes are just as good if not better than the conventional ones offered elsewhere.
- Krunkwich Ramen House– Krunkwich has a full vegan that is separate from their regular menu which is nice since a lot of places will just offer a small section for vegan or vegetarian choices that can feel like it was an afterthought. The menu is divided by noodle dishes, sandwiches and Krunk tots. The noodle dishes are made with vegan broth and some offer fried tofu as a topping. The sandwiches like the vegan “burnt ends come with vegan sauces and are topped with a generous serving of shredded veggies and herbs. Finally, the tots are topped with a vegan miso whiz which is best described as a vegan version of velveeta or cheese whiz and krunkspice as well as a different variety of toppings to choose from.
- Big City Burgers and Greens– Big City Burgers and Greens has more than just burgers and salads on it’s menu for those wanting a healthier lunch spot during the work week. If you’re wanting a sandwich go with their veggie club that has avocado, sprouts, lettuce, tomato and crispy mushrooms. If you’re wanting a salad, their salad menu has a lot of choices that are more than just the basic side salad. The kale salad has dried fruit, radish, carrot, wheat berries and comes with a poppy seed dressing. This is a great place to go as a group so everyone will have an option in what they can order.
For more ideas on where to go to lunch in Des Moines, click here.