You know it’s fall when all of the food items on the shelves and in restaurants features pumpkin as a prominent flavor. The following are the best places to get your pumpkin favorites without having to go to the big chains.
- Drake Diner– located at 1111 25th Street, the Drake Diner doesn’t make you wait until the fall to get their pumpkin pancakes so feel free to order these year round. Their pumpkin pancakes are a deal for 3 for $6.99 and come with real butter and warm maple syrup. They live up to the “better than pie” proclamation and are very generous in size so you’ll probably be better off getting the short stack.
- Classic Frozen Custard–located at 4000 SE 14th Street and 2437 Adventureland Drive in Altoona, this pumpkin custard isn’t too strong in the pumpkin flavor unlike other ice cream places in town which is perfect for people who like pumpkin but don’t love it enough to have it be a little overwhelming. They are incredibly generous with their servings here so even one scoop will probably be enough to get you full. I would recommend buying the pre-packed pints around late October/early November so you can continue to enjoy it over the winter since they close for the winter. For more ice cream places in Des Moines, click here.
- Cool Basil– located 550 36th Avenue in Altoona, they share the same name as the 1250 86th Street in Clive location and even share a very similar menu though they’re not affiliated with each other. Either way, both feature a pumpkin curry that is downright delightful. It’s savory and has a very mild pumpkin flavor. I love the sauce enough to want to treat it like a cereal bowl and just drink it straight from the bowl but I’ve been advised this is slightly tacky so I’ve had to refrain. The chicken comes in huge pieces and their vegetables are always fresh and crisp.
- Palmer’s Deli–located at 2843 Ingersoll Avenue as well as West Des Moines, Ankeny, Urbandale and the Kaleidoscope downtown, Palmer’s Pumpkin bars somehow manage to be better than their infamous brownies. The bars taste homemade and the spices are just right in giving the perfect pumpkin flavor. The frosting is a rich cream cheese that only enhances the cake rather than distracts from it. I only wish they sold these by pan instead of individually. I recommended Palmers multiple times so click on the meal you’re interested in to read more about their lunch and breakfast options.
- Zombie Burger– located at 300 East Grand, 1550 North Ankeny Blvd. in Ankeny and in the food court at Jordan Creek Mall, Zombie Burger has the best pumpkin flavored milkshake in town and you even have the option of getting it spiked. The milkshake has a very thick consistency and is topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream. You’ll want to order multiples of this though your waistline will probably tell you otherwise. They have the best milkshake menu in town so even if you don’t like pumpkin, there’s plenty of out of the box flavors that you’ll be sure to find something to enjoy.
- Nan’s Nummies–located at 501 Elm Street, Nan’s Nummies pumpkin bars are only available in the fall and winter but are so worth the wait. These taste like they’re straight from your grandma’s stove. The bars are just the right amount of moist- not too much and not super dry like some bars- and the frosting isn’t sickly sweet. They’re also a bargain at just $1.25 per bar.
- Mars Café–located at 2318 University Avenue, Mars Café pumpkin spice latte makes you forget that other infamous pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks. This PSL uses real ingredients and you can taste the difference immediately. This is a great drink to go to enjoy in the crisp fall weather or to curl up with in their cozy café and while away the afternoon.