Fresh 503 Dining and Events
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October 26, 2022
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From left to right: salmon and cabbage wontons, stuffed mushrooms, and focaccia and fromage at 503 Cocktail Lab + Tasting Room.

503's Fresh Menu, Cocktail Classes and Events

Writer: Karla Walsh

Two of the most common questions I receive at community events:

  Where should I dine next?
  When is Table 128 going to open?

Since we broke the news about the plans for Table 128 to move from 128th Street and University Avenue in Clive to downtown, a few unpredictable factors arose, chef-owner Lynn Pritchard admits. (This seems to be more the rule than the exception since the pandemic began, right?) But watch for more details coming soon; Pritchard promises it is still coming.

In the meantime, head to 503. 503 Cocktail Lab + Tasting Room (503 E. Locust St.), that is—Pritchard’s other project that’s definitely worthy of a spot on your “best of the East Village” list. Although the kitchen is small, chef Jarred Clark is turning out exceptionally thoughtful small plates to pair with mixologist Jake Humburg’s classic and modern cocktails (or wine, beer, or a spirit-free sip if you prefer).

From the late-summer menu, I fell in love with the “Focaccia and Gruyere,” a small loaf of bread stuffed with gruyere and manchego cheeses, garlic and tomatoes, all showered with balsamic, olive oil and fresh herbs. While I was sad to see it go from the frequently updated seasonal menu, it’s certainly not a bad “consolation prize” to have savory mushroom bread pudding and cashew chimichurri-topped roasted sweet potatoes awaiting me on my next visit. If you’ve ever dined with me at a Pritchard establishment, you know that those will (read: must) be followed by at least one of his signature mini chocolate chip cookies.

If you, too, want to sample the latest from the 503 “lab,” you can now do so with some bonus entertainment. From 8 to 10 pm. this evening, Oct. 26, 503 will host its first singer-songwriter night with Andrew Hoyt. Then on Friday, Nov. 4, from 6 to 10 p.m., 503 and photographer Tatiana Giacinti are teaming up to host a First Friday art exhibition.

Cocktail classes also are on tap, starting with "Intro to Cocktail Making" Nov. 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. The cost is $40 per person; get tickets and find out more here. “From that point," Pritchard says, "we’re planning to branch out with a modern twist on the classics, then themes like ‘what can you do with bitters?’ ”

For the holiday season, expect gift kits featuring 503’s signature cocktail ingredients, desserts and more. So much to patch us through until 128 opens.

503 Cocktail Lab + Tasting Room is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m. Visit for more details and to see the current menu, and follow @503_dsm on Instagram for new menu drops, event announcements and more.
Yehezkel Lazarov plays Tevye (left) and Andrew Hendrick portrays Lazar Wolf (right) in the North American tour of "Fiddler on the Roof." Photo: Joan Marcus.


Enjoy a Weekend at the Theater

With not one but two shows from Des Moines Performing Arts, there’s sure to be no shortage of theater this weekend.

“Fiddler on the Roof” plays the Des Moines Civic Center for eight performances now through Sunday. Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher refreshes the stories of tradition and family in this new tour of the classic production. Hear Broadway classics like “If I Were a Rich Man,” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” performed by a new cast and orchestra. Tickets are available here.

If you’re looking for some laughs, see “The Crown – Live!” at the Temple Theater. This parody of the Netflix drama “The Crown” revisits Elizabeth Windsor’s rise to Queen Elizabeth II as told by budding actress Beth and her agent, Stanley, after Beth is passed up for the role of Elizabeth. Tickets are available here. It runs through Oct. 30.
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The Ray Way Celebration (Friday, 5-7 p.m.): The Des Moines Botanical Garden wraps up its Ray Way event series celebrating Asian heritage and culture with this event. Held at the Robert D. Ray Asian Garden, the free community event includes trick-or-treating with Asian treats and snacks by local vendors, performances, plus a short program at 6 p.m. The first 100 guests receive a free lantern. Costumes are encouraged.

Best of Horror Screening and Awards (Friday, 7 p.m.): The 48-Hour Horror Film Project Des Moines will screen 11 of the top entries to their local horror film contest at the State Historical Building Auditorium (600 E. Locust St.). After the screenings, winners will be announced. There will also be a costume contest with a cash prize. Purchase tickets to attend here.

Lindsey Buckingham at Hoyt Sherman (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.): Grammy Award-winning musician Lindsey Buckingham starts off his U.S. tour with a night in Des Moines. The ex-Fleetwood Mac member is touring his newest self-titled album. Tickets are available here.

Day of the Dead at the Art Center (Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.): In a celebratory collaboration with 2022 Iowa Artist Miriam Alarcón Avila, the Art Center will infuse themes of luchadores (wrestlers) into its annual Day of the Dead Celebration to honor Mexican heritage, ancestors and immigrant experiences. Find food, activities and entertainment, plus view Avila’s new exhibit that opens Friday. Scroll down to read more about the exhibit.

Christmas theater: Tallgrass Theatre Company will stage “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” Nov.4-20. A sequel to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” set two years after the novel ends, Miss Bennet continues the story with bookish middle sister Mary and an unexpected guest at the family Christmas party. Get tickets for the upcoming production here.
Halloween on the Hill: Sherman Hill’s Halloween on the Hill will return from its two-year pandemic hiatus on Oct. 31. Residents will decorate their homes and collect donations for the Des Moines Area Religious Council food pantry. Hot chocolate and other items will also be for sale, with proceeds going to the nonprofit group Beacon of Life, which supports women in crisis. Find more information about the event here, and check DMARC’s most-needed items list for donation ideas. Iowa Stops Hunger is an ongoing Business Publications Corp. initiative to raise awareness of food insecurity in Iowa and inspire action to combat it.
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CRMA involvment: Business Publications Corporation President and CEO Suzanna de Baca has been named to the board of directors of the City and Regional Magazine Association (CRMA). The industry association seeks to encourage high journalistic standards as well as to compile industry data. Suzanna’s appointment “demonstrates that the thought leadership and quality work happening here at BPC are recognized not only by our readers but also by our peers," said Connie Wimer, BPC’s founder and chairman.
Fundraising gala: The Annual Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus Gala will be Nov. 4 at the District Venue (1350 S.W. Vintage Parkway, Ankeny). The fundraising event will feature performances from the chorus, plus dinner and a silent auction. Purchase tickets to attend here.
Country music concert: Popular country star Jason Aldean will perform at Wells Fargo Arena tomorrow (Oct. 27) with special guests Chase Rice, John Morgan and Dee Jay Silver. Tickets for the “Rock n’ Roll Cowboy” tour are still available here.
The lucha mask serves as a “great symbol for immigrants living in Iowa,” allowing them a way to freely share their stories without the fear of being recognized, photographer Miriam Alarcón Avila says. (“Luchadora Gracias A La Vida” by Miriam Alarcón Avila; color, photograph courtesy of the artist.)

Art Center Exhibit Honors Immigrant Experience

Writer: Christine Riccelli

In the years following her immigration to Iowa City in 2002, Miriam Alarcón Avila was finally starting to realize her lifelong ambition of becoming a fine art photographer. Her dream had been long deferred by her upbringing in Mexico City, where her widowed mother couldn’t afford to buy her a camera; her practical pursuit of biology in college; the move to Iowa City for her then husband’s career; and the financial struggles she faced as a divorced mother raising two children on her own.

But she slowly furthered her skill set and eventually started shooting local musicians as well as projects for Hancher Auditorium and other organizations. Although she enjoyed the work, “the one thing missing was my own culture, my own identity,” says the now 52-year-old Alarcón Avila. “I felt alienated.”

So she “started looking for diversity other places I went,” she says. What she found was discouraging: Other than at heritage festivals, “the only place you see [Latino immigrants] is behind the scenes—cooking or cleaning in the middle of the night. … We are invisibles.”

That realization spurred her to try to elevate these “invisibles” by creating a project in which their voices could be heard and their stories shared, says Alarcón Avila, whose work will be featured in an exhibit opening Oct. 28 at the Des Moines Art Center.

Read about how Avila uses the traditional lucha masks of Mexican professional wrestlers to create space where these immigrants can be seen and heard in this dsm article.

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