Restaurant News, Golf Events, Des Moines Mercantile
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March 23, 2021  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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Sample a small plate of Filet Mignon Wellington at Aura, a new take on American cuisine through the Wasabi restaurant group. Photo: Duane Tinkey


Writer: Karla Walsh

Food news, fast! Nope, we’re not talking about fast food chains here, but there’s a lot moving and shaking within the restaurant world these days. So to catch you up quick, here’s a rapid-fire round of what’s new and next in Des Moines dining.

Jason Simon expands his food family: Alba, Eatery A, Harbinger (which Simon owns in partnership with chef Joe Tripp) and Motley School Tavern are about to have a couple of new siblings. Restaurateur Jason Simon confirmed that he purchased the former Saints Pub + Patio space at 4041 Urbandale Ave. in Beaverdale. He's also progressing with plans to transform 428 E. Locust St. (which used to be the Continental) into an upscale Mexican concept. Opening dates for both are still to come.

Basic Bird lands its own brick and mortar: No word yet on where, but Joe Tripp’s Korean fried chicken concept that has been operating out of Harbinger will soon have its own storefront. Stay tuned at for more.

Aura opens today: Jay Wang, the mastermind behind the Wasabi group and Papaya Asian Street Food, is opening the doors at his latest West Des Moines spot (12851 University Ave.) at 3 p.m. today. Read more about Aura, a new American-style restaurant, in our March/April issue. (By the way, Des Fresh Foods, also mentioned in that story, is officially open now at 550 S.W. Ninth St.)

Franka expands: Hot on the heels of the December opening of their East Village location (111 E. Grand Ave., Suite 101)—which used to house St. Kilda Surf and Turf—Franka Pizzeria, a wood-fired pizza brand, is opening a second location in the former RedRossa space in Clive, co-owner Whitney Hall verified.

Two food trucks settle into Johnston: Starting as food trucks and now adding restaurants to their fleets, Flame and Charlotte’s Kitchen recently opened brick and mortars. Cure your chicken cravings at Charlotte's Kitchen (6150 Merle Hay Road, Johnston) and swing by Flame the Taqueria (5765 Merle Hay Road, Johnston) for a Mexican street food fix.

Ingersoll just keeps getting better: Landing its second location at 2301 Ingersoll Ave. (where BAH Brazilian Steakhouse previously lived), Thai Flavors will open soon. Watch their Facebook page for more details.

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The Principal Charity Classic takes place at one of Des Moines' premier golf clubs, the Wakonda Club.


As the weather warms up, let's think ahead a few months—to golf, summer and sunshine. Here are a few local outings to put on your calendar.

Great Futures Golf Tournament: Hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa on June 14 at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club, this charity event will feature foursome shotgun-style gameplay (meaning each group starts on different holes). There are also fun hole contests, lunch and a tee gift package. Tee times are 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Donation packages vary in price.

Principal Charity Classic: If you want to watch some top-flight golf, the Principal Charity Classic will return June 1-6 at the Wakonda Club, featuring players on the PGA Tour Champions circuit. Ticket packages start at $20 if bought in advance. All funds will go toward local charities.

Annual Golf Outing: Ronald McDonald House of Central Iowa combines its annual fundraiser golf outing with networking, food and auctions. The event is on June 2 at the Beaver Creek Golf Club in Grimes.
    Des Moines Mercantile in the Highland Park neighborhood sells a variety of Iowa-based products. Photographer: Duane Tinkey


    A Highland Park shop reflects the neighborhood’s past while embracing current artisans, including many from Greater Des Moines.

    Opened last June, Des Moines Mercantile (3703 Sixth Ave.) is the new marketplace to find Iowa-based quality goods for gift-giving, decorating, dining, cleaning and more. It’s also become a magnet for locals looking to explore the up-and-coming neighborhood on the city’s north side.

    Owned by Mallory and Jordan Richardson, who live in the neighborhood, the shop stocks local brands such as Valley Junction’s Bozz Prints (state park prints, stickers and calendars) and Side Garage (T-shirts), as well as Pammel Park Coffee and Red Dragon Herbs & Teas. Mallory’s father, a woodworker who made the shop’s signature cabinetry, also hand-crafts cutting and charcuterie boards from reclaimed wood—perfect for display on open shelves or kitchen islands.

    The shop’s goal is to provide high-quality goods and a “modern general store inspired by simpler times,” Mallory says. Vintage cabinetry displays soaps; Shaker-style peg rails hold garden tools and cleaning supplies, plus brooms made using 1800s techniques. Also find Amana Woolen Mills blankets and pillows constructed from vintage wool—both ways to freshen up your home for spring.

    Des Moines Mercantile is open Thursday through Sunday.


      If you're anything like us, you've been eyeing some home improvements during the winter. The Des Moines Home and Garden Show is sure to be an excellent source for inspiration, as it returns Thursday through Sunday at the Iowa Events Center.

      The four-day event will include dozens of exhibitors offering a range of services and products for kitchen and bath, automotive and garage, and more. For the green thumbs, the show will showcase two feature gardens, with patio spaces, furniture and space ideas. Admission is $11 if bought in advance; $13 at the door. You can find show hours and other information here.  
      Central Academy’s pottery coursework caters to beginner, intermediate and advanced throwers. The new studio opened before the start of the school year. Photographer: Duane Tinkey


      Writer: Kelly Roberson

      Think about raising $500,000. Where would you start? How would you keep going, dollar after dollar? How long would it take?

      It would be a herculean challenge for anyone, much less some scrappy Des Moines high school students and an art teacher. But raise a half-million dollars is just what Dara Green and Central Academy pottery students did. Their six-year-long dedication paid off in the fall of 2020 when the W.T. and Edna M. Dahl Studio opened its doors to beginning, intermediate and advanced high school potters.

      Read the rest of the story about Central Academy's new pottery studio, from the March/April issue, here.
        Mahi mahi tacos at the Walnut (served on Fridays) include fish, red onions, avocado and wasabi garlic ginger sauce.
        Photo: the Walnut


        After a tough year for tourism, Catch Des Moines released its list of places to check out in 2021. Called "The Catch List," the lineup features date night ideas, family-friendly locations and moreeverything you need to plan a staycation. Here are a few spots that caught our attention: 

        Simon's: Catch Des Moines calls this bistro and bar one of the worst-kept secrets in town. Serving up Italian fare like steak de Burgo and chicken Florentine, Simon's is located west of the Beaverdale neighborhood.

        Historic Valley Junction: With warmer temperatures, now would be a good time to walk around Historic Valley Junction's myriad shops, ranging from boutiques to art galleries. You can also wander over to the Hall for a dinner and beer.

        The Walnut: Sometimes lost among the many restaurants around the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, this spot is offering a special menu during the pandemic, including sandwiches, burgers and tacos. You can also grab a drink during happy hour, 3-6 p.m. every day.
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