801 Grand Prix Fixe Menu

Ok, So I’ve written about this once before, but it’s worth another mention.  801 Grand Chophouse.  Aptly located at 801 Grand Avenue in Des Moines, has this super awesome Prix Fixe menu only offered on Sunday evenings.  It’s not an every Sunday type of meal, but if you’re celebrating a special occasion, you are sure to wow the pants off your date, mom, brother, long-lost cousin (you get the point), etc. with this meal….

For only $36 (waaay back when I first moved to Des Moines about 11 years ago, the price was $25, but alas, we understand inflation), you get a choice of salad, choice of prime rib or filet Deburgo WITH two sides (a veggie and mashed potatoes) and a choice of sorbet or creme brulee for dessert.  This is a lot of food!  And the best value you can get at 801.  And don’t forget that you can still add one of their signature rubs (free) and sauces to your steak to glam it up a bit.  The cognac mushroom sauce ($4) is out of this world and makes the prime rib maybe the best thing I’ve ever tasted.  Their wine selection is of course phenomenal, but you can enjoy this meal and not have to spend extra on alcohol, though Rick thoroughly enjoyed his martini as well!

So like I said, this may not be in the budget for every Sunday night, but you have to give it a shot at least once.  Just look how happy we are after eating! =)


Vines to Wines


Lurra Cocina

I had really been anticipating the new Downtown restaurant, Lurra Cocina! Spanish tapas restaurants are hard to come by in the metro and the menu here at Lurra Cucina had me excited! Plus, I’m also a fan of Nick Illingworth ventures (i.e. the now defunct Magnolia Food truck), so I had a feeling I’d like Lurra.

2015 SCI Fundraiser & Auction

IMG_6350Remember our friend Jessie The Cow that Josh spent a whole evening bidding on last year?  Well, on August 28th, 2015, we’ll be at the annual Science Center of Iowa Fundraiser and Auction again hoping to bid on a friend for Jessie and we hope you will be too!  Well, we hope you’ll be at the event, not necessarily outbidding Josh on paintings.

IMG_6331That’s right, one of our favorite events of the summer is coming up on August 28th and I got to sit down with Marla, one of the event coordinators this week and get the inside scoop.  This year sounds bigger and better than ever and features a “Space” theme, complete with a real, live astronaut!  Astronaut Clayton Anderson will be at the event signing books and answering all of your “spacey” questions!

IMG_6336They are keeping some of the favorites from past years, such as the Moscow Mule bar, delicious food vendors like Hy-vee, Gateway Market, Christiani’s and Creme, but adding more decor, more themed foods (like fruit “rockets” get it? Space Theme? Rockets? I love it!), more seating and more locally made auction items in a dedicated “Make Section” in the silent auction.  Some of the hand-made auction items include local food, furniture and more.  I’m very excited about seeing lots of IMG_6345locally produced wares and of course bidding on them!  Don’t worry, you can still bid on plenty of local event packages, foodie packages, vacations and even unique packages like a trip to see Wheel of Fortune or a chance to attend the Mercedes-Benz Driving School in Germany.   I know!  Cool!

IMG_6334For more information and to buy tickets, visit:

and make sure to RSVP on Facebook at:


See you there

The Dinner Detective

IMG_0754What do you get for the guy who has his Birthday, Wedding Anniversary and Father’s Day all in a matter of a few weeks?  Well, a Murder Mystery Dinner apparently!

I had got word that these 3 hour events were taking place at the Embassy Suites in Downtown Des Moines a few months ago and knew we needed to give it a shot.

IMG_0753The current calendar has a show scheduled every Saturday evening from 6-9pm.  $59.99 includes dinner and the show.  You can pay extra for packages that include t-shirts, coffee mugs and even chances to be a part of the show.

Dinner is a salad, choice of chicken, pork or a vegetation option with potatoes and vegetables and cheesecake dessert.  They also have some passed hors d’oeuvres as you are seated.  The meal was pretty typical of what you’d expect at a wedding reception at a hotel.  It was good, but I wouldn’t come specifically for dinner.  There was also a cash bar available.

The show was a good mix of funny and “who dun it?”.  I won’t give too much away from what happened during the show, but instruction are provided right away and it isn’t to hard to figure out what’s going on as soon as you begin.  There is a lot of role play involved, even on the part of the guests.  Every guest is a suspect since the real actors are actually seated among the guests and not revealed until the end of the game.  There are prices for those who can guess the murderer correctly.  The best players were definitely the ones who weren’t afraid to mingle and ask questions of other “suspects”.

IMG_0752All-in-all, a fun evening.  We went as a couple by ourselves, but were surprised when we met another couple we knew there and they happened to be seated at our table.  It definitely upped the fun factor to have friends along, but would have been enjoyable had we been just the two of us as well.

I would definitely recommend trying this at least once.  According to their website, the company is based out of Los Angeles and have a number of casts nationwide, but use local actors for the shows.  They periodically change the theme of the show, so it could very well be a different show on another visit.  Guests must be over 18 and no shorts or printed t-shirts are allowed.  One guy showed up in shorts to our event, but they let him stay because he came two hours to see the show and blamed not knowing about the dress code on his wife.

They also do private events for groups for birthdays, etc.  I think that would be really fun to have a group of all friends as well.

All of the menus, calendars and info is on their website. Check it out!


The Lion King

IMG_6395-1IMG_6398Having just returned from a week in Disney World (literally just returned less than 24 hours ago), with the “Disney Magic” still very fresh in our minds, I didn’t have huge expectations for The Lion King at the Civic Center tonight.  I had never seen this production of The Lion King and just wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had heard great reviews, but thought maybe it was because it was popular with the kids.  What do I know?!

Well, Des Moines Performing Arts did not disappoint with this one.  My seven-year old was mesmerized throughout this whole show, and so was I!  The costumes were just amazing.  At times I actually forgot that the cast was human and not in fact the animals they were portraying.

IMG_6393Because the storyline followed the movie so closely, it was fun to watch with my seven-year old because he was so into the story and knew how it was unfolding.  I felt like this was a great age of child to bring to this performance.  There were a few younger children around us and it was hit or miss whether it kept their full attention throughout the whole show, but it may have had to do with the fact that this particular showing didn’t start til 7:30pm and ended at 10:00pm.  Try for one of the afternoon performances with younger kids.

But whatever you do, don’t miss The Lion King while it’s here in Des Moines.  Opening night was tonight (April 30th) and it runs through May 17th with lots of show times available (but some are already sold out, so hurry and get your tickets!).  More info and tickets here.

IMG_6409Quick tip: the souvenir line in the main lobby (as well as concession stand) had huge lines.  It wasn’t IMG_6411until we headed to our seats that we realized there was a second souvenir stand (and concession stand)  in the east lobby with hardly anyone there.  So head to the east lobby to avoid the long lines to grab your snacks and souvenirs before the show!

Oh! And don’t think you need to bring kids to enjoy this show.  This would make a great date night as well!

Baking Experience Camp at Creme Cupcake

Today’s guest post is by my friend Janel who loves to try new things in and around Des Moines with her kiddos.  Her sons attended the Baking Experience Camp at Creme Cupcake in Des Moines this week and had a great time!  The camp is three days long and is for kids ages 9 and up.  She was nice enough to share her experience with us.  While it may be too late to get in on this camp this summer, definitely keep it in mind for next because it looks like a blast!  Thanks, Janel!

get-attachment-28.aspxMy sons attended The Bakery Experience Camp at Crème Cupcakes.  It was  three days of amazing baking fun. The first day they learned how to make cinnamon rolls and cake balls. This was probably my favorite day, these are my favorite kind of treats.

“These cinnamon rolls are as big as my head” my son exclaimed!


get-attachment-33.aspxThe second day was lemon bars, brownies and cookies. My youngest son (9) said this was his favorite day.

The final day was all about decorating cupcakes! The eldest boy (11) enjoyed this day the most.




Holly Evans, who ran the camp was absolutely wonderful with the kids.   She encouraged each of their creative talents by teaching them how to roll and shape the fondant into whatever their imaginations desired.




Also by quickly whipping up the personally customized frosting color choices for lessons on how to pipe like a PRO!

After presenting their creations they were awarded a certificate for excellence in all things baking!

The Italian Heritage Festival

We always have a great time at the Italian Heritage Festival in Des Moines.  The 2014 event will be held on July 25th & 26th, 2014.  2013 was a great year for the event, it was the largest one yet and 2014 looks to be shaping up to be even better.  Lots of great food vendors, free inflatables, crafts, face painting and balloon animals for the kids, live music and lots of fun contests like pasta-eating and bocce ball tournaments.  The festival is free


from opening until 5pm when there is a $5 cover charge to get in.  Children 12 and under are always free to get in.

Of course we sampled everything from pizzelles to meatballs to Italian Nachos (which I highly recommend) to gelato and fresh squeezed lemonade.

The highlight (food-wise) was the Italian Nachos that were topped with beef and sausage, tomato sauce and mozzarella.  There was a topping bar of peppers as well.  So good!  My sons favorite was the Italian cookies.

While kids spent most of the time bouncing on the inflatables (I also really appreciated that they had boxes full of socks available for kids since in the middle of July a lot of kids wear sandals and sock are required for the bounce houses.) and doing crafts, they seemed to really enjoy the entertainment that we caught that day too which included a bagpipe player and dancers.

If you missed this year’s event, mark your calendar for next year!  A great, free (during the day) family outing or a great inexpensive date-night!  Alway wonderful to be able to learn a little about Italian heritage, have some great food and have some fun.



get-attachment-25.aspxget-attachment-12.aspxI admit it, even though this year marked The 80/35 music festival‘s 7th festival, it’s the first year I attended.  Yup.  It may have been Cake (the bad, not the dessert) that enticed me enough to come out for the fest.  Even though I have a degree in music, sitting and watching music for long periods of time just isn’t my thing.  I thought I might be bored, so I never went.  Boy was I wrong!  I’m kicking myself for not coming to this event sooner.

get-attachment-13.aspx get-attachment-14.aspxThe event takes place in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park and while you have to pay admission for the main stage, their is lots of free fun to be had too.  It’s so much more than just bands (on three separate stages) playing all day.  There are lots of food vendors and art merchants, a kids play area and beer gardens.  Access to everything but the main stage is free.

Man, this was so fun, even my almost 7 year old had a great time and he even liked Cake as much as I did (in the 90’s at least =)!

get-attachment-17.aspx get-attachment-15.aspx

Things to bring that made this two-day festival a great experience for us were ear plugs and cash (lots of vendors didn’t take credit) and our friends came equipped with lawn chairs, a blanket and glow sticks so we had everything we needed to have a comfortable spot to relax and enjoy and had a base to return to when we were off enjoying the vendors.  I can’t wait til next year now! What a cool July 4th weekend tradition.

Plan a Stay-cation in Des Moines!

Everyone looks forward to that next vacation. Who wouldn’t benefit from a few days away from the daily grind?  Unfortunately, trips that require pricey travel, meals and accommodations aren’t always in the budget or sometimes time just won’t permit leaving town.  Or maybe you just haven’t had a chance to explore everything our own city has to offer?  That’s when the “stay-cation” comes into play!


get-attachment-15-1.aspxFrom The Science Center of Iowa to The Botanical Gardens, Living History Farms and The Zoo, there is always something to do in Des Moines.  Des Moines is becoming more and more of a Vacation destination due to the great festivals and fairs such as the The Art Festival, The World Food and Music Festival, The 80/35 Music Fest, The Italian/American Festival, The State Fair of course, the top-notch weekly Farmer’s Markets and many others.  So it’s no surprise that Des Moines is a great place for a stay-cation.


You don’t have to go to Napa for a Wine Tour. Iowa boasts many local wineries to make your stay-cation enjoyable for the adults, and maybe even the kiddos too.  284106_10152126184460276_827190723_nSunday Tunes at Summerset winery in Indianola is only about 20 minutes from Des Moines, and they have music from 2-5 every Sunday along with wine, cheese fruit and other food vendors, so you can relax and sip in their beautiful vineyard.  Kids are welcomed and ours always has a great time dancing and picnicking on the lawn ($3 per person or $10 per car load).  Jasper Winery in the heart of Des Moines, right near Grays Lake offers wine and cheese or wine and chocolate pairing everyday ($15 for 4 pairings-advance reservation required)!  Sit by the fireplace with friends to savor and enjoy.  We even have our own Dinner Train!  Check out the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad‘s dinner trains in the summer every Saturday night at 5:30pm.


IMG_8309If beer is more your taste, check out one of the craft breweries popping up around town.  You can check out Confluence in Des Moines after a stroll around the lake or ride your bike the leisurely 6 miles to 515 Brewery on the bike trail in Clive.


Is nature and sports your thing?  Check out hundreds of miles of bike and running trails just in Iowa!  You can get pretty much anywhere in Des Moines using the bike system.  In the summer, take a leisurely ride from Orlando’s to The Cumming tap on your bike for Taco Tuesday.  IMG_0359About 16 miles round trip will take you back and forth from two fun bar/restaurants where The Cumming Tap has Tacopocalypse tacos every Tuesday night for riders.  Or rent a paddle boat or canoe for just a few bucks at Gray’s lake for the day  or take a moonlight float.  Catch an ICubs game in the summer or watch the Iowa Wild tear up the ice in the winter.


Is food the main attraction in your stay-cation?  Des Moines has lots of options and you can check out the local flavor at lots of locally owned farm-to-table restaurants like HoQ in the East Village where more than 90% of all the food is grown locally and you can shop the local stores like Raygun while you’re there.  Burgers more your style? How about one of the only Zombie-themed restaurants in the country, Zombie Burger!  Make sure to grab a gourmet cupcake at Scratch Cupcakery or Live, Love, Bake if you’re out by the Jordan Creek mall for some shopping.  Or have a cocktail and dessert at Des Moines dessert lounge, Creme Cupcake.


394509_10151154789170276_365490208_n-1Like to swim?  Even in the winter you can check out The Ramada Tropics Water Park Resort for a one-night getaway close to home.  The kids love the pirate-themed splash area and large water-slide.  In the summer, choose from many aquatic centers around town or hit one of the many free splash pads Des Moines offers!


What? You were thinking a Broadway Show would complete your stay-cation…Well, we don’t have Broadway, but we have the next best things!  You can catch a musical or play at the Des Moines Playhouse or The Civic Center or laugh your head of at The Last Laugh Comedy Theater or The Funny Bone.


Looking for some free and low-cost educational activities? Check out the State Historical Museum, The Des Moines Art Center and Rose Garden, The Iowa Hall of Pride or visit the Salisbury House and Garden for some great photo ops!  The Sculpture Garden downtown is lovely in the evenings and with lots of great restaurants nearby, you can grab a bite and have a picnic on the lawn.


IMG_2117Check out the Union Park Carousel to entertain the kids or head to Altoona for a roller coaster ride at Adventureland or try your luck at the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino.  The kids love to watch the live thoroughbred horseracing in the summer and in July they even have ostrich, zebra and camel races!


We hope you consider a stay-cation in Des Moines for your next vacation and of course check out for over 300 restaurant reviews, a kids eat free list, free stuff to do and more!