Buzzard Billy’s

I’m sad to report that this was only our first visit to the new Buzzard Billy’s now located in the “In-Play” building off of 3rd street downtown.
I really liked the old location on court ave, but I think they did a good job making it feel similar and the food

was certainly as good.

I started out with a hurricane drink that was fruity and sweet but they

were generous with the alcohol because I was soon feeling pretty good!

I was pretty exited to see that they had a B.L.T special with tomatoes grown in the owners own garden and a gluten-free cheesecake special for dessert.
We ordered the Jambalaya which has quite a bit of heat, but so good in a rich tomato sauce with lots of sausage, ham and chicken chunks.  The Cajun B.L.T was also very good, although the hubby ordered it with regular bread instead of the jalapeno cornbread which I think would have been amazing, but he isn’t a big cornbread fan.  His only complaint was that it could have used a little more tomato.  But he said the spicy bacon was awesome.
The kids meal for $3.99 was a bargain for such a huge portion that included an ice cream cone for dessert.
I couldn’t pass up the gluten-free salted caramel cheesecake and I’m so glad I didn’t because it was by far the best gluten free cheesecake I’ve ever had.
It had a nutty, cinnamon-sugar crust with creamy cheesecake filling and a layer of caramel on top.  I will need more soon.
I knew I would eat the whole slice of cheesecake so the hubby got his own dessert.  He went for the bananas foster which was fun because

they made it table-side.  The server said it’s their most poplar dessert and it was also really tasty.
The kiddo was happy with his ice cream cone and over-all it was a great meal.  It was great to see that even though Buzzard Billy’s is a chain, they are using a lot of local ingredients.  They had Sutliff Cider on tap as well as a bunch of other local beers.
They offer buy one get one free orders of wings on Sundays and offer free dessert on your birthday.  Our sever was very friendly, the service was fast and I was surprised to see the restaurant not too busy on a Saturday night.

If you haven’t been to Buzzard Billy’s in a while, check it out!  They now offer a wide variety of gluten-free options as well as lots of your favorites from the old restaurant site.  We had a great meal and can’t wait to go back soon!

Grounds For Celebration

In Windsor Heights, right near the Mustards Restaurant on University Ave is Grounds For Celebration.  They have other locations in Beaverdale as well as the Somerfield plaza on Mills Civic in WDM too.


This is more than just your typical coffee shop.  They of course serve your normal line-up of lattes, smoothies, shakes and teas.  But, at lunch time, they have a full menu with table-service.  The menu includes pasta, salads, sandwiches fruit plates and my favorite, the chicken salad croissant.  The chicken salad is full of relish and grapes.  Sweet and tart with tender chucks of white meat chicken, just how I like it.  For about $8.75 you can choose two menu items served with fruit for a wonderful lunch.

They atmosphere is cozy and the staff is friendly.  They also carry an assortment of locally made bakery items including gluten-free cookies which is great because coffee shops don’t always offer something for people with allergies.  They also had some gorgeous looking cakes and muffins all from locally-owned bakeries.

They had a selection of breakfast sandwiches available and even have gelato.

This is the perfect place to meet some friends over a cup of coffee or lunch and dessert!  I once attended a baby shower here and it was perfect.  Casual atmosphere with a relaxing feel and good food and coffee.  Check it out!


Cupcake Emporium

You might have heard of this cool little cupcakery named Cupcake Emporium located in Ames in June when they competed on the TV show Cupcake Wars along with Des Moines dessert shop Creme Cupcake.  While they didn’t take the trophy, they did give us a glimpse into the shops cool decor and yummy cupcakes and I knew I would have to make the trip to Ames and check it out.  So we did!



I didn’t realize that this isn’t strictly a cupcake/milkshake shop like Scratch Cupcake in WDM or Carefree Patisserie which is cupcakes and cakes and cookies, in Valley Junction.  Cupcake Emporium actually has a full lunch menu including sandwiches, soups, salads and walking tacos.

They serve their cupcakes and lunch in the cutest retro-soda shop themed diner-type restaurant.  The decor really is a style all their own as is the menu and personalty of the restaurant.




I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong with any of the cupcake flavors, but we really enjoyed the cinnamon “roll” cupcake because the cake actually had cinnamon chunks baked right in to the batter and my son thought the pie-crust star cut-outs on the cherry pie a-la-yum cupcake were ingenious, as did I .  The frosting on the pink champagne was to-die-for and the peanut butter cup was rich and smooth.  The cakes were all moist and the frosting weren’t overbearingly sugary.  We liked them them all and had to refrain from trying more.  I see another trip in our near future.

We also enjoyed a chocolate milk-shake on our visit, but have yet to try the lunch options.  I am looking forward to coming back soon to try some of the soups.

You could really plan a Fall day trip to Ames hitting Center Grove Orchard on your way up to play at the Farmyard and hit Cupcake Emporium for lunch and cupcakes.  Sounds like a great day to me!


Welcome Back to Walnut Street

If you missed the last few Welcome Back to Walnut Street Lunch events, you still have a chance to attend the last one of the season on September 13th.  The location is well…Walnut Street.

Basically it’s a bunch of food vendors along with live music to entertain and feed you for lunch.  It’s put on by the Downtown Community Alliance and is really a great idea to help promote the revitalization of the area as well as showcase some local music and culinary talent.

My only concern with the event is that they need more vendors!  The vendors were doing a great job getting people fed within attendees time crunches, but as the attendance grows, they’ll need more food trucks!  There were some really long lines at this past event.  Try to get there right at 11 if you can!

The August 16th event boasted food vendors like Local Yocals (read our full review here), Fat Tuesday, Say Cheese, Thelma’s Treats (read our full review here), Three Blind Pigs, Taco Loco and The Mediterranean grill.

I’ve sampled food from all of the vendors except Say Cheese (next event for sure) and really

enjoy all of them.  The chicken gyro from The Mediterranean grill was awesome.  The tatziki sauce is perfect with the marinated grilled chicken.  Fat Tuesday’s (read our full review here)

Jambalaya is fantastic and Local Yocal’s farm burgers might just be the best around.  And who doesn’t love a Thelma’s Ice cream sandwich?!  The mini-ones are the perfect treat size for only $2.

Mark your calendar for lunch on September 13th from 11:00am-1:30pm and come eat some

great local food and hear some great local music.


Hy-vee Brunch (Urbandale/Waukee)

While checking out the new and exciting Urbandle Hy-vee, we noticed that they serve an all-you-can-eat Sunday Brunch buffet on, well, Sundays.  They start at about 8:30am and end at 2:00pm.  During that time, for $14 you can pretty much eat anything you want from the Hy-vee Chinese, Italian, home style kitchen, specialty oatmeal bar, Omelet station and prime rib station. It does not include sushi or deli-sandwiches, but it does include dessert and gelato.  This is a really great deal for only $14 per person if you come hungry.  And the best part is that kids 5 and under eat free from the buffet!

They have an optional bloody Mary bar, but soft drinks and coffee are included in the price.  They also offer some a la cart breakfast items if you’d prefer not to do the buffet.

The new restaurant is pretty nice with servers and cloth napkins, pretty innovative for a Hy-vee.  At 4:00pm they change into their evening restaurant with a regular menu and you can’t eat food items purchased outside of the restaurant in the restaurant.  You can’t do this during the

Sunday Brunch either, but I think it’s acceptable during breakfast and lunch on other days.  We haven’t eaten there for dinner yet, but we thought the brunch was really neat, especially if you are a fan of the Chinese or Italian sections.





All-in-all I really like the new concepts the Urbandale Hy-vee has brought from the specialty cheeses to the expanded health food section

and gourmet prepared food offerings like a sushi bar and gelato stand.  I was pretty impressed with the Sunday Brunch and thought the service was good.  I would recommend That you order your omelet right away though as it took a while to prepare, but it was worth the wait.  Great brunch experience with a good bang for your buck (especially if you have kids under 5!).  Check it out.

Update: The new Waukee Hy-vee also offers this awesome buffet!

Classic Frozen Custard

Classic Frozen Custard on SE 14th Street in Des Moines is just that, a
classic.  Man, I love a locally owned and operated ice cream shop. There are a few in town and
they happen to be spread around the
metro.  Examples are Snookies in Beaverdale, Over The Top in Pleasant Hill and Classic Frozen

Custard in South Des Moines.  And the fact that it’s frozen custard just makes it even better.
They have a small amount of outside seating, but most business is either through the drive-thru or walk-up counter.  Look for a new location to open in Altoona across from Adventure land very soon!
They offer a wide variety of malts and shakes, twisters and sundaes and floats and scoops.  They have daily special flavors as

well as everyday favorites.  Look for their awesome pumpkin custard in the early fall, yum, a can’t miss!
I just love the smooth, creamy flavor of their plan ole’ vanilla custard in a frothy-float.
Whatever you get, you are sure to enjoy.  They bake fresh pie crusts and brownies, etc. for toppings and offer friendly, quick service.
Tips: Hot, summer evenings can get busy though, so keep that in mind.  Totally worth it though!

“I did it all for the Snookies”

Another summer-time favorite spot is Snookies Malt Shop on Beaver Ave in Beaverdale.  Who doesn’t love an old-fashioned ice-cream shop that serves shakes, sundaes, slushes and dips.  They’ve been around for more than 25 years and the location has been an ice cream shop since the 50’s.
They gave everyone a scare last year when there were rumors circulating about Snookies shutting their doors for good.  The owners wanted to retire so luckily they found new owners to save the day.
My kid’s favorite part of getting a milkshake is the cookie they add to the straw.
I’m a fan of the good-ole banana split and for about four and a half bucks, it’s a good deal.
They have limited inside and outside seating and they even have a drive-though.  But, those that live in the area choose to walk on over and eat their treats on the walk back home.
We are so glad there are some locally-owned ice-cream shops around town.  What a refreshing alternative to the big chain places!  
Notes: They only accept cash! So make sure you plan accordingly for your trip. And dogs are welcome too!  They may even have a treat just for them.

Fro-Yo Party @ The Juice Co. Recap

We had a great time at our first ever Eat, Play, Love Des Moines community event.  The Juice Company at the Shops at Roosevelt was kind enough to invite 20 EPLDSM readers in for FREE Fro-Yo!  We had a great turn-out and lots of fun sampling their awesome fro-yo.

The flavors they have are strawberry, mango, doubleberry, vanilla, banana, chocolate peanut butter, peanut butter, strawberry, & chocolate. All of the frozen yogurt sundaes are made with fresh ingredients, no artificial colors or flavors. 

I love that there is an “ice cream” place that is so healthy and tastes so great so close by.  I sampled the chocolate first and me and my kid agreed that it was smooth and creamy and tasted a lot like a Wendy frosty. Yum!  I also had the peanut butter and it was definitely my favorite.  It was very rich and delicious.  The hubby had chocolate peanut butter and he said it tasted a lot like a Reece’s peanut butter cup.  The strawberry was a favorite among other party-goers too, so I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the flavors.

I made sure to catch a photo of each kid trying out the fro-yo to catch their reaction because I think that’s the real test if it’s good stuff.  Every kid loved it, smiles all around!  What a great alternative to the sugar-filled stuff.

I know we are all familiar with the Juice Company’s awesome smoothies and juices.  But, if you haven’t had a chance to try their fro-yo, check it out!  We think you’ll like it as much as we do!

And keep an eye out for some new juice flavor’s they are coming out with!  I got to sample a few the other day and they are delicious and great for you!

Thanks to everyone who came out to make our first event a success!  We look faorward to many more in the future!

Over the Top!

What a cute shop Over The Top in Pleasant Hill is!  We stopped in for the first time the other day because I heard they make some really good homemade ice cream.  And they do!  Tons of premium flavors and you get to pick a mini-scoop of a different flavor to try with your order every time!

The shop itself is adorable, I mean look at the ice cream shaped tables!  They have a party room available for birthday parties and tables to eat outside on hot summer days.

They also have candy and specialize in logo-candies.  Imagine wedding favors or corporate logos on chocolate.  Fun stuff.

I’m envisioning many hot summer evening trips here for an ice cream treat.  I ordered a mint chocolate chip ice cream with a mini scoop of peanut butter.  The mint was yummy but the highlight was the smooth and creamy peanut butter.  It was awesome!

Local ice cream shops are hard to find.  We love Snookies in Beaverdale and Classic Frozen Custard in Des Moines but sometimes you have an ice cream emergency in Pleasant Hill, and here is where I’d go.

Dishin’ it up at The Drake Diner

Today’s review comes to you by the lovely, Elicia Ropte.  Friend of Eat, Play, Love Des Moines, Elicia is wife to Dave (part-owner of the fantastic new 515 Brewery) and mom of two super-cute kids.  Elicia considers herself a foodie and this girl can cook!  I’d take food advice from her any day!  Thanks for the review Elicia!

The Drake Diner, named for its proximity to Drake University, is located at 1111 25th Street in Des Moines.  The Drake Diner is locally owned and operated and has been a local favorite since the doors opened to the public in 1987.  The diner is open from 7AM-11PM Monday-Saturday and 7AM-10PM Sunday. 

The exterior is reminiscent of a retro dining car with its rounded sleek design, bright neon and a large clock above the entrance.  The interior exhibits just enough 1950s nostalgia without being tacky and is always a cozy spot to grab a bite. Breakfast on the weekends is always bustling with hungry diners and tables fill up quickly with eager customers during the weekday lunch hour.  They do accept reservations for parties larger than eight. 

The menu features an extensive list of breakfast items which are served all day with the exception of a few items, such as the oatmeal and grits only being served until 2PM.  There is a nice variety of lunch and dinner items as well.  Have room for dessert?  It doesn’t fit on the menu and tends to rotate often so ask your server for a list of the delicious daily offerings.  Beverages range from fountain soda, specialty bottled sodas, hot beverages and they even offer a selection of beers and wines.

On this particular weekday we arrived at 11:00.  I had my heart set on breakfast but my husband decided on a lunch option.  Our preschooler has always enjoyed the variety the children’s menu offers with choice of one main item, a side from a larger selection than most restaurants offer kids and a choice of beverage.  Each child’s meal also comes with a lollipop and a small toy.  This is not stated on the children’s menu, which I feel is a nice option if you would prefer your child not receive such items.  The lollipops and toys are kept behind the host stand so check with them out on your way out the door!

Our preschooler ordered mini Belgian waffles.  He received two golden and feather light waffles which were quickly drenched in syrup.  His side of choice was the fresh fruit cup which is always impressive selection of melons, green and red grapes, fresh pineapple and fresh strawberries.  Unfortunately four year olds don’t understand that mommy wants to take a photo of the meal before digging in.  My husband opted for the Portabella Mushroom Sandwich and sweet potato fries.  The large, meaty portabella mushroom cap was broiled with garlic butter and then served on a whole wheat bun.  A slice of melted Swiss cheese adorns the sandwich along with crisp lettuce, a juicy tomato slice and red onion slices.  The sandwich was served with a creamy honey jalapeño sauce and my husband declared it very tasty.  The sweet potato fries weren’t particularly note-worthy but were hot, crisp and not at all greasy.  The fries were quite a hit with our toddler.

I went with what the menu stated was a Drake Diner specialty, the Santa Fe Grits.  The menu claims their creamy grits are mixed with sausage, cheddar cheese and green chiles and then are grilled and served with two eggs cooked to your specification with white or wheat toast.  Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?  I think this menu item shows a lot of potential but it could have used some tweaking in the cooking process.  I was surprised to see two dense, fully-formed patties come out to the table and was served with a small cup of salsa.  The eggs were cooked perfectly over easy.  But the Santa Fe grits were extremely dry and I was not able to detect sausage, cheese nor green chiles.  I would probably try this item again as it does sound so interesting.  Perhaps this particular Wednesday was just an off day in the kitchen.

The crowning moment in the meal, in my opinion, was the pancakes.  Drake Diner offers pumpkin pancakes but unlike many other breakfast establishments I’ve visited, the pumpkin pancakes at the Drake Diner are offered year round.  Score!  They are always a beautiful deep orange color with just the right amount of spice as not to overpower the delicate and fluffy pancakes.  I ordered the short stack in addition to my meal but I was only able to get a few bites in!  They were an astounding hit with our toddler and she nearly finished two plate-sized pancakes!

By the time we were finishing up our meal the lunch crowd was in full force.  The diner was alive with happy chatter.  The Drake Diner is deeply rooted in the community and when you visit it’s easy to see why.  As we walked to our car with full bellies and surprisingly contented and calm children, I reflected on our nearly perfect visit.