what to do in des moines if you’re not a politico journalist


I’m sorry Melanie D. G. Kaplan, but your list is wrong. Disgustingly wrong. It’s not your fault though. I’m sure you consulted with someone who is not fun and also probably a landlord.

So, I just did a cursory google search and I found out that the average individual income in Des Moines is $23,989. Wow! That’s horrible,,,,,,,,and it also likely invalidates any of these suggestions. As a person who isn’t a financier, I think I can offer some alternatives that aren’t totally wack.

Farmer’s Market?

Do you like to wait in a line for 35 minutes to get a smoothie in a hollowed out pineapple? What about hearing someone who looks like the guy your aunt dated in 2005 play acoustic Daughtry songs as you sweat out vegetable oil? No. No you don’t.

The Farmers Market is a pulsing, pungent leviathan. By the time you get your produce, horseflies have orgy’d out in their delicious juices. Don’t bother with that shit.

Instead, try Collectamania.

Collectamania isn’t just a thrift store, it’s an expedition into the murky depths of Midwestern ephemera. There’s a few places in Des Moines you can experience a cashier who has smoked for like 75 years and somehow is still alive recommend $3 dollar Michael Bolton posters, but this specific emporium is secluded away. It’s an underrated adventure.

Drake Relays?

This recommendation is utterly confounding. I’m sorry, but like, 98% of Iowans do not give a tap-dancing fuck about track and field. The only time you ever hear people excited about the Drake Relays are when former Drake students wax poetic about all the times they used the event as an excuse to get blitzed off Busch Lite.

If you really want to enjoy a bacchanal sporting-adjacent ritual, head to Iowa City.

For a couple Saturday mornings every fall, all the Kyle’s and Braeden’s from Waukee and the greater North Chicago suburban area descend onto Kinnick Stadium with feral avidity. I know that doesn’t sound especially appealing, but take it from me, a bookish doofus who writes Medium articles, the Hawkeye tailgate communion is an endorphin surge fueled by bratwurst, blue raspberry vodka, and B-’s at the Tippie College of Business. It’s a fine spectacle, an event that many Iowans use to purge their most primordial desires.

(Note: If you’re a weird superchurch protestant and into watching your home team lose, you can tailgate in Ames)

3. Iowa State Capitol?

Every couple of years, the Iowa State government blows a few million dollars on gold leaf. Considering the state’s medical infrastructure is one of the worst in America and a majority of our waterways have been poisoned by pigshit CAFO runoff, you’d think they’d direct that money into fixing those. They don’t! And never will. Because Iowa’s state government is run by cartoon villains who hate you.

So, I’d say, don’t tour our gaudy capitol. Instead, come to a local DSA meeting!

Liberal democracy is a sham, a dictatorship of capital over labor. Don’t celebrate its institutions. Help us tear it down!

The Art Center?

Okay. This one. Ngl. Gotta agree. The DSM Art Center is, in fact, unilaterally wonderful. Frankly, it’s shocking. All you can think once you witness their collection is, “why is the rest of the art scene here so unabashedly vanilla?” Apologies, but I can’t really answer that.

Good Job WashPo. It was an obvious suggestion, but a vital one.

St. Kilda?

St. Kilda’s rise to local popularity is empirically undeniable evidence that Iowans devolve into impressionable dolts whenever they hear a fun (white) accent. If an Australian guy told some dude in Urbandale to assassinate their grandmother, they’d murk mee maw with Freikorps barbarity.

What asshole wants their fish and chips grilled?

In all honesty, St. Kilda’s food is staunchly adequate if you can stomach waiting like 90 minutes for all the Wakonda country clubbers to clear out from brunch and the 35% upcharge. Personally, I don’t like $15 avocado toast. I’m a fan of the good ol’ fashioned regular, pleasurable breakfast.

May I suggest!

Even if you have to wait a spell for your seat, you can rest assured that zero of the items on the menu will feature an eclectic vegetable farmed by serfs in South America. The chicken and waffles is a solid 7.5 out of 10 which is the best you can do north of Kansas City. Please, if you drift towards Des Moines, help us reject the faux-Williamsburgification of this poor city.

And like, if you absolutely need pseudo-Anglophile shit, try the Royal Mile.

Hello, Marjorie?

If you have enough disposable income to go out and confidently pay for multiple fucking $14 cocktails, umm, would you mind paying for my rent for next month?

I’ve been to this place once. Sure, yeah, the drinks are fun and intricate and nuanced or whatever, but you have to take into account crowd and fiscal responsibility. Do you really want to blow $40 while being forced to hear jackasses bellow about their new summer home at Lake Okoboji? Also, Kerouac is a garbage writer.

A bar is a cherished space where one can escape the drudgery of wage labor. And that’s why I like to spend time at the two below establishments:

Cheap. Dusky lighting. Divey, but like, you won’t get tetanus by sitting down. Do yourself and your wallet a favor and get sloshed at an actually chic drinkery.


I do not trust some guy from the Midwest to do any sort of gastronomic justice to Southeast Asian culinary tradition. This is why I’m criticizing this WashPo article. This right here. This isn’t straightforward gentrification. This is like, importing trends of gentrification from wherever major American city. I’m sure the chefs at Harbinger are quite talented. But cmon. Read the current cultural milieu bruh. Do we need another upscale white American nouveau fusion Asian cuisine bistro? I’d rather the meat and potatoes.

I’m not going to suggest a single restaurant here. I’m just going to link the best Asian restaurants on Yelp and you can make the right decision from there: https://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=asian+restaurant&find_loc=Des+Moines%2C+IA

Waveland Cafe?

Yeah. Waveland Cafe is unarguably good. This is a solid suggestion!

Fontenelle Supply Co.?

If you come to Des Moines, or really any city, and one of the places you’re eager to go to and blow bands at is the “fancy-leather-and-ax-and-whiskey” store

  1. Read this: https://nosubject.com/Oedipus_complex
  2. Go to therapy

It’s okay dude. It’s totally above average. We all believe you. It’s okay bro. Stop clenching.

The next WashPo suggestion was Valley Junction. And I conditionally agree! You don’t need to purchase rugged boutique leather workboots or campfire cologne or whatever overt masculinity/depression signifying commodity. But, if you are in the market for something charmingly vintage, you can traipse on down to the Junction.

Buy a Skynyrd tshirt. Maybe there’s a Big Star vinyl you can bop along to on your Crosley when you get back to Milwaukee?


Do I hate the insipid center-right liberalism that propagates Raygun’s entire aesthetic? Yes. The disdain festers in my core.

That being said. You should actually go. And I know you will. The store has an irresistible gravity. But it’s okay, a stroll through becomes an anthropolitically educational experience. You get to directly apprehend the feeble affectations of libs who believe themselves to be superior than idk someone from Fort Dodge because they watch Jon Oliver, make 80k as a supervisor at Bluecross Blueshield and live on the outskirts of Waterbury. Keep your enemies close!

The rest of the article lists some fancy ass hotels and the High Trestle Trail Bridge.

The bridge is pretty cool. As for the hotels, what can I say? The Des Luxe is not a DSM staple lmao.

I’m not writing this to be a pugnacious twerp online. National media tastemakers and local property developers understand that by vigorously reiterating their contrived narrative that Des Moines is a fledgling hip, affluent city, they can create some new markets and make bank. The Des Moines depicted by the Washington Post is microcosmic, a capitol in which a very comfortable minority lives in. Like most cities in this deprived nation, urban culture is defined by a vast racialized class divide.

If you find yourself in Des Moines for some reason, eat at Ted’s Coney Island, have a smoke outside the Vaudeville Mews and shoot the shit, take a walk at Greenwood, with maybe a coffee mug full of wine or something. Ask around. People are generally cordial here.

If you find yourself in Des Moines cause you’re some upstart mouthpiece for whatever imperial rag, please, just go sip on a bourbon flight at the Republican On Grand and leave the rest of us alone.

member of the socialist commentariat.