Dad Date: Alba (& Luna & Red China Bistro)

As those of you who are avid readers of my blog already know, my parents recently moved to Des Moines. I am so fortunate to have them here NOT just because they take me out to fun dinners, but because I get the opportunity to actually spend time with them for longer than a crammed-together holiday weekend. Since moving here about a month ago, we’ve already had the opportunity to do so many fun things together, from Iowa Cubs games to bike rides to delicious meals. Well, my dad is as much of a food lover as I am (desserts especially!), so he decided that once a week, we would go on lunch dates. His brilliant idea was sparked by an article in Juice magazine, listing the top sandwiches in the Des Moines area. Well, knowing how much we love our food, my dad decided that it was our duty to eat our way around Des Moines and find the best sandwich/lunch spots. So far, we’ve tried three different locations. Unfortunately I forgot to post on the other two, so I will include a short synopsis of each in this post! All of them have been huge successes (it helps that I’m starving when I get to lunch…) but today’s dad date was the best yet. See below for the last three weeks in chronological order.

Dad Date #1: Luna Bistro

Luna was the originator of our “Dad Dates.” My dad had seen their BLTs advertised in Juice magazine, and since you really can’t discriminate against BLTs, he decided that we simply must try them. We ventured over to the East Village, snagged a BLT sandwich and a veggie sandwich, and took it back to the Meredith Test Garden to split. Both sandwiches were phenomenal. The BLT was no ordinary BLT: It was layered with pancetta, mixed greens, and tomato jam on golden buttered toast. However, the veggie sandwich won out for the day. With veggies spilling out the sides of the crunchy toast, this sandwich featured zucchini, squash, tomatoes, asparagus, onion, and white cheddar cheese. Both sandwiches came with a vinaigrette-topped side salad, which was a nice and light accompaniment to the good-size sandwiches. I had never heard of Luna prior to our lunch there, figuring it was new since there hadn’t been much hype about it. Turns out it recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. Congratulations, Luna! I will definitely be trying Luna again, and I hope that people start talking about this delicious little restaurant so it will stay in business! Go try it and let me know what you think!

Luna Bistro lunch grade: A

Dad Date #2: Red China Bistro

Last week, both parents met me for an end-of-the-week lunch at Red China Bistro on Ingersoll. I’ve previously dined at Red China Bistro for both lunch and dinner, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. This restaurant frequently offers deals with local coupon companies, and since I had one of the 1/2-off coupons, I decided to use it on the lunch with my parents. RCB has higher-end chinese food, ranging from sesame chicken to sushi. In previous experiences I’ve ordered sushi (which isn’t too bad!), but this time I opted for Sesame Chicken. We started with crab rangoons, which were delicious but could have used a bit more crab/cream cheese mixture. They’re in the shape of a square, and there’s only a tiny pocket of filling, which makes it challenging to spread the filling across the whole wonton (don’t worry, I still made it work…). My parents ordered seaweed salads (yum!) and split the Thai Basil with chicken. Both meals were good, and what I would have expected for each entree. I don’t think this restaurant is the best Chinese restaurant in Des Moines by any means, but I think that they’re atmosphere is fun, their service is good, and every time we’ve been, the food has been consistently tasty. My dad LOVED it, and raved about their wine selection (they have Washington state wines :))

RCB lunch grade: B

Dad Date #3: Alba

Ahhh, Alba. How I love you so. This was my third trip to Alba, and since my previous trip with Ryan, I’ve been dying to go back. We conveniently drove by Alba on our trip to Luna two weeks ago, it sparked my dad’s interest, and after my raves about it, we decided to try it out this week. I’ve never been for lunch, so I wasn’t sure what to expect on the menu. I was pleasantly surprised that the lunch menu was completely different than their dinner menu. It was full of sandwiches, burgers, salads, and a few specialty dishes. I ended up with the open-faced veggie sandwich and a side of asparagus soup, and my dad, of course, got the short rib burger with fries and seafood chowder. Holy yum to all of it. The one previous complaint I’ve had about Alba is that for the price of the food, the portions are pretty small. Well, not only were our portions large, but their lunch menu is very reasonably priced as well, ESPECIALLY for the quality of food you’re getting. My dad’s burger was a N.Y. strip burger topped with short ribs (What!?!) and white cheddar cheese. The fries were crisp, and his chowder was delicious (I liked the crunchy bits of bacon). Since I’m not a big burger fan, I definitely preferred my sandwich…potato, mushrooms, cabbage, squash, carrot. tomato, onion, radish, zucchini. Now that’s what I call a veggie sandwich. Smear a bit of goat cheese on the perfectly toasted crust — heaven. I was so in love with my sandwich that I didn’t focus too much on the asparagus soup, but from the bite or two I had of it, it was good! Ugh, I love this restaurant. Dad Date #3 was a definite success!

Alba lunch grade: A+

Veggie Sandwich

Veggie Sandwich + Asparagus Soup

Short Rib Cheeseburger

If you have any suggestions for where we should try next, please let me know! We’re taking the next week off since he’s traveling, but we’ll be raring to go in two weeks (and starving, no less!) 🙂



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