Family-Friendly Places to Eat in Des Moines

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Family-Friendly Places to Eat in Des Moines

As any parent knows, dining out with the kiddo (or kiddos!) is an entirely different experience than when dining out with adult-only company. Des Moines is booming with fun and unique places to eat. Our family loves to discover new places to eat. When it comes to restaurants and eating out as a family it is more than the tasty food and beverages, it is the experience we have while dining out. We enjoy eating out, trying new food, and indulging in a great craft brew but all of these do not matter if our kids are not enjoying themselves too. If you’re looking to update your go-to list of kid-friendly restaurants in the Des Moines area, check below for a few family favorites. 

Check out these other Des Moines foodie guides:

Big Acai Bowls

Address: 117 5th Street, West Des Moines

​Website: Big Acai Bowls 

Located in Valley Junction, is one of our favorite places to grab a healthy lunch or snack. We first fell in love with Big Acai Bowl when they launched their food truck. Their food truck was such a hit they went on to open TWO physical locations in Ankeny and Valley Junction. Our favorite place to dine is the Valley Junction location because of the spacious back area.

Big Acai Bowl, kid friendly, Des Moines

Blaze Pizza

Location: 300 W Martin Luther King Jr Parkway, Des Moines, IA 50309; 1551 Valley West Drive, West Des Moines, IA 50266; 6305 Mills Civic Parkway, Ste 4200, West Des Moines, IA 50266

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10:30 am-10 pm, Friday-Saturday 10:30 am-11 pm (MLK Location); Sunday-Wednesday 10:30 am-8 pm, Thursday-Saturday 10:30 am-9 pm (Valley West Location); Daily 10:30 am-10 pm (Mills Civic Location)

Website: Blaze Pizza 

Why We LOVE It: Everyone gets exactly what they want, no compromising needed! The environment is kid-friendly, good food is prepared within minutes for hungry kiddos who are hungry now, and…it’s PIZZA!  

Central Standard

Location: 1222 SE University Ave, Waukee

Website: Central Standard

We are big Central Standard mainly for their amazing shakes, but also their large appetizers. Normally our family can split a few and fill up quickly. They have great food and super-friendly service. A great stop for a birthday party too! On Sundays, they offer half-price meals for the kids off the kid’s menu. 

Cozy Café

Location: 8385 Birchwood Court, Johnston, IA 50131

Hours: Daily 7 am-8 pm

Website: Cozy Café Johnston

Why We LOVE It: Family-owned restaurant that serves all-day breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a relaxed and comfortable environment. 

Either/Or Eatery & Patio

Location: 6222 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312

Hours: Thursday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Monday – Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.


A place for adults, families, dogs, and more. This truly is a gem of a restaurant in Des Moines that offers a fun outdoor space for kids to play, a large open patio that is welcome to dogs, delicious food, cocktails, and Lua Brews! If you are planning to visit I would highly recommend making a reservation. This is a hot spot in Des Moines!

Gateway Market

Location: 2002 Woodland Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312

Café Hours: Monday-Thursday 10:30 am-9 pm; Friday-Sunday 8 am-9 pm

Website: Café Menu

Why We LOVE It: This might not be a place that immediately comes to mind for places to dine out with kiddos, but trust me, my son loves the grab-and-go options in the daily hot case buffet – especially the chicken strips and mac and cheese!

Gusto Pizza Bar

Address: 2301 Ingersoll Avenue, Des Moines

Website: Gusto Pizza Bar

We enjoy a divine pie approximately 2-3 times a month. Gusto Pizza is much more than your average Joe pizza, the toppings and creativity are endless. Our family enjoys spending a busy weeknight after activities chowing down on pizza and playing card games. We keep card games in our car to easily bring in when we eat out.

One of my favorite concoctions is The Elvis. Bacon and peanut butter on a pizza? Yes, please!

The Hall

Address: 111 S 11th Street, West Des Moines

Website: The Hall 

If you follow me on Instagram you probably see us regularly visit The Hall in Valley Junction. We are huge fans of local craft brews and food trucks, so this is the perfect place to enjoy both worlds. The ambiance of The Hall is amazing too. I love the community feel, staff, and the option to try multiple food trucks and local brews in one spot.

Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet

Location: 1801 22nd Street, West Des Moines, IA 50266

Hours: Daily 11 am-9:30 pm

Website: Hibachi Grill

Why We LOVE It: There is something for everyone! Kids and adults will find plenty of this multi-cultural offering of Chinese, Japanese, and American buffet dishes. Plus, kids 2 and under eat free!


Location: 4100 University Avenue, West Des Moines, IA 50266 and 2310 SE Delaware Avenue, Ankeny, IA 50021

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 am-9 pm; Friday-Saturday 11 am-10 pm

Website: Huhot

Why We LOVE It: Choose the meat, noodles, veggies, and sauce to create a unique and personalized masterpiece each time. For my son who is a fairly picky eater, this is the perfect spot that never fails to fill him up! Kids 3 and under eat free!

Jason’s Deli

Location: 3910 University Avenue, West Des Moines, IA 50266

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10 am-9 pm; Friday-Saturday 10 am-10 pm

Website: Jason’s Deli

Why We LOVE It: The salad bar! I love the endless salad bar and appreciate that there are options for gluten-sensitive and vegetarian diners. Plus, let’s not forget the ice cream that is included with each meal! Definitely a great place for kids. 

Old West Mexican Restaurant

Location: 4138 Fleur Drive #2324, Des Moines, IA 50321

Hours: Sunday 11 am-9 pm; Monday-Thursday 11 am-10 pm; Friday-Saturday 11 am-10:30 pm

Website: Old West Mexican

Why We LOVE It: I’m a fan of Mexican restaurants for the chips, salsa, and queso at the start of the meal because it’s a great way to keep kids happy until the main course arrives. This is a favorite place for its flavor and fajitas! 

Smash Park

Location: 6625 Coachlight Drive, West Des Moines, IA 50266

Hours: Sunday 8a-10p; Monday-Thursday 8a-11p; Friday-Saturday 8 am-12 am

Website: Smash Park

Why We LOVE It: Food + games = kid win! Smash Park offers a menu that has traditional kid favorites along with a full menu and a full bar for adults. Plan to come for lunch and stay for an afternoon of fun. They offer arcade games, board games, yard games, pickleball, and more. This is a great place all year round, but especially during the warmer months so you can enjoy the yard. Order the sheet ton of nachos! Perfect for the whole family to share during a family gathering. 

Note: This is also a GREAT place for bridal showers, corporate events, family reunions, or any other special occasion. 

Smash Park, Des Moines, Family friendly, games

Smokey D’s BBQ

Location: 5055 NW 2nd Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50313 (Main Location) and 601 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309 (Downtown Skywalk Location)

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10:30 am-8 pm; Friday-Saturday 10:30 am-9 pm (Main Location) and Monday-Friday 10:30 am-2:30 pm (Skywalk)

Website: Smokey D’s BBQ

Why We LOVE It: A laid-back environment for all ages, award-winning barbecue, and daily comfort food specials. This is a good option if you have a larger family as the main location has a side room with seating for bigger groups.

Social Eats & Crafts

Location: 655 NE 56th St., Pleasant Hill 

Website: Social Eats & Crafts

Social Eats & Crafts is located within Great Escape which offers bowling and arcade games. In addition on Tuesday nights kids 12 and under receive a free kids meal from 5 to 9 p.m. with the purchase of an adult entree. This is a great place to grab a group of friends and have some fun! 

Tokyo Steak House & Sushi

Location: 113 SE Delaware Avenue, Ankeny, IA 50021

Hours: Sunday 12-9 pm; Monday-Thursday 11:30 am-2 pm and 4:30-9 pm; Friday-Saturday 12-10 pm

Website: Tokyo Steak House

Why We LOVE It: Not only is the food good but the show and entertainment provided by the chefs are sure to delight small eyes.

Zombie Burger

Location: 300 E Grand Avenue

Website: Zombie Burger

You cannot go wrong with Zombie Burger located in downtown Des Moines in the East Village. They have a fun ambiance with zombies everywhere, over-the-top shakes such as the Cinnamon Toast Crunch shake, and burgers of course. This is our kid’s favorite spot when we explore downtown as a whole family. 

Looking for where kids can eat free at Des Moines restaurants? Check out our Kids Eat Free Guide in central Iowa. 

Michelle Jarnagin

Michelle Jarnagin

My name is Michelle Jarnagin and I live with my husband Dave and our son Devic in Des Moines. We have two Chihuahuas - Loki and Ollie. I work full time as a social worker and Dave is the stay-at-home parent in our household. Devic is currently in Kindergarten and will be entering 1st Grade this fall. In our free time, our family enjoys walking with the dogs, exploring parks and playgrounds, and visiting bowling/arcade centers. This summer you're likely to find us at the baseball fields for Devic's second season or enjoying one of the many festivals/activities Des Moines has to offer.

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