Beer, cheese curds, pork tenderloins and a new bar: Here's what to eat and drink at the Des Moines airport

·6 min read
Inside Des Moines International Airport restaurant Arugula & Rye, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.
Inside Des Moines International Airport restaurant Arugula & Rye, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.

Few things in life are more pleasurable while waiting for a flight to board out of Des Moines International Airport than sipping an ice-cold pint of beer.

The always reliable, and somehow more delicious, airport beer — add in some stress from traveling during the holidays, or flying for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and that wheaty airport beer can mark the official start to vacation.

But the airport has more to offer than beer. While not comparable to the sprawling, endless options found at larger airports, Des Moines travelers can find some delicious meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and yes, even some Iowa craft beers to sample.

Related: Holiday travel rebounds despite ongoing pandemic

Kayla Kovarna, spokesperson for the airport, said travelers should anticipate long wait times and encourages passengers to arrive early amid busier holiday travel months.

"Pack your patience and exude Iowa nice," Kovarna said. "Know everyone is doing their best to get you to where you need to go. Airline ground crews are working hard and being patient and understanding makes these peak travel times much more enjoyable. And bring an extra mask."

Here’s what’s waiting before you step on the plane or during your layover at the Des Moines airport:

More: Amazon Air arrives at Des Moines International Airport as company pushes toward same-day service

Pre-screening

Before Transportation Security Administration screening, fliers and those waiting for travelers can order a beer at Berk & Chester’s or shop for an Iowa gift at Hudson, a national travel retailer. Currently Berk & Chester's is only serving drinks, while its kitchen — serving breakfast, lunch and dinner — remains closed since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will reopen the kitchen when we see more demand for landside dining options,” Kovarna said.

At Hudson, don’t miss the selection of local gifts, including Bozz Print T-shirts, Pickle Creek oils and vinegars and dog treats from Woofables.

Post-screening

After passing through the TSA checkpoint, travelers arrive at the airport’s terminals, where six dining and drinking options stand ready to serve.

More: Airports are getting busy again—here's what you need to make your travels more comfortable

Another Hudson gift shop also awaits travelers with an extensive display of wireless headphones and a wide selection of sunglasses. One section of the store includes more Iowa-related products including Raygun apparel, locally made jams, and tiny corn plushies for those looking for souvenirs or holiday gifts. Prices for snacks and drinks are reasonable, too.

Friedrichs Coffee

Friedrichs Coffee inside the Des Moines International Airport, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.
Friedrichs Coffee inside the Des Moines International Airport, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.

Opening at 4:30 a.m., Friedrichs Coffee is the obvious choice for early-morning travelers looking for a quick, low-hassle breakfast. The coffee bar serves hot, custom breakfast sandwiches on English muffins, bagels, croissants or biscuits. Smoothies, muffins, cinnamon rolls and premade sandwiches are also available. According to staff, the Snickeroo latte is one of the most popular drinks but for an early morning buzz, try the frozen espresso martini.

Mill Supply Co.

The Mill Supply Co. inside the Des Moines International Airport, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.
The Mill Supply Co. inside the Des Moines International Airport, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.

Mill Supply is the airport’s version of a convenience store, offering nearly every snack imaginable. The mini shop is perfect for grab-and-go travelers who prefer to munch on Peanut M&Ms rather than eat a full meal at the airport. Kovarna said her go-to is a cup of fruit as something refreshing and low maintenance to bring onto flights. Don’t forget to pick up a pack of gum to chew that will help pop ears after the elevation change after the flight takes off.

Portermill

The Portermill inside the Des Moines International Airport, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.
The Portermill inside the Des Moines International Airport, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.

The full-service bar and grill Portermill is the airport’s flagship restaurant offering meals throughout the day and a selection of 18 Iowa-made beers on tap. Opened in 2017, Portermill centers around the restaurant’s broad, horseshoe-shaped bar. Windows along the back wall let travelers watch planes take off while they sip bloody marys or flights of beer.

According to AJ Marrs, airport operations manager of Aero Service Group, which manages the airport's food and dining options, Portermill sells burgers and fries more than anything else on its menu.

The cheese curds are the real star of the show. Portermill sources its Gouda fresh from Frisian Farms Cheese House in Leighton. The fried, cheesy nuggets come with Portermill’s house ketchup that’s a sweet, tangy sauce.

Frisian Farms Gouda cheese curds from the Portermill inside the Des Moines International Airport, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.
Frisian Farms Gouda cheese curds from the Portermill inside the Des Moines International Airport, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.

While Portermill’s menu features eggs Benedict and other breakfast dishes until 10:30 a.m., and salads, sandwiches, pasta and salmon in the afternoon and evening, the airport restaurant’s own pork tenderloin ($14.50) could compete with those found at the Iowa State Fair.

The meaty sandwich was crispy and topped with salty, maple-glazed ham. The Confluence IPA chicken breast ($17) continued the local fair theme and came drizzled with a maple-mustard sauce.

Aside from 18 Iowa beers on tap, the restaurant's bottle and can list features another 30-plus craft brews such as Single Speed Tip the Cow milk stout, West O peanut butter stout and Railgater pale stout from Reclaimed Rails. Beer flights include four five-ounce pours for $14.

The Confluence IPA Chicken Breast from the Portermill inside the Des Moines International Airport, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.
The Confluence IPA Chicken Breast from the Portermill inside the Des Moines International Airport, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.

Arugula & Rye

Inside Des Moines International Airport restaurant Arugula & Rye, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.
Inside Des Moines International Airport restaurant Arugula & Rye, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.

Those who want to avoid sitting down at Portermill can stop by Arugula & Rye for quicker bites and lighter fare. The cafe includes a deli, a self-service salad bar and a full menu of made-to-order flatbreads. The restaurant connected to Portermill also includes a row of windows for plane watching. Try the Cuban or any of the flatbreads.

At C Concourse

Coffee & Bar opened in July 2020 as a remote bar offering more accessible coffee, drinks and snacks for passengers. The C Bar is an extension of Portermill, offering a full bar for travelers who want to stay close to their gates. According to Kovarna, “within a couple months, the revenues from the C Bar were meeting pre-pandemic expectations,” leading to the recent opening of a similar remote bar in the A Concourse.

At A Concourse

The new A Bar, inside the Des Moines International Airport, the week before its expected opening, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.
The new A Bar, inside the Des Moines International Airport, the week before its expected opening, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Des Moines.

The bigger sister of C Bar, A Bar opened Monday at A Concourse and mirrors the menu at C Bar. To fit the bar on the concourse, the airport removed some seating.

“We knew we were not capturing all of the demand, which is why we moved forward with opening the C Bar and the A Bar to recapture passengers who bypassed Friedrich’s due to a long line,” Kovarna said. “Portermill offers craft beer and a full restaurant dining experience, whereas The C Bar and A Bar offer limited food options, but cater to those passengers who want to be near their gates while they enjoy a quick bite and a drink.”

More: A fifth of Iowans would be 'thrilled' to see an Ikea, In-N-Out Burger come to the state, Iowa Poll finds

Hannah Rodriguez covers retail for the Register. Reach her at herodriguez@registermedia.com or on Twitter @byherodriguez.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Traveling through the Des Moines airport? Here's what to eat and drink

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