- Food and Drink
- Ambiance / Location
HoQ is a sustainable farm-to-table restaurant located in Des Moines’s East Village. 90 percent of HoQ’s ingredients come from local farms and the menu changes frequently to showcase fresh Iowa ingredients. Most of the dishes are gluten-free, and you frequently see the words organic, grass-fed, and local on the menu. One can assume that this place is a bit different than most restaurants, and different in this case, is a very good thing.
I gave HoQ (pronounced like hock) a try for the first time during Des Moines Restaurant Week. I was blown away by their ability to support local farmers and vendors, while creating fresh and delicious dishes.
The atmosphere is clean and modern with a bit of vintage flare – like the bright yellow sunflower in a Ball jar on our table. Our waitress knew how to present a bottle of wine (we selected Rattlesnake Red, an Iowa wine from Covered Bridges Winery) and she was able to answer my questions. Now…to the fun part…the food!
Before our meal, our waitress brought out a complimentary sampler platter of sorts, which included bread, “veggie taco salad” spoons, and pickled vegetables. This was unexpected, light and a great way to kick off our first meal at HoQ.
HE ATE: Soup Duo – Cream of broccoli and tomato bisque. I loved this summer “soup duo” concept. One scoop of broccoli soup and one scoop of tomato soup…in one bowl! Not only did the soup look beautiful, but it was rich and delicious.
SHE ATE: Summer Salad – Organic local snap peas, grilled squash, pickled berries, Jack’s cherries, Maytag bleu cheese and black raspberry vinaigrette. This salad was light, tart and well-dressed. I enjoyed picking out the berries and eating them first. While it was a nice salad, I didn’t care much for the raspberry seeds that were found throughout the vinaigrette.
HE ATE: Grass-fed Steak – Hickory Hills Farm organic beef, organic new potatoes, stir-fried organic vegetables and demi-glace. Levi’s steak was cooked perfectly and came out pre-sliced. The demi-glace added a nice bit of moisture to the dish and the potatoes and veggies made the meal hearty. (Secretly, I was hoping that Levi would be too full for dessert…because our dessert was that good.)
SHE ATE: Vegetarian – Organic vegetable tempura, Beluga lentil, tofu, and Basmati rice pilaf, local tomato sauce (all vegan and gluten-free). This is the first all veggie, vegan AND gluten-free meal I’ve tried and…it was surprisingly good! The favors weren’t overbearing and I enjoyed the tempura fried veggies. Since the lentils, tofu and rice are soft foods, the tempura fried veggies really added a bit of needed crunch to the dish.
WE ATE: Local Black Raspberry Crisp – Singing Dog vanilla ice cream with raspberries. Levi and I shared this dish…and I had to stop myself from licking the bowl. The ice cream melted a top the sweet, warm and tart crisp. I could have easily eaten the entire dessert myself (twice, even).
Overall, we had a great experience at HoQ. The professional service, the mouth-watering food, and the local focus makes HoQ a restaurant I would go back to again and again!
Location: 303 E. 5th Street – Des Moines, IA 50309
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 11:00 a.m to close, and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Phone: 515-244-1213 (The restaurant isn’t huge, so I would call for reservations on Friday and Saturday nights.)