OHHH YEAH, IT’S A GODDAMN KALABLAMA LIME MIXER BANG BANG! Just what you have all been waiting for, our first fucking RESTAURANT REVIEW (loud crowd cheering noises), because we all love a review on the internet. It’s everyone’s chance to be a “food writer,” a chance to show the world just how much your opinion means to YOU! YEAH! WELL, HERE’S MY HIGHLY UNDERQUALIFIED OPINION ON A FUCKING RESTAURANT I WENT TO!
Gastro Grub & Pub has a very human story. They started as a food truck in the middle of the middle of the country, serving at local breweries, doing events and business park lunches, and building a pretty solid following. As they built their business towards a more permanent home, one of their founders fought through and cancer to see their dream of a brick and mortar location become a reality. You can read a much more detailed (and accurate) telling of their story HERE.
The menu is very straight forward about what is Vegan and what isn’t. If it says “Vegan Brussels Sprouts Appetizer” it’s Vegan. “Vegan Burger” it’s Vegan. I fucking love this, as I’m sure we all get a little fucking tired of having to read every ingredient of every seemingly safe menu item on every menu. Not that I don’t still read them all, but when it says “Vegan” in the title, it’s reading in a more relaxed mood. It’s a nice touch, for sure, and a show of the move towards a more Vegan-friendly dining situation in the Des Moines metro area.
So, here’s the story…
Gastro Grub & Pub are just outside the edge of the city in the town of Waukee, which is host to the start of the Raccoon River Valley Trail, one of my favorite paved bike trails with a 100-ish mile loop, and the option to go further north and takes me within 25 miles of my home town. I take this trail into and out of Des Moines on the reg, and the food options for me are pretty scarce, usually involves just drinking a fucking beer and a shot then hauling ass back into the city for a meal. GG&P is situated in the perfect location, just across the street from the bike trail, 16 miles from my house, so a ride out for lunch and back effectively burns off most of the lunch, and when doing the century loop it’s at about mile 95 on the way back in, which is a great point to stop, eat, and have a goddamn beer or two. Or even three or four.
I took off on a cold windy day on the single speed gravel bike to make the the 16 mile trek out to Waukee to see what they had done with the spot in a relatively new building that formerly housed a different restaurant. (deep breath) Arriving well after the lunch rush, the dining room was quiet with a few stragglers remaining and a couple new tables walking in. It was a pretty standard afternoon scenario at any restaurant, and it was perfect for me to have some quiet time to warm up with an ice cold beer. Looking at the menu, there is the amazing (and already mentioned) Vegan labeling which was a welcome sight to my tired cold eyes. The head wind out to the restaurant was a pile of bullshit, and with no gear choice but the one I brung, there was no reprieve. I was tired. Reading was hard.
The Vegan Burger, Fries, and a Single Speed Brewing beer seemed like the an appropriate order, the beer arriving first, followed just in time by the burger and fries. The Vegan burger I suspect is made in-house, but I forgot to ask. It came dressed in a Garlic Aioli, Arugula, Tomato, Pickle, Onion, on a house made bun. It had the fucking goods. The fries were a little light in color for my taste, but were crisp and delicious all the same. I inhaled the fuck out of my meal, slammed the remainder of the beer, and got my happy ass back on the bike with a tail wind and fond memories of the meal that just crawled into my belly.
My lunch was fucking perfect. In fact is was so perfect that I decided to take a plus one back that night for dinner, via automobile this time though. We entered a wholly different room at dinner, it was packed to capacity and buzzing with the din of happy diners. I fucking love seeing this in a new, deserving spot. It warms my cold shitty heart. We opted to sit at the bar, squeezing in between two other couples, and ordered a round of drinks. I continued with my Single Speed theme for the day, and my partner in crime ordered one of our favorite drinks, and Old Fashioned. It was proper. The Vegan Tacos and the BBQ Jackfruit sandwich were the last two Vegan entrees left untried on the menu, so we got them. The tacos were a mixture of roasted sweet potato and black beans, guacamole, and veggies on home made corn tortillas. The torts were a little dry, which can be an issue when making from scratch. The BBQ Jackfruit really shone, to the point that my dining partner barely let me have a taste. Judging by how closely the sandwich was guarded, it was top notch and highly recommended. Chef/Owner Sean stopped by to check on us, we chatted for a bit and he sent out the Vegan Brussels Sprouts appetizer for us to share. It was one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long damn time. It was definitely something that, had I not known ahead of time, would question whether or not it was actually legit Vegan. That’s one of my favorite problems to have.
The Food has got The Goods, the service was excellent:our bartender was great company throughout dinner, my lunch server was attentive but not overbearing, exactly what I needed as the cold grumpiness was at a fairly high level. The location is a little out there, but I can definitely see some bike rides to their patio for some cocktails and Vegan goodies when the permafrost in Iowa starts to thaw. Omnivores: YOU ARE ALSO MORE THAN TAKEN CARE OF, so take a Vegan friend there for lunch or dinner and wow the shit out of them.
THE VERDICT: Gastro Grub & Pub gets Five Hell Yeahs, Five High Fives, and a bonus Thumbs Up.