On a recent business trip that happened to be to my home state of Iowa, my mom and I were sure to find a special restaurant for us to enjoy on our one night visit.
Through a fellow foodie friend’s recommendation from my hometown of Fairfield, we decided on Hole in the Wall at the Gas Lamp in Des Moines, Iowa. The Gas Lamp is an eclectic music venue with great beers on tap and they bring all kinds of music from punk to bluegrass through. It’s got the right kind of grunge and edge, yet brings in all kinds of people.
Hole in the Wall is dubbed as a food stand / pop-up restaurant. The cooking space is a tiny room attached to Gas Lamp with barely any room to move, and the menu comes out on a small rectangular piece of paper.
Fueled and run by Zach Gutweiler, 23, who moved to Des Moines recently from Denver. No stranger to the chef world, Zach went to culinary school at Johnson and Wales in Denver and spent time cooking at Linger, Root Down, Zydeco, Crema Coffee House and then helped open Populous before his move to Iowa.
Think high-end, creatively refined organic food, paired with PBR, taxidermy aesthetics, and a special menu that rotates based on his favorite seasonal foods. He’s absolutely pushing the envelope.
I think Zach is sharing his unique food with people that might not expect that food in that kind of location. In fact, it might even be his blessing and curse in that he has to help drive education around what steamed lengua buns or peanut butter curry might be but it’s innovation at its best.
But you can tell Zach is doing this his way and his style. No compromises. Zach shared with me that he goes out to the farms himself and picks all the food, it’s almost all local and organic and the elevation of quality, is so obvious.
Since it’s in Iowa, the food is so much cheaper where we were buying dinner for $7. Albeit, the food came out on paper plates with paper napkins, but Zach usually delivers it himself and is genuinely interested in putting good food in bellies and making people smile.
Above you can see the weekly hot plate, which rotates, and consisted of shrimp, grits, and okra influenced by Zach’s Southern upbringing. I loved the BBQ chicken steamed bun, covered in house BBQ sauce, jicima slaw, pickled mustard seed, and basil Noosa yogurt.
One of his dishes was brussel sprouts, with a fried egg on top that came with fish caramel, mint, cilantro and grana padano. We also enjoyed a mac and cheese dish, mixed with kale and the best part was the dessert which is his take on a choco taco.
His choco taco is made out of a housemade zucchini crepe, housemade crème fraiche ice cream, crunchy chicherone (fried pork rinds) and thin, delicate chile threads. Although it came out in this paper carton, the display was still beautiful and the taste was incredible.
I’m so interested to learn of the backbones of why something started and why they do what they do and it seems for Des Moines, he’s doing something different. I’m excited to see what Zach has up his sleeve, maybe a new location (bigger than a walk in closet kitchen) and I hope you stop by to try some of his food.
The hours are unique. He’s open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 6 p.m. until close (2-3 a.m.). You can find him at Gas Lamp, 1051 Grand Ave in Des Moines.
Note: Excuse the iPhone photos; traveling for business didn’t warrant me bringing my camera.