Alba Restaurant, Alba

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Our Space

Alba - whose name was inspired by the white oak trees in front of the building and featured on the dining room mural - opened its doors in February 2008.

Located in the Historic East Village of Des Moines, Alba is recognized for its contemporary American cuisine, as well as its 1950's Art Moderne exterior and its unconventional interior. Besides the colorful artwork that adorns the walls, one of the most noted features of restaurant is the colorful mix of wood-panel doors that suspend from the ceiling.

In addition to the dining room and seasonal patio, Alba also offers a full-service wine bar. The space's long-winding bar and high-top tables are a great way to experience Alba's cuisine in a more casual environment.

Finally, Alba offers a semi-private dining room that seats up to 20 guests and is available upon reservation.

Alba was nominated in 2010 and 2016 for a James Beard Restaurant Award and was voted "Best Restaurant" by the Des Moines Register in 2010 and 2011. Alba has also appeared in the New York Times . Chicago Sun Times . Minneapolis Star Tribune . Midwest Living magazine, and Jet Set Delta Sky magazine.

The Owner, Jason

If Alba's genesis was a type of music it would be more jazz scat than classical symphony. It began in 2007 when, after a decade of travel, Jason Simon packed a bag and hopped a bus to Des Moines. His contacts were few, his budget small, and his main mode of transportation was a bicycle. Soon after his arrival, he stumbled upon what was once a 1950's auto garage and car dealership on the edge of the East Village. A month later, Simon was slinging a sledgehammer to create what is now Alba's open kitchen.

The entire design and rebuild took 8 months. During that time Simon was involved in every detail, from the curve of the concrete bar to the spice racks above the prep table to the installation of the restroom sinks. The doors on the ceiling, now one of the principal features of the restaurant, were really a product of necessity rather than pre-meditated design. Acoustic panels would have been over budget, so Simon improvised with large wooden doors from a nearby architectural salvage store.

Simon's menu changes frequently and although he describes the cuisine as contemporary American, he draws upon ingredients and flavors from all over the world. In the open kitchen there is not a lot of fuss, chef's whites, or specialty equipment, just knives and saute pans. Patrons seated at the chef's table delight in having a front row seat to the action.

Simon was born and raised in Parkersburg, Iowa, and grew up working at his parents' local grocery store. He began cooking while earning a degree in history at the University of Iowa, continuing his education at the Western Culinary Institute's Le Cordon Bleu in Portland, Oregon. After completing culinary school he lived and cooked in New Orleans, Denver, and Cleveland. He finally returned to Iowa and opened Alba Restaurant in 2008.

The Chef, Joe

Cooking wasn’t always in the cards for Joe – the former psychology and philosophy major started dishing up delicacies as a way to put himself through school at the University of Iowa. But food was his passion, and after graduation, the kitchen called him back.

Joe traveled to Denver to attend culinary school, where he met Alex Seidel of Fruition Restaurant (who won a Food and Wine "Best New Chef" award in 2010). Alex convinced Joe that culinary school wasn’t the right path and hired him at Fruition. Joe started at the bottom and learned the art of the basics from Alex – including how to respect the ingredient and get it to the plate.

Joe returned to Des Moines with a strong sense of food fundamentals and a new respect for ingredients and their sources. Joe has been working at Alba for 4 years, running the kitchen and striving for the utmost care and consistency in each and every meal. Joe was recently nominated for the James Beard in '16 for Best Chef Midwest.

Location & Hours

Alba is located in the vibrant East Village district of downtown Des Moines. an area known for its eclectic shopping and nightlife. Gift certificates are available.