For Brian’s birthday this past year, instead of getting a gift I wasn’t sure he would use, I decided to create a memory he wouldn’t forget. When exploring options for what we could do, my primary focus was on cars. I had heard of Exotic Dream Drive-type events before, but we don’t have anywhere in Minnesota where they occur, and they seem to be rarely held in the upper Midwest. However, the weekend right before his birthday, there was set to be an event with Dream Drive Exotics at Iowa Speedway. So, I seized the opportunity, booked us both for the event (Brian had a considerably greater number of laps than I did though), and off we went.
Our event was set to begin relatively early on Sunday morning, so we drove to Des Moines early on Saturday. Since we’re members of the IHG Rewards Club, we seek out IHG hotels whenever we travel and decided to stay at the Holiday Inn in Des Moines. Holiday Inns provide everything we look for in a hotel – they’re affordable, recently updated, have a fitness room and pool, and are often located in downtowns, so they are one of our favorites. Furthermore, we receive points every time we stay at an IHG hotel, which we can later redeem for nights at a hotel.
After checking into the hotel, we decided to find some dinner. In the theme of Brian’s birthday, I decided to scope out the best burger place in Des Moines, since burgers are among the staples in Brian’s diet (the others are bacon and pizza). We were looking for something casual and affordable, and so thanks to TripAdvisor and some tips from classmates, we wound up at Zombie Burger + Shake Lab. We walked there from our hotel (about a mile), which included a lovely stroll over the Des Moines River, which is where the city originally gets its name. Upon arriving at Zombie Burger + Shake Lab, we were told it would be about a 20 minute wait, which we agreed to (it would’ve taken us some time to find and walk to another restaurant anyways, so we didn’t mind waiting). It was absolutely worth the wait.
We were starving, so we ordered an appetizer (fried cheese curds, which were delicious), and then picked the two burgers that sounded the best, which we would then cut in half and share. Narrowing the decision down to two burgers was difficult, as all of the options looked amazing. For example, the photo for this post is of the “Better Off Ched” burger (Photo Source: Matt Johnson on Flickr, CC by 2.0), one of the many interesting burgers on the menu. However, we ultimately chose the “Raygun” and “They’re Coming to Get You Barbara.” The Raygun was the spicier of the two, with fried jalapenos and chipotle mayo (among other toppings), and They’re Coming to Get You Barbara was a grilled cheese made into a burger, which is more delicious than I can describe here. Each piece of the bun used on the burger was a grilled cheese sandwich, and on the burger were caramelized onions, bacon, and Zombie sauce. Again, if you are anywhere within a 50 mile radius of Des Moines and enjoy grilled cheese, this burger is a must have. We were so stuffed we didn’t even get a chance to try the shakes, which rival the burgers in uniqueness.
Following dinner, we headed back to the hotel, swam in the pool, and wrapped up the night early in anticipation of our Dream Drive Exotics event the next day. To read all about Iowa Speedway and the event, check out Brian’s post. This short weekend trip was filled with spectacular eats in a beautiful city. The next time I drive through Des Moines, there is no doubt you will find me at Zombie Burger + Shake Lab, and I strongly recommend it to all, whether you are on a weekend trip or just passing through.