Variety thrives in downtown Des Moines' East Village in antiques stores, art galleries, ethnic restaurants and more. You can buy a vintage chair, snag a pillow to match, then go out for sushi to celebrate.
The businesses are a sign of hard-earned renewal. People who come to the city for work or play wander across the Des Moines River toward the gold-domed capitol and discover a hub of shops and restaurants cool enough to warrant staying in town another day.
Marsha Steele opened antiques emporium Found Things (pictured) on an undeveloped block six years ago and now fields calls weekly from people who have a dream and just need a vacancy. "If you have a passion and an independent streak, there is no better incubator than the East Village," she says. "The energy in the East Village is palpable."
That's especially true in fall, when artists and food vendors rent tables at East Village Sunday Bazaars. They began as a way to lure visitors on quiet Sunday afternoons and grew into a genuinely fun place to spend a weekend - not unlike the East Village itself.
Click ahead for some of our favorites places to shop, play and eat in East Village.
East Village 
Aimee (pictured) A sweetly feminine vibe fills this boutique. (515) 243-0045; aimeestyle.com 
Allspice This spice shop sells culinary rubs and oils. (515) 868-0808; allspiceonline.com 
Eden Bath junkies will love the variety here. (515) 282-0669; edeniowa.com 
Found Things Antiques fill two floors. (515) 265-8624; foundthingsdsm.com 
Raygun These witty tees make fab gifts. (515) 288-1323; raygunsite.com 
Sticks Colorful furniture and home goods fill a huge gallery. (515) 282-0844; sticks.com 
Cooking with Alessandra An Italian native holds intimate classes in her downtown loft. (515) 508-9474; cookingwithalessandra.com 
Iowa capitol (pictured) This landmark's architecture dazzles inside and out. Guided tours available. (515) 281-5591; legis.iowa.gov 
Polished Nail Lounge Happy hour rules at this boutique nail salon. (515) 280-5172; polishednaillounge.com 
World Food Festival More than 30 vendors sell pierogies, tacos and more. September; check website for dates. (515) 286-4950; worldfoodfestival.org 
Alba (pictured) Contemporary American cuisine draws foodies to this hot spot. (515) 244-0261; albadsm.com 
Gong Fu Tea Unwind with a hot cup at an Asian-style teahouse. (515) 288-3388; gongfu-tea.com 
Open Sesame Some evenings, a belly dancer shimmies as diners feast on falafel, kabobs and other Middle Eastern fare. (515) 288-3151