Scenic Route Bakery

Coffee Shop Coworking is a series that highlights cafes and coffee shops in and around the Des Moines metro perfect for entrepreneurs, freelancers, creatives, and remote workers to get things done. Each installment will highlight what a particular location is best for, what you can expect from its work environment, and what sets it apart from other local alternatives.

Scenic Route Bakery

When City Bakery closed a few years ago, it seemed like there would never be a place that filled the cozy East Village cafe-shaped void it left. But surprisingly Scenic Route Bakery has done one better.

Located in one of the neighborhood’s newer buildings, Scenic Route shares the block with two clothing stores (Locally Grown Clothing and Matilda Muse), and a stationary shop (Pink Print Company) with residential space upstairs. With dozens of shops and other restaurants mere blocks away, the coffee shop is almost always bustling with Capitol staffers on their lunch break, friends grabbing a coffee between errands, or students typing away on their laptops. When it comes to East Village essentials, you won’t find a better place than Scenic Route to host a meeting or put the finishing touches on a presentation.

The Atmosphere

Walking into to Scenic Route Bakery is like being welcomed into a favorite family member’s cozy kitchen. Bathed in sunshine and the flicker of Edison bulbs, the coffee shop’s bright white walls and floor-to-ceiling windows make for an ambience infinitely better than your basement office. The cafe’s decor makes you feel like you’ve stumbled into an eclectic farmhouse full of warm hues, a collection of ceramic chickens, and an artistic hodgepodge of kitchen odds and ends adorning the walls behind the bar. Fresh cut flowers brighten every table and a collection of books waits for you to leaf through them while waiting for your coffee.

Speaking of coffee, Scenic Route brews beans from the Chicago-based roaster Intelligentsia Coffee. If you’re a fan, struggling to find a local retailer and satisfy your fix at home, fear not. You can also purchase bags of Intelligentsia whole beans to grind and brew yourself. And don’t stress about getting jittery after a morning for strong coffee—Scenic Route has a great ever-changing menu to keep you sated while you work. 

Of the bakery’s incredible pastries, the monkey bread is a personal favorite paired with a Honeybee Latte (espresso, honey, and milk steamed with cinnamon). Scenic Route serves lunch daily from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm including a variety of cold and hot sandwiches as well as soups and salads. And if you’re working through happy hour, the coffee shop also serves a selection of beer and wine.

The Work Environment

Despite the space essentially being a warehouse with concrete floors and exposed ductwork, Scenic Route always feels cozy and warm. Noise isn’t typically an issue here, but visit during the lunch rush and you may be reaching for the headphones to stay focused on work.

While there are two-tops abound at Scenic Route, there are also a collection of bigger tables perfect for larger meetings or brainstorming sessions. You can even call ahead and reserve one if you’re planning on hosting a larger gathering at the coffee shop.

On any given day you’ll find lots of people of varying ages camped out around the coffee shop, taking advantage of the free wifi, and overall Scenic Route is extremely friendly towards computer-toters. But keep in mind that the East Village cafe is a busy place with fairly quick turnover so spending all day here may not be your best bet. Note the kindly table signs asking customers to “Consider making a friend and share a table if you’re here on your computer during lunch so we can make room for more people!” Instead plan on starting your morning with a pastry and some coffee at Scenic Route before transitioning over to coworking up the street at Gravitate for the afternoon.

The only clear downside of working from Scenic Route is the parking situation. While many of the East Village’s new parking meters have made things slightly easier by accepting credit cards, the two- and four-hour limits mean you’ll be glancing at the clock more regularly to ensure you’re not about to get a parking ticket. That said, save yourself some stress and spare change by riding your bike or taking public transportation (DART’s D-Line shuttle runs free from the Western Gateway to the base of the Capitol) when working at this coffee shop.

Also, if you’re a weekend warrior, take note that (like many East Village favorites) Scenic Route Bakery is closed on Sundays. 

Best For: Ambiance

If you’re looking for a light, airy environment to work in for a few hours, Scenic Route Bakery is the perfect place for you. With floor-to-ceiling windows, this East Village coffee shop feels warm and inviting, even in the dead of winter. Choose from firm but comfortable wooden chairs or opt for a spot on one of the coffee shop’s overstuffed couches to catch up on a few emails. On a sunny day you can even move outside to get things done on the coffee shop’s covered patio.

Runner Up: Best Place to Run into a Politician

During Caucus season, Scenic Route is a favorite for both candidates and national press alike. Stop by during a busy campaign day or while there’s a fundraising event happening and this is likely one of the best places in town to run into a presidential hopeful.

Price Comparison

Latte: $3.05 (12 oz.)
Black Coffee: $1.85 (12 oz.)
Pour Over: $2.75

Coworking Rating

Coffee Quality: 4/5
Work atmosphere: 4.5/5
Meeting: 4/5

Get to Work

350 E. Locust Street, Suite 104
Des Moines, IA 50309

Monday – Saturday: 6:00 am – 7:00 pm

Get in Touch


PHOTO CREDIT: Scenic Route Bakery on Facebook