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Oct 4, 2007 07:56 AM

Inexpensive Des Moines Recs for adults and kids?

We're spending a weekend in Des Moines with kids ages 7 & 9 and several adults.
I read about an African restaurant near Drake called Cookry but don't see a website, anyone know about that? We're staying on Merle Hay and will be downtown, in the East Village, and near Drake, though we're not exacly sure what we'll do for fun yet so not sure where we'll end up.
We'll have breakfast at the hotel each day so we only need lunches and suppers and maybe coffee/snack breaks.

La Mie sounds good for coffee & a treat, Gateway Market & Cafe for lunch, and we're hoping to go to the World Food Festival and fill up on the many offerings there. What do you think?

Thank you for your ideas.


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  1. I can tell you that the Cookry near Drake closed. They will be at the Food Festival, though. Last year the response to the Festival was large and unanticipated. I went early evening opening night and probably half the stands had sold out. Huge crowds.
    Hopefully they will be better prepared this year.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Bobfrmia

      Thanks for the info re Cookry. We're looking foward to the Food Fest and do hope they're ready for the hungry masses. It looks like a nice event.

      Thanks for your help!

      1. re: fern

        Hi, fern.
        Curious as to how your trip went, and what you thought of the food fest.
        I hope your experience was better than mine.
        I went for fish tacos, but they were sold out. 5:30 Saturday. Seemed a bit early to run out.
        Tropical pork skewers at the Brazilian stand. Inedible. Didn't know you could get such poor quality pork in Iowa.
        Beef kabobs at Cookry. Good, but for $5.00? C'mon.
        Tried a few other stands, had nothing noteworthy. After a bit I had spent 17.00 and all I thought was that I needed to go somewhere and get some dinner.
        Hope you all did better.

        1. re: Bobfrmia

          Well, I am so sorry to hear about your experience and must say that it makes me feel a bit better about missing it! I was *very* disappointed that the group chose to do other things so we missed the food fest. I have felt badly about it all weekend, until reading your post, that is.
          I hope they get it together for next year, it has the potential to be a wonderful event. I thought I read somewhere that they would have $1. tastes. Perhaps that was only at some booths? Did you have the option to get a small taste for $1 or a larger portion for $5? My gosh, they ran out of fish tacos at 5:30? Wasn't it open until 10 that night? Someone wasn't paying attention to the lessons of last year. How disappointing.

          We had coffee and sandwiches at Mars Cafe which we enjoyed and as much as it pains me to tell you this, we ate at Olive Garden because it was requested by the student we were there to visit. I had a bowl of minestrone and salad and it was fine but, you know, certainly not great. I hope to be able to eat differently next time we're there. Our student is only a freshman so we'll be back many times and will be able to try more interesting places.

          I have been very pleasantly surprised by Des Moines as a city, (not sure what I was expecting) it's quite a nice place. Last time we were there we had a nice time strolling around the East Village, getting coffee at the Village Market, shopping a bit on Locust.

          Despite her love of Olive Garden, she enjoys good Mexican food.
          I'd like to take her to a Mexican restaurant you mentioned in an earlier post, just south of downtown, I think. Also, she'd love to find good Chinese food. Still want to try Gateway Market Cafe, maybe the Flying Mango, and would like to take her out for good Italian food. We are trying to stick with the modestly priced restaurants so Lucca and some of the others aren't on the radar right now.

          This reminds me of the one and only time I was in Kansas City and our hosts took us to Cheesecake Factory. I almost fell down. All I wanted to do was eat BBQ morning, noon and night but we only got to have it once. I'm a good sport and was careful not to let my disappointment show but WOW. I want to eat around Des Moines as far from the chains as possible. Next time.

          Thanks for your help, I'll be searching out your posts often in the months and years to come, I'm sure.

          You know, I'll bet the World Food Fest folks would appreciate hearing your thoughts so they can improve.

          1. re: fern

            You definitely should try the Flying Mango when you get a chance. My roommate and I treated my dad to an awesome supper there. Though his experience was a bit marred by chomping into a jalapeƱo that he thought was a chile. We all had the 25 hour brisket (I consider it a good value at $15 and you get two sides with it) and it was incredible. The only thing I was disappointed with was being served stone cold corn bread. I wanted the honey butter to melt!

    2. We finally made it to Gateway Market & Cafe and Flying Mango! Gateway is wonderful, especially the shopping. We had fun celebrating their 1 year anniversary with them by enjoying lots of samples, including Iowa wines, and Anniversary cake. The cheeses we tasted (feta, chevre, and smoked gouda) were all delicious, as was a nice dry salami served with the gouda. Much better than what I find in my regular grocery at home. Actually, the Iowa wine was decent too. Who'd have thought? I think it was Snus Hill.
      The cafe was good but would have been better had I ordered differently. I was about to order ramen when one in our party said he'd like to share a sandwich after all the sampling so we had a BBQ Burnt Ends sandwich. It was good, not great, but the fries were wonderful. Others at our table had the chicken gyro (I had a bit & thought it was really good) and a burger that looked very good and was quickly inhaled by a teenager.
      Great selection on the cafe menu, can't wait to go back and especially to shop the market. Everything , the cheese case, bakery, meat counter etc, looked fantastic. I think you are very lucky to have this place. Painted on their store van is " I am not a glutton, I am an explorer of food." Exactly. Me too. :)

      Flying Mango was a big hit with our crowd consisting of 2 adults and several college kids. We ordered sandwiches (to keep the cost down, it was *very* reasonable that way) and sides. We had jerk pork, chopped smoked brisket topped with cole slaw, and cajun grilled chicken topped with goat cheese and bacon. Not a miss in the bunch, they were all delicious. Huge, too. We ordered 8 sandwiches for 9 people and still had leftovers. I am a sucker for slaw on a sandwich and really enjoyed the chopped brisket. Sometimes I think smoked meats can go a little bit overboard and taste like nothing but smoke but this had just hte right amount of smokiness, it was very good.

      We really enjoyed ourselves in Des Moines. Thank you very much for all of the info you folks have posted on Des Moines, I referred to several of the threads for this trip. It is one of many trips we'll be making over the next few years so we ought to get to try some of the others. I must say, can't get the thought of Kelly's Little Nipper sausage sandwich off my mind, that is on the to-do list.

      Went looking for the Village Market and were sorry to learn it had closed. That was a nice spot.

      Many thanks to you all!