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Feb 3, 2009 02:44 PM

Super Cool Eats in the Des Moines Area (30 mile radius...ish)

I'm planning a road trip to stay with family in Des Moines during the Iowa State Fair this summer, but I want to make sure I hit up the cool little food joints nearby, while I'm there. I'm on a budget, so I'm not interested in the big fancy stuff...I'm thinking more of those little hole-in-the-wall type places that you'd only know about if you lived in one of the little towns on 35 or 80. And I like all kinds of food, so type is no issue. Anything come to mind? I may make it up to Ames, too, so any suggestions up there would be more than appreciated.

Thank you much!


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  1. Let's see what I can do to help you.

    Des Moines has some incredible food now- really, it has turned into a very cultured city, culinarily. In no particular order:
    Pho Ha Dao (vietnamese noodle soup)
    Jethro's Smokehouse for BBQ
    El Chisme (mexican)
    B&B Grocery (their deli serves an incredible pork tenderloin)

    I hope that gets you off to a good start.

    1 Reply
    1. re: btgordon

      Those ARE a great start -- they all sound awesome. Thanks!

    2. I second the list that btgordon supplied.

      B&B is a great neighborhood grocery store that has been around forever.

      A good southside pizza joint is Bordenaro's on SW 9th St

      El Chisme is very good mexican. It is on the west side and a little farther from the Fairgrounds. I don't think they have a web-site.

      1. I should add that I'm specifically, secretly hoping that someone knows some joints that are sort of out in the farm land a bit. I think it might be fun to talk a little day jaunt out where it feels like there shouldn't be anything, but then there's a great little place in a town of 300 or something.

        Thanks for all the guidance!

        1. I am from St Louis and just went to Des Moines, stopping at a remarkable place in Oxfor Iowa. Augusta Restaurant is run by two Hurricane Katrina victims who relocated to rural Iowa and now do New Orleans cooking with local Iowa ingredients. I really liked the grit cake, which is a side dish.

          1. If you go to Winterset you can eat at the restaurant in the town square that was in the movie Bridges of Madison County. It's a normal little town square type of restaurant. Nothing special as far as food but it has small town atmosphere and the movie adds some interest. I can't remember the name of it but someone else here may know.

            I wish Signatures was still in business. It was my favorite small town restaurant. It was in Indianola, the seat of Warren County. I loved eating there.

            In West Des Moines I very highly recommend Monterey's for Mexican food. It has a very good reputation for good, inexpensive Mexican food.

            Of course, there will be all kinds of food at the state fair. Except for funnel cakes and turkey legs almost everything is on a stick. Fun but pricey, IMHO, but part of the fair experience.