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May 21, 2009 10:59 AM

Des Moines, Iowa - what's great?

I lived in DM for awhile and my parents are still there. I wasn't into restaurants at the time. I'll be going this weekend for my birthday and to hang out over Memorial Day. Since gaining a greater appreciation for good food I've been back a couple times and been to some places, but not enough to think I've hit all the highlights.

What's great? I expect to go to one high end spot for my birthday dinner (and pay the tab for the whole family, it's a family tradition). Suggstions? I haven't been to Django or Azalea yet, and have heard a few things here and there about it. I'd rather not go to Lucca, while I liked it my birthday dinner was there last year.

I'll also have an extended weekend for lunches and other dinners. I think I may be going to Great Plains in Ames one night (ISU grad, and I have friends up there). I've found recently, thanks to this site, the B&B Grocery store which I love. Love the Chili King, Tasty Tacos, and F&Os as well. What are some other good places for under $25 that are local and have great food? This category is all about the food. If it's got good ambience great, if not, no loss.

Finally: I am a HUGE dessert fan. What places excel?

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  1. Andrew Meek closed Sage, and is now head chef at Sbrocco. He said he wanted to concentrate on his cooking. Haven't heard much,as he just moved, but if he's "concentrating", it has to be good. That would be high end. For low end,
    if you like B&B for the sandwiches, I'd give Manhatten Deli a shot. It's on Ingersoll. Cheap, and possibly the best sandwiches in Des Moines.
    Real good authentic tacos at La Pena on Indianola road just South of downtown.
    Chili King is a nostalgia rush. The chili is great, but everything else is done better elsewhere. Mr. Bibbs by North high does a real good hand breaded, fresh Tenderloin.
    If you like Q, Saturday Valley Junction is having a BBQ competition. Lots of different Q, Beer vendors, and live music. Sounds like a fun party.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bobfrmia

      Sbrocco, good idea. I've been by there a couple times before. Is it good enough to go if you're not a wine drinker? I've got a medication that doesn't allow drinking alcohol.

      I'll agree about the Chili King with the exception that for some reason I also really like the onion rings.

      Edit: it looks like my good dinner will be sunday night and sbrocco is closed. :(

      1. re: vitus979

        I would consider Django. I will admit to having not been, but if I was going someplace nice, they would be at the top of my list of places to try.
        Here's a link. Check it out.

    2. Curious as to where you ended up?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bobfrmia

        Le Sigh, :(

        With my new baby niece I decided to go to a lower end place I'd heard was good and was a little more family friendly. I called ahead for El Chisme, but when we got their (well before closing time) they weren't open. Grumble grumble

        Then we drove to the Urban Grille because I'd been there, liked it, it was close, and had a patio we could all sit at. They were closed as well. :(

        So we ended up at Cosi Cucina, which is kind a fallback for the family when we can't agree on where to go. I've been there a bunch of times over the years. It was about as good as it always is, but nothing really popped.

        Now, OTOH the two lunches I ate out were both very good. The first day I ate at Uncle Wendell's BBQ on Ingersoll. The ribs were cooked well, but the sauce was good but not great. The cornbread was excellent. The 2 bites I had of my mother's brisket were WONDERFUL, and the pulled pork was good as well.

        Star Bar on Ingersoll. This may well become my goto place for weekend lunches in Des Moines. The interior really clicks for me, the service is laid back (something I appreciate on weekend lunches), and the Star Burger & fries were pretty darn good. It doesn't hurt that it's right across the street from Chocolaterie Stam.

        Also went to Tasty Tacos, which I've got a well known weakness for amongst family and friends. :)

        I'm going to be back over the 12th of June for the Coldplay concert. I'm going to try to get back to El Chisme for a lunch and see if I can drag my buddies to Sbrocco for dinner Saturday.

        1. re: vitus979

          If you like bbq, you might want to try the Flying Mango on Hickman. I went there during my last trip to Des Moines and enjoyed it very much. I had the 25 hour brisket, it was tender and smoky and I love their sauce. Their menu has a Caribbean/Latin flair to it, if you order something other than the bbq.