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Pizza Ranch – Waukee, Altoona & Urbandale

IMG_3744 IMG_3884As we mentioned on Facebook and Twitter the other day, we are proud to welcome Pizza Ranch (Waukee, Altoona & Urbandale) as a new blog sponsor.

 

I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find an Iowan who hasn’t been to (or is at least familiar with) a Pizza Ranch, but we wanted to share some of the cool things about out local Pizza Ranch locations!

 

IMG_3883 IMG_3888These three locations are all owned by a super-nice, local couple who loves to support our community.  You’ll always see them doing a charity event at the restaurant to support local athletics or organizations.  They offer community impact nights every Monday and Wednesday!  And who are we kidding?  Who doesn’t love their pizza and award-winning fried chicken.  I may also be a little addicted to the cactus bread and ice cream.  I’m also psyched that they offer gluten-free pizza too!

 

IMG_3883 IMG_3745Don’t forget that kids under 10 eat free with adult buffet purchase on Tuesdays (one kid free per paying adult).  They also offer a seniors lunch day on Wednesdays!  They pride themselves in being a great value for families with great service in a clean environment.

 

And don’t forget about the party rooms!  They offer rooms you can reserve for parties and special events.  Feel free to call any of the locations for more info about the community programs they offer, parties or just to tell them how much you like the cactus bread! Yum!

 

Please show them some love by “liking” your local Pizza Ranch location on Facebook to keep up to date on special events and promotions! Waukee Pizza Ranch, Urbandale Pizza Ranch, Altoona Pizza Ranch.

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-Altoona – 515-967-8800

-Urbndale – 515-331-4610

-Waukee 515-978-6603

 

 

Rockin’ the Tapas at RoCa

get-attachment.aspx get-attachment-18.aspxThe newest Court Avenue dining establishment, aptly named Restaurant on Court Ave (or RoCa) definitely rocked our world during our visit last month.

The tapas (or shared plates concept) is in full trend and RoCa is doing it right.

We had a reservation, but it seems other people are loving the relaxed atmosphere where it’s easy to chat with friends and enjoy some great cocktails and food just as much as we did, so a table wasn’t ready for us when we arrived.  But have no fear, the excellent wait staff promptly brought us some complimentary bubbly to make our wait a little more enjoyable.

IMG_0763_2 IMG_0764_2They have regular tables, but they also offer some couches with coffee-type tables to sit at as well to make it feel more homey.  They fill up fast though, so they are hard to snag at the busy times.

We were seated shortly thereafter and there was no shortage in selection from meatball sliders to a charcuterie plate, smothered tots to flatbread and even some entrees including chicken saltimboca and ribeye.

get-attachment-16.aspx get-attachment-19.aspxI really can’t wait to get in to try more of their unique offerings and more craft cocktails!  I was especially fond of the Champaign cocktails.

I love that they are open for lunch as well as dinner Tuesday’s thru Saturdays.  This was a great place for a girls night out (I was lucky enough to have my friend Lisa along from Pineapple Ink to capture a few great shots of our meal), but would be a lovely date-night location as well.  Perhaps a dinner destination before or after a show at the Civic Center?  We’ll be back soon to try some different tapas! Who wants to come with to share?!

Golden Triangle

IMG_8718 IMG_8711There’s a (fairly) new Thai restaurant in town!  Of course I’m a little tardy to the party here posting this review. But it’ll be worth it, I promise!

We had a great lunch at Golden Triangle restaurant in Des Moines a few weeks ago.  This place is seriously a contender with some of the other favorites in very close proximity like Fawns, Cafe Fuzion and Thai Flavors.  And they just added Louisiana crawfish to their menu as evidenced by their most recent Facebook post…interesting.

IMG_8714 IMG_8716Anyway….We stuck to the Thai options are were not disappointed!  I had a few friends along who had been before and recommended that I try the Pho and Larb and I always tend to get my initial impression of a place by testing out their yellow curry.  So we tried them all and would order them all again!

The service was very efficient and the servers were very friendly.  It has been unfortunate that the restaurant hasn’t been very busy the last few visits we’ve made.  Part of the problem may be that it’s tucked behind a building across the IMG_8720 IMG_8719street from Lutheran Hospital and you can’t see it from the road.  I haven’t seen much advertising, so I’m guessing there hasn’t been much.

The servings were generous. The Pho would have served 4 and even with my hearty appetite, I had leftovers.  The yellow curry was delicious. I would have preferred fresh potatoes to compliment the fresh peppers, but the creamy coconut sauce more than made up for it.

It really is conveniently located right off of exit 8b on 235, so if you are headed that way (or even make a special trip), or just want to try something new, give it shot!

 

DMACC Dinner – Mardi Gras

IMG_3060 IMG_3067So, I’ve told you before that we enjoy having dinner a few times a semester at the DMACC Culinary Institute.  Here is my last post explaining more about the dinners: http://eatplaylovedesmoines.com/2013/03/amazing-dinners-at-iowa-culinary.html

 

 

 

IMG_3087 IMG_3070We like supporting the institute, it’s a great date night and a portion of the meal is tax-deductible.  Oh, and the food is great.  We particularly enjoyed the Mardi Gras themed meal last weekend so I thought I’d share some photos.

The top photos are the appetizer course(s) of a pretzel coated (and they really meant pretzel) crab cake and their take on a fried green tomato club salad to the right.  We loved both.

 

IMG_3080 IMG_3072There is always homemade bread, a soup course (tonight’s was “snapper”), a cheese course, an intermezzo/cleanser (sorbet usually) and dessert in addition to the main entrée, so you go home pretty darn full!  And of course there are wine pairings with each course.  Not to mention that you are greated with passed appetizers and Champaign in the lobby while you are waiting to be seated.

 

I was a little bummed that I didn’t make it to a crawfish boil this year like the one we went to last year at Rock Bottom: http://eatplaylovedesmoines.com/2014/03/mardi-gras-party-crawfish-boil-rock-bottom.html , so it was nice to have one here at the dinner tonight in honor of Mardi Gras.  Hey, I like any reason to celebrate!  This was a shrimp and andouille-stuffed quail with creole rice and haricots verts (green beans) and it was delicious.

 

IMG_3091Anyway, there are a few dinner left this semester if you are interested in getting in on one.  You can find the info here: https://go.dmacc.edu/ici/pages/gourmetdinners.aspx.

And if you aren’t wanting to commit to a full dinner, you can visit their Bistro for lunch or dinner on select days.  Check out that info here: https://go.dmacc.edu/ici/Pages/bistro.aspx.  We haven’t tried it yet, so if you have, let us know what you had and how you liked it!

 

 

 

 

Cooking with George

IMG_2965-e1424446685390-225x300IMG_2977-e1424446780190-225x300We had the pleasure of attending a cooking class at Malo at the Des Moines Social Club last weekend, lead by Chef George Formaro.  It was a great experience and if you have to opportunity to sign up for one of the remaining classes in the series coming up, do!  There is one March 7th and one April 10th.  E-mail: nbopes@malodesmoines.com to sign up.

 

 

IMG_2990IMG_2998-e1424446660732-225x300The first hour, Chef Formaro demonstrated the recipes giving his hints and tips along the way.  We got to munch on chips and salsa and sip margaritas during the presentation.  Then we got to indulge in the 4 course meal with wine pairings.  A great date-night for $65 per guest.

 

 

IMG_3004-e1424446709800-225x300You even get print-outs of the recipes to try at home.  Of course Chef George claims the “secret is in the technique” so maybe we’ll just stick to letting him cook these wonderful dishes for us =)  They are able to accommodate food allergies if requested too.  Check it out.

 

 

 

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Murder Mystery at Two Saints

get-attachment-26.aspxget-attachment-30.aspxWe had a great time at the Murder Mystery Dinner at Two Saints Winery in St. Charles last year. Only about a 30 minute ride from DSM. Two Saints is also where we did the Grape Harvesting this year that we told you about (here is that post).  If you haven’t been down there, take the short ride.  The owners are awesome and the wine is fabulous.  They do tastings and classes too!

Back to the Murder Mysteries…The traveling acting company called Upstage Productions does a different Murder Mystery play each month and performs the show at different venues around Iowa, Kansas,

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Missouri and Illinois.  And they are great!  Totally entertaining, funny and makes you think “who dun it” the whole evening.

There was plenty of food and wine and it was an overall great time.  The next one in is on February 28th, 2015 and it’s $50 per person.  Here is the info: http://twosaintswinery.com

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Jethro’s Bacon Bacon

get-attachment-12.aspxget-attachment-15.aspxYes, that’s TWO bacons…Jethro’s BBQ n’ Bacon Bacon is now open for business  on 22nd street in WDM and I’m already a fan.

 

This new location not only carries most of the orignal BBQ favorites from the other locations around the metro, but they offer an extended breakfast menu (from the brunch menu that the other locations serve on weekends) that they serve everyday, all day….awesome!

 

get-attachment-26.aspxget-attachment-13.aspxWe were lucky enough to get in the first day they were open. Luckily we got there early and didn’t have to wait with the gobs of people that wanted to try it out.  You can browse the bacon-y gear or slabs of bacon they sell in the lobby while you’re waiting.   But, once you’re in, it does not disappoint.

 

get-attachment-17.aspxget-attachment-25.aspxOf course they offer lots of non-bacon items, most you’ll recognize from the other locations, like the awesome smoked meats and chili, but the bacon items, they do right as well…especially the bacon-wrapped rib appetizer…to-die-for!  If you tried them at Baconfest, you’ll remember these bad boys.  I’d make the trip in just for these.

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So glad Hooters is out and bacon is in!!  Bacon Bacon is here to stay!

 

ps. All of the locations have great gluten-free menus.  They are family-friendly restaurants and we’ve yet to meet and unfriendly server at any of the locations. Oh, and did I mention, try the bacon-wrapped ribs!

Lucca

get-attachment-49.aspx get-attachment-50.aspxPeople ask me all the time where they can get “gluten-free” meals in Des Moines.  And you can find 80+ on the Eat, Play, Love Des Moines webpage simply by searching for gluten-free.  I love a burger on a gluten-free bun just as much as the next celiac. BUT, I love when I find a restaurant that just serves real, unprocessed food that is naturally gluten-free.

I found a lot of that right here in the East Village at Lucca Restaurant.  The concept is a prix fixe menu each evening that incorporates seasonal, local produce in a constantly changing menu.  They offer a salad course and course that includes a choice of risotto, gnocchi (a favorite), bolognese, etc. and a main course that includes a choice of scallops (to die for), salmon, pork, chicken or steak (but not limited to those choices).

get-attachment-48.aspx get-attachment-32.aspxThey also offer weekday lunch from 11am -2pm that includes a selection of pastas, sandwiches, soup s and salads and menu items are prices at $10 or less.

I hate to be vague and just say “everything is good here!”  but really, that isn’t a false statement. I had the spinach and orange salad, the shrimp risotto and the scallops.  Josh also had the spinach and orange salad but tired the gnocchi and the salmon.

 

get-attachment-46.aspx get-attachment-35.aspxThe salad and risotto were very good, but the star of the meal was the scallop dish.  The perfectly seared lumps of heaven were topped with fresh veggies and it was just perfect.  Josh enjoyed the homemade gnocchi and said his salmon was simple and tasty.

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal.  The cost for our two meals including one dessert and no alcohol (I know, strange for us) was $90.  Worth every penny.

 

get-attachment-47.aspx get-attachment-33.aspxConsider Lucca for an upscale date-night or special occasion dinner. Or stop in for a casual lunch.  You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.  The service was great and the simple, yet elegant decor makes for a great experience.  Check it out!

 

 

get-attachment-34.aspx get-attachment-29.aspxget-attachment-25.aspxoh!  Josh got a kick out of the tiny creamer pitchers for reason.  Just so you know what is going on in the photo to your right…

 

Latin King

get-attachment-16.aspxget-attachment-19.aspxYeah, I know this is one of the first places I should have blogged about when I started this blog a little over a year ago.  It’s a Des Moines classic, but sometimes I get so excited about new and exciting restaurants that open, that I don’t take the time to revisit old favorites.

Anyway, I was excited to get over to the East Side (near the fairgrounds) to have lunch with a couple of friends last week to re-visit Tursi’s Latin King.  It had definitely been far too long and I had forgotten how good the Chicken Spiedini is, which is hard to do because it’s so good, except that my last visit must have been over 5 years ago!

get-attachment.aspxThere was no wait on a Thursday afternoon for lunch.  The patio was full as it was a beautiful day, but there was plenty of inside seating despite how full the parking lot was.  It’s really a large restaurant even though the outside can be deceiving.  We did try to come in few months ago on our was to the Hairball concert (woot!) at the fairgrounds, but the hour and fifteen minute wait had us head over the Now or Later just down the road where the wait was much shorter…You should definitely read the review of Now or Later…GREAT Tuscan Chicken.

 

get-attachment-18.aspxget-attachment-20.aspxBack to Latin King….My friend Carye stuck with the can’t-go-wrong Chicken Spiedini which is chicken breast medallions that are marinated, rolled in breadcrumbs and charbroiled.  It is served with a special amogio sauce (a garlicky, traditional Sicilian sauce) which is rich and flavorful and possibly addictive.

get-attachment-11.aspxI ordered the Chicken Spiedini in the form of a salad which was also fantastic.  My friend Angie tried the toasted ravioli and the kids enjoyed their chicken fingers.

Latin King is casual enough for a family meal or upscale enough for a business lunch or date-night.  Whatever occasion you choose to visit for, you can be sure you’ll have a great meal in a classy, traditional setting. Prices are reasonable for the generous portions and the quality is always great.

I love the wine selection and the desserts are made in-house.  I was so close to ordering the strawberry shortcake for dessert, but my willpower was strong….well, for today at least.  Good stuff!

Tacos Andreas

We’ve been to Tacos Andreas a couple of times now and I’m really fond of their “authentic tacos”.  You know, the ones like you get at a food truck with the small corn tortillas.  They primarily  have chicken, beef, chorizo and shrimp and are topped with onion and cilantro.  Much healthier than the greasy, cheese-topped counterparts and much fresher tasting.
I also love the complimentary bean dip that comes with the obligatory chips and salsa.
Tacos Andreas has three metro locations.  One on 8th street in West Des Moines, one on University in Des Moines in the Drake neighborhood and one in Norwalk on Sunset Dr.
The service has always been friendly and prompt.  There has never been a wait at the WDM location, but driving by the Norwalk and Drake locations, they look a bit smaller.

I’ve also tried the fajtas and was impressed with the juicy chicken and appealing seasonings.  The rice was what you find in most of the local Mexican joints and didn’t stand out.  But, I’d go to Taco Andreas for an authentic taco and a margarita any day.

 

Oh, and the tacos are only about $1.50 to $2.00 each!  A very affordable lunch or dinner.