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El Patio – Lunch Style

IMG_5660 IMG_5659Did you hear that El Patio is now serving lunch Tuesday thru Friday from 11-2?  We got to stop in a few weeks ago to try it and we really enjoyed it!

If you’ve never been to El Patio, it’s been around forever and it’s basically a house off of Ingersoll (on 37th st.) that was converted into a Mexican restaurant and of course features a patio to dine on….But you can of course eat inside as well.

The lunch menu offers about 10 different combination platter for $8 each and a few lunch entrees for $9 each.  All of the meals include chips and salsa and sides.

IMG_5661 IMG_5664Our meals came out piping hot and very fast. You can definitely come from downtown and make it back to work in time during a lunch break.

I was with two friends who had never been to El Patio before and both really enjoyed their meals.  They both commented on how fresh the ingredients tasted and both agreed they’d be back again.

I particularly enjoyed the zippy salsa and that every inch of my plate wasn’t covered in cheese like you sometimes find in Mexican restaurants.  The seasoning of the meats, particularly the pork, stood out and make for a tasty meal.

IMG_5663 IMG_5665You can for sure bring the kiddos with you to El Patio or you could leave them at home and come out for a few margaritas with friends.  Either way I think you’ll enjoy the food and the unusual atmosphere. And now that they are open for lunch we will for sure be back sooner than later.

Patton’s

IMG_4554 IMG_4551So this little soul food restaurant (little in size, but not in taste and definitely not in quantity of food of course) is getting a lot of attention lately, and for great reason!  Take a look at this spread at Patton’s Restaurant!

 

The restaurant is located on East Grand Ave. in Des Moines.  Every Sunday, owner Pam Patton puts on a soul food buffet that you wouldn’t believe.  The buffet includes some of the best fried chicken we’ve ever tried (I admit, I’m from Massachusetts and live in IMG_4552Iowa, so I can’t claim to be a fried chicken connoisseur, but from what we tasted and from what everyone has experienced, this is amazing stuff). We even came across a couple from the south dining there the day we were there and they said they come every chance they can because it’s the only place in town that serves the kind of food that they get at home.

 

IMG_4553The buffet also includes cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes, collard greens and much more!  Don’t forget about the sweet potato pie or peach cobbler! The price: $16.

 

IMG_4557And don’t just come on Sunday.  They have a lunch buffet Tuesday thru Friday as well with a daily featured item.  For example, on Thursday’s they offer fried chicken and red velvet waffles…umm….yum!

 

If I got to choose to eat just one genre of food for the rest of my life…It would be soul food.  And if it was at Patton’s, I’d be good with that.  Definitely a family friendly restaurant.  There aren’t many places where you can say that you can taste the love in the food, but this would be one of them.

Noodles & Co. Buff Bowls & Giveaway!

IMG_5774I’m not going lie, I’m pretty excited that Noodles & Company occasionally asks me to come in to try out some of their new and exciting menu items when they are introduced.

IMG_5784 This time around, I went into the Noodles & Co. on Mills Civic Parkway in West Des Moines (who happen to be hiring right now) with my health conscience friend Beth and her super adorable son to try out the brand new “Buff Bowls”.  It took me a while to get that the buff meant, “buff, like getting buff for summer”.  But, I’m slow, so don’t mind me.  They basically omitted the noodles from our favorite Noodles dishes and replaced them with spinach and more veggies.

FullSizeRenderWhen they explained this to me, but before I saw it, I was thinking “how good can this be without the noodles?!”.  I mean carb-laden, belly filling noodles are the whole point right?!  But I was pleasantly surprised!  Our super server IMG_5799Brit recommended getting double the sauce (which of course adds calories) but doubles the taste as well!  And these bowls were so filling!!  You better believe I  ate all my veggies when they were covered in Bangkok sauce!  And Theo was a fan too!!  Oh and they can pretty much make any of their noodle bowls into a buff bowl.  Brit made me a Pad Thai buff bowl and honestly, I didn’t miss the noodles at all.  Great for people with allergies, who are on diets for medical reasons or people who are just looking to cut calories and add protein to their diets.

IMG_5821If you’d like to try one (or 3) for yourself, just leave a comment on  this blog post and you’ll be entered for a $25 Noodles & Co. gift card.  Good at any Noodles & Co. location around the Country so you don’t have to be a DSM local to win!

Plus!  We are including a Buff Bowl recipe in this post (my fave, the Bangkok Curry) that you can make at home.

 

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The Lion King

IMG_6395-1IMG_6398Having just returned from a week in Disney World (literally just returned less than 24 hours ago), with the “Disney Magic” still very fresh in our minds, I didn’t have huge expectations for The Lion King at the Civic Center tonight.  I had never seen this production of The Lion King and just wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had heard great reviews, but thought maybe it was because it was popular with the kids.  What do I know?!

Well, Des Moines Performing Arts did not disappoint with this one.  My seven-year old was mesmerized throughout this whole show, and so was I!  The costumes were just amazing.  At times I actually forgot that the cast was human and not in fact the animals they were portraying.

IMG_6393Because the storyline followed the movie so closely, it was fun to watch with my seven-year old because he was so into the story and knew how it was unfolding.  I felt like this was a great age of child to bring to this performance.  There were a few younger children around us and it was hit or miss whether it kept their full attention throughout the whole show, but it may have had to do with the fact that this particular showing didn’t start til 7:30pm and ended at 10:00pm.  Try for one of the afternoon performances with younger kids.

But whatever you do, don’t miss The Lion King while it’s here in Des Moines.  Opening night was tonight (April 30th) and it runs through May 17th with lots of show times available (but some are already sold out, so hurry and get your tickets!).  More info and tickets here.

IMG_6409Quick tip: the souvenir line in the main lobby (as well as concession stand) had huge lines.  It wasn’t IMG_6411until we headed to our seats that we realized there was a second souvenir stand (and concession stand)  in the east lobby with hardly anyone there.  So head to the east lobby to avoid the long lines to grab your snacks and souvenirs before the show!

Oh! And don’t think you need to bring kids to enjoy this show.  This would make a great date night as well!

Happy Lunar New Year!

IMG_3302 IMG_3311Happy year of the sheep! This is the third year in a row we’ve had the pleasure of attending the Lunar New Year celebration hosted by the Korean Cultural Center of Des Moines.  It has been held at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Beaverdale each year and is a great, low key way to introduce your family to a different culture for a day. Here is our post with some photos from last year: http://eatplaylovedesmoines.com/2014/01/happy-lunar-new-year.html .

 

IMG_3333IMG_3378I’ll of course remind you on our Facebook page when the event is coming up again next year, but go ahead and follow them to learn about other events coming up (like CelebrAsian). https://www.facebook.com/pages/Korean-Cultural-Center/194912157188790?fref=ts

 

IMG_3320 IMG_3317We had fun learning how to roll Kimbap, watching the program, playing games and doing crafts and I most definitely look forward to enjoying the Bulgogi with rice, noodles, kimchi and soup (they even offer gluten-free) every year!  And the best part is that all of this is free!  The suggested donation is $5 per plate for the food, but it is all worth so much more.

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ps. Thanks to Kristine from the Cultural Center for snapping this family photo of us!

 

Mother/Son Glow Jump -The Official Time Line

So here is how this went down…

IMG_2639.JPGIMG_2652.JPGLast week: See lots of Father/Daughter Dances scheduled for tonight. Get this really good idea to attend Mother/Son Glow Jump at Pump it Up.  Kids love this place and heck, why wouldn’t I?!  I’ll skip the gym and make this my exercise for the day, an hour and a half of bouncing, I’m totally losing 3 pounds.

6:50 – Arrive.

6:52 – Sign in, obtain glow stick

6:55 – Watch video. Feet first down slides, no pushing, got it. I’m totally dominating these bounce houses. If these 4 year olds can do it…I can too.

7:00 – Enter jumping zone. I feel like this is a great idea. A little exercise, some bonding time with the kid and fun. Best. Mom. Ever.

7:02 – Realize I’m too fat to fit through the little openings to enter the bounce houses.  Stare at them for a minute thinking about attempting, but the thought of having to get one of the teenaged  attendants to cut my butt our of the mesh, 1 foot opening didn’t seem too appealing.

7:05 – Succumb to the fact that the only bounce objects I’ll be able to navigate are the gigantic slide and ridiculously large inflatable obstacle course.

IMG_2664.JPG7:08 – Attempt slide. Man those things are slippery…pulled a muscle in my back. Shake it off…Don’t look weak.

7:10 – Son insists I follow him up the “easy way” in the obstacle course to take a selfie because another mom did it . After attempting the ladder, I try to tell him that I don’t think I can make it. He immediately points out that the other kid’s mother (who obviously goes to the gym 12 hours a day) made it up with no problem. Not to be outdone, I throw my weight as far as I can up the ladder, face plant into plastic are drag myself to the top. 7 year old taunts me and says “haha, this is really the hard way”. After following him through a series of crawl spaces and slides where crying kids were stuck in corners and others were diving head first throughout the maze, I made it out alive but may have dislocated my arm. I did check to make sure the rest of my limbs were attached before I kicked a 4 year old out of closest chair.

7IMG_2647.JPG:12 – I surrender. Defeated by the bounce houses…only 78 minutes left….save me now!

7:20 – spot the massage chairs! There is no alcohol, but this might make this bearable for the last 70 minutes…

IMG_2678.JPG7:21 – Crap. No quarters. And now they just announced a Mother/Son snowball fight. The other moms are now giving me dirty looks because I’m not participating in the snowball fight and my son just turned into the devil reincarnate bearing snowballs with his only mission being to kill me by icy snowball pummeling. I’m ok with that…

7:45 – I convince my kid it’s 8:30 and the party is over.  He didn’t buy it.

8:30 – After winning a round of Simon Says, the 7 year old is ready to go.  Thank you Lord.

 

 

Of course I’m just kidding.  Pump is Up is really awesome.  Nathan had a great time and hasn’t stopped talking about how much fun he had.  They do a great job with birthday parties and the prices are reasonable. Also, I’m sure that lady doesn’t’ work out 12 hours per day…I’m sure it’s only like 6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taste of New York

get-attachment-72.aspx get-attachment-69.aspxYesterday, Taste of New York Pizzeria opened up in West Des Moines. It’s right near Scratch Cupcakery.  And this place is the real deal.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Jersey Guys and NYC Pizza Cafe too.  But I loved the feel and everything else about Taste of New York.

This is a family business and it shows.  The Savelli family moved here from Brooklyn (that’s New York, not Iowa) just a month ago to open up this restaurant together.  get-attachment-65.aspx get-attachment-64.aspxWe were greeted by Mr. Savelli, a former NYPD police Sargeant and his children were all working hard behind the counter taking orders and making beautiful Pizza pies that were as authentic as you can get.   They even give you pizza folding instructions if you need them, but no need for us New Englanders.

He gladly accepted us Bostonians into the restaurant, but only after joking about our status as Red Sox fans.  He happily asserted that they were Mets and Yankee fans.  It’s ok, the pizza was good enough to put up with a little New York attitude.

An added bonus was the Gino’s Italian ice they offer for dessert.  We’ve been waiting for this stuff since we moved to Iowa 9 years ago!  Rita’s, now open the WDM get-attachment-66.aspx get-attachment-68.aspxas well offers delicious Italian ice now as well, but Gino’s is kept at a colder temperature so the consistency is different and it’s so good!  You’ve gotta try it.

Back to the pizza, the highlight for us was that you could get slices of the unique specialty pizza and not have to order a whole pie to sample (and I say sample lightly because these slices are humongous!) of the flavors like lasagna, chicken parm, and so many more.

 

get-attachment-67.aspxget-attachment-70.aspxThey also offer hero sandwiches, salad and some other appetizers and pastas.  If they are half as good as the pizza, you’re in for a treat.

Check it our when you get a chance, it definitely made us feel nostalgic. You’ll feel like you are in Brooklyn for sure!

Iowa State Fair

The Fair is here!! The Iowa State Fair funs August 7th to 17th in 2014.  From cows made from butter to everything you ever wanted that you didn’t know you’d ever want on-a-stick, it’s fair time!

Some people like to avoid the

craziness, but I like to dive right in.  Have you ever seen so many mullets in one place before?

Kids love it too.  There are the over-priced carnival-rides of course.  But, if you can keep your kid occupied

 

with the plethora of animals, the free give-aways (mostly fake tattoos that they want to be covered with from head to toe) in the varied industries building from hundreds of vendors and the little hands on the farm exhibit which is one of our favorites, you can possibly avoid spending too long in line for

a $4 ride that they may or may not puke on. The hands on the farm exhibit is where kids go through the motions of being a farmer and milking a (fake) cow to earn (fake) money to buy something in the store at the end.  I’d say kids at least up to age 9 or 10 would like this.

And then there is the food….ahhhh the glorious food.  Three things I never miss are 1. A pork chop on a stick.  That hard to find french cut of goodness smothered with BBQ sauce. 2. A frozen apple cider slush.  Overly sweet, yet tart and perfect for the hot days at the fair.  They sell them in the same building where you find the butter cow and get your

egg on a stick.  3. those darn buckets of chocolate chips cookies that you can’t resist.  Why are they so good!? With so many choices, why would we pick cookies?  Because they are that good!  We finally came to our senses that we don’t have to eat the whole darn bucket in the few days following the fair, they actually freeze really well and pulling out a Ziploc bag of cookies 3 months after the fair and popping them in the microwave for 20 seconds is like re-living the fair all over again.  Do it I tell you.

Well, that’s all you are going to get about the fair from me….I am far from a fair expert, but I know there are some of you out there with tried and true tips, like “make sure to come on Eat Side night” so, please share with the rest of us what YOUR favorite parts/foods of the fair are.  Thanks!

Goodguys Heartland Nationals

get-attachment-14.aspxI had no idea about the Goodguys Heartland Nationals until my friend Christie said that they attend every year and love it!  She was nice enough to write a little bit about the event for us so we can all plan our trip for next year.  Thanks Christie!

Every year, my boys (big and small) count the days to the Goodguys Heartland Nationals. For three days around the 4th of July, four thousand hot rods, classics, and muscle cars descend upon the Iowa State Fair Grounds. This year, the cars had to be from 1972 or before to enter the grounds. The exception is on Sunday when any American made car from any year can join the fun.
You will find many of the cars parked all over the fairgrounds while others prefer to cruise around, revving their engines and honking their cool sounding horns.
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Activities include time trials where people race their cars on a track. This happens where you usually find the fair midway, next to the grandstand. Building a car and need parts? Vendors are set up in the Varied Industries building to help you. Or you can check out the swap meet for original parts. Want to buy a hot rod? There is a lot full of cars just waiting for a new owner!
If you aren’t really interested in the cars, you can check out the arts and crafts booths located at the Grandstand. There are also activities geared toward the kids (I can’t write about these, because my kids are too interested in all the cars.)

get-attachment-15.aspxFor more information and the annual schedule of events, check out the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association website: (https://www.good-guys.com/)