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Taco Hangover

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.

La MONA Panaderia

IMG_3900IMG_3899So our plan the other night was to finally get to the Sunday Soul Food buffet at Patton’s restaurant on East Grand Ave (not far from the State Capitol), but sadly it was closed.  The sign on the door said that the owner was ill with pneumonia, which is so sad because I just met her when she was on the radio show with Michael Libbie last week before my Friday segment.  Hope she is feeling better quick!

So we decided to stop in to the Mexican bakery next door on our way over to Los Laureles for dinner instead. (More on Los Laureles in a later post.) But, I’m so glad we stopped in!  The sign on the door said 12 for $6.50 and I couldn’t believe how many fresh items there were at 5pm!  The owner (who didn’t speak a lick of English) was so sweet.  I love this place!

IMG_3898 IMG_3896We took the hint from other customers that we were supposed to grab a tray and some tongs and fill er’ up.  You could mix and match from well over 30 different baked goods.  We piled high and grabbed a coke and tres leches cake to go.  Boy are Josh’s coworkers going to love him tomorrow.

I know there are some other bakeries like this in town and I’m on a mission to try them all now.  There was actually one right across the street from this one that we’ll make it over to soon, but we were so excited to try our goods from this one that we didn’t make to over this visit.

IMG_3910Let us know if you’ve tried it and what your favorite pastry  is!

Right now I’m digging this here tres leches cake!

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.

5 De Mayo

We were able to lighten up this dreary Friday with a fiesta at 5 De Mayo!  The SE 14th Street location has been in business for a few years now and they recently opened up a second location in West Des Moines on EP True Parkway.  The WDM location has been home to a few other restaurants as well.   We really liked the Mediterranean restaurant that used to be there in the past, so we are excited say that 5 De Mayo will be a place we visit more in the future as well.  Today we visited the SE 14th Street location, but both menus are on their website and are very similar.

The restaurant was clean, our waitstaff was very friendly, our service was prompt and the food was good!  There are so many Mexican restaurants in the area now, that it’s really hard for them to differentiate themselves.  I would say the friendly and attentive service really stuck out for me at 5 De Mayo.  Super nice people.

I was also impressed with the variety of the menu and drink cocktail selection.  It is wasn’t 11:30am, I would have definitely tried the  “Vampiro” which is tequila, sangrita viuda de sanchez spicy fruit juice, lime and salt (yum!).  They of course had your typical offerings of burritos, nachos, tacos, etc.  But there were a lot of house specials that stood out as well, for instance that had 4 variations of huevos rancheros.  There is definitely something for everyone here.  Even the kids menu had a nice variety.  Along with the typical lunch specials they also had an express lunch menu with full meals for only about $3.99.  They had a separate vegetarian menu as well.

Since it was Friday, we of course had Fajita’s.  They were tasty and plentiful and for $6.99 a great value.  Check their website for weekly specials such at $1.50 margaritas on Mondays and kids eat free on Thurdays until 5:00pm.

I’d definitely recommend 5 De Mayo for a family meal that won’t break the bank with something to please everyone.

Viva La Bamba

I’m hard-pressed to pass up a fajita Friday.  So fortunately, Viva la Bamba (this time the location on Grand Ave, there is also one in Urbandale) stood up to the challenge.
Unfortunately, Viva La Bamba is one of the restaurants losing a lot of business because of the bridge closure at 63rd and

Grand since it’s location just over the bridge, on the Des Moines side.

Another interesting tid-bit is that, this summer a chain in Chicago called the owners and told him the name was infringing on their Mexican food chain’s name copyright and he had to change it.  They agreed to change the name to just “Viva Mexican Restaurant”, but the signs still boast Viva La Bamba for now.

So, today, I took detour around the construction and it was totally worth it.  I just love the Mexican restaurants who serve bean dip along with chips and salsa for an appetizer.  Honestly, I could probably just eat the whole basket of warm chips with their chunky (and very fresh) salsa and bean dip for lunch and be a happy camper.

But, alas, it was Friday (so fajitas were a must) and they’d probably not appreciate it if I only ate the free stuff and left.

Anyway, These were some darn good fajitas.  A huge portion of good quality chicken and fresh veggies accompanied by the familiar rice, beans, salad and tortilla that most restaurants serve.

A solid fajita Friday at Viva la Bamba.  Give them some love, especially since the bridge will now be closed until at least the middle of December.  Prices are great and they have margarita specials often!  They need our support!

Isla Cozumel

Usually when I’m in Urbandale for lunch, I end up at Sam & Louie’s Pizza and a lot of times  Incredible Pizza (which has pretty good gluten-free pizza actually) because of the kiddo.  But I decided to try something new and headed over to Isla Cozumel.  It’s in the same plaza as Taki in the former Mama Lacona’s location.  I was struck by the sign that boasted $5.99 lunch fajitas and $6.99 dinner fajitas and I knew that’s what I’d be trying.

It’s easy to identify that you are in the former home of Mama Lacona’s, but it does a good job making a Mexican joint too with some added decorations.

The menu was varied as most Mexican restaurants in town are and included most of the local favorites like enchiladas, tacos, burritos, etc. I always appreciate when ethnic restaurants include American choices for the kids because as much as I thought my child would be the kid that inhaled curry and exotic cuisine like it’s his job, alas, he is a typical picky 6 year old who wants grilled cheese and french fries at every meal.  I digress…

My fajitas were good.  A great portion size

for the price. well-seasoned chicken and your typical sides of re-fried beans, rice, salad & guac.

The service was great and fast.  Friendly waitstaff and a clean restaurant.  I’d dine again especially for their daily specials.  Kids 9 and Under eat free on Mondays.  $2.99 margarita’s on Wednesdays.

If you like most of the other Mexican restaurants in town, you’ll like this one too!  Always nice to have another option in Urbandale.

 

Raul’s


I drive by Raul’s Mexican Restaurant on 8th Street in WDM all the time and finally stopped in.  The sign out front for the lunch buffet sign caught my eye.  Tuesday thru Friday they offer an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet from 11-2 including salad, corn and flour tacos, enchiladas, pizza, rice and beans and more.  For $7.95 it didn’t look like a bad deal.  But since it was my first visit I wanted to order something off the menu.

The decor was impressive and the restaurant was bigger than I’d expected from the outside.

I was greeted by a friendly server and presented with warm tortilla chips and salsa.  It wasn’t my favorite salsa, but I was hungry and it was good with the warm chips.
The owner also stopped by to say hello and make sure my drink order was taken.  I definitely felt welcome.  The were a lot of “Regulars” that came in for the buffet since I heard a lot of statements like “good to see you again” and “back again!”  It was nice to see that the staff appreciated their customers.

I was excited to see that they offered a full gluten-free menu and they had kids meal specials on Tuesday and Wednesday nights where kids eat for $1.95.
I ordered the 1/2 order of chicken fajitas for $7.95.  The chicken was sauteed with plenty of fresh veggies and came with rice, salad, sour cream and gauc and tortillas.  Everything was very tasty.  I especially liked the fresh gauc.  Even though I like guac, I often skip it in restaurants because of the sketch factor.  but not here, I happily applied it to my tortillas and enjoyed.
I’d certainly return again to try some of their other menu items.  I was totally stuffed after my fajitas so I didn’t get a chance to sample more, but I’ll update you when I do!  I’ll be back.

 

Abelardo’s

So I had a chance to stop in to the Abelardo’s on Ingersol the other day.  I knew there were a few locations around the area, two in WDM and one in DSM.  I didn’t realize they had locations in Nebraska, Kansas and Washington as well.

Abelardo’s is basically a fast(er)-food version of the sit-down Mexican restaurants we have all over the area like Monterrey and Cabo Sol.

It was pretty neat to just walk up and order and then hit the salsa bar before picking a seat and then being called up (in a matter of minutes) to get my food.

Combo choices included tacos, burritos, chimichangas, fajitas, etc.  I ordered the combo fajitas and was really impressed with the fresh, house-made

tortilla that came with my meal.
The size of the meal was impressive but I was a little disappointed with the quality of the chicken.  It was mostly thigh meat and I’m a white meat only kinda gal.  The shrimp was tasty and the veggies were a-plenty.

While I wouldn’t say I’d pass up a trip to Tamale’s Industry, Tequila or Dos Rios to come to Abelardo’s.  It was certainly a good stop for a quick, filling meal that wasn’t anywhere as low on the totem pole as a Taco Bell or Taco Johns, but even has a drive-thru and really quick service.

The drive-thru is open 24 hours a day and the prices are good.  Drive-thru for a midnight snack or anytime you need a quick Mexican fix and don’t have time for a sit-down full-service joint.

Interview with Chef Sam from Tacopocalypse

After getting its start at the Cumming Tap three years ago, Tacopocalypse is already ridiculously successful in its new location in the East Village.

Sam and his crew serve hundreds of hungry customers, innovative taco, burrito and nacho creations each day.  If you’ve read my blog before you know how awesome I think Tacopocalypse food is.  You can read our review about Brunchpocalypse here.

But his story doesn’t begin there.  He’s been cooking for himself since he was a little kid.  However, a bout of the stomach flu kept him away from eating tacos for about 5 years!  I couldn’t believe someone who stayed away from tacos for so long can cook up some of the best around.

Chef Sam has chosen to compete in Battledish Des Moines 2013 because he has no doubts that his food can stand up to the best.  He is also excited to try some new recipes out on the Battledish attendees.  There are no guarantees, but Battledish goers might just get a chance to sample some of the first Tacopoca-noodles!  (I just made that name up, but I think it’s pretty ingenious.)

Sam is a pretty interesting guy.  For a long time he was Vegan. He had a big impact on the Vegan restaurant scene in Des Moines as he worked in a ton of local restaurants and introduced his creative elements to lots of them.

Sometimes Sam is underestimated, like when he was hired at Centro to be a salad guy and was promoted within weeks to Sous Chef because they admitted they made a mistake.  But Sam has a style of his own.  He taught himself to make sushi and was highly successful as Executive Chef at Zen until its closing.  He didn’t last long at Miyabi 9 though because he just wouldn’t conform to someone else’s style of doing things.  Sam feels that the best food isn’t going to be found in the most expensive restaurants, but maybe in a gas station in Louisiana, or a taco stand at a bar in a town of 50.

I asked Sam where his drive comes from to take Tacopocalypse to such a high level in such a short amount of time and to open two restaurants at the same time.  Sam says he’s just crazy about food.  He just can’t stop thinking about it.

We can’t wait for the battle!  But if you can’t wait either, you can always stop into Tacopocalypse on E 6th street in the East Village any day of the week!