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.

Guttenburgers..however you pronounce it.

IMG_6650 IMG_6648So up until today, I assumed this new restaurant, Guttenburgers, which I of course was at my table ready to eat at 11:00 on opening day, was pronounced “Goo-tenburgers”.  As in, the German meaning (and pronunciation)…Good.  It made sense…Good-Burgers.  Then, someone on our Facebook page pointed out that the owner is from Guttenberg, Iowa…So it’s Gut-enbergers.  And all along I thought it was also pronounced “Goot”enberg, Iowa.  Of course I thought Nevada, Iowa would also sound like the place that houses Las Vegas and Madrid was like the place in Spain….I digress….back to burgers…


IMG_6649 IMG_6653I loved the feel of this new burger restaurant.  It’s located right near Jethro’s Jambalaya (West des Moines/Waukee). It is set up a little like Zombie Burger where you can either order at the counter to-go or dine-in for full-service.  Or heck, just stop in for some ice cream or a milkshake.


My burger was solid.  My dining partners and I agreed that the burger toppings stole the show as the hamburger patty was good, but wasn’t the standout item.  My favorite part of the Orchard Burger was the caramelized apples.  I’d order it again, bacon, brie and glazed apples…on a burger…how can you go wrong?


The fries are IMG_6660Hawkeye/Cyclone themed and are darned tasty.  The cyclone fries are more like the spiral cut potato chips you get at the fair with parmesan cheese, garlic and ranch dip.  Nice that you can IMG_6663get a small serving for only $3.49… Fried goodness at it’s best.  The crispy-battered fried pickle chips were also great.  The homemade bacon mac & cheese stood out and would be lovely as a meal by itself.


IMG_6669 IMG_6666My friend really enjoyed her buffalo chicken sandwich.  They also have an impressive selection of ice cream flavors such as Kitty Kitty Bang Bang (I didn’t ask), Bourbon Pecan Pie, Superhero and more…they also have a sweet potato fry dessert that sounds heavenly and comes with a scoop of ice cream on it.  If I wasn’t so dang full, I would have totally tried it.  Next time for sure.


Our waitress, who also happens to have a sister who could be her twin working there (It took me half way IMG_6672through my meal to realize there were two of them), IMG_6684was very attentive and friendly.  I can’t wait to try more menu items here.  Fun to have a burger/ice cream joint in this part of town!  As you can see, the Oreo ice cream was a hit with our littlest table-mate today.

Family friendly but also great food to nurse a hang-over.  I liked it!  Guttenburgers will be entering our casual dining out rotation for sure!


Fernando’s Mexican Grill

get-attachment-28.aspx get-attachment-27.aspxMan, I love me some tacos!  There sure are a lot of choices in town with at least one Mexican Restaurant in every neighborhood and a good number of seriously good taco trucks to choose from (mostly on the East side of town) taking up residence in parking lots, so I was surprised to find such awesome tacos (and food in general) at Fernando’s Mexican Grill in the Drake neighborhood.


I have yet to visit when the owner isn’t working behind the counter himself making small talk and making sure guests are happy.  I love local places where it’s just as much about the feeling of being welcome as it is about the food.


get-attachment-29.aspx IMG_8142The setup is kind of like a Pancheros or Qdoba, except this food is much more authentic. Fresh corn tortillas for tacos and a variety of fresh fixings to choose from make Fernando’s stand out.  I don’t think you can go wrong with anything on the menu really since you get to top your burritos, tacos or quesadillas with whatever you like from salsas and veggies to crema and cheese.


Like I said, the style is that of a Panchero’s or Qdoba where you order and build your order at the counter, but the product is definitely not in the same category.  For a quick, budget-friendly lunch or dinner with taste that will leave you craving more, Check out Fernando’s on University in Des Moines.  Its’ right near Mars Cafe near Drake University.  I think you’ll like it!

Fun at The Farmer’s Market

The Farmer’s Markets in town kick off their seasons this week!  It might be a chilly start, but better weather is in sight and it’s worth it to brave the weather anyway!  If you want the freshest local produce, prepared food and specialty items, the Farmer’s Market is where to get them.

How awesome is it that we have such great Farmer’s Markets in Iowa.  Where else can you find such a wide variety of ethnic delicacies alongside the best of Iowa.  The Downtown Des Moines market is the largest one, followed by the Valley Junction one.  It’s wonderful because Downtown includes Breakfast burritos, breakfast pizza, pasties along with BBQ, Indian, Moroccan, Bosnian (and many more!) delights for lunch.  Valley Junction will take care of your dinner and you can buy the baked goods and pastries to take him for breakfast the next day!  Of course don’t forget all of your produce and local meat!

A few of my “must haves” at the market are 1. A cutlet form Saloo’s India (a potato cake filled with meat or veggies-gluten free) 2. A breakfast burrito or bowl from Farm Boys. YUM! 3. A gluten-free crepe from Sweet Treat Without Wheat.  4. A burger from Local Yocals.

Oh, and of course it’s not all about the food.  Vendors also have handmade items of all kinds like clothing, jewelry, soap, decorations and much more.

Here is a list and info from their websites for some of the larger local ones.  Check your town to see if they host one too. I know Waukee, Johnston and many others have them too!  Merle Hay Mall is startign an Indor Farmer’s Market…Here are the dates for those:  The Green Wood Market (Merle Hay Mall) is from 4:30pm-8:30pm on dates listed below.

  • Wednesday, May 28
  • Wednesday, June 4
  • Wednesday, June 11
  • Wednesday, June 18
  • Wednesday, June 25

Ames: Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 12 noon Starting May 3

Fresh fruits, veggies, meats & breads. Hand crafted goods. Family entertainment. The Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market has it all!

Ankeny: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays. Uptown Ankeny. The Uptown Ankeny Farmer’s Market vendors provide a wide variety of products to the public. In the past, the market has seen everything from fresh seasonal produce, home-made baked goods, specialty food items, BBQ cooked on-site, perennial plants, hand-made items, and much

Downtown Des Moines:   7am-noon (8am-noon in Oct.) Support local agriculture and buy direct from Iowa farmers while shopping the Downtown Farmers’ Market – presented by UnityPoint Health – Des Moines. The Downtown Farmers’ Market presents Iowa producers from 51 counties across Iowa, offering fresh fruit, vegetables and so much more. You’ll find fresh herbs, beautiful flowers, farm fresh eggs, local wineries, a delicious assortment of goat cheese, an endless selection of baked goods, and many varieties of Iowa raised meat such as beef, pork, chicken, lamb, buffalo, ostrich, and tilapia.

Southridge Mall: Mondays 3:30 to 6:30pm, Meet us in the parking lot North of Sears every Monday for fresh produce, yummy treats and MUCH MORE!

West Des Moines: 4-8 p.m. Thursdays, Valley Junction. Farmers Market is home to over 100 weekly vendors selling fresh produce, baked goods, plants and flowers, arts and crafts and prepared foods. Join your friends and neighbors.

Paradise Biryani Pointe



I’m pretty excited about quite literally stumbling upon the newest Indian restaurant in the Metro named Paradise Biryani Pointe.  We were out by Jordan Creek and had about 45 minutes to grab something to eat before heading to the show at The Last Laugh Comedy Theater (which was hilarious by the way and we’ll fill you in about that experience later this week) on Saturday night.  Not wanting to settle for a chain and not in the mood for fast food, we started heading toward Monterrey Mexican restaurant in the plaza across from the Mall that also houses Iron Wok.  To our surprise, there was a new Indian Restaurant in the plaza.  So of course we went in.  The sign on the door said that they were only offering a buffet at this point while they get everything ready to go for their full menu. The buffet was $13.99.  We thought we’d give it a shot, and I’m so glad we did.



We were greeted promptly and visited by one of the owners who told us the story of he and 4 friends who decided to open up this Indian restaurant because there just weren’t enough in the area.  And they are right!  I think this is a great location too.  He mentioned that they had just opened on Thursday (and like I said, tonight was Saturday) and were already having trouble keeping up with demand.  Awesome!



The buffet wasn’t enormous, but had a nice selection of vegetarian rice, chicken rice, chili chicken, naan, chicken tikka masala, a goat dish and few others. The Paneer (indian cheese) dish and the large chunks of chicken breast in the masala were especially tasty.  There were sides of chutney, appetizers and a yogurt/fruit dessert.  Everything was very tasty and hot.  It was nice to get to sample so many of the menu items on our first visit.


With a great location, super nice owners and an awesome looking menu (you can check it out here) with reasonable prices, I’m excited for this restaurant to do well and is a certainly needed on the west side of town.  Check it out!

PepperJax Grill

PepperJax Grill is a pretty new chain in the Midwest and very new to Des Moines with locations in Clive and Ankeny.
Normally I don’t review chains, but I was pretty impressed with PepperJax and since it’s new, I’ll give it a go.  They are located at 9901 University Ave. in Clive on the oposite side of the Valley West Mall.

They offer HUGE portions in a Qdoba or Pancheros style of fixing.

You decide on a philly sandwich, rice bowl, giant wrap or salad, choose chicken, steak, veggies or shrimp and go to town filling it with toppings.  I’ll just give you the selection straight from their website:

Signature Sauces
Au Jus, Sweet Asian, Creole Mushroom, Original Hearty Steak Sauce, Classic Bold Steak Sauce, Sweet Homestyle BBQ Sauce

Complimentary Toppings
Onions, Mushrooms, Green Peppers, Jalapenos, Pinto Beans, Black Beans, Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese Blend, Black Olives, Ranch Dressing, Lite Ranch Dressing, Spicy Ranch Dressing, Caesar Dressing, Salsa (mild or hot), Shredded Lettuce, Tomatoes, Dorothy Lynch, Raspberry Vinaigrette And More

Kids choose from a mini rice bowl, chicken strips or corn dogs. Pictured here is my sons choice meal of corn dogs.  He actually ate some of the hot dogs rather than just eating the breading, so they must have been pretty good.

All-in-all,  you are going to get a good, filling, tasty meal.  For a quick lunch or dinner that is different from your norm, check out PepperJax and let us know what you think!

Sushi Classes at Hy-Vee




Do you know then the next sushi class is at Hy-vee?  Whenever you want it to be!  My friend Rachel was looking into Sushi classes in town and saw that Hy-vee on Fleur had recently held one, so she called up to see if they planned on hosting another in the near future.  What they told her was that they do them whenever you want, as long as you can get a group of 15 together for the class.  Awesome!  So of course we got 15 friends together

get-attachment-7.aspxas fast as we could and had a sushi class in the private room at Hy-vee Fleur last

get-attachment-6.aspxweek. It was awesome! And the kicker is that they only charge $15 per person.  Great deal!  You can also bring in wine/beer, etc. from the store to enjoying during the class.



Chef Stacey and sushi Chef Dave ran the class for us.  They started off by showing us how to cut the veggies and other ingredients for the sushi and then told us how to make up the spicy crab and tuna for the sushi using sriracha.  The good part is that you can chose the ingredients to include in the rolls you make so if you are vegetarian or just don’t like imitation crab or tuna, you don’t have to include it in your rolls.


Everyone had the chance to make up 4 mini-rolls (each mini-roll was 4 regular sized pieces) and enjoy them at

get-attachment-3.aspxthe class or they will provide you with take-home containers.

What a fun and well-run class!

get-attachment-4.aspx Just contact Stacey @ (515)285-7266 (Hy-vee Fleur) to plan your sushi class.  Make up a Facebook event (or evite or whatever planning tool you use) and check out this fun class!


Thai Flavors


I have to admit, I’d been neglecting Thai Flavors for quite a while.  Being in the same plaza as Cafe Fuzion is tough because I just love Cafe Fuzion (read our review) so much it was hard to think of trying anything else.  I mean, I knew it was there and people always told me about their good experiences at Thai Flavors and I really like the sister restaurant Cool Basil in Clive (read our review), but I guess I can be a creature of habit too even though it seems like I eat at 3 new places a week…. wait, I do that too…I digress….

Pad See Ew

UNTIL a cold Friday evening came upon us and we knew we wanted Thai, but none of us wanted to venture out in the cold to get it….Someone mentioned that Thai Flavors delivered….Hello!?  How did I not know this?  Then I thought, surely we were out of the delivery area….We called anyway on the off chance they’d deliver to us…they DO!  The normal delivery charge is $2, but they would delver out of the area for $5…..SO WORTH IT! I’m also excited to go in to try their lunch specials.  Popular dishes like pad thai and and cashew chicken starting at $6.99.  They also offer sushi and a kids menu at very reasonable prices.  We ordered the kids steamed noodles for my son for only $1.50 and the portion was huge!

Curry Fried Rice

Now dont’ get confused, the “location” on the Thai flavors website gives the address for Cool Basil, but the address is really 1254 E 14th St, Des Moines, IA 50316.

I couldn’t believe how fast the delivery was and everything arrived piping hot even though it was like -10 degrees out (sorry Mr. delivery man!  I assure you we tipped him well!).  We tried the curry fried rice, pad see ew and larb.  Everything was really good!  We both agreed that the taste was spot on with each dish, but could have used a little more sauce on the pad see ew and larb.  But the fact that they deliver it right to my door make it’s perfect!

I’m pretty sure we’ve found a new “regular” place (for delivery nights) since delivery is much easier than taking the little people out to sit in a restaurant.  Oh, they can make a lot of the dishes gluten-free for you if you ask!

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.


If you live anywhere near Des Moines, you’ve probably eaten at a Palmer’s Deli by now.

There are now locations in West Des Moines, Urbandale, Downtown, Ankeny and Ingersol Ave in Des Moines.

While I have always been a fan of their tasty soups, large salad selection and fresh sandwiches, what I’m most is excited about is that now most of their menu can be prepared gluten-free. Even the soups and sandwiches.

On my last visit I ordered the apple orchard sandwich on gluten-free bread and it included roasted turkey, provolone, granny smith apples and apple butter.  Yum!  They even had gluten-free cookies for dessert.
They also have spectacular egg salad which the hubby ordered.  Just fresh eggs, the right amount of Mayo and not too many fillers.  Awesome.
I will warn you that they get pretty busy during the lunch hour, so try to go when you can get there early or have a few extra minutes to wait in line.  Well worth the wait though.

You are sure to enjoy anything you order.  Make sure to try a brownie for dessert if you aren’t gluten-free…Ah-ma-zing!
Don’t forget about their breakfast!  The omelets are awesome and so is the Challah french toast!