Whether you're a lifelong Des Moines resident or a traveler stopping by, there are culinary treasures to discover across the metro's local restaurants.
The state of play: It's easy to poke fun at the "meat and mashed potatoes" of the Midwest (which, honestly, can be quite tasty) — but, don't discount our town's James Beard award-winning chefs, diverse array of immigrant-owned restaurants and just plain creative creations.
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Here's a running list of the foods we've liked:
Takoyaki from Hana Ramen Sushi
A takoyaki appetizer from Hana Ramen Sushi.
🐙 Takoyaki is a quintessentially fun food to eat and say. The hot, fried dough ball steams in your mouth, while the tiny piece of octopus in the center gives a textural surprise.
For $5.95, you can get three pieces off the Hana Ramen Sushi appetizer menu, topped with smoky bonito flakes and Kewpie mayo, which I feel is superior to any of the U.S. brands.
Open 11-9 every day, 7450 Bridgewood Blvd. #205, West Des Moines.
The snack aisle at C Fresh Market
Chip and cracker snacks at C Fresh Market in Des Moines. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios
Salted egg chips, soft mochi and crunchy rice snacks line the shelves at Des Moines' largest Asian grocery store.
We recommend a bag of White Rabbit Creamy Candy for $2.79. The popular Chinese sweet is a milky, chewy candy that's similar to taffy.
Open 8-8 every day; 801 University Ave., Des Moines.
PB&J Fries from Curbin' Cuisine
PB&J Fries from Curbin' Cuisine in Des Moines. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios
🍟 Step aside, ketchup. This Beaverdale restaurant tops standard-cut fries with a Thai peanut sauce and a raspberry-chipotle jelly.
The savory and sweet flavors blended together for a taste of after-school nostalgia.
💸 For $8.25, you can get a full order, but half-orders are also available.
Open 11:30am to 8pm, Tues-Sat, 2713 Beaver Ave., Des Moines; 515-635-0090
A fried chicken sandwich from Bubba's in downtown Des Moines. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios
🐔 We narrowed down the 5 best chicken sandwiches across the city, so you don't have to try them all yourself (but you should).
Where you should target: Angry Goldfish, Bubba's, Charlotte's Kitchen, Exile and The Station on Ingersoll.
Potato pizza from Franka's Pizzeria
A $17 potato pizza from Franka Pizzeria at 111 E Grand Ave. in Des Moines. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios
💸 This $17 pizza from Franka Pizzeria excels when it comes to balance. The leek garnish adds a sprightly green pop on top of the slightly tangy taleggio cheese.
Plus: It's a textural delight. The subtle bite of the potatoes meshed well with the creamy white sauce and chewy crust.
Open 10am to 10pm, every day, 111 E. Grand Ave. Suite 101, Des Moines, 515-288-1086.
Keep checking back in! This list will continue to be updated as Linh adds more favorites to her list.
These items first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.
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