Though we’re not above the occasional frozen pizza or piping-hot treat straight out of a deep-fat fryer, a few area bars are exceeding expectations when it comes to serving up bar food. Here are three we recommend the next time you’re looking for tasty ea
1. Bombay Bicycle Club, 8410 Hickman Road, Clive
Downtown Farmers Market fans rejoiced when popular purveyor Tacopocalypse moved into the kitchen space at Bombay Bicycle Club. It made the popular tacos available practically daily, and those too hungover to make it to the popular Saturday morning market soon understood what the fuss was all about. Chef Sam Auen has elevated the taco from a meat-and-cheese affair to a gourmet, handmade and locally sourced meat-and-cheese affair, though let’s not forget his friendliness to vegetarians and vegans as well. Having a kitchen to perform his culinary magic in has allowed Auen to expand his menu to include nachos, quesadillas, soups, burrito specials and a little something he calls a bacon parfait. Yes, please.
2. The Keg Stand, 3530 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines
There aren’t many bar menus in Des Moines that boast calamari. In fact, we can think of just one, and it fries the strips of calamari in cereal batter. The Keg Stand is home to Bach Catering, which offers an extensive menu of both expected (pizza, wings) and unexpected (gyros, spinach dip, wings in a wrap) bar food offerings that exceed bar quality expectations. Even the lunch menu strives to elevate the everyday deli sandwich by introducing interesting ingredients like pineapple, sweet chili sauce and apples. Follow @bachcatering on Twitter to learn about other daily or weekly specials, including burger bars with 30 toppings, wing nights offering 26 flavors or steak nights featuring rib eyes.
3. Francie’s, 2100 Wakonda View Drive
Francie’s introduces itself as both a bar and a grill. The petite south-side neighborhood hangout features what easily qualifies as one of Des Moines’ smallest kitchens, but it offers a healthy menu size and excellent food, including a Philly cheesesteak made from New York strip. Francie’s consistently qualifies as a contender for the city’s best chicken wings, offering a full pound of them per order, but the regulars also rave about the items featuring Francie’s queso, including a rarebit burger as well as cheese fries. Arrive early or expect to wait for a table during lunch and dinner hours. Francie’s is no longer a best-kept secret.