- 1300 S.E. First St., Des Moines, IA, 50309
- Overall User Rating:
- (5 ratings)
- Kitchen Monday-Thursday 7a.m.-10p.m. Friday-Sunday 7a.m.-11p.m.
- Official Web Site:
Preliminary visit — not yet rated.
Because Mullets is owned by a sister company of Full Court Press (the lot involved in High Life Lounge, El Bait Shop, Fong’s Pizza and other stylized good-time joints), I knew the place would be reliable for some laughs. But the food? Let’s face it: The name has an in-your-face way of saying, “Lower your expectations.”
Happily, there’s no need to do any such thing.
Atmosphere: The theme is, in one partner-employee’s words, “coastal Iowa,” and this plays out in a sort of river-town roadhouse vibe, with a knotty-pine paneled interior and rusty license plates counting as décor. Also on the walls is a mini-gallery of celebrities sporting mullets (including Florence Henderson).
While the interior merits a few chuckles, the outside deserves our awe. Why didn’t anyone else realize the full potential of this location? Overlooking our two rivers, with expansive views of downtown and the Capitol, the upper and lower decks comprise the best patio in town.
There’s also a good-natured groove here; somehow, the spanking-new spot seems comfortably worn and right at home in Des Moines. I’d imagine that an out-of-towner would think it had been here forever.
Menu: While the casual menu offers sandwiches, salads, pizzas, burgers, sausages and hot dogs, the specialty seems to be the 14 takes on po’boy sandwiches, including catfish, bluegill, blue-walnut chicken, shrimp-and-crawfish and a gut-buster called the Sandberg, with cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped fried Polish sausage, topped with grilled onions and peppers, barbecue sauce and more cheese.
First Impressions: The irresistible fried blue crab claws, with their lightly spicy cornmeal breading, brought a good combo of crunch, kick and sweet crab flavor.
Our server — a sunglasses-clad young guy who knows you can be cool without being aloof — steered us right in recommending the Chicken Philly Po’Boy, a squishy delight with grilled chicken, sweet peppers and onions that oozed with the kind of melty, liquidy, processed cheese that lovers of the true Philly cheesesteak totally get.
I also admired the pan-fried triggerfish Po’Boy, with its crisply breaded chunks of whitefish tucked into a soft-yet-sturdy hoagie roll along with pickles, lettuce, onions and tartar sauce. Consider it the fish taco of the mullet crowd.
Stay for dessert? Blender drinks are the closest thing to a finale here, and they go just fine with the music, which includes an abundance of ’70s rock.