One thing we have plenty of in Des Moines is Mexican food. There are a lot of choices, and they’re all delicious. I’ve eaten at a lot of Mexican places around town, from swank downtown eateries to the taco trucks, and I have (with a lot of agonizing) chosen my favorite 10 Mexican restaurants in the Des Moines area.
10 best Mexican restaurants in Des Moines
By James ErwinSpecial to Metromix
April 30, 2009
10. There are a lot of paint-by-numbers Mexican places in Des Moines. Monterrey stands out from the pack by offering a great selection of Mexican-style seafood. The camarones (shrimp) are great.
9. Not the most authentic place in town, but the fish tacos are great, and their fishbowl-sized margaritas are a definite plus. Sadly, the all-you-can-eat taco special has gone by the wayside.
8. Mountainous portions and powerful margaritas heft Aguila Real onto this list. If you’re looking to reward yourself for hard work on a long day, this should be high on your list. The enchiladas poblanas, chicken enchiladas drenched in mole poblano sauce, are great.
7. Forget Panchero’s or Chipotle. If you’re looking for a burrito, then El Rey should be your first stop. And, if you pick up the monstrous 2-foot Rey Rey burrito, it’ll be your last stop for a few hours. The rest of the menu is great, too, especially the huevos rancheros on the breakfast menu.
6. Taco Loco serves up food with lightning speed, and their sauces are very good. If you’re downtown, you owe it to yourself to skip the cafeteria burger for once and head out to try the food here. Highly appreciated: the large bottles of homemade sauce which let you drench your food to your heart’s content. Also appreciated: the high-end karaoke setup.
5. The eccentric atmosphere should not distract you from paying attention to the great food at El Patio. It’s been around since 1941, and with good reason. The food here has a more Southwestern flavor than most of Des Moines’ other Mexican places. I love the blue corn tortillas. Try out the margaritas, some of the best in town.
4. Is there another Mexican restaurant that delivers? El Chisme is one of the best eats in town whether you show up for your food or have it brought to you. Highlights: the taco-truck-style tostas (fried Mexican sandwiches, heavy on avocado) and the fusion-style Pizza Mexicana, which is brutally hot and even more brutally delicious.
3. A Des Moines classic, Tasty Tacos serves up the best tacos in the city. This is definitely fast-food Mexican, and their hot sauce has a lot more flavor than kick, but the taste is unbelievable. If you’ve lived here for more than a week, then anything great I can say about Tasty Tacos you’ve probably already heard. If you’ve lived here for more than a week and you haven’t heard anything about Tasty Tacos, get new friends.
2. I am a huge fan of the puerco guisado (diced pork) here, but pretty much everything on the menu is absolutely delicious. It’s easy to stuff yourself silly on the big portions, but slow down to enjoy the taste. Bonus recommendation: After dinner, cross Grand to Pasteleria Raquel for an authentic Mexican dessert. The tres leches cake is unbelievable.
1. Mariana has a great story (she’s a single mom who built her own business from scratch), but she has even better food. She’s moved into a bigger location since I fell in love with her tacos, but she still serves homemade food that tastes great. Extremely authentic and very, very good. The gorditas (small tortilla rounds) might be the best guilty (dining) pleasure in the city.