Cityview Online
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
| Weather
Food Dude

Click to visit our sponsor

By Jim Duncan

Jaliscolita rebounds

These are hard times for low budget start-up restaurants. I keep hearing how new city regulations have driven the cost of plumbing up in older buildings. People complain about being required to install a $30,000 grease trap to open a kitchen that doesn’t even fry food. Last year, three Mexican restaurants in “Jaliscolito,” on the Hubbell-Grand corridor, closed citing unfair competition from neighborhood trailer cafés. Considering the challenges, I didn’t expect to see new restaurants in any of those venues. I was wrong to the power of three.

Las Tortugas provides an oasis from the summer heat — no expense is spared keeping it cool. You can’t get that at a trailer tacqueria. On my visit, bright ocean murals and friendly help further cooled things off. Unfortunately, boisterous talk TV — the Latino equivalence of Jerry Springer roared. In the time it took to eat three tacos and a bowl of soup, I observed five threats and two attempted acts of violence — all against former lovers.

Las Tortugas location formerly housed Carnitas Don Javier, one of the most original Mexican cafés ever in Iowa. The food is less adventurous now, but way upscale from the trailers, with some of the best cow’s tongue, pig’s skin and braised pork around. The chorizo was so roughly ground that there were hunks of meat in it. I also enjoyed tostadas of seafood and gorditas of roast beef. You can’t get an octopus cocktail outdoors, either.

Down the road at El Corita, the former Raul’s has been transformed into a Nayarit beach cantina. Seafood isn’t the only thing on the menu, but it was the only thing I noticed anyone ordering in the busy place. Instead of the usual chips and salsas, Corita’s complimentary snack was a ceviche tostada, served with a green salsa so fresh the jalapeno skins still reflected light. Even the bottled hot sauces were special, featuring Tapatio, Salsa Huichol from Nyarit, Tamozula and El Yucateca green, which is made with habaneras in the Yucatan.

Shrimp empanadas delivered a Latino take on corn dogs. Oysters on the half shell could be ordered for less than $1 each. I tried a half dozen “especiales” for $7.75. I’ve sure spent a lot more for lesser grade oysters. Mexican chefs in Des Moines tell me that it drives them crazy to see gringo restaurants throw away crustacean shells. That doesn’t happen here. I tried a fabulous shrimp soup that was clearly made with shell stock.

Entrée specials ranged in price from $10 to $50, the latter was popular, too, delivering a huge mixed grill of everything that swims in the Pacific and Indian oceans. I tried a garlic red snapper for $14 that delivered an entire fish, head on, with about a dozen chopped cloves of garlic.

Tortas y Tacos La Super Rica has remodeled and taken over the former Don Sancho venue. Their cockfighting art is still here, but the bandito art has been replaced with more feminine touches. The TV seems to be feminized too, with soap operas and Nickelodeon blaring on my visits. The menu was quite the same as Don Sancho’s and that place’s best-in-town condiment bar has been upgraded to a new temperature controlled station. I tried wonderful gorditas and tacos of roast goat, tongue and cactus paddles, dressed with several kinds of pickled vegetables and guacamole from the condiment bar. Of the three new places, this is the one to which I am most likely to return, but probably for carryout. Then I can enjoy it in the parking lot that the café shares with La Nevadito, a fresh squeezed juice joint and Mexican ice cream store.

Side dishes

Despite lots of new competition, every downtown restaurant owner we’ve talked to reports business is up from a year ago. This rising tide raises all ships… Thanks to everyone who attended our first monthly food forum at Gateway Market. CV

Past Food Dude Reviews
Amici Espresso (1-4-07) Bandana's (1-11-07)
Perry hotel (1-18-07) Beyond frozen (1-25-07)
Centro (2-1-07) KC BBQ (2-8-07)
Planet Sub (2-15-07) Trostel’s Greenbriar (2-22-07)
Acapulco (3-1-07) Aryana (3-8-07)
AJ's (3-15-07) Ban Thai (3-22-07)
Two Crop Palace(3-29-07) Mo Q x 2 (4-5-07)
What's In A Name?(4-12-07) Lemongrass (4-19-07)
Chef Joe's Place (5-3-07) Suburban Restaurant (5-10-07)
Gateway Market Café (5-17-07) Irina’s Restaurant Bar (5-24-07)
Trailer Tripe (5-31-07) Azalea (6-07-07)
Pho All Seasons (6-14-07) Farmers Market (6-21-07)
El Sabor Latino (6-28-07) Crouse Café (7-5-07)
Bistro Montage (7-12-07)  

Comment on this story | Return to top



Best Of . . . Best Of . . . (Thank You) Relish Dining Guide

Best Of 2009

Best of ... Than You


Condo & Loft Guide Wedding Guide Education Guide
Loft Guide Wedding Guide Education Guide
Nightlife Golf Guide Wine Tour Guide
Cityview Nightlife Golf Guide Iowa Wine Tour
Trips on a Tankful Pet Guide Dwelling Guide
Trips on a Tankful Pet Guide Cityview Nightlife
Holiday Party Planning Holiday Gift Guide Women In Business
Holiday Party Planning Guide Holiday Gift Guide Women in Business
Winter Games Live Smart Arts & Entertainment
Des Moines Winter Games Live Smart Arts & Entertainment Guide
Dallas Co Tourism Annual Manual Get Moving
Dallas County Tourism Guide Annual Manual Annual Manual
Johnston Green Days Summer Essentials Road Trips
Johnston Green Days Summer Essentials Road Trips
Brewfest 2009 Locally Owned Bar Guide
Brewfest 2009 Locally Owned Bar Guide