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Posted January 31, 2018in Food Dude

Range redefines the sports bar

This is the best sports bar food ever in central Iowa The word “redefine” is usually overstated in restaurant parlance. Once in a great while, someplace truly deserves the verb. This column is about one of those rare occasions. Range is a sports bar like no other in the metro.

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Posted January 03, 2018in Food Dude

Hilltop still sits on top

The family-owned, traditional Italian Des Moines café has anchored its neighborhood since 1950. For west side patrons such as I, Hubbell Avenue seems to end at Tursi’s Latin King at its intersection with University Avenue. That concept might be changing. Big Al’s, just one block northeast of Tursi’s, brought a

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Posted December 06, 2017in Food Dude

Cowboys and Indians and chickens

Common poultry made extraordinary at local restaurants To some, Cowboy Chicken is a brilliant bird rising from the ashes of an American legend. To others, it’s an intelligent business lesson in restraint. Kenny Rogers, the singer, entered the franchise food league in 1991 with a restaurant called Kenny Rogers’ Roasters. It became American folk

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Posted November 01, 2017in Food Dude

Heavenly Asian is well named

Getting straight to the point — greater Des Moines is now served by a San Gabriel class Chinese restaurant. San Gabriel, California, is the first U.S. city with a majority Asian population, and it’s mostly Chinese and wealthy. It is the best place to go if one wants to spend a week, or weekend,

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Posted October 04, 2017in Food Dude

Marlene’s new chef

Jacob Demars is a New Englander who comes to town via Denver, Chicago and Charleston Until the first freeze, October is the best month for food in Iowa. The overlap of summer and fall fruits and vegetables provides a happy feast. It’s also the return of soup season, and it’s

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Posted September 06, 2017in Food Dude


For more than a century, downtown culture has been driven by one particular restaurant or another. Younkers Tea Room was the bomb up until World War II. National radio shows even broadcast from the restaurant. Then Babe’s took the WACs and GIs out of the tea parlor and into the

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Posted August 02, 2017in Food Dude

Conversion succeeds the wrecking ball

Old Thresher’s Reunion is the most nostalgic recurring Iowa event. Held each year in Mount Pleasant on Labor Day weekend, it attracts a large number of former Iowans who moved their bones out of state but never got Iowa out of their bones. Old timers reminisce with the miracles of

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Posted July 05, 2017in Food Dude

Lucca finds its niche

Des Moines keeps turning out new restaurants at a pace that old timers think is unsustainable. The city also continues to support a number of traditional old restaurants where newcomers are rarely tempted to go. The hardest positions to maintain are in between those concepts — the places that were

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Posted May 31, 2017in Food Dude

A new path

Six flavors of southeast Asia Since I began writing about the dining scene in Des Moines in the 1980s, most innovation has come from immigrant restaurants. A Dong, India Star, Taste of Thailand, Los Laureles, El Salvador del Mundo, Soul Africa, Miyabi 9, Irina’s, Baru 66, Café Salzburg and Kathmandu

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Posted May 03, 2017in Food Dude

Change and tradition at two Italian legends

Analyzing the menus at Sam & Gabe’s and Tumea & Sons When is a comma worth $10 million? When a government dictates “manual of style” etiquette to lawmakers. In Maine, an Oxford comma (one used after the penultimate item in a list of three or more things, before “and” or

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