Thursday, July 24, 2014

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Posted July 23, 2014in Food Dude

Something new, something old at Cosi Cucina

When David and Bonnie Bartels opened Cosi Cucina 20 years ago, it was an instant sensation. Super farmer Larry Cleverley recalls it being the best restaurant in Iowa when he began growing things that restaurants didn’t serve here — radicchio, arugula, green garlic, etc. The café’s casual mix of jazz,

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Posted July 16, 2014in Food Dude

Taj Mahal moves Indian cuisine west

Prodigal sons and daughters are returning to the Des Moines restaurant scene this year. Thu Phan and her family came back from a long trip to the desert and reopened their cutting edge Vietnamese café Pho All Seasons. David and Bonnie Bartels, the original owners of the pioneer restaurant Cosi

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Posted July 09, 2014in Food Dude

Food trucks hit the spot

Food trucks inspire as much passionate debate as politics. Supporters say they provide an entry-level opportunity to the American entrepreneurial dream. Opponents claim they poach customers from other businesses by avoiding rent, taxes and other overhead costs. I frequently read that Des Moines lags behind other Midwest towns in food

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Posted July 02, 2014in Food Dude

Keepers of the fire — Opa’s Deli

Civilization happened when societies determined to keep a public fire burning, so that each home fire could be started without rubbing sticks together. The Hestian devotees of ancient Greece and the vestal virgins of Rome were keepers of such fires, which developed into temples, churches and restaurants. Even before the

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Posted June 25, 2014in Food Dude

El Cameron, Taqueria Jalisco — indoors, outdoors

Food trucks are more American than apple pie. Actually invented here, the trucks evolved out of the Great Plains cattle drives’ chuck wagons. Those were invented by the legendary Charles Goodnight, the real-life model for Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones) in Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove saga. In the east, their

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Posted June 18, 2014in Food Dude

Tamales Industry trending up

As surely as the first strawberries follow asparagus and morels, every spring the food media declares the latest trends. If several such recent stories are correct, then kale and bacon are still somehow rising in popularity. I’d rather note less obvious trends. This week’s column continues three happy themes we

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Posted June 11, 2014in Food Dude

Nick’s finds its niche

Is it possible to move a restaurant without altering its character? Iowa café owners have been mulling that question for decades. In Des Moines, both Full Court Press and Orchestrate found success avoiding duplications, choosing instead to expand with completely new concepts. Orchestrate’s one exception — a second Gateway Market

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Posted June 04, 2014in Food Dude

G. Mig’s short order bliss

I recently participated in a “restaurant nomenclature” project for a food association. Among the distinctions discussed was that between a “bar and grill” and similar things such as a pub, gastropub or microbrewery. We argued about history, geography and beers but decided that a bar and grill needs to be

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Posted May 28, 2014in Food Dude

Cityscape solves the traveler dilemma

Hotel restaurants operate with conflicting ambitions. On one hand, most travelers want consistency and seek familiarity. But there are also an increasing number of travelers who want to taste the local flavors of places they visit. So, how does a hotel room keep everyone happy? One answer comes from an

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Posted May 21, 2014in Food Dude

Golden Triangle is something special

New noodle shops are dancing to the tunes of musical chairs. Embassy Club executive chef Michael Bailey has opened Noodle Boy downtown in the Riverwalk Hub specializing in pho (beef stock noodle soup) and banh mis (rice flour hoagies). Sam Auen announced that his Tacopocalypse will again move, this time

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