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Fong’s, the Fourth Street Lotus


Dr. Fong is a wicked magician of a drink — one of many such crafts offered at Fong’s Pizza — served in tiki mugs and other exotics.

Dr. Fong is a wicked magician of a drink — one of many such crafts offered at Fong’s Pizza — served in tiki mugs and other exotics.

Poised in the trendy Court Avenue neighborhood among other unique hubs, Fong’s is the perfect blend of creativity and carbs, which is exemplified by the aroma out on the sidewalk and the offerings listed on the menus at the tables or bar.

Offering 36 different tiki drinks that promise to knock an already surly late-night patron off his or her stool, as well as homemade appetizers and hand-tossed pie crusts, Fong’s Pizza is “perfect drunk food,” as my friend Marissa put it.

By the time the Chinese cheese sticks arrived — melted mozzarella enclosed in crispy eggroll wrappers — it was clear that Fong’s is more than a popular place to sober up after hours. This place is a quiet little adventure of tasty and creative treats that, as medicinal as they may be for a hangover, are best appreciated at the beginning of the night rather than at the end. Following the waiter’s suggestions proved to be wise, though the guy seems more like a shaman than a waiter.

Did I just claim the waiter is an ancient medicine man? The atmosphere (and the sake) is apparently starting to sink in. The place is hypnotic.


I blame Dr. Fong — a mix of Smirnoff Vanilla, amaretto, Dr. Pepper and grenadine served in a characteristic Fu Man Chu mug. This was no ordinary doctor.

Snap out of it, I told myself. Dr. Fong is just a clever name. In fact, looking down the drink menu, it was perhaps the least cleverly named concoction in the lineup. Imagine the experience the “Unlucky Tourist” invokes or the pure potency of a drink called “King Fong.”

No wonder Fong’s has remained a popular draw since it opened in 2009 in what was once the oldest Chinese restaurant in Des Moines, King-Ying-Low — a downtown mainstay since 1908 that planted roots under this building that were so powerfully Eastern that, even 116 years later, it still bears Asian fruits in the form of food, drink and decor.

But Fong’s is a creature all its own — a fusion of cultures colliding. Fong’s is the offspring of a strapping Italian and a Buddha doll, a celebration of Des Moines’ evolved heritage for your enjoyment along the Historic Court Avenue crawl.

“Well, we definitely know where to end our night,” said my friend, mouth full of creamy crab Ragoon pizza.

And where to start it. CV               

Chris Kelley is a graduate of Greenlee School of Journalism at Iowa State University and offers occasional articles for Cityview.

Fong’s Pizza
223 Fourth St.
HOURS: 11 a.m.–2 a.m. daily
KITCHEN: 11 a.m. to midnight daily (pre-made slices available all night)
HAPPY HOUR: Monday-Friday 2-6 p.m.


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