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Kung Fu Tap & Taco



Have you ever wondered how Kung Fu Tap & Taco received its name? Brad “Fatty” Smith is the co-owner and bartender, and he said his partner first thought of idea.

“My partner said, ‘What if we called it, Kung Fu?’ ” Smith said.

They both laughed, but they didn’t dismiss it. Then one of them said, “And what if we served tacos?”

The rest is history. Kung Fu Tap & Taco is a southside classic and recently celebrated its 11th anniversary.

Kung Fu Tap & Taco is a unique place with a unique décor.

cv Belly Kung Fu 4-21

Caroline Tremmel, Wendy Taylor, Gina Brown, Joe Walter and bartender and owner Brad “Fatty” Smith at the Kung Fu Tap & Taco.

There’s an old motorcycle sitting waist-high behind the bar that is a makeshift beer tower, and the tap flows out of what used to be the oil tank.

“We have Hamm’s on tap,” he said.

There’s even a neon Hamm’s sign in the front window to verify the fact. He also added they serve various beers from Confluence Brewery.

“We’ve been here for 11 years,” Smith said. “People come in and say, ‘This place is cool.’ We’re a bar you can come have a couple of beers in and have a couple of tacos, too.”

The tacos are $2, and they’re served until 1:30 a.m. every night of the week. But don’t ask for a menu. Smith has the entire bar’s listing of available food memorized: Beef tacos with cheese and lettuce. That’s the entire list. In other words, there is no menu.

“They’re good and fast, and we move a lot of them,” Smith said.

He also explained that the crowd at Kung Fu is diverse.

“It’s an ‘everyday Joe’ neighborhood bar,” Smith said about the clientele during the early evening hours. “And then later on at night, young working people from downtown come in. And for the people who ride motorcycles, it’s been bike night every night for 11 years.”

The music is the type you won’t hear on the radio, and it plays loud enough to enjoy it but not so loud you can’t also enjoy conversation. There are two pinball machines: The Walking Dead and the Rolling Stones. There’s a pool table, too.

“We have a bitchin’ patio,” Smith said, adding that people like to go outside and relax. “It’s cozy and out of the wind.”

A classic UFC fight is playing on the TV. Smith informed that this is common, and motorcycle races are, too.

“Anytime there are motorcycle races, they’ll be on,” said Smith of the clientele’s affinity for riding motorcycles. On any given night there can be as many as 30 in the parking lot.

The bar stools are made from old tree stumps. Smith said he and his partner traded $200 and a case of Old Milwaukee for them. They were cut to size, but the partners then had to sand, polish and finish them.

The bartop and tabletops are works of ingenuity as well. A friend helped with the demolition of the old Grand Lanes bowling alley, and the bar top is made from remnants of the wood from the old alley.

“We didn’t have much money, so we had to get creative,” he said. CV

Kung Fu Tap & Taco

210 Indianola Road

Des Moines 515-285-8226

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily

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