Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Des Moines Taco Tour 2009 Round 1

Every year the wife, the kids and I go to this little lake right outside of Montezuma, IA, called Lake Ponderosa for 4th of July. We do it every year because it is a blast. Gram lives on a lake front lot with her own private dock. We also get the best seats on the lake to watch the Fireworks spectacular, and, as always, a great big helping of Funger. That’s Fun and Danger mixed into one. However, this year we were going to stay extra long because my SIL was getting married to one of the coolest dudes around.

WOW, 2 ½ weeks in little ol Montezuma, IA, Monte as the locals call it. What to do? Well, Des Moines is about an hour away…….shit, TACO TOUR of Des Moines should fit in nicely. But I had to plan it right because I would be busy both weekends while up there. I figured the Monday the 6th would work best for my crew because of the wedding the next weekend and we would be all week getting ready.

I found my date, now to find some taco joints or foodies in Des Moines. I began to Google taco places in Des Moines. As I searched I kept coming across this one website This seemed to be the only site in Des Moines that was food based. This site featured a chat room but I had to create a login to participate. When I got my email confirmation, I noticed that it was from a real email address, not one of those The email came from Cory Mitchell. So, I replied back to the email to see if Cory would like to participate in a taco tour of Des Moines. I was really hoping to get a reply back because with two sites called and I really felt it was meant to be. Cory replied back and he was all for it.

Now we had to find the right places to go. I contacted a couple of people at the Des Moines Register to see if they would like to participate or help. W.E. Moranville and Sophia Ahmad couldn’t make it but offered some suggestions from themselves and other readers.
After it was all said and done, we had this final list of taco locations:

Tasty Tacos
Los Laureles
A Taco Truck in front of Laureles, just because I saw it while at Los Laureles
Taco Loco
Taco Mariannas
El Bait Shop – Beer Good, Fish taco not so good.

The brave team of tacologists from Monte included my family – Erika and our four kids. Gary, Crystal, Dallas, Blair, Joey, Nancy, Charlie, Whitney and Drew.

The Des Moines team included Cory, Todd, Roger, Traci, Jim and few others that joined and left during the tour.

We started the day at Tasty Tacos and what a place to start. First of all the actual establishment used to be something else. Not sure what it could have been before but I do know it is the original location. I asked Linda, the owner, what she recommended and without hesitation she said an “Original Flour Taco”. Ok, what’s that? A fried flour tortilla stuffed with meat, beans, lettuce and cheese. I had never seen tacos like the way they make ’em before. They looked like a puffy taco but weren’t. I don’t know who she’s trying to fool. These shells were not your normal flour torts. She was hiding something but I guess that’s the secret. More about that later, I spoke to some people that shed some light on the “flour” shell.

The Tacos

Original - We all had this taco. Pretty tasty. What really made these tacos was the shell. It was a soft, crispy and warm. I didn’t know what to expect on the rest of the tour but I knew these tacos were gonna be hard to beat. The only possible criticism against them is that they aren’t “authentic.” But then I thought “What is authentic?” All I know is that Richard and Antonia Mosqueda made these at home back in the 60s’ and decided to try and sell them. To me, that’s authentic.

I really can’t explain how good they are. One can do the trick but you gotta get two because they are so good. I didn’t get two on the tour but I can say that we went back to Tasty Tacos a few days later while picking up wedding stuff. This was the only taco place to get a repeat visit. Des Moines truly does have a gem with Tasty Tacos. All agreed that these tacos were delicious.

Wanna open one is Austin? I’ll help.

4.5 out of 5 on the Tacoism chart

Next Stop, Los Laureles.

We walked in and I swear we had walked into one of my tios’ houses. There were pictures and paintings of waterfalls and ranches all over place, and a hint of mothballs in the air. Pretty authentic looking; now let’s check out the tacos.

Walking in we obviously surprised the crew because I guess they never get a run of 20 people wanting tacos all at the same time. I spoke to the waiter and asked what his best tacos are, and he shot back “we got steak tacos, it just depends on what you like” Well, if I was going to order what I liked I wouldn’t have asked for a recommendation. So I asked what do most people order “Steak” he said. Great I’ll take one of those… and a lengua…..and a Ceviche Tostada…..and a Carta Blanca. Ruh roh, I ordered three items. Hope I can handle it.

The Tacos

Steak – Nothing really exciting here. Meat was tender but really like the others I have had before.

Lengua – Something about the tongue that made it really rich. Again, nothing really exciting but good.

Ceviche Tostada – OK, so one thing I haven’t mentioned was that I was really sick the morning after the taco tour. It could have been the fact that I ate 8-10 tacos in a 4 hour time frame; it could be that I downed a few beers when we got back to Monte, it could have been the half heated hot pocket I ate at 2am. But my spidey senses tell me that it was the Ceviche tostada. First of all, one rule of thumb is don’t eat raw fish 1200 miles away from the nearest coast. Second, it wasn’t as Ceviche as I was hoping. It was slathered in cocktail sauce and I really never got the hint of lime I was expecting which gave it a fishy taste. Needless to say I think I ate ½ of it and I was done. It was OK, but I probably would not order it again regardless of my health the next morning.

2 out of 5 on the Tacoism chart

Conclusion for Round one?

HANDS DOWN TASTY TACOS. They served up a unique, never seen before taco. The shell was out of sight, and I think that is what really made the taco. Again, it was obvious that this was no ordinary taco shell. So we talked to some people and did a little bit of investigating, and it turns out that their shell may be a form of Indian bread Naan. I have no proof to back this up but this seemed to be the popular belief among people in Des Moines.

Des Moines Taco Tour 2009 Round 1 from Nelson Flores on Vimeo.

There we go for round one for the Des Moines Taco Tour.
Tune in next week when we go to a taco truck next to Los Laureles and Taco Loco.

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