DESSERTS

El Patio: flan ($4)

Because sometimes basic is best. This classic Mexican dessert features a golden custard baked with sugar, eggs and heavy cream. A draping of candy-like caramel tops the smooth dessert off in a delish way. Owner Becky Smith says "the richer the flan, the better."

Dos Rios: churro bites with three sauces ($6)

Cinco de Mayo without churros? Not on our watch. Dip and dunk these cinnamon-coated bites in three delectable sauces: espresso chocolate, goat's milk caramel and chipotle raspberry.

Malo: tres leches cheesecake ($8)

Tres leches — meaning three milks — is a smooth, silky mixture that's super popular in Latin America. Introduce it to cheesecake and you've got the creamiest dessert ever. And did we mention it's topped in creamy curls of whipped cream? Yum.

— Andrea Crowley

SPLURGE

Malo: Tot'chos, Cheese Crusted Filet Medallions, Malo Cooler, Mexican Chocolate Cake ($56.98)

For this feast, begin with the creative Tot'chos — a heap of golden tots topped with queso, carne molia, pico salsa and stocked with spice in the form of chipotle crema and pickled jalapenos. Wash it down with the Absolut Citron-based Malo Cooler before digging into the Cheese Crusted Filet Medallions. Consider the 4 oz. beef medallions with two cheeses sidled with asparagus and a white cheddar mash. And, if you can stomach any more after that, save room for the flourless Mexican Chocolate Cake ($8) complete with chocolate ganache and strawberry gastrique.

El Rodeo: Bean Dip, Steak Fajitas, Pina Colada, Flan ($17.14)

Some celebrations deserve a meal … a really big meal. Begin with adding a punch of protein to the meal in the form of bean dip ($2.79) for those can't-eat-just-one chips. Steak fajitas ($7.25) will arrive with sweet peppers, onions and tomatoes. Wash it down with a juicy pina colada ($4.75). For dessert, try the flan for a sweet traditional treat ($2.25).

Dos Rios: Empanadas, Carne Asada with Poblano Whipped Potatoes, Sangria Rojo, and Fried Ice Cream (43.50)

Two kinds of cheese are stuffed in the empanadas with roasted chilies, pureed black beans and salsa. The Carne Asada, a 10 oz. marinated skirt steak arrives with Mexican rice, roasted mushrooms and a Pico De Gallo salsa. Because steak and potatoes just go together, order a side dish of the Poblano Whipped Potatoes. Cool down with the Sangria Rojo, which takes sangria to a whole new level with wine, Caliche Puerto Rican Silver Rum, passion fruit puree, cranberry juice and rhubarb bitters. Finish the meal with the fried ice cream. The cinnamon ice cream is encrusted with an almond Tortiall crust, completed with a gingered honey, sweet grilled pineapple, and whipped cream and a brandied cherry on top.

— Mackensie Smith with contributions from Carlos Acevedo.

Read more about celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Des Moines:

Fiesta drinks: Cinco de Mayo sangria, margaritas

Fiesta food: Cinco de Mayo vegetarian, fusion options

Fiesta food: Cinco de Mayo chips, dips, tacos and salsa

2 central Iowa Cinco de Mayo events

Where can you get Mexican food in central Iowa? Try these places

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