Break out of your lunch routine with these two Des Moines restaurants
Make it your challenge to try all five of these sandwiches that fans of the Food Lovers - Des Moines Facebook page recommended. Brian Taylor Carlson/The Register
Is it just me or can lunch sometimes feel like a burden?
When I’m strapped to my desk on deadline and I just need something to recharge the batteries, deciding what that “something” I’m going to eat is can take more than energy than I can muster.
That’s when the junk food in the grab-n-go cafeteria calls my name.
Mixed’s menu is marked by soups, sandwiches and salads big enough to satiate even Elaine Benes.
I opted for the build-your-own super green salad ($9.99), which came with all the veggie fixings my little heart desired. As a vegetarian, I passed on the various meat choices, but was impressed with what looked to be more than a handful of different chicken options and some especially tasty-looking shrimp.
The true joy of Mixed is having your salad chopped up, making each bite a cornucopia of flavors. With a plethora of dressing choices, selecting my salad's topping was the hardest part. For those that can stand the heat, the homemade Midwest Chipotle does not disappoint. And make sure to stop by the “crunch bar,” which features tortilla chip pieces, croutons and other tasty toppings.
My dining partner tried the Turkey Bacon Swiss panini ($8.39), which featured deli turkey, bacon, Swiss and sweet red onion slices. The panini retained both the crispiness of the veggies and bacon while also perfectly melting the Swiss and keeping the bread soft — a task harder than it sounds when a sandwich is grilled.
He also tasted a couple of the soups, both of which delivered on their names. The Roasted Red Pepper with Gouda had a nice bite and the Cheesy Chicken Tortilla was thick and, well, super cheesy (cups $2.99).
Teriyaki House, on the other hand, exists on the opposite end of the health spectrum. While yummy, this meal is definitely for a cheat day.
The menu options are limited, and its centerpiece is the create-your-own-Teriyaki bowl. Think: Asian Chipotle.
Start by picking your protein — veggies, tofu, chicken, steak, salmon and shrimp — and then choose to put that on top of white rice, fried rice, noodles or salad ($6.95-9.95).
Pro-tip: No matter what protein you decide on, add veggies, which are freshly grilled on the flattop.
Overall, the bowls are filling and deliciously buttery and salty. My tofu was just out of the fryer and covered in a tangy ginger sauce. My dining companion’s shrimp was fresh and had a crunch from the grill, but his chicken was pretty blasé.
Each bowl comes with a side salad doused in ranch, ginger vinaigrette or yum yum sauce, which is a semi-thick paprika/garlic powder concoction. The crunch of the salad and the smoothness of any of the available dressings offers a nice counterpoint to the hot bowls.
The appetizers are all fairly predictable — crab rangoon, dumplings and egg rolls ($4-5) — but, like Chipotle’s chips and salsa, sometimes regularity can be welcome.
The oddest bite we tasted was the beef roll ($6), which is just steak and cream cheese wrapped in rice and covered in a spicy mayo sauce. The entire roll was defined by the mayo sauce — it seemed to have sushi in its DNA, but there had been a major evolution somewhere along the way.
In general, the food at Teriyaki House in comparable to Panda Express, which makes it a better choice for when you are extra hungry or don’t have too busy of an afternoon.
Whether you’re in the mood for healthy fare or not-so-healthy fare is up to you, but with choices like Mixed or Teriyaki House, that grab-n-go cafeteria’s junk food will never be an option again.
If you go…
7:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday to Friday; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
9250 University Ave., West Des Moines; 515-518-2060, mixedgogreen.com.
10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday; closed Sunday