Fiesta food: Cinco de Mayo chips, dips, tacos and salsa
I never use ketchup or mustard, but if there's a good hot sauce or salsa to add to my dish I have to try it. These three really bring the heat. Where do they rate on the Scoville scale? Who knows, but they're hot enough to make both consumption and elimination a little painful.
Tacopocalypse: Murder Death Kill ($0.50)
This hot sauce takes its name from the Sylvester Stallone classic "Demolition Man," in which "all restaurants are Taco Bell." The sauce is made from a mix of habanero, ghost and Thai chili peppers, giving you immediate heat along with a long burn that sustains itself throughout your meal.
Los Laureles: Salsa Diablo ($10.99)
Made with diablo peppers, this salsa is hot on its own, but it's also available in a heated version that is served like a bowl of soup. No not eat it like a bowl of soup, unless you want to spend the rest of the day wondering why everything tastes like fire. A little goes a long way.
Monterrey Mexican Restaurant: spicy salsa (8 oz. $1.75, 16 oz. $2.75, 32 oz. $5.75)
This salsa is also made with diablo peppers, with the super hot seed still intact. Mix a little of this into the regular salsa for some burn, or go all in with your chips and just know that you might pay for it tomorrow.
— Joe Lawler
Dos Rios: tableside guacamole ($5 half order, $10 full order)
First, I'm a guac-fanatic, so I'm predisposed to love the bright green chip dip, and Dos Rios has some of the best in the city. By making the guacamole tableside, diners can determine its texture and spiciness. My vote is chunky and spicy! And, Dos Rios' seasoned chips only add to the dip's layered flavors.
Dos Rios: Queso Fundido ($6.50)
Although the Queso Fundido is less dip and more casserole, it's still plain delicious. Made with Chihuahua cheese, chorizo and roasted poblanos, diners spoon the hot, gooey queso into pressed corn tortillas and roll them like mini enchiladas. Order some guac and enjoy the queso with chips, too. Oh, and its gluten free!
Monterrey Mexican Restaurant: bean dip ($3.25)
Despite bean dip being a staple in Mexican food, you don't often see it as a separate item on many menus. Monterrey's bean dip is perfectly smooth and peppered with cheese. No secret here, it tastes like refried beans, but is a good choice for those looking to enjoy something besides guac or queso.
— Courtney Crowder
Tasty Tacos ($1.95 corn, $2.50 flour)
With perfect parts salt and crunch, these light-as-air corn chips pair well with a side of guac or one (or two!) tacos. You can also order a side of their famous flour chips. Warning: they're fried, making them super delicious and incredibly addictive.
On the Border (complimentary with order)
We know it's a chain and all, but dang these chips are good. They're extra bubbly, giving them the perfect crunch. Prefer to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home? You can purchase a bag of these chips at your local grocery store. (Holla!)
Dos Rios ($2 basket)
Gluten-free and brimming in savory seasonings, a basket of these chips is reason enough to visit this Court Avenue restaurant. Order them with tres salsas ($6) or tableside guacamole ($5 half, $10 full).
— Andrea Crowley
LATE NIGHT TACOS
Abelardo's tacos aren't great tacos, unless you're hitting up the open 24-7 restaurant at 3 a.m. after a few beers, then THESE ARE THE BEST TACOS EVER!! They've got your basics, like chicken and beef, or you can get cabeza (beef cheek), lenguna (cow tongue) or a fried taco, which is Tasty Tacos-esque, but available much later.
Los Laureles ($1.69)
On Friday and Saturday nights Los Laureles stays open until 3 a.m., which is when the human body is most likely to crave tacos. Bypass the basic beef for options like steak, carnitas, pastor, pollo, tongue or chorizo. Each comes topped with onions and cilantro and is accompanied with a lime for flavoring.
Roadside Tacos ($4)
This food truck has a sign in the window boasting "Damn Good Tacos," and they deliver on that handwritten, cardboard promise. It's at the parking lot next to Whiskey Dixx, Fourth Street, 7 p.m. to bar close Tuesday-Saturday, though hours sometimes vary. The menu isn't too expansive, with chicken, beef and pork options, but it's a good option if the line for pizza is too long.
— Joe Lawler
Read more about celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Des Moines: