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If guests leave Bubba — Southern Comforts hungry, they must have a big appetite, because those Southern dishes sure are huge. Chris Diebel has a vision of serving dishes reminiscent of his youth in Texas and odes to the South when he debuts his new restaurant to the public on Thursday.

In the interim, Bubba brought in friends and family to taste the dishes from chef Jammie Monaghan and get the kitchen and service staff up to speed on lunch, dinner and brunch dishes.

Diebel invited me in twice to check out the food ahead of the opening. The kitchen and staff is already firing on all cylinders, exactly what you would expect from an Orchestrate Hospitality-managed restaurant. General manager Kate Willer has her staff dressed in blue button-down oxfords, jeans, full navy aprons and bow ties at their apex while Monaghan has his crew firing out dishes lickety-split.

MORE: Bubba, D.M.'s biggest restaurant opening in 2016, debuts Thursday

Guests sit in a handsome and airy space replete with a mezzanine overlooking the bar, lounge and dining space below. A friend and I first tried lunch on the very first play day, sitting near the Van Holmgren deer heads on the upper level. Bubba gave guests different menus to spread out the dishes guests could try and give the kitchen a chance to make the entire menu without being overwhelmed with an entire restaurant ordering buttermilk fried chicken at once.

We started with the white cheddar grits cakes ($9.99), two light and creamy circles of Anson Mills grits griddled like a pancake with a sweeping dash of fire-roasted tomato sauce on the side and nicely sautéed vegetables. The appetizer is a nice way to dip your toes into Southern cooking.

My friend ordered the chicken and waffles ($16.99) that features that Southern staple with a crispy exterior and piping hot moist meat, white and dark, inside. Ask for a side of Monaghan’s hot sauce to make it a Nashville hot version.

I ordered the fried green tomato BLT ($10.50) that had so many flavors coming together in my mouth that it was fun to pick out what I was tasting. Is that the pecan-smoked bacon? Maybe it’s the roasted poblano aioli? I felt bad that I could only eat half of that sandwich on toasted South Union Italian bread.

The showstopper though was the pimento mac and cheese, a side dish hearty enough for an entire meal (don’t worry, it’s on the menu that way for $12.99 and add another $6 for some Cajun crawfish on top). The thick, melted cheese stuck to corkscrew pasta for heavenly bite after bite of pimento madness. It’s a definite must-order with any meal.

We finished with bourbon pecan pie ($8), a rich and sweet decadent treat that I know my dad would have loved. That dessert is so rich, I think I might have a cavity now.

My friend and I returned to Bubba on Monday night for the final play day featuring dinner, this time sitting on the opposite side of the mezzanine overlooking the smaller dining room below.

RELATED: New restaurant brings Southern cuisine to Des Moines

Yes, you should order the Cajun crawfish fritters ($12.25), a nice balance between the crawfish and the bready batter with just a hint of spice. Dip each into the buttermilk cream sauce, maybe one of the best hidden treasures on the menu.

The deviled eggs ($5.99) come six to an order with the entire egg filled with a vinegar and mustard mix, topped with bacon.

The Cajun chicken and sausage gumbo ($4.50 for a cup/$6.50 for a bowl) seemed to get better with each smoky bite.

My friend, a chicken-fried steak ($19.50) connoisseur, called Bubba’s version the tenderest he’d ever had. No need for a steak knife with this dish. The peppered country gravy, the white cheddar and chive smashed potatoes and the smoky green beans were one of the most downhome meals I’ve had since eating at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in Las Vegas.

My Dr Pepper-braised short ribs ($23.99) needed only a fork to cut, and those black-eyed peas made the perfect pairing.

Overall, it seems Des Moines now has a place to find Mom’s cooking when she isn’t available to make those deviled eggs, fried chicken and pecan pie you hanker from your youth.

Bubba — Southern Comforts

Find It: 200 10th St.

Info: 515-257-4744; bubbadsm.com

Hours: Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday from 11a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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