5 spots to score taco pizza around Des Moines
This college town has a pizza joint that's getting recognized for its tasty pizza. It's a local tradition, and people come from all over the region to taste this delicious pie that's been made here since 1962.
BLT sushi. Thai chicken burritos. Gyro dumplings. Take a look around Pinterest, food magazines or blogs and it’s clear that fusion cuisine of any kind is still very much having a moment.
Iowans have been privy to this for decades, however. One of the original scrumptious equations that we just may have originated: Taco + pizza = dinner magic.
Happy Joe Whitty, founder of Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream Parlors, claims to have invented the meal mash-up back in 1974.
“I had a franchisee who wanted to add tacos to the menu to compete with a taco place opened that opened up nearby. I went to our local grocery store and got all the ingredients for making the perfect tacos, then went back to the restaurant and made the first-ever taco pizza,” Whitty says. “It tasted great, but it was missing something: it wasn't pretty enough. So I added lettuce, tomatoes and taco chips, and that's where it all began."
Since there is only one outpost of the Quad-Cities-based Happy Joe’s in the Des Moines metro, the more prevalent pizza haunt — Casey’s — has come close to cornering the taco pizza market. But these two are far from the only places you can score a south of the border slice.
So when you’re in the mood to cure two cravings at once, here are five local restaurants serving up one of Iowa’s favorite fusion foods: taco pizza.
$11.99 for a 12-inch small, $13.99 for a 14-inch medium, $15.99 for a 16-inch large
Made with refried beans, salsa, ground beef (or chicken), plus a topping of lettuce, tomato and nacho chips, Casey’s mozzarella and cheddar Taco Pizza is fully loaded. “One thing we always hear when customers leave the Midwest is that they miss Casey’s Taco Pizza,” says Darryl Bacon, vice president of food services for Casey’s Pizza.
8056 Douglas Ave, Urbandale
$7.29 for 6-inch Little Joe (prices for Taco Joe on original crust), $14.59 for 9-inch small, $19.49 for 12-inch medium, $24.29 for 15-inch large
Whether you opt for the classic Taco Joe with beans, sausage, taco-seasoned beef, chips, and spicy taco sauce; add extra cheese via the Nacho Joe; or order the brand-new Chorizo Pizza (which swaps zesty chorizo for the beef), you’re bound to find something addictive. “I have the box taped shut so I don’t eat it on the way home,” says David Morrow, a Happy Joe’s customer.
301 Audubon St., Adair
$9.50 for an 8-inch thin crust, $12.25 for a 10-inch thin crust, $19 for a 12-inch pan crust, $21 for a 14-inch thin crust
Don’t expect any beans, onions or olives on the Taco Pizza from this tucked-away restaurant. Jim Zimmerline, owner-operator of Zipp’s Pizzaria, promises that you won’t miss them a bit. Others agree, apparently, as the Taco Pizza from Zipp’s was voted the best pizza in Iowa in a 2016 Travel Iowa poll. “We cook our ground beef in a cast iron skillet, then layer that on top of a salsa-pizza sauce mixture,” Zimmerline says. The cooks pays close attention to the treatment of other ingredients, too. “The tomatoes and lettuce are chopped small so you don’t have to cut them up and the chips are crushed so you don’t get stabbed in the top of the mouth.”
The Other Place
12401 University Ave., Clive
2010 SE Delaware Ave., Suite 260, Ankeny
$11.95 for a 9-inch, $16.50 for a 12-inch, $20.50 for a 14-inch, $24.75 for a 16-inch
Beef, cheddar, mozzarella, lettuce, tomatoes and chips are featured in this pie that one customer raves is the perfect partner to a Bloody Mary. Another vouches that “the made from scratch dough, seasoned beef and fresh toppings puts The OP Taco Pizza above the rest,” explains Derek Hoben, general manager at The Other Place in Clive.
4119 University Ave
5919 Ashworth Rd, West Des Moines
200 SE Gateway Dr, Grimes
$13.55 for a 10-inch small, $18.35 for a 12-inch medium, $22.60 for a 14-inch large, $28.85 for an 18-inch jumbo
If you’re splurging on a slice that requires both hands or a knife and fork to enjoy, you might as well go all out. The Super Taco at Godfather’s includes the usual suspects (beef, veggies and chips), plus olives, sour cream and “a ton of 100% real mozzarella and cheddar cheese,” says Anna Mansberger, digital media and public relations specialist for Godfather’s.