Des Moines eatery named one of America's favorite neighborhood restaurants
This city's culinary scene is doing some amazing things. With James Beard Award nominees, award-winning barbecue, and a fantastic farmers' market, this Iowa city's culinary creators keep climbing to new heights. Wochit
Cheese Bar on Ingersoll Avenue was recently named one of America's favorite Neighborhood Restaurants by Bon Appétit magazine.
This magazine asked 80 people — including chefs, comedians, novelists and athletes — about their favorite neighborhood restaurants for the roundup.
The list was broken into eastern, western and central regions, with Cheese Bar making the central list. Nominated by Kathy and Herb Eckhouse, owners of La Quercia, Cheese Bar recently celebrated its first anniversary in the Ingersoll neighborhood.
“For a fix of good food and conviviality, we go to the Cheese Bar in Des Moines," the Eckhouses said. "Run by proprietors C.J. and Kari Bienert, it’s casual and cool, delicious and friendly. They serve a great assortment of wines and beers; stellar cheeses, salumi, and charcuterie; fantastic sandwiches, including wonderful grilled ones; light and lovely salads; and the best mac and cheese ever, baked and served in its own cast-iron skillet so it stays creamy, crunchy, and piping hot all the way to the last bite.”
"It's incredibly humbling because we do honest, simple work," C.J. Bienert said. "We serve grilled cheese sandwiches and make charcuterie and cheese boards and fondue — all these traditional dishes. The big takeaway for me is that cheese is not a fad. Cheese has been around for hundreds of years for a reason and we are serving these dishes in the same way."
But Cheese Bar is not the only Iowa eatery to make the list. Ann Friedman, writer and co-host of the podcast "Call Your Girlfriend," wrote an essay titled "I Pine for Happy Joe’s Taco Pizza, the Culinary Relic of My Iowa Youth" for the project.
Friedman writes about her luck of growing up eating taco pizza from Happy Joe's Pizza, the pizza's history and the nostalgia thereof.
Happy Joe's, which has 26 locations in Iowa, is credited with being the inventor of this regional specialty. Its only Des Moines metro location is in Urbandale.
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"Taco pizza is defined by what is not on it: cilantro, avocado, lime, jalapeño, nor any other type of chile," Friedman wrote. "Capsaicin is not part of the taco pizza experience."
Location: 2925 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines.
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Sundays and Mondays.
Happy Joe's Pizza
Location: 8056 Douglas Ave., Urbandale.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Contact: (515) 270-0695; happyjoes.com.