Rick Bayless, chef and owner of Frontera Grill in Chicago, talks about the ingredients he keeps in his pantry for making traditional Mexican cuisine.


Mexican food aficionados have anticipated the return of a popular Beaverdale restaurant after flooding shuttered the eatery in 2018. Now, it's finally back.  

El Aguila Real Mexican Restaurant is now open for lunch and dinner at the former location of Famous Dave's at 4351 Merle Hay Road in Des Moines.

The restaurant serves traditional Mexican specialties alongside jumbo margaritas, affordable lunch specials and 31 assorted combination dinners for $8.99 each.

El Aguila Real's original location at 3520 Beaver Ave. in Beaverdale took on five feet of water during a flood that peaked on the evening of June 30, 2018, and continued into the next day.

Gone are the lighted signs of Famous Dave's. Fans of El Aguila Real's former location will recognize the vibrant decor with handpainted furniture and colorful artwork.

The dining room has been divided into private alcoves with booth seating, classic and high top tables, and a comfortable bar and lounge area. 

Menu highlights

The menu is extensive, with El Aguila Real favorites making a return along with plenty of new dishes for dine-in and takeout.

You'll find appetizers, quesadillas, fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, tacos, specialty entrees, salads, vegetarian dishes, kids' meals and a la carte items. There are even a few egg dishes for those getting a later start. 

Here are a few highlights:

  • Nachos Don Juan - Nachos topped with beans and steak and covered with spinach and cheese sauce ($11.25)
  • Mole Poblano - Chicken breast topped with a sweet mole sauce and served with rice, guacamole, salad and tortillas ($9.75)
  • Fajitas Texanas - Combination of shrimp, chicken and beef with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes served with guacamole, rice and beans on the side ($14.99)
  • Enchiladas Rancheras - Two cheese and two chicken enchiladas topped with ranchero sauce ($9.50)
  • Arroz con Pollo - Boneless chicken strips sauteed with special sauce with onion and mushrooms and served over a bed of rice with melted cheese ($12.99)
  • Veggie Chimi - Stuffed with mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and potatoes topped with lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream and served with rice and beans ($9.75)

Lunch specials include 11 options served from Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. ranging from $6.50-$8.50. Dinner combination platters include 31 selections for $8.99.

Vegetarians have 13 options, most of which are $7.99 each. And for the kids, there are eight easy favorited like tacos, quesadillas, chicken fingers and a burger (12 and under, $4.75; 13 and older, $6.25).

For dessert, El Aguila Real offers flan ($3.75), churros with chocolate and cinnamon ($3.99) and deep-fried sopaipillas — Mexican pastries rolled in cinnamon and sugar and drizzled with honey ($3.25) — to name a few.

Beer, wine and cocktails are available including monster margaritas, sangria and plenty of Mexican brews. Iced tea and Coca-Cola products round out the non-alcoholic beverage choices. 

El Aguila Real had been in the same Beaverdale neighborhood for more than 23 years, opening its doors in 1996 and serving classic Mexican specialties like fajitas, chimichangas and huevos rancheros. 

All of the recipes on the menu are the creation of co-owner, Juan Ayala.

El Aguila Real

Location: Haymarket Square, 4351 Merle Hay Rd., Des Moines

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Contact: (515) 254-9453; Facebook

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