BangBang Mongolian Grill's guests are in charge. At the all-you-can-eat ingredient buffet, guests fill bowls with whatever vegetables, meats, sauces, and spices they want, assembling tailored meals from a colorful selection of ingredients. Once their bowls are filled with favorites—none of which contain MSG—guests hand them off to the chefs.
These culinary practitioners man an enormous, circular grill. And they invite guests to watch from the curved countertop that encircles this cooking station, as the grill's 650-degree surface sears their custom dishes. Flames billow from the circle's center, adding bombast to the already interactive culinary experience. When the last morsel of the meal has been savored, diners—if they have any room left in their bellies—can continue their hands-on dining adventure at the probiotic frozen yogurt buffet.
A family-friendly eatery, Tacos Andreas dishes up Mexican favorites in a laid-back atmosphere. The massive menu options range from tamales to seafood enchiladas, with burritos, tacos, and quesadillas also served à la carte for mixing and matching favorite dishes. A large outdoor patio area and bar make for plenty of options to keep the dining experience interesting.
The kitchen crew at Kabab House combine Mediterranean- and Indian-style classics at their eatery, which features three types of freshly made vegetarian and meat curries and two biryanis at its daily buffet. On the à la carte menu, diners can choose from eight kebabs and six gyros, including philly cheese, southwestern, and teriyaki adaptations.
"Sloppy joes are not made right—this is made right," declares a happy diner on Taste of America with Mark DeCarlo, after relishing in a bite of Maid-Rite's signature sauceless sandwich. Though it was first made in 1926 by Muscatine butcher Fred Angell, Maid-Rite's cooks continue to wow diners with this amalgamation of crumbly ground beef wrapped in a warm bun. The juicy masterpiece comes wrapped in paper with a spoon on the side for scooping up any runaway morsels or for dueling with a lunchmate for the last sip of their chocolate malt. The menu has expanded since Calvin Coolidge's presidency, and now includes a smattering of barbecue, salads, and more solid sandwiches, but is still served up amid classic-diner décor.
Midwest Black Angus beef, free of hormones or antibiotics, joins with creative ingredients such as A.1. sauce and chipotle aioli to create more than 15 unique burgers at Legends American Grill. These burgers embody a variety and thirst for excitement that radiates throughout each of the grill's central-Iowa locations. There, nestled amid deep-umber booths or brick walls, diners watch sports flicker across flat-screen televisions, rooting on their team and showing disdain for the ref’s decision to wear white pants after Labor Day. But if the score is disheartening, fans can dig into the menu to cheer themselves up. Hand-cut Creekstone Farms steaks offset surf entrees such as salmon in béarnaise sauce or grilled mahi-mahi in a sweet-and-spicy thai sauce. Comfort-food favorites such as meatloaf and fried chicken also make an appearance, pairing with cocktails and beers served by the bottle and pint.
A gathering place for locals to refuel, Green Grounds Cafe stocks its pantry with fair-trade coffees, chewy sandwich breads, and a selection of regular and gluten-free pastries. In addition to serving up paninis, grilled wraps, and seven kinds of soup, baristas furnish mugs with Java Joe’s locally roasted coffee and sketch pleasant shapes or the first chapters of their memoirs into frothy espressos. The locally minded café also sells accessories, notebooks, and handbags from artists around Des Moines, including original jewelry from Bare Root Designs and CM Talisman. The enthusiastic sounds of karaoke singing draw friends and families like a caricature artist who can’t leave his work at work.