“2016 was awful”, you say. “Nothing good happened”, you say. We tend to disagree.
2016 saw the weddings of a few dear friends, as well as our own. There was a lovely vacation to Florida, reunions with friends who have moved away, new career paths taken, and a first home together. 2016 also saw the firing of Gus Bradley, which I believe is what made Josh happiest this year.
Anyways, you guys don’t care about all that, so lets get to the point. We ate a lot of good food in 2016… here are our favorites.
Grace’s Top 5
Since I hadn’t been to Felix & Oscar’s since high school, I was shocked at the total makeover the restaurant underwent. Gone were the dark walls and carpets; they had been replaced with light-toned wood tables, fresh, lighter paint, and more modern light fixtures. 10/10 perfect facelift.
Luckily, the pizza hasn’t changed a bit, and is still deep dish perfection (inside Iowa. Don’t talk to me, Chicago people, I know your pizza is better than anyone else’s). The crust is thick but somehow still flaky and the sauce to toppings ratio is right on. Highly recommend this place if you’re a deep dish fan like myself.
Main Street Cafe opened in Ankeny earlier this year and is conveniently located right across the street from our apartment. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as a selection of coffee, espresso drinks, and dessert. The atmosphere is really cool, like a more unique version of Panera (yeah I’m throwing shade now too), and the service and prices are great.
The first time Josh and I went here was for lunch. I’ve been back for lunch a couple times and have also had a fair amount of coffee there. I haven’t been disappointed yet, and I’ll continue to frequent this little neighborhood spot in the new year.
Louie’s Wine Dive was a pretty big part of my 2016. We obviously went there for the blog, but I went numerous times with girlfriends to enjoy dinners, happy hours, and a lot of delicious wine as well. I also got to throw one of my very best friends a bridal shower at the Waukee location (which has since relocated), and let me tell you, they made it so easy. If you need to have a shower or other small event, I’d highly recommend them.
The food. Oh the food. I have had just about everything on the menu and I haven’t been disappointed. Also, at said bridal shower, above, we had a buffet of a selection of their brunch items, all of which were delicious. I’ve been meaning to get back there for brunch but it hasn’t happened yet. On top of great food, true to their name, they have a wide selection of wines and a very educated staff that can help you out with a recommendation if you need it.
2. PerKup Cafe
PerKup! It started in a tiny little spot on 70th Street in Urbandale and, this year, moved into a large, always-busy spot in West Des Moines. It’s a family-owned business with the sweetest servers and most delicious Apple Cinnamon French Toast.
They have a wide selection of coffee/espresso drinks, breakfast, and lunch, and I have yet to be disappointed by any of it (full disclosure: I’ve never had lunch there, only breakfast. I love breakfast). Their hash browns are the best I’ve ever had (super crispy!) and, as stated above, their French Toast is to die for. Definitely go if you’re in the area – you won’t be disappointed.
1. Mi Patria
I haven’t stopped thinking about Mi Patria since we went there in April. I had never had Ecuadorian food before (and haven’t since, tbh), and this was a great first experience. The actual restaurant is nothing special-looking, but mama always said to not judge a book by its cover. Also, Patron Saint of Food and my hero Guy Fieri has been there, so you know it’s going to be delicious.
I can’t even begin to explain all of the flavors, but on my plate alone was some sort of bean stew that I’m still not sure what it was, other than delicious, rice, steak, a fried egg, plantains, and veggies. It was out of this world amazing. There was SO MUCH FOOD, so if you’re looking for a place to have leftovers, this is it. The service was great, too – we had no idea what half of the food on the menu was but our server walked us through it and gave good recommendations. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something new, this is definitely your spot.
Honorable Mention: Van Dee’s
Not only did Josh & I get married this summer, we also moved into our first place together. After a long weekend of nonstop packing, moving, and unloading, we went on a little date to Van Dee’s to celebrate. This mention is mostly for sentimental value, although Van Dee’s is quite delicious. The ice cream is sweet and so was 2016. Aw.
Josh’s Top 5
Honorable Mention: La Pizza House
La Pizza House had to get my Honorable Mention spot. I couldn’t review it fairly due to nostalgic factors so I couldn’t fairly put it on a top 5 list either. It fits perfectly in this slot to show that I still love this place.
Long Live La Pizza!
5) Van Dee’s
So we didn’t go to a lot of restaurants this year. A wedding will do that to you. With that being said, Van Dee’s was able to sneak up and make the list. Van Dee’s is a great, local ice cream joint that is open during the summer months. Conveniently located off a bike trail, you can access it multiple different ways.
This place has great frozen treats. Their ice cream is good as well as their specialty treats as well. Give this place a try before you go to DQ. This place is way better.
Going to school in Cedar Falls, you learned to love Scratch cupcakes. Scratch > Molly’s, Scratch > Smallcakes. It’s that simple. Since Grace and I love Scratch so much, we knew we had to have it for our wedding. So we took our friend Nam and went to Scratch to taste test a half-dozen cupcakes. We then went back a couple months later to taste a half-dozen more. Worth it.
This one surprised me the most. When we decided to try Bacon Bacon for breakfast, I wasn’t expecting much. I was expecting a normal breakfast with a Jethro’s twist. What I got, however was a masterpiece.
I got so. much. food. The brisket made the meal and I fell in love. The brisket was tender and it mixed so well with my eggs and hash browns. Their freshly squeezed orange juice was also superb and it made for the best breakfast I had in 2016.
2) Miyabi 9
Grace and I will disagree, but I think Miyabi 9 is the best sushi place in Des Moines (that I’ve tried). It doesn’t try to “wow” you or “dazzle” you in anyway and it doesn’t have to. It’s a traditional sushi joint and it acts like it with the quality of the sushi. The sushi is great and the traditional sides are also very good. If you want good sushi without the modern “sushi lounge” feel, come to Miyabi 9. You won’t be disappointed.
1) Mi Patria
Mi Patria was the best restaurant we reviewed in 2016. Grace and I don’t agree often when it comes to food but we agree here. Mi Patria not only gave you quantity (which is important) but it gave you damn good quality food as well.
The spices, the flavor, the meal was more than I could ever imagine. Everything I ate was delicious and I wanted to do the meal all over again. I tasted some of Grace’s meal and it was the same thing. If you’ve never been to Mi Patria, then please give it a try. It may be your favorite place of 2017.