Chope’s–La Mesa, NM

Chopes Bar & Cafe
16165 S. Hwy 28
La Mesa, NM
(575) 233-3420
Chope's in La Mesa, NM

Chope’s in La Mesa, NM south of Las Cruces


When you approach La Mesa, about 15 miles south of Mesilla on State Highway 28, you get more of a feeling that you are approaching a religious shrine than a small farming village in southern New Mexico. The “holy ground” you are entering is for possibly the best chile relleno anywhere (for once the reality lives up to the hype). It is much like going to Mamou, Louisiana to experience the very best Cajun music, except in La Mesa pilgrims are given a gustatory reward (unless by some very bad karma or extremely unkind trick of fate they end up in La Mesa on a Sunday or Monday when Chope’s is closed).

Chope's kitchen

The kitchen is adjacent to the main dining room

At Chope’s you enter the realm of world-class roadfood (not the gourmet kind of Mexican food found at Rick Bayless’ restaurants in Chicago). It is no longer a question at Chope’s of whether certain items are good, it becomes a matter of whether they are the best. I get discouraged sometimes because the salsa at Chope’s may not be as good as at some restaurants in Las Cruces, the green chile may not be as fresh some times of the year as at harvest season, or some of the dishes may not live up to what I consider the signature dishes: the chile relleno and the green enchilada (both made with locally grown chiles). At other restaurants, however, I would hope to find just one outstanding dish, while Chope’s in my opinion the chile relleno is uncontested, the sopapilla is one of the best anywhere, and the enchiladas are certainly noteworthy examples of New Mexico cuisine.

Chile Relleno

Chile relleno

Chope’s chile relleno without sauce on top

If Chope’s is known for anything it is the Chile Relleno that somehow seems different from those served anywhere else. Of course the freshness comes from its local source in the Mesilla Valley. While the Hatch chiles, grown north of Las Cruces, have become famous worldwide, there is actually quite a large variety of chiles grown in both the Hatch and Mesilla Valleys that include the milder Anaheims that are largely exported and the more spicy varieties that are popular locally.

Chope’s serves a somewhat flat shaped chile that is quite spicy compared to many of the long skinny ones that are more common throughout the country. While being more spicy does not necessarily make a chile better quality, I do think this is an important criterion for a New Mexico style restaurant. It is also important for the chile to be roasted and prepared properly, as are the ones served at Chope’s. I have always been impressed that Chope’s does not put a sauce on top. The relleno really does not need to have any type of sauce, since the chile, the cheese inside, and the perfectly cooked batter stand by themselves and provide all the flavor needed for an excellent chile relleno.

Green Enchiladas

Green enchiladas

Chope’s green enchiladas made with fresh green chiles

The Green Enchiladas are some of the best found anywhere. While many restaurants use a puréed green chile to pour on top of the tortillas, Chope’s uses large chunks of fresh chiles that demonstrate the texture and flavor of the green chiles that are used. A white cheese is used that is perfectly melted (and it looks as if some yellow cheese is also mixed in). Chiles come locally from the Mesilla Valley (from the Provencio Farm near Anthony), and are at their freshest around harvest season. Green enchiladas are the spiciest item served at Chope’s, but since about 2007 I have found them to be slightly less spicy than they were up to that point. They still rate five chiles on my “chile index,” but I have not found them to be at the level found in many northern New Mexico restaurants.

Around the beginning of August postings appear on the Internet asking about the availablity of freshly harvested Hatch chiles in various cities around the United States. Locally, though, fresh green chiles are available from late May to the end of September, and this is when I prefer the green enchiladas over the red ones at Chope’s.

Since I first tried red enchiladas in the days of my youth when I was able to eat them at La Posta, the Pink Adobe in Santa Fe, and other New Mexico restaurants, they have been my preference over the green enchiladas whenever I eat New Mexican cuisine. I make an exception at Chope’s during the chile harvest season so I can enjoy the fresh green chile, but I will have to say that Chope’s has very good red chile anytime during the year.

Many other places seem to either use too many additives, purée the chile too much, or use chiles of lesser quality that do not yield the same results as at Chope’s. This is why I think both the green and red enchiladas are better than at most other restaurants.

Red Enchiladas

Red enchiladas and chile relleno

Red enchiladas served flat with an egg on top, and chile relleno to the side

I have to report, though, that my experiences with Red Enchiladas have been noticeably different since the restaurant’s change in ownership in 2007. I normally try to offset the chile effects by ordering an egg on top, but I have recently seen the red chile get milder to the point that no mitigating measures are really necessary. The flavor is good, and the care the restaurant takes to make the chile fresh every day is evident. I do think, though, that Chope’s has made a decision to make the red chile milder than the green (possibly to make it more acceptable to a wider audience), and of course both the red and green chiles come from local farms in the Mesilla Valley.

Rice and Beans

For some reason the New Mexican restaurants in the southern part of the state prefer Refried Beans, such as the ones served at Chope’s, to the whole beans that are normally found in the north. I do not usually pay much attention to beans that are not northern style, but the ones at Chope’s are cooked so perfectly that I think they are almost as good as the whole beans.

The Rice has not left me with a very big impression, either favorable or otherwise, so I would say it is about average.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

The Chips are so nondescript I can barely remember them well enough well enough to write a review when I get home. I think, though, that they are so typical of the way chips should be prepared that it is the lack of any apparent flaws that make them not stick out in my mind.

The Salsa is another item that has undergone a transformation since about 2007, and I think very much for the better. It used to be memorable for being so spicy it almost numbed the taste buds before you even got a chance to try any of the delicious main dishes. Now, though, I think it retains the freshness it had before, but with a heightened flavor that I enjoy a lot more. The spiciness is variable, and sometimes it almost gets to the point of numbing the mouth, but the excellent flavor is more noticeable than the heat.

Sopapillas

Sopapillas

A basket of freshly cooked sopapillas going to a table of anxiously awaiting customers

Sopapillas are light and fluffy, and are a recommended enhancement to the meal, providing a soothing effect to the mouth that counteracts the spicy chile. The green enchiladas are hot enough that I probably would not attempt to eat them without the relief of a sopapilla and honey interspersed between bites of the hot chile (although an egg on top of the enchiladas does provide some soothing effects). Many patrons order a sopapilla for dessert, but I prefer it with the meal (northern New Mexico style). In the past the sopapillas have been rather greasy, but recently they have been perfect, and worth ordering even if you think your stomach cannot handle any more food.

The Bar

Chope's Bar

Chope’s Bar, located next door to Chope’s Cafe, serves the same food as the restaurant

What is now Chope’s Bar was the original restaurant, and is located next door to Chope’s Cafe. The bar serves the same food as the restaurant, and this can be a great help during the times that the restaurant is full and you have to get on a waiting list for a table. In fact, I think one of the major drawbacks of this place is having to drive for miles deep into the heart of the Mesilla Valley farm country and not knowing if you will face a long wait once you arrive (Chope’s does not take reservations, but I’m sure they will fill you in on the estimated wait time if you call ahead of time).

The Restaurant

Part of the main dining room

Part of the main dining room

The restaurant itself is in an old house, and has what I would describe as a somewhat crowded dining arrangement. The main dining room is adjacent to the kitchen and is small, noisy, and busy, but also tends to be very friendly where it is easy to talk to the staff and other patrons. The larger dining room is quieter and provides slightly more space between tables, but they are still rather crowded.

A view inside to the waiting room

Patrons at Chope’s frequently spend time in the waiting room before a table opens up

The restaurant is open only until 1:30 p.m. for lunch, but the 8:30 p.m. closing time at dinner should give most diners enough time to reach La Mesa and wait for a table if necessary. Note: Yelp says the closing time is now 8:00 p.m. except on Saturday, so it might be advisable to check with the restaurant before making a trip to La Mesa.

I sometimes have to look hard to find drawbacks to eating at Chope’s, but I have thought the enchiladas were too heavily saturated in corn oil. On my most recent visit, though, I was waiting for this unpleasant aftertaste to appear after my perfect (or close to it) meal, and it never did. My conclusion, then, is that either Chope’s has found a way to reduce the amount of corn oil used or part of the “home cooking” style that Chope’s uses is that the food will vary from one experience to another. I do think that many of the complaints I occasionally have about Chope’s are because my expectations are so high.

In case you find extremely spicy food to be a drawback, I believe Chope’s is now less of a problem than before (in fact, I used to find it too spicy even for my taste). The green and red enchiladas are now less spicy than before (I would say up to about 2007), and the chile relleno is not particularly spicy. It is still spicy enough, though, to have a great flavor of New Mexico chiles. I would similarly classify the red enchiladas as “not particularly spicy,” although the green enchiladas usually have more of a kick.

One of my preferences is to order items individually rather than on combination plates. The prices are not high and meals are affordable, even if I end up with too much food. Enchiladas on combination plates are usually rolled instead of flat, and they sometimes make other modifications that make the food come out in a way that is not to my preference (such as spilling chile on top of the relleno when I like it with no chile on top).

Some of the best bargains are available on the lunch specials, but choices are limited. The dinner menu, though, has some of the most reasonable prices in the Las Cruces area.

My experience is that the most worthwhile items to order are green enchiladas from May to September, red enchiladas the rest of the year, and the chile relleno any time. The rice is not exceptional, but the beans are a better choice for counteracting the hot chile (adding a sopapilla to the meal makes it even better). I do not like the enchiladas any better with an egg on top, but I sometimes order it for variety.

Coming from El Paso, La Mesa can be reached from IH-10 by taking the Vado exit (NM 227) and going west to Vado. You then turn left on NM 478 and go south less than a quarter mile, where NM 227 again goes to the west (there are few if any signs that give directions). From Vado you should follow NM 227, and keep going straight after it turns into NM 28. Once you are on Hwy 28 La Mesa is the next town.

From Las Cruces or Mesilla it is easy to reach Chope’s– just take NM 28 south.

Chope's photo

A photo of “Chope,” for whom the restaurant was named

Lent Specials

Chope’s, like many other Mexican restaurants in the area, offers specials on Fridays during Lent that are appropriate for the season. Chope’s not only offers food that is not normally on the menu, but it comes at a very good price (and the special with a relleno offers the item I would most like to order anyway).

Lent special

Lent special with quesadillas, chile relleno, and lentils

The plate pictured includes Quesadillas that were made the traditional way I have experienced them in home style restaurants in the borderland. The Chile Relleno was as good as ever, but I do not know why it had a large amount of cheese sprinkled on top when this is normally not the case. The Lentils were excellent, with less salt and garlic than I usually find in the ones served in El Paso (and to me the ones at Chope’s are better).

Capirotada is also served with the Lent special but they were out when I went. Still, this was an excellent deal.

Things to Know

  • In chile harvest season (about July to late Sep.) the green enchiladas and chiles rellenos are especially good, and would be what I recommend.
  • The rest of the year I still recommend the chile relleno, but I prefer the red enchiladas to the green. The chile relleno is what I consider to be the restaurant’s outstanding dish (any time of year).
  • Chope’s changed ownership in 2007. Since this time I have changed the chile rating from five chiles to four (red enchiladas and rellenos are not very spicy at all although the green enchiladas still might be classified as five chiles). The salsa is much less spicy than before, but I think it is also much better than previously.
  • The bar is next door to the restaurant and serves the same food. However, I am usually willing to wait in line for a table in the restaurant because it is quieter and I like the setting better.
  • I found the hours to be 11:30 am to 1:00 pm and 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, although Yelp says it closes at 8:00 except on Sat. (and it has always been closed on Sundays and Mondays). Because it is in a small town a number of miles from both Las Cruces and El Paso, it is best to get there early if possible (I also estimate that there could be a 15 to 30 minute wait for a table).

RATING: 26

Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun. & Mon.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Wine, Mixed Drinks

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 19, 2010
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Chiles Rellenos, Green Enchiladas, Sopapillas

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Special Ratings
star 5 Chile Relleno
star 5 Green Enchiladas
star 5 Red Enchiladas
star 5 Beans
star 4 Rice
star 4 Chips
star 5 Salsa
star 5 Sopapillas

Restaurant Guide

Restaurant Guide Index:

(List of Recommended Restaurants from Various Sources)

Arizona: Phoenix | Tucson

Arkansas

California: Los Angeles | Orange County | San Bernardino/Riverside | San Diego | San Francisco/Bay Area

Colorado: Denver

Idaho

Iowa

Kansas: Kansas City

Louisiana: New Orleans

Missouri: Kansas City | St. Louis

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Mexico: Albuquerque | Las Cruces

Oklahoma: Oklahoma City | Tulsa

Oregon: Portland

Texas: Austin | Dallas/Fort Worth | El Paso | Houston | San Antonio

Utah

Washington: Seattle

Wyoming


This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others. I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.


Geographic Coverage: This list came about as a result of search tools that were available on the old Urbanspoon.com web site so that I could compile a list of what I thought might be the best restaurants in any city, region, or state. The “best” is subjective, with a high priority given to ethnic restaurants and regional specialties in each state (it is what I would look for when traveling, and I do not claim anything more than this).

Urbanspoon was purchased by Zomato.com, and I found that the former search tools were no longer available (nor is there anything similar on other web sites). As a result I am planning to limit the geographical coverage to the states I was able to research while Urbanspoon was on line. Of course I use other sources to complete the list, but the skeleton of it was only possible while Urbanspoon was available.

The following are states I have researched on Urbanspoon with the plan to eventually include in the Restaurant Guide, but which are not yet published:

Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin


Note: Steve’s Restaurant Reviews (the ones I have personally visited) are found  Here

Restaurant Guide–Iowa

Restaurant Guide Main Index


  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

Amana

Millstream Brau Haus–741 47th Ave. (German).  Recently opened in the building that used to be Colony Inn (which many said was the best restaurant in Amana). People like the food at Millstream, but I’m not sure if is traditional Amish like Colony Inn was. (10-14-17)

Ronneburg–4408 220th Trl. (German) Open daily (closes early at 7 pm on Sun).  People give it better reviews than Millstream, and say the German food is traditional as it is in Germany, but most people here get the family style meal to get the best out of the experience. Note: Ox Yoke Inn which is next door is similar but has more choices on the American side of the menu (if you don’t want German food). (10-14-17)

Ames

Botanero Latino–604 E. Lincoln Way (Colombian) Closed Sun.  The food seems to be excellent with dishes which are served in very few restaurants in the US. However, it is a small place run by one man, and service can be slow. (10-14-17)

Cafe Beaudelaire–2504 Lincoln Way (Brazilian) Open Daily.  Probably the best thing about this restaurant is that it specializes in Brazilian sandwiches, etc. that are not expensive, making it easy to come back and try other things. The Brazilian hamburger is a favorite of customers. (10-14-17)

Grandpa Noodle Gallery–926 S. 16th St. (Chinese) Open Daily.  This place has real honest to goodness Chinese noodle dishes. The main negative the reviewers have is the price (but it doesn’t seem too bad for healthy fresh food). (10-14-17)

Taste Place–2512 Lincoln Way (Chinese) Closed Mon.  Reviewers say this is the most authentic Chinese food in Iowa (it looks to be Sichuan style with some dishes served in hot chile oil). (10-14-17)

The Cafe–2616 Northridge Pkwy. (American) Open Daily.  Upscale restaurant that looks a little bit high priced. It looks like an excellent place for breakfast. (10-14-17)

The Spice–402 Main St. (Thai) Closed Sun.  Seems to be legit Thai food, but on some dishes you should tell them it want it the authentic Thai way (usually this involves making it more spicy). Panang curry, ginger dishes, and basil dishes are especially recommended. (10-14-17)

Trio–223 Welch Ave. (Indonesian) Open Daily.  I couldn’t pass up including an Indonesian restaurant, even though the menu looks limited. It looks as if some of the dishes are Americanized, and if you want something more authentic (which would probably be a lot more spicy) they can either prepare it that way or suggest a dish that would be what you want. (10-14-17)

Burlington

La Tavola–316 N. 4th St. (Italian) Closed Sun.  Italian home cooking–reservations only. Some reviewers say the food is bland (I have found authentic Italian to be more “bland” than American style, but to me it’s just not over-spiced). (10-20-17)

McConnell Cafe–208 N. 4th St. (New American) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun).  Popular for breakfast–quiche is recommended (so it’s more on the high end side of the food scale). (10-20-17)

Cedar Rapids

Bistro Tazio–588 Boyson Rd. NE (Italian) Closed Sun.  People describe the flavors as “fresh,” which is a good sign for Italian food (salads do not get high marks, though). (10-20-17)

Little Bohemia–1317 3rd St. SE (Czech) Closed Sun & Mon.  Food seems to be good, but people say the service is sometimes not good, and prices are high. (10-20-17)

Pho Mai–2315 Edgewood Rd. SW (Vietnamese) Closed Mon.  Seems to be the highest rated Asian restaurant in CR. (10-20-17)

The Lost Cuban–209 3rd St. SE (Cuban) Closed Sat evening & Sun.  Reviewers say it’s not just a novelty, but really good Cuban food. The Cuban sandwich is a good place to start (especially at lunch). (10-20-17)

Clear Lake

Seven Stars Family Rest.–2309 3rd Ave. S. (American) Open 5 am to 8 pm daily.  Good quality diner style food. Hot beef sandwich is the specialty. Coconut-raspberry cake is very popular. (10-20-17)

Clive

Coaches Kolaches–8527 University Blvd. (Czech) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun).  These are not fruit kolaches, but sausage, ham, cheese, etc. that you can eat for breakfast, lunch, or a snack. They are said to be quite good. (10-20-17)

Council Bluffs

1892 German Bier Haus–142 W. Broadway (German) Open Daily.  Mainly a bar–the German food is limited but good. Reviewers describe the food as “country food.” (10-20-17)

Davenport

California Pho–3559 W. Kimberly Rd. (Vietnamese) Closed Tue.  Very popular and highly rated restaurant. Many like the vegetarian pho–even those who are not vegetarians. (10-20-17)

Exotic Thai–2303 E. 53rd St. (Thai) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  NE Thai style (Isan). (10-20-17)

Village Corner Deli–1030 Mound St. (Sandwiches) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun).  They pay as much attention to the bread as to the meats, and this is one thing that makes them popular. (10-20-17)

Des Moines

A-Dong–1511 High St. (Vietnamese) Closed Mon.  Authentic Vietnamese with a large menu. (10-20-17)

Gazali’s–1205 25th St. (Lebanese) Open daily except Sun evening.  Authentic food. Has specials of halal meat (depending on what is available). Family run and does not dumb down the food to appeal to a mass market. (10-20-17)

Local Bites Food Court–700 Locust St. (Food Court) Open Mon-Fri (breakfast & lunch only).  I found this by searching for Indian food (India Pointe is here). I don’t know what other restaurants/food stalls are here, but they seem to give you good food at low prices (but you will get it on paper plates). (10-20-17)

 

Dubuque

Bierstube–1301 Rhomberg Ave. (German).  Wienerschnitzel, cabbage soup, red cabbage, beef rouladin, bratwurst, chocolate cake, and ice cream are recommended (but schnitzel is particularly popular). (10-20-17)

Lina’s Thai Bistro–2055 Holliday Dr. (Thai).  Good flavor and spices, but some say the meat is obviously from factory farms and poor quality (so vegetarian meals may be recommended). Most say this is the most authentic Asian food in Dubuque. (10-20-17)

Fort Dodge

Hacienda Vieja–217 S. 25th St. (Mexican) Open Daily.  Urbanspoon indicated it was authentic, but not so much on Yelp. To me it looks better than average (especially for the Midwest). (10-20-17)

Iowa City

Bao Chow–201 S. Clinton St. (Dim Sum) Closes at 7pm Mon-Fri, 2 pm on Sat, and closed all day Sun.  Only serves Chinese style dumplings, but they are said to be very good and a wide variety is available. (10-20-17)

Oasis Falafel–206 N. Linn St. (Middle Eastern) Open Daily.  Falafel is the signature dish, but other items such as hummus, kafta, etc. are good also. I like the fact that vegetarian meals get as good reviews as the meat items. (10-20-17)

Soseki Cafe–227 S. Dubuque St. (Japanese) Closed Sun.  A full menu Japanese restaurant with good ramen, gyoza, etc. as well as sushi. (10-20-17)

Thai Spice–1210 S. Gilbert St. (Thai) Open daily except Sun lunch.  Very popular and overwhelmingly good reviews. (10-20-17)

Le Mars

Bob’s Drive-Inn–Hwy 75 S. (Hot Dogs) Open Daily (some sources say it’s closed in winter).  Hot dog with loose meat is the specialty. Also has other items such as taco salad and chicken strips. (10-20-17)

Ottumwa

Appanoose Rapids–332 E. Main St. (Steaks) Open daily except Sun evening.  Tenderloin is the specialty. Burgers, sides, and drinks are also good. Menu includes items such as chicken marsala. (10-20-17)

Juanita’s–537 Church St. (El Salvador).  Small restaurant with authentic Central American food that is very popular with customers. (10-20-17)

Remsen

Golden Pheasant–44028 Hwy 3 (Steaks).  Many say it’s the best steak in the western Iowa/Omaha area. Located just e. of Le Mars. (10-20-17)

Sioux City

Da Kao–800 W. 7th St. (Vietnamese).  Authentic with good food, according to many. Many say the pho lacks flavor, but they like other dishes such as Vietnamese pancakes (and they order the pho because it’s the best in the Sioux City area). (10-20-17)

Diamond Thai–515 W. 7th St. (Thai) Closed Mon.  Small family run Thai that is cash only unless you spend over $15. Reviews are mixed but mostly good. People do not complain about it being too spicy or not spicy enough, but rather that the curry is runny (but noodles and stir fried dishes seem to be popular). (10-20-17)

Note: South Sioux City, Neb. has the best reviews for Thai/Lao food (Thai Laos Kitchen) and Mexican food (Mi Rancherita)

Spirit Lake

Gingham Inn–100 Hill Ave. (American).  Specializes in pan fried chicken. Peach pie is also recommended. Reviewers say skip the salad bar unless it comes with your meal. (10-20-17)

Storm Lake

Giovanni–723 Lake Ave. (Italian) Open daily except Sat lunch.  I don’t put many Italian rests. on the list but this one seems to be worthy. It’s a place in a small enough town that the owner can put his best effort into every meal and apparently give a large number of them something very memorable. (10-20-17)

Lakeshore Pho–1411 E. Lakeshore Dr. (Vietnamese).  Reviewers say it is also Thai, and that the pad thai is probably the best dish here. Pho is beef and it looks as if they don’t have other varieties (chicken, vegetarian, etc.). (10-20-17)

Little Vientiane–805 Flindt Dr. (Lao) Closed Wed.  Good reviews for the food and many customers say it is authentic. From looking at the photos, though, I am guessing that if you really want authentic Lao style you need to tell the server and order it that way. This definitely seems worth a shot for Lao food. (10-20-17)

Waterloo

Newton’s Paradise Cafe–128 E. 4th St. (American) Open daily except Sun evening.  Typical Iowa cuisine, but it’s locally sourced. BLT is popular. Best time to come seems to be breakfast (opens 6am). (10-20-17)

West Des Moines

Cafe Saraj–4940 Franklin Ave. (Bosnian) Closed Sat & Sun.  Not listed on most review sites, but I think it is open because it is on Google. Bosnian salad, Zeljanica (phylllo dough stuffed with spinach and cheese), Bosnian gyro, moussaka. (10-21-17)

Heavenly Asian Cuisine–225 5th St. (Chinese) Closed Mon (and closed from 2:30 to 4:30 pm).  Authentic Chinese food (described as Sichuan style but I think it may also be northern Chinese). Tangerine chicken is one of their popular dishes. (10-20-17)

Mi Patria–1410 22nd St. (Ecuadorian) Closed Sun.  Good food–said to be authentic by those who have lived in Ecuador. Possible pitfall is that some of the food may be Peruvian and not as good as the Ecuadorean dishes. (10-20-17)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

 

Sources:

Chowhound (Iowa)

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (Iowa)

Zomato (Des Moines)