Late night appetite?

A look at some of the metro’s after-midnight menus

By Jeff Pitts and Cady Colosimo

The after-dark eating options in Des Moines haven’t always been stellar, but the collection of menus that are now available once the clock strikes midnight is getting to be downright delectable. Here is a look at the city’s best bites for when you forgot to eat, but now you’re famished. Bon jour. Bon appétit. Au revoir. Dig in Des Moines, as long as you aren’t a gremlin.

A Hurts Donut dozen.

Hurts Donut Co.
5513 Mills Civic Parkway, Suite 105, West
Des Moines

Hours: Open 25 hours a day, eight days a week including all holidays

The metro’s favorite maker of oversized specialty donuts, Hurts Donut Co., is open around the clock to serve anyone with a late night hankering for something sweet.

“We are open 25 hours a day, eight days a week including all holidays,” says Paige Howard, co-owner of Hurts Donut Co. in West Des Moines. “We have a case full of variety no matter what time of the day you stop in! People love donuts no matter what time of day.”

She has that right. The donut specialists offer dozens of different varieties of sumptuousness including cotton candy
donuts, maple bacon donuts, Oreo cheesecake donuts, apple pie donuts, but Howard says one late night favorite is
something smooth and simple.

“One of our most popular is our Andes Mint donut,” she says. “A favorite after dinner treat.”

Photo courtesy of Fong’s Pizza

Fong’s Pizza
223 Fourth St., Des Moines

Hours: Fong’s full menu is served daily from 11 a.m. until midnight; late night slices are served until 2 a.m., Sunday
through Thursday; and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

“A night done right is a slice of Honey and Garlic on Alfredo, served every Friday and Saturday (until midnight),” says Gwen Page, co-owner of Fong’s Pizza. The unique downtown late-night favorite is lovingly known as the “Fongolian territory.”

The local favorite opened in 2009 inside a former Chinese restaurant and serves pizza slices into the early morning hours. This “frozen in time dive bar” is famous for its crab rangoon pizza, Asian-inspired pizza, traditional pizza and handmade appetizers, sandwiches, salads and desserts.

Besides the food, the best thing about eating at Fong’s after midnight is the fun loving staff.

“We provide fast and friendly service in a Chinese pizzeria featuring a tiki bar,” says Page. “Where else can you say you ended your evening that way?”

Abelardo’s nachos

2510 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

Hours: The Ingersoll location is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Hola amigos! No late night appetite story is complete without a shout out to Abelardo’s. Step out of your typical Tex-Mex boundary and opt for the eatery that is pretty much always open and offering Mexican food served fast and packed full of flavor. The Ingersoll restaurant is open 24 hours a day to cure late-night cravings for tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, fajitas and more.

You will also find Mexican drinks like horchata, tamarindo, traditional soft drinks, chimichangas, beans, rice, chicken, cheese, guac and… yum.

Photo courtesy of Zombie Burger + Drink Lab

Zombie Burger + Drink Lab
300 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines

Hours: Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to midnight

A passion for horror films led Chef George Formaro to open Zombie Burger + Drink Lab. The fun and creative menu quickly made the eatery a late-night hotspot.

“Zombie Burger is perfect for late night crowds looking for great food and ambiance,” says Karen Davis, Zombie
Burger + Drink Lab’s general manager. “We offer our full restaurant menu including 26 burgers, appetizers, fry
baskets and more until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Our bar stocks a variety of domestic, import and craft beers and offers a great cocktail list plus our famous spiked milkshakes. You’ll often find horror films on the TVs and an eclectic soundtrack to fit our apocalyptic-chic setting. If you’re in the downtown area, Zombie Burger is your stop.”

Zombie is more than just a “burger joint.” Its core philosophy focuses on quality ingredients, honest preparation and
top quality service.

“Night owls love fried foods,” says Davis. “Our fried pickles and cheese curds are hugely popular in the evening hours. Our new ‘Poultrygeist’ fried chicken sandwich is also a big hit. And with our full menu always available, it’s easy to find something for almost any craving.”

The Angry Goldfish’s merlot burger with fries

Angry Goldfish Pub and Eatery
2301 S.W. Ninth St., Des Moines

Hours: Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

While it may look like run-of-the-mill bar food on the surface, the south side neighborhood pub offers food that is head and shoulders above typical bar fare.

“Jalapeno poppers just didn’t seem like the way to go,” co-owner Clark Way laughs.

Starters include staples like fried pickles and mains offer hearty sandwiches and fancy burgers — like the merlot mushroom burger. For those wondering, there are in fact goldfish-inspired dishes — like the sriracha-seasoned goldfish and goldfish tenderloin. Almost everything at the Angry Goldfish is homemade, from the sauces and
aioli to the pounded out and breaded meats. Even late night taste buds will recognize the difference.

Big Tomato Pizza’s famous “Lousy Service” sign.”

Big Tomato Pizza
2613 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

Hours: Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Honesty must be the policy at Big Tomato Pizza. The neon sign in its window reads “lousy service.” Whether it’s genuine or all part of the shtick is unclear, but either way, the pizza is on-point.

Since 1994, central Iowans have come from the suburbs and beyond to try Ingersoll Avenue’s late-night pizza.
Customers can order full pies — with free delivery to “almost anywhere” — or get pizza by-the-slice at the storefront from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

House specialty pizzas include Philly Cheese Steak, Potato and Onion Rings, and Cajun Shrimp. If none of the menu
options suffice, Big Tomato offers a whopping 40 different fresh toppings to choose from.

Tacos as Ku Fung Tap

Kung Fu Tap and Taco
210 Indianola Road, Des Moines

Hours: Daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Don’t ask what’s on the menu at Kung Fu Tap and Taco, because there is no menu. The only fresh food item the south side bar serves are — as the name implies — tacos. Simply ask a friendly bartender, and they’ll be ready quicker than you can say “Kung Fu Hustle.”

“They’re good and fast, and we move a lot of them,” Kung Fu Tap and Taco co-owner Brad “Fatty” Smith once told

Tacos are a food that need not be fancyto be good, and each the Fu serves up a satisfying beef, cheese and lettuce taco in a crispy shell. The tacos are served with a packet of sour cream and packets of taco sauce. If that doesn’t pack enough heat, the Fu has Lola’s Fine Hot Sauce available (from West Des Moines).

Los Banditos elotes dog

Los Banditos Hot Dog Speakeasy
2721 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

Hours: Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

For almost a year, Los Banditos Hot Dog Speakeasy has been serving up anythingbut-ordinary dogs. Located inside
Krunkwich Ramen House, on Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. the ramen joint becomes a late night hot dog joint — if in doubt, look for the neon hot dog sign that reads “open.”

The name pays homage to the building’s former basement bar, El Banditos, which operated in the 1970’s. The concept originally started as a joke between owner/chef Sam Auen and one of his chefs.

“When we start joking about things, that’s how we start doing things,” Auen says. “I’m really shocked at how well it

The menu includes fixed favorites, periodic or seasonal selections, hot dogs, french fries and vegan options.

“Let’s make it fun, let’s make it hard to eat,” Auen says. “None of them are beardfriendly, except for the Vegan Goon Dog.” ♦


Categories: The Feature

%d bloggers like this: