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Top 5 Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in Des Moines

Top 5 Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in Des Moines

Top 5 Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in Des Moines

These top 5 hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines are part of a treasure trove of hidden culinary gems, and we have explored five remarkable hole-in-the-wall restaurants that deserve special recognition. Mama Lacona’s, Gazali’s, Tacos Mariana’s, Fong’s Pizza, and Alba have all earned their place as some of the top establishments in the city. From Mama Lacona’s authentic Italian flavors to Gazali’s fusion delights, Tacos Mariana’s Mexican-inspired creations, Fong’s unique blend of Asian and pizza cuisine, and Alba’s exceptional fine dining experience, each restaurant offers a distinctive and memorable dining adventure.

However, it’s important to note that these five hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the vibrant culinary scene in this city. The city is teeming with an array of hole-in-the-wall establishments, each with its own unique flavors, ambiance, and passionate owners.

Exploring Des Moines means venturing beyond the well-known eateries and uncovering the hidden gems that line the city’s streets. From cozy diners to tucked-away bistros, there are plenty more hole-in-the-wall restaurants waiting to be discovered by adventurous food lovers. This is why these are some of the great hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines that are waiting for you to discover them. This list is in no particular order.


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1) Mama Lacona’s

Mama Lacona’s is undoubtedly one of the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines. Nestled in the heart of the city, this family-owned and operated gem offers a truly authentic dining experience. Known for its warm and inviting atmosphere, Mama Lacona’s has been a popular fixture in the local culinary scene for years.

One cannot talk about Mama Lacona’s without mentioning their legendary signature dish: the mouthwatering Mama’s Special Pizza. This pizza is a culinary masterpiece, boasting a thin and crispy crust that perfectly complements the generous toppings of savory Italian sausage, fresh mushrooms, green peppers, and melted mozzarella cheese. Each bite is a flavorful explosion that keeps patrons coming back for more.

Main Menu Items:

1. Mama’s Homemade Lasagna: “Indulge in a hearty portion of Mama’s Homemade Lasagna, carefully crafted with layers of pasta, rich meat sauce, a blend of cheeses, and Mama’s secret seasoning. This classic Italian favorite will leave you craving for seconds.”

2. Chicken Marsala: “Treat your taste buds to the exquisite flavors of Mama Lacona’s Chicken Marsala. Tender chicken breast sautéed to perfection in a luscious Marsala wine sauce, accompanied by earthy mushrooms and served with a side of creamy mashed potatoes. It’s a culinary delight you won’t soon forget.”

3. Linguine with Clam Sauce: “Savor the taste of the ocean with Mama Lacona’s Linguine with Clam Sauce. Al dente linguine tossed in a delectable sauce made from fresh clams, garlic, white wine, and a hint of lemon. This dish captures the essence of coastal Italian cuisine.”

Customer Reviews:

“Mama Lacona’s is a hidden treasure in Des Moines! The cozy atmosphere, attentive service, and incredible food make it a must-visit. The Mama’s Special Pizza is simply out of this world.”

“I stumbled upon Mama Lacona’s and I’m so glad I did! The Chicken Marsala was cooked to perfection, and the flavors were spot on. The staff made me feel like part of the family.”

“You won’t find a better place for authentic Italian cuisine in Des Moines. Mama Lacona’s Linguine with Clam Sauce transported me back to Italy. The ambiance is charming, and the prices are reasonable.”

Mama Lacona’s truly lives up to its reputation as one of the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines. Located in a vibrant part of the city, this family-owned establishment exudes warmth and authenticity. From their renowned Mama’s Special Pizza to the tantalizing Chicken Marsala and Linguine with Clam Sauce, Mama Lacona’s offers a menu that showcases the finest flavors of Italian cuisine. They are one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines.

With glowing customer reviews praising the food, atmosphere, and service, it’s no wonder why Mama Lacona’s remains a popular culinary destination for locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re a fan of classic Italian dishes or seeking an unforgettable dining experience, Mama Lacona’s is the place to be. They rank high among the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines for good reasons.


2) Gazali’s

Gazali’s unquestionably stands as one of the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines. Located in a bustling area of the city, this family-owned and operated establishment has captured the hearts and palates of locals and visitors alike. Gazali’s is a hidden gem that offers an intimate and cozy dining experience, where patrons can indulge in authentic flavors and warm hospitality.

One cannot mention Gazali’s without highlighting their iconic signature dish: the delectable Gazali’s Lamb Shawarma. This dish features succulent slices of marinated lamb, slow-cooked to perfection on a vertical spit, resulting in tender and flavorful meat. Served in a warm pita bread alongside crisp lettuce, tomatoes, and tangy tzatziki sauce, the Lamb Shawarma at Gazali’s is a culinary masterpiece that keeps patrons coming back for more.

Main Menu Items:

1. Gazali’s Mezze Platter: “Embark on a journey of flavors with Gazali’s Mezze Platter. This assortment of Mediterranean appetizers includes creamy hummus, smoky baba ganoush, tangy tzatziki, flavorful falafel, and warm pita bread. It’s the perfect way to savor a variety of traditional Mediterranean delights.”

2. Chicken Kebabs: “Sink your teeth into Gazali’s succulent Chicken Kebabs. Skewered pieces of tender chicken breast, marinated in a blend of aromatic herbs and spices, then grilled to perfection. Served with fluffy saffron rice and grilled vegetables, this dish is a delightful explosion of Middle Eastern flavors.”

3. Vegetarian Moussaka: “Vegetarians rejoice with Gazali’s Vegetarian Moussaka. Layers of roasted eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes are smothered in a rich tomato sauce, topped with a creamy béchamel sauce, and baked to golden perfection. This hearty and flavorful dish showcases the best of Mediterranean cuisine.”

Customer Reviews:

“Gazali’s is a hidden culinary gem in Des Moines. The Lamb Shawarma is to die for! The tender and well-seasoned meat, paired with fresh vegetables and the tangy tzatziki sauce, creates a flavor explosion in every bite.”

“I stumbled upon Gazali’s and was blown away by the authentic flavors. The Mezze Platter was a feast for the senses, and the Chicken Kebabs were perfectly seasoned and incredibly tender. The warm hospitality made me feel like part of the family.”

“Gazali’s is a must-visit for anyone craving Mediterranean cuisine. The Vegetarian Moussaka exceeded my expectations with its robust flavors and satisfying textures. The cozy ambiance and friendly service added to the overall delightful experience.”

Gazali’s is truly a standout among the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines. This family-owned establishment, located in a vibrant area of the city, offers an intimate and welcoming atmosphere for diners seeking an authentic taste of Mediterranean cuisine. With their iconic Lamb Shawarma stealing the spotlight, Gazali’s showcases a menu that celebrates the vibrant flavors of the region. They are one of the popular hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines.

From the tantalizing Mezze Platter to the succulent Chicken Kebabs and the satisfying Vegetarian Moussaka, each dish is a testament to the culinary expertise and passion of the family behind Gazali’s. With glowing customer reviews praising the food, ambiance, and hospitality, Gazali’s remains a popular culinary destination. For a memorable dining experience that combines exceptional flavors and warm hospitality, Gazali’s is undoubtedly the place to be in Des Moines. They stand out among the popular hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines.


3) Tacos Mariana’s

Tacos Mariana’s is undeniably one of the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines. Situated in a lively area of the city, this family-owned and operated eatery has garnered a loyal following for its authentic and mouthwatering Mexican cuisine. Tacos Mariana’s offers a casual and inviting atmosphere, inviting patrons to indulge in a true Mexican culinary experience.

At Tacos Mariana’s, their signature food is the irresistible Tacos al Pastor. These savory tacos are a true delight, featuring tender and marinated pork, slow-cooked on a vertical spit, and served on warm corn tortillas. Topped with fresh cilantro, onions, and a squeeze of zesty lime juice, these tacos are bursting with flavor and provide a truly authentic taste of Mexico.

Main Menu Items:

1. Carne Asada Burrito: “Experience a fiesta of flavors with Tacos Mariana’s Carne Asada Burrito. Grilled and marinated steak is wrapped in a large flour tortilla, along with beans, rice, cheese, and your choice of toppings. This hearty and satisfying burrito is a favorite among patrons.”

2. Chile Rellenos: “Indulge in the classic Mexican dish of Chile Rellenos at Tacos Mariana’s. Roasted and peeled poblano peppers are stuffed with a flavorful blend of cheese, dipped in a light egg batter, and fried to golden perfection. Served with a side of rice, beans, and homemade salsa, this dish is a true crowd-pleaser.”

3. Enchiladas Suizas: “Treat your taste buds to Tacos Mariana’s Enchiladas Suizas. Soft corn tortillas are filled with tender shredded chicken, rolled up and smothered in a rich and creamy green tomatillo sauce. Topped with melted cheese and served with rice and beans, this dish offers a delightful combination of flavors.”

Customer Reviews:

“Tacos Mariana’s is a hidden gem! The Tacos al Pastor are out of this world. The marinated pork is so flavorful, and the toppings perfectly complement the meat. I can’t get enough of their authentic Mexican cuisine.”

“I stumbled upon Tacos Mariana’s and instantly fell in love. The Carne Asada Burrito is a hearty and satisfying meal. The steak is tender, and the combination of ingredients creates a burst of flavors in every bite.”

“If you’re craving authentic Mexican food, Tacos Mariana’s is the place to go. The Chile Rellenos are a must-try. The crispy exterior gives way to a cheesy and flavorful filling. The atmosphere is cozy, and the service is friendly.”

Tacos Mariana’s stands as one of the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines, offering a genuine and flavorful Mexican dining experience. Located in a bustling area of the city, this family-owned establishment has gained a loyal following. Their signature Tacos al Pastor steal the show, showcasing tender marinated pork and traditional toppings that transport diners to the streets of Mexico. They are another of the great hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines.

With a menu featuring tantalizing dishes such as the Carne Asada Burrito, Chile Rellenos, and Enchiladas Suizas, Tacos Mariana’s consistently delights with its authentic flavors. The glowing customer reviews praising the mouthwatering food and welcoming atmosphere solidify Tacos Mariana’s as a popular culinary destination. For those seeking exceptional Mexican cuisine in a warm and inviting setting, Tacos Mariana’s is an absolute must-visit in Des Moines. They deserve to be ranked high among the great hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines.


4) Fong’s Pizza

Fong’s Pizza is undeniably one of the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines. This family-owned and operated establishment is nestled in a vibrant area of the city, offering a unique dining experience that combines the flavors of pizza and Asian cuisine. Fong’s Pizza has become a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, with its quirky ambiance and delicious fusion creations.

At Fong’s Pizza, their signature food is the renowned Crab Rangoon Pizza. This innovative and mouthwatering pizza combines the flavors of the classic Chinese appetizer, Crab Rangoon, with the popular Italian staple. The pizza features a crispy crust topped with cream cheese, surimi crab, green onions, and a blend of cheeses, all baked to perfection. Each bite is a delightful fusion of flavors that has put Fong’s Pizza on the culinary map.

Main Menu Items:

1. Thai Chicken Pizza: “Experience the harmonious blend of Thai and Italian cuisines with Fong’s Thai Chicken Pizza. This flavorful creation boasts a Thai peanut sauce base, tender chicken, red peppers, cilantro, and a drizzle of Sriracha. It’s a pizza that will transport your taste buds to Southeast Asia.”

2. Kung Pao Chicken Tacos: “Indulge in the fusion flavors of Fong’s Kung Pao Chicken Tacos. These hand-held delights feature crispy wonton shells filled with Kung Pao chicken, peanuts, green onions, and a tangy sauce. It’s a delightful combination of Chinese and Mexican influences.”

3. Mongolian Beef Egg Rolls: “Savor the tantalizing flavors of Fong’s Mongolian Beef Egg Rolls. These crispy delights are filled with savory Mongolian beef, cabbage, and carrots, and served with a side of sweet chili dipping sauce. It’s the perfect appetizer for those seeking a fusion twist.”

Customer Reviews:

“Fong’s Pizza is a hidden gem in Des Moines. The Crab Rangoon Pizza is a flavor explosion. The cream cheese and crab topping on a pizza crust is pure genius. It’s a must-try for anyone looking for something unique and delicious.”

“I can’t get enough of Fong’s Thai Chicken Pizza. The combination of the Thai peanut sauce, tender chicken, and fresh cilantro is a taste sensation. The atmosphere is fun and lively, making it the perfect spot for a casual night out.”

“Fong’s fusion creations are incredible. The Kung Pao Chicken Tacos are a delightful twist on traditional tacos. The crunchy wonton shells and flavorful filling make for a memorable dining experience. The staff is friendly and attentive.”

Fong’s Pizza is undeniably one of the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines, offering a unique fusion of pizza and Asian cuisine. Located in a vibrant area of the city, this family-owned establishment has gained a loyal following. With their signature Crab Rangoon Pizza stealing the spotlight, Fong’s Pizza delivers a flavor experience like no other. They are one of the leading hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines.

The menu features a variety of fusion delights, such as the Thai Chicken Pizza, Kung Pao Chicken Tacos, and Mongolian Beef Egg Rolls, each showcasing the innovative and delicious combinations that define Fong’s Pizza. The rave customer reviews highlight the exceptional flavors, lively atmosphere, and friendly service that make Fong’s Pizza a favorite among locals and visitors. For those seeking a culinary adventure that combines unexpected flavors and a laid-back atmosphere, Fong’s Pizza is the go-to destination in Des Moines. They have earned the rank of being one of the leading hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines.


5) Alba

Alba is undeniably one of the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines. This family-owned and operated establishment is situated in a charming area of the city, offering a unique dining experience that combines the warmth of a family-run restaurant with exquisite culinary creations. Alba has garnered a loyal following for its intimate atmosphere and exceptional cuisine.

At Alba, their signature food is the remarkable Bacon-Wrapped Dates. These delectable bite-sized treats feature plump Medjool dates stuffed with creamy goat cheese, wrapped in smoky bacon, and baked to perfection. The combination of sweet, savory, and creamy flavors creates an irresistible appetizer that perfectly showcases Alba’s culinary expertise.

Main Menu Items:

1. Pan-Seared Sea Scallops: “Indulge in Alba’s Pan-Seared Sea Scallops, a true seafood delicacy. The perfectly seared scallops are served atop a bed of creamy risotto and accompanied by a vibrant citrus beurre blanc sauce. It’s a dish that embodies elegance and flavor.”

2. Mushroom Ravioli: “Treat your taste buds to the rich and earthy flavors of Alba’s Mushroom Ravioli. These handmade ravioli are filled with a delightful blend of wild mushrooms and creamy ricotta cheese, topped with a luscious sage butter sauce. Each bite is a symphony of flavors.”

3. Grilled Ribeye Steak: “Satisfy your cravings with Alba’s Grilled Ribeye Steak, a carnivore’s delight. This perfectly cooked ribeye steak is seasoned to perfection and served with a side of roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables. It’s a hearty and flavorful main course that will leave you wanting more.”

Customer Reviews:

“Alba is a hidden gem in Des Moines. The Bacon-Wrapped Dates are an absolute must-try. The combination of sweet dates, creamy goat cheese, and smoky bacon is a flavor sensation. The intimate atmosphere adds to the overall dining experience.”

“I stumbled upon Alba and was blown away by the Pan-Seared Sea Scallops. The scallops were cooked to perfection, and the risotto was creamy and flavorful. The attention to detail in each dish is evident, and the service is exceptional.”

“Alba is a culinary gem in Des Moines. The Mushroom Ravioli is heavenly, and the sage butter sauce takes it to another level. The flavors are incredible, and the portion sizes are generous. It’s a restaurant that delivers on all fronts.

Alba stands as one of the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines, offering an intimate and exceptional dining experience. Located in a charming area of the city, this family-owned and operated establishment has garnered a loyal following. The remarkable Bacon-Wrapped Dates serve as a testament to Alba’s culinary creativity and skill. The menu features a range of exquisite dishes, such as the Pan-Seared Sea Scallops, Mushroom Ravioli, and Grilled Ribeye Steak, each crafted with precision and attention to detail. They are one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines.

The glowing customer reviews praise the outstanding flavors, intimate atmosphere, and attentive service that define Alba. For those seeking a memorable dining experience that combines exceptional cuisine with a family-run ambiance, Alba is the go-to restaurant in Des Moines. They can definitely be counted among the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines.


Now you know why these are some of the great hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines just waiting for you to discover them. However, it’s important to let you know that this is not an exhaustive list of the great hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines and that this list is in no particular order.

So, while Mama Lacona’s, Gazali’s, Tacos Mariana’s, Fong’s Pizza, and Alba have rightfully earned their place among the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines, they are just a glimpse into the vibrant and diverse culinary landscape of the city.

Whether you’re a local seeking new flavors or a visitor looking to immerse yourself in the local food scene, Des Moines promises an exciting journey filled with hidden culinary treasures waiting to be explored. So go forth and discover the countless other hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Des Moines, and let your taste buds be your guide on this delicious adventure.


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