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The Scarlet & Black

Double the eat, double the feat

Ian Stout

Ian Stout - Jeff Li

Since this is my last issue of “The Food Chain,” I’m making this column a double special, featuring two fiendishly quick food options: Tacopocalypse and Powered by Fries. Both are located in Des Moines, and you’ll notice from my past reviews that Des Moines is the happening place to be if you can’t choose between two types of foodnot to mention the obsession over apocalypses, but who doesn’t love a good doomsday fantasy?

Tacopocalypse is no such exception, a restaurant priding itself on Asian-inspired tacos including the Korean chicken, Bulgogi (Korean beef) and Korean tofu. The restaurant’s sign declares that it is “Devastatingly Good,” a call to action for any food critic. I came in suspicious, but after trying their “end-of-the-world good” food I’m already making doomsday plans. I hope Tacopocalypse doesn’t mind me living in its basement.

Every taco comes prepared with house-made corn tortillas, and every little bundle of joy is assembled right in front of your eyes by a server who’s just as happy to be there as you are. The tortillas are strong enough to hold all of the delicious contents, while still tender enough to chew easily. The meat in each taco is savory and cooked to perfection, especially the Korean chicken taco which has a sweet spice that holds true to its multicultural elements. The Bulgogi taco was true to its name: straight fire beef seasoned to a mouth-watering taste.

My personal favorite is the bacon chorizo taco, which sounds like an unusual blend but is an ingenious combination of seasonings that leaves you wanting more. The bacon is grilled to a greasy sizzle and mixed with zesty Italian sausage, all served in the delicious corn tortilla that’s both soft and never breaks. I found myself stuffed after five tacos, since each one is fairly small. It’s relatively expensive for the size, but just right for the taste.

The only critique I have for Tacopocalypse is the shady, two-dollar taco joint lighting and interior decorating that doesn’t do the five star food any justice. I’m guessing Zombie Burger stole all the decorators after the apocalypse, but here’s hoping a few survivors will make it to the door. If you’re stopping by for a top notch taco and don’t care about the dining experience, I’d highly recommend Tacopocalypse.

Powered by Fries is both stylish and delicious, with each package of its patented Golden Sticks of Happiness sold in food trucks throughout Des Moines. The trucks sell fresh cut Belgian fries with specialty sauces and boast that each fry is “crispy outside, fluffy inside.”

Willie Wonka must have designed these fries because they break the realm of culinary possibility in the most delectable way. I ordered the kimchi fries covered with orange sauce, Korean BBQ beef, kimchi onion/cilantro relish, shredded cheese, pepper crème and sriracha. Even with all these toppings piled on, the fries stayed crispy and crunchy on the outside and didn’t even get soggy. Witchcraft! Powered by Fries is obviously conspiring with the devil to tempt me into some unholy pact with the Golden Sticks of Happiness. I’m told the fries are fried twice to get the effect, but I’m still convinced they’re magic, or can turn me into a blueberry any minute now. The first and last bites were equally satisfyingexactly how fries should beand prepared in a fraction of the time a restaurant usually takes.

One of my favorite parts of eating at Powered by Fries was the portion size. The fries were served in a large basket with forks and napkins to spare and share. I’m a big guy, and a seven-dollar meal that fills me is both impressive and rare. The service was friendly and personable, each server was quipping with me about how I would need the largest serving size. I obliged them.

An extra-large thanks to everyone who’s been following my column and given me feedback. In the future, I might be writing about food, politics, who knows? Anything that will keep me writing for the fabulous self-gov community that is Grinnell.

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