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Des Moines offers cheap eats


Story by Katie Ericson

Living on a college budget is tough. It’s also hard to live on a college diet. Whether you’re eating at Hubbell Ding Hall or cooking at home, your culinary life can get boring quickly.

There are, of course, the local temptations of Subway, McDonalds and Jethro’s, but there are even more options in Des Moines that are affordable and delicious.

Jeff’s Pizza is, obviously, a pizza place in Ames. With interesting new options like steak & shrimp or Chicken Alfredo, it has a wide selection of pizzas. In addition, it has special deals each day

Tuesday you can buy a 14-inch pizza and get a 14-inch Smotharella Sticks free said the manager Brenda Freeman.

“Jeff’s has good food at a good value. We make our dough and toppings daily, and we have a fun atmosphere,” Freeman said.

But if Ames is too far away for you, don’t worry. Jeff’s deliver and are open until 1 a.m. Sunday through Tuesday, 2:30 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday and is open until 3:30 in the morning on Friday and Saturday. So if you have a late night craving, Jeff’s would be the place to call.

A restaurant with an equally obvious name but great food is Tasty Tacos. An original flour taco is only $2.95, and their burritos are $2.50. The restaurant has all the Mexican classics you could want at incredible prices.

The food is made daily and it’s also a local business. It has been in family hands since it’s opening in 1961. The motto “Nada es imposible,” or Nothing is impossible.

The once small restaurant now has locations all around Des Moines. You can find them on Grand, Euclid or East 14th Street, along with two locations in Urbandale and Ankeny, all featuring the same fresh Mexican food.

Z’Mariks is a noodle café in Clive, though it’s located right on University Avenue. The restaurant originated in Iowa City and features noodle bowls for less than $6.

The steps are simple. You pick a bowl, add protein and eat. However, the menu features a variety of choices. The noodle options range from z’krith-a-raki — a Greek bowl with orzo noodles, to z’buffalo chicken mac — macaroni and cheese with buffalo sauce and fried onions.

The manager, Matt Nitchals, prefers their veggie Toscana bowl. He also mentioned that they have a great deal on Mondays.

“We offer our large mac n’cheese bowl for the price of a small,” Nitchals said.

It’s still a relatively new restaurant, but it has great food with quick service and a good price.

If you want Chinese food, then there’s Tsing-Tsao West in Urbandale. The restaurant is  a local company that gets to know its customers. Hostess Monica Lo said that patrons “can often order their regulars food before they have to ask for it.”

With all the classic dishes like Mongolian Beef, Emperor Chicken and Sweet and Sour Pork, the restaurant is a great spot and has some great prices.

Each week, they have lunch and combo specials. You can get your entrée with an egg roll, crab rangoon and rice for less than $5. Even at full price, Tsing-Tsao is a deal with its dinner deals all under $10.

Bottom line, you don’t have to settle for chain restaurants when you’re eating on a budget. There are tons of great restaurants that have good food for great prices.


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