Check Out Bar Nico for Latin Fare With Flair

The sweet corn esquites feature chayote, a type of squash common in South America, plus a cilantro sour cream sauce, chili oil and, of course, sweet corn. Photo: Duane Tinkey.

Writer: Karla Walsh

Find south-of-the border-inspired dishes at Bar Nico, a small eatery in Des Moines East Village. The menu echoes the colorful dining room’s aesthetic: bright, fresh and modern, yet comforting. This is the latest project from Jason Simon, who also created Alba, Eatery A, Motley School Tavern and Parlor.

Chef Matt Small has been perfecting his taco strategy since early in the pandemic. They were good then but are even better now. On Bar Nico’s menu, he’s showcasing the best from his two-plus years of experimentation, research and travel.

While produce and meats are all sourced as locally as possible, masa is flown in from Mexico, ground in-house, and transformed into tortillas for the large taco roster. Vegetables, seafood, corn and potato-based dishes are ideal for sharing, and those three-per-order taco platters are sizable enough for a duo as well, especially if you want to add a dessert. (Psst … you do.)

Bourbon, tequila and mezcal star in several of the well-balanced cocktails, and Garrett Dotsch, the general manager from Alba, curated the wine list to feature fresher, lighter, delightful food pairing options. Beers and spiked seltzers are also available. Book a table or browse the modern Mexican menu online.


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