So, look who’s psychic: In the Lima edition of “City Code Snapshots,” I predicted I’d have a lot to say about Iowa here in this space, and where did I go on my very next trip? That state’s own capital city, Des Moines. Land of the Big Blond Bumpkin, and home of the Tastiest Hotel Cheeseburger in the U.S.A. The State Fair was on when we were there, which would ordinarily easily be able to provide me with a day’s entertainment — I love a good corn dog — but I never know where my next downtown Des Moines layover is coming from, and I was on a lunchtime mission.
A couple of months ago, I flew with this Chicago-based girl I’d never met before, and we fell into a conversation about food; specifically, about our favorite places to eat on layovers. And she blew my mind telling about this place in Des Moines, Iowa, of all far-flung locales, where she had stumbled upon a crab rangoon pizza. I am a mad fan of all things crab/cheese wonton, and sometimes order whole Chinese dinners just to have an excuse to summon them to my door, and I am also a huge fan of all things pizza, and sometimes order whole pizzas just to have an excuse to, well… eat them. Knowing that there was a place that these two worlds collide and then they let you eat the results was more than I could resist. It’s not like we don’t have State Fairs in Colorado. (And in fact it starts on Friday.)
Turns out the crab rangoon pizza has enjoyed a certain amount of celebrity in non-airline circles, and its birthplace, Fong’s Pizza, is a hallowed local fave with a long and colorful menu. And a super friendly staff. And a really cute bartender. In addition to salads, sammies, and appetizers that sound like they were discovered (à la Reese’s peanut butter cups) after a popular Chinese food truck collided with a pizza delivery kid on his scooter, their pizzas run the gamut from Beef and Broccoli to Loaded Potato, via Taco and something called the Big Delicious. I was there on a weekday at the tail end of the lunch rush, and the pizzas I saw being whisked across the floor while I waited, basking in the bartender’s glow, were piled high with all manner of goodness.
And mine was no exception. It came with a little pile of crispy wonton strips for sprinkling, but on thin crust, the overall effect was already that of a giant crab/cheese wonton that someone forgot to fold before they cooked it. The cream cheese was creamy, the crab was good and crabby, and it was drizzled with the yummiest crab/cheese wonton dipping sauce — I had every intention of bringing home a slice for my husband to taste, loving crab rangoons and pizza like he does, but there was no stopping me; he has had to satisfy himself with a series of rapturous descriptions such as this one here.
Since discovering the cheeseburgers at our hotel a few years back, the Des Moines layover has always had a food focus for me, but it has shifted, and now that I have found it (and quite close by, too), I am unlikely to pass up an opportunity to eat at Fong’s. The state capital, Des Moines is a city rich in history and cultural attractions: the Capitol building, a Historical Museum, a vibrant shopping district — all things you can find in every other capital city in the world. Do yourself a favor: if you find yourself in Des Moines, buy a vintage postcard with a snap of the Capitol building on it — get your Capitol, your history, and your shopping out of the way in one fell swoop for like a dollar, then go to Fong’s for the real flavor of the city.