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“Can't wait to go back!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Tacos Mariana's

Tacos Mariana's
2225 1/2 University Ave, Des Moines, IA 50311-4301
(515) 288-1499
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Ranked #79 of 502 Restaurants in Des Moines
Cuisines: Mexican
Restaurant details
Altoona, Iowa, United States
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Can't wait to go back!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 8, 2013

I was craving Mexican recently and looking for something authentic. Finding Mexican is Des Moines is a piece of cake, there is practically a restaurant on every corner. The difficulty is finding a place that isn't a carbon copy of every other place but with a different name. Tacos Marianas is not one of those places!

The location is a bit of a pain in the butt to find; it is in a small building shared with a neighborhood grocery store on the north side of University Ave. I pulled into the parking lot at about 1:30pm on a Saturday. The lot was full so I ended up parking in an empty lot on the west side of the building. Once inside, the decor is fairly standard for a Mexican restaurant with bright colors and a few sombreros hanging on the walls. There is seating for about 30 people in a mix of booths, 4-person tables, 2-person high-top tables, and a few seats at a bar looking into the kitchen. The only seating available were two high-top tables, which wasn't a problem since I was there on my own. Looking around, I took it as a good sign that the majority of customers were Latino.

The menu is fairly extensive but I was there for tacos so that's what I focused on. There were 10 or 11 different kinds, including unusual items like tongue and various organ meats. I tried all of the non-organ meats but other than the chicken I'm not sure which was which since the server (Mariana's son) didn't explain each one. Most of them were excellent and none were a disappointment. In addition to the tacos, I also ordered refried beans and rice. The beans were excellent! Homemade and definitely not the standard gray mush you get at most Mexican places. The rice was flavored with a little cilantro and was also homemade. I happily cleaned my plate!

Two little things to mention. First, they don't have a soda fountain, so all drinks are by the bottle/can. That's a little unusual and something I wish would be changed.

The other thing is the tortillas. I was really hoping for homemade tortillas but these appeared to be store-bought (uniform size, coloring from cooking, and also that they were doubled-up). The flavor was good, so they didn't detract from the meal at all but I was expecting homemade. I don't know whether Mariana's offers homemade tortillas. I mentioned this to a Mexican friend of mine and they gave me some "insider" tips regarding tortillas. A lot of authentic Mexican restaurants will serve store-bought *and* homemade tortillas; to get the homemade ones you usually have to request them, otherwise you get store-bought. Also, store-bought are often doubled-up because they are thinner and more prone to splitting. Homemade are served one per taco.

If you want excellent Mexican food, Mariana's is the place to go! Prices are similar to or even less expensive than the cookie-cutter places around town but the quality of food is far superior. Service was friendly, though a little slow due to nearly all tables being occupied. The food came out hot, fresh, and delicious. I will be returning for tacos again in the very near future.

  • Visited December 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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10 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
31 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
“Just like Cancun!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 11, 2012

Just got back from Mexico on a little vacation and was hungry for the real meal. Found out about this small location through some colleagues at home and had to try for myself on the next visit to Des Moines. The food is 100% authentic down to all of the different styles of tacos. I went for the beef, chorizo, and chicken and can't say I have had any better anywhere in the US. Tacos are only $1.25 each and they are worth every penny. By far the best in town.

Visited December 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gurnee, Illinois
Top Contributor
140 reviews 140 reviews
133 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 89 cities Reviews in 89 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
“Traveling salesman”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 10, 2012

This cozy restaurant is clean and well decorated. They were busy for lunch and offered authentic traditional Mexican including tamales. They also offered both canned coke or the bollted one that is made in Mexico and still uses the old traditional ingredients.
The crowd was mixed with American and Hispanics and the ambiance was very nice.
I ordered a pork tamale and carnitas. The tamale was very good but the pork was outstanding! This is a real gem and you don't want to pass this up.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fairfield, Iowa
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Wonderful authentic food!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 23, 2010

Now called Taquieria Andrea's, this cafe is just what I was looking for. Wonderful soft tacos with fresh greens, cilantro, radishes, cheese and beans with side dishes. All homemade by Hispanics to order, friendly, cozy, and small. A real treasure off the beaten path.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
“Best Mexican Food in Town”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2009

This is the best (and most authentic) Mexican food restaurant in Des Moines. The tacos and gorditas are terrific, with many different meat options--from the ordinary to the offal. Good tortas, as well.

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