Race of the Week 2017

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Zipse At The Track

Eating Well at Prairie Meadows

Jethro's BBQ


If you know me even a little bit, you know that quality eating is right up there with good racing on my priority hierarchy for a good road trip. That being said, I have been earnestly doing my gastronomic homework for the next race track trip on the docket. With only a few days until the Iowa Festival of Racing at Prairie Meadows, I feel a little lost as far as knowledge of the Des Moines food scene. I have a couple of solid establishments penciled in as good possibilities, but I am looking towards you, my readers, for a little help.

In an adults only trip, I will be lucky enough to have my wife, Candice, riding shotgun. How was I lucky enough to marry a girl who is actually excited to spend a few evenings at Prairie Meadows, you ask? That's another story for another blog. For now, let’s just concentrate on the food.


With the two of us making the approximately five-hour drive together, a good meal when we arrive to greater Des Moines will be crucial. I’m thinking some really good barbecue might be the ticket, and Jethro’s BBQ looks promising.

Perhaps you've heard of Jethro's, it was featured on Adam Richman’s Man vs. Food program on the Travel Channel. While I definitely will not be attempting the Adam Emmenecker challenge, as Richman did, I am always more than ready to sample some real kick-ass barbeque. It looks like Jethro’s will not disappoint. From plenty of interesting meat options, to an impressive array of sauces to accompany said carnivore delights, I have a feeling I will not leave this place hungry.

Another joint I have my eye on, and which seems to have nothing but positive reviews, is Centro. Located in downtown Des Moines, this one looks to be quite a bit nicer than a hole-in-a-wall. Their Italian centric menu stresses fresh ingredients, and I’m actually looking forward to trying their authentic New York style Pizza Napoletana. Yes, I know, expecting really good New York style pizza in the heart of Iowa may seem like I’m destined for disappointment, but what I’ve learned over the years is that it doesn’t matter where the food is as much as who is doing the cooking. And like I said, the reviews for Centro’s look solid without exception.


I’m really hoping this article sparks some talk about where to, and where not to eat in Altoona and Des Moines. Tell me, am I on the right track with Jethro’s BBQ and Centro? Would Candice and I be better served someplace else? Our tastes in food are eclectic, but we are not looking to spend an arm and a leg, (gotta save that money for a winning Pick 4 ticket.) I always say, “If you eat you’re a winner, and if you eat well, you’re a big winner.” Do you know a great place for us to try for breakfast, lunch or dinner? Let me know, I need help, and as you can tell, I take this very seriously.  


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Older Comments about Eating Well at Prairie Meadows...

Jethro's BBQ (walking distance from Prairie Meadows) was my first winner of the weekend!
The Big Steer is really good but the best is Latin King!
A stop for the High Life Tang Chicken Wings @ el Bait Shop sounds intriguing.
That's sad, Dark Horse ... A few people have recommended Big Steer ... any thoughts?
My dad always said that I had to earn my food when we were at the track. No winnings meant no food.
For Inglorious Queens Plate we went to a barbeque on the Monday, Post postion breakfast on the Wednesday before the big DO on Queen's Plate day...What chow!!
unless you are up in the hodey toyt part of the track, most cusine is on par with Taco Bell
Thanks, Jordyn ... Maybe we will see you there!
Iowa Oaks looks good with So Many Ways and Fiftyshadesofhay suppusbly going!
I go to Jethros all the time, I would highly suggest that! I will probably even be there before the race! Bunch of good food down town too, but thats about 20+ min drive (depends on traffic)
Thanks, Timmy ... that's a good list to look into.
You'd do all right with Centro and Jetro's. Some other good choices downtown would be Django, or if it's pub fare you're looking for, you've got Royal Mile, Court Avenue, El Bait Shop, High Life Lounge, etc. Check out Zomibie Burger for some interesting eats, too.
I love this track!
No it isn't ... I saw the Cornhusker/Iowa Derby/Iowa Oaks two years ago, but was in and out that day, and my only meal in town was at the track.
Prairie Meadows is not a new track for you, is it?

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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