By Wini Moranville
What a season for the Des Moines dining scene: Eatery A swung its doors open on Ingersoll Avenue last month; now, the equally ambitious Malo has done the same at the Des Moines Social Club’s new home.
Malo literally means “bad,” but it can also mean naughty, and it’s this more playful sense of the word that inspired the restaurant’s name. But make no mistake—while a little erotic art here and Hemingway-era rum drinks there make a nod toward naughtiness, Malo isn’t the kind of sexy hideaway to head to with someone you shouldn’t be with.
Because, like Django and Centro (other restaurants overseen by the Orchestrate Hospitality), this boldly colorful 6,000-square-foot venue is the next see-and-be-seen hot spot. Everyone from your mother to the mayor will likely be popping by, so what happens at Malo might not stay at Malo.
The menu celebrates the flavors of Latin America, and you’ll find plenty of familiar-sounding dishes (tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas), as well as a few signature finds. Selections like Nacho Daddy’s Mac & Cheese (with salsa blanca and fried tortilla strips) and the Tijuana Trainwreck (chorizo, tomatillos, crème and a fried egg) offer the kind of playful heartiness that diners expect at Orchestrate venues like Django and Zombie Burger.
I had the good luck to taste some of chef Scott Stroud’s creations at a few happy-hour preview events. The guacamole rivaled any in this town, and the bright and sweet Mexican shrimp cocktail tells me that “fresh” might also become a buzzword here, too.
Housed in the former downtown firehouse, Malo is at 900 Mulberry St.; 244-5000.