Des Moines is home to a number of long-time locally owned restaurants. Many have passed into the pages of history, including Vet’s Club, Babe’s, Scruffy’s, and Guido’s. Others continue their long traditions, including Noah’s Ark Restaurant and Lounge, Baratta’s, Tumea and Sons, Tursi’s Latin King, and Gino’s. Some have spawned second generations of owners or locations, including Raul’s and Coney Island. Then there is Mr. Filet Steakhouse. It just keeps going and most recently reopened after a fire shut the place down for awhile. Though my experience does not extend back to the late 1960s when it first opened, as far as I can tell, Mr. Filet has not changed very much over the years. This is a good thing as Mr. Filet offers something that is fast disappearing. It continues to offer the same honest food that it always has. Straight-up steaks, gyros, and filets. I usually get the gyros, which are carved from a rotating spit. added to thick pita bread and served with some lettuce and sour cream.
Service is always interesting and very personal. It is hard not to be engaged in some sort of conversation with owner George Hatzigiannakis during the ordering process, especially if you have a question about the food or if you want to try some exotic payment method. Use the time you have while working down the short line to figure out what you want as the line in front of the kitchen is short and moves at a brisk pace. You grab a plastic tray and move down the (very short) line, cafeteria-style, picking up your order as you go and if it needs time it comes to the table. Cash is much preferred as a payment. The food is just as straightforward as the place and the service. We are talking about the sort of food that has been offered in downtown cities for at least 50 years, with little change. It is intended to whet appetites and is not intended to offer gourmet explorations. The place can be hard to find if you don’t know where it is, tucked under the 7th Street parking garage off of Grand Ave. In fact, I frequently forget it is even there.
So, if you want to step back into time and see how the last generation enjoyed downtown lunches, then step into Mr. Filet.
510 7th St.
Des Moines, IA