Fong’s Pizza and Tiki Bar in Ankeny is part of the invasion by locally-owned restaurants into the Des Moines surburbs. Gusto Pizza was one of the early pioneers and now Zombie Burger and David Baruthio’s Whiskey House & Bourbon Grill are moving in. Downtown Des Moines has already been transformed by the entrepreneurial spirit of local investors, managers, and chefs who have been willing to carve out new foods and experiences in a landscape that was bereft of anything interesting as recently as the ’90s. If this means that the suburb crowds, and especially folks with kids, can try something other than factory-prepared and processed foods, then I’m all for it. Surburbs used to be places where chef-owned or managed restaurants went to die, but no longer. Even West Des Moines, which has a long history of killing good chefs and turning up its nose at tasty food, is seeing a number of excellent restaurants eating their way into the eastern edge of the town.
Ankeny and Johnston are fitting targets for the invasion force. In my opinion, Ankeny has always had closer ties to Des Moines than West Des Moines. I’m not sure what to say about Johnston, but Gusto seems to be doing OK there and Trostel’s Greenbriar has been there forever.
Fong’s Pizza and Tiki Bar is a great combination of good food and interesting or even silly cocktails. The downtown pizza menus seem to have survived the transition to Ankeny and the bar is a lot more approachable in size than the old Fongs. Are the drinks authentic? I’d say that they meet the common conception of what a tiki drink should be (heavy on citrus and sugar), though that is far from what tiki drinks used to be. I won’t fault Fong’s for successfully following through with the current tiki concept. After all, that is what people probably expect nowadays. Just watch yourself, it is really easy to overdo tiki drinks.
If you are not up for a tiki drink, there is a huge supply of draft beer (over eighty) with some local beer as well. I noticed Firetrucker, WestO, and Exile when I was there. I highly recommend Firetrucker beers by the way. If you want to eat a real meal and drown it with Firetrucker draft beer then this the place to go.
The restaurant itself is much more of a family affair than the downtown restaurant. There will be kids. Though the demographics are quite different, this is the sort of place that if executed well will make a lot of money. The place is much larger than the downtown space and the furnishings and decorations fit the bill very well. A lot of money was spent making this a top-rate destination.
Service has always been above-average, exactly what I’ve come to expect from nearly any Full Court Press restaurant or bar.
Does it have the same grunge-cool vibe as the downtown Fongs? No, but who cares? This is a great addition to the suburban fun scene. I recommend it.