STORM LAKE, Iowa—To find the best tacos in Iowa, a state with an increasingly growing Latino population, you have travel outside of Des Moines and into the small towns that dot the cornfield landscape.
In many towns, Latinos are the growing majority, filling up jobs in meatpacking plants and as field hands. But they’re also producing incredible food in the back of Mexican grocery stores and small restaurants on Main Streets.
In my week of reporting throughout the state, here are the best tacos I found.
Marshalltown: Zamora Fresh Market
In the back of a Mexican store on Main Street, with televisions hung on the wall broadcasting soccer games, there’s a little kitchen occupied by two young women cooking up items handwritten on posters. The carnitas were a highlight. Stringy and rich, with the added zest of a housemade hot sauce. (4 E. Main St., Marshalltown, IA 50158, 641-753-8522)
Ottumwa: La Cabana
Before highlighting the tacos in this small Mexican restaurant on Main Street, a disclaimer: They didn’t have lime. This knocks the tacos down significantly. Regardless, the chicken was grilled perfectly, which made up for the need for more cilantro and onions. The one tortilla provided for each taco still held everything together. (319 E. Main St, Ottumwa, IA 52501, 641-684-2266)