Nick’s has had a brief but mobile history on Des Moines' south side, beginning as a food truck on Army Post Road in 2006, then moving to a brick-and-mortar location on S.W. Ninth in 2012, before settling into its current and much larger venue at 1106 Army Post Road in 2013, where the Tavern South once resided. After many visits with friends I've grown to appreciate the comforting food and laid-back atmosphere at Nick's.
Nick's most popular sandwich is the tenderloin, which comes either Queen or King sized on a toasted bun. The King is easily the thickest hand-cut tenderloin in town, with moist pork loin meat enrobed in a thick, crunchy breading. A Grilled King is also an option, along with loin on-a-stick, and loins topped with either marinara and mozzarella, chili and cheese, or bacon with Swiss. You might want to settle for a Queen if you don't possess a hearty appetite.
Another well-regarded sandwich at Nick's is the Italian Beef. The thinly-sliced beef is tender, juicy, and quite tender, with a generous amount of giardiniera piled on top. The hoagie roll didn't stand up to the jus on my visit and fell apart easily, so keep a fork handy.
Other sandwiches at Nick's include an [Italian] sausage, a Reuben, grilled cheese, hot dog, chili cheese dog, hamburger, and chicken. The sausage with mozzarella and fried peppers is a zesty sandwich, but could warrant a side of marinara for added moistness. I resorted to a few squirts of mustard and ketchup to lube it up.
The poppy seed bun on the chili cheese dog is made of sturdier stuff, holding together rather well under a thick beef wiener, a saucy house-recipe chili, and cheddar cheese sauce. The chili is a little more tomatoey than what I expect for a hot dog topper, but still quite good. I would eat a bowl of this with some oyster crackers.
Nick's doesn't skimp on cheese for their house salad, especially if you add on the chunky blue cheese dressing. Crinkle-cut French fries are golden enough and a full order of crunchy wide-cut onion rings is substantial, but a shake of salt is advised for both. And Nick's Chili Cheese Fries are pretty much a meal unto itself.
An addition to Nick's menu upon moving back to Army Post is a selection of 12-inch pizzas built on a thick, soft and bready crust. Its rather like a cross between focaccia and fry bread. The Greek pizza offers special Greek sauces topped with spinach, tomato, feta cheese, and kalamata olives. I haven't enjoyed a pizza with so much feta this side of The Wheel House in Ankeny [see blog post]. Its a keeper! Other specialty pizzas are Taco, BBQ Chicken, and Buffalo Chicken.