Top 10 Local Eats In Ames, Iowa
Iowa State University's Beardshear Hall during snowfall in Ames, Iowa © Alex Hanson/Flickr
The town of Ames, Iowa,
is a hub of fine-dining, cultural destinations, and beautiful University buildings. Take a look at our list of the best dining to plan your visit when next in town.
The Mucky Duck Pub
Pub, Restaurant, Pub Grub, British, $$$
The Mucky Duck Pub
specialises in British food and strives to create a cosy, folk-inspired pub atmosphere. The interior wouldn’t look out of place in a Yorkshire Inn, with a huge selection of tap beer and barrels on display. The menu supplies everyone’s British
favourites, including bangers and mash, fish and chips, and chicken curry. Live music also takes place regularly in the pub to add to the English vibe. The Pub also has an in-house shop stocked with Cadburys chocolates and Thorntons Toffees which will prove popular with expats and newbies to British food alike.
The Café aim for excellence in every aspect of their restaurant, from the pastry chefs and bakers to the front of house staff, and you’ll be tempted in purely by the scent of the freshly-baked bread. It’s evident that they value craftsmanship in every aspect of their dishes, buying from quality suppliers who employ traditional techniques such as casing sausages and smoking meats over wood fires. The dessert menu includes intriguing reworks of classic all-American sweet treats such as mojito mousse and eggnog. The restaurant is particularly popular for their brunch menu, which runs every Saturday and Sunday from 7am to 2pm and changes seasonally.
Hickory Park Restaurant Co. was established in Ames in 1970 and has since become a true institution of the local dining scene. The classic feel of the restaurant is accentuated by vintage decor and posters, making it a nostalgic, convivial place to be. Their speciality is hickory smoked meat and BBQ dishes, but they also provide an extensive but affordable menu, including plenty of vegetarian options, gluten-free dining and a dessert menu. It’s a favourite for locals who have been coming here to celebrate special occasions for several generations. The place is usually bustling with people, making it the perfect place to experience Iowa hospitality.
Restaurant, American, $$$
The ‘Aunt Maude’ who serves as the inspiration behind this local favourite may be fictitious, but the proprietors attempt to instil the restaurant with a genuinely quaint vibe and homely service. Founded in 1975, Aunt Maude’s
is another stalwart of the Ames dining scene and vows to stay as loyal to traditional cooking methods by providing as many locally produced products as possible. The menu is also proof that simple is often better, as they supply a short list of reliable classics such as Cajun Prime Rib Sandwiches and a selection of tenderloins, with each item on the seasonal menu accompanied with a recommended wine.
Cafe, Restaurant, Brazilian, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
is your go-to restaurant for Brazilian
flavours in Iowa. They serve a range of fusion cuisine, including yucca fries and jalapeno chicken, all topped off with generous helpings of avocado. It’s also the perfect opportunity to rediscover some South America
favorites, such as spicy bloody Marys; as well as ones that you aren’t, such as feijoada, a delicious stew made from black beans, pork and beef. While the focus of this restaurant is definitely the meat dishes, they still have plenty of vegetarian and vegan options and beer fans will be pleased by the well-stocked selection of brews.
West Street Deli
The West Street Deli provides the perfect pit stop for lunch in Ames. They offer a huge range of sandwiches in generous portion sizes; house favourites include steak and blue cheese and Cajun tuna melt. They also supply a build your own sandwich option, which is a world away from the equivalent sandwiches at chain restaurants. This venue is hugely popular locally with students and non-students alike, so make sure to get there early in order to get a seat.
Pub, Restaurant, Irish, $$$
, an Irish pub and grill, serves as a self-styled ‘community gathering place’ for all lovers of Irish culture and beer. From the outside, the restaurant looks like a traditional Irish cottage in the countryside and the interior feels completely authentic, with low ceilings and wood furnishings. The ideal time to visit is St Patrick’s Day, when the owners bring in traditional Irish dancers, live music, and bagpipers. Close attention is paid to its wine selection as well as its draft beer and ale, so you’ll still find something to accompany your meal even if you’re not a big Guinness fan.
Great Plains Sauce and Dough
Restaurant, Pizzaria, American, $$$
The Great Plains Sauce and Dough Company
has been based in the area for more than three decades and claims to serve the best pizzas in central Iowa, catering to a huge range of tastes by supplying a choice of 16 different toppings and six bases. The difference in taste comes from the specialised sourcing of individual ingredients, all the pizza bases are made in the restaurant’s kitchen each day and the products sourced for the toppings are the freshest available. Make sure you sample the restaurant’s speciality of honey dipped crust.
Deli, Restaurant, Wine Bar, Italian, $$$
started as a traditional Italian
restaurant over 50 years ago in Tuscany. Thankfully for the residents of Ames, its owner brought it across the Atlantic to allow Americans to experience the joys of their celebrated pasta recipes, as authentic Italian wine and culture. The restaurant is also a great place for breakfast, as you can get an assortment of sweet and savoury foods for $10. Or take some delicious goods home thanks to the restaurant’s market, which includes a deli, a grocery and gelato.
Diner, Restaurant, American, $$$
The trend for the gourmet burger has found it’s feet in Ames. Odd Fellows
is an all-American restaurant with a kid friendly atmosphere – you can get one free kids meal with every adult entrée. They specialise in traditional burgers, while still catering to a range of tastes by providing lettuce wraps instead of buns, as well as bean burger patties and chicken instead of conventional meats. The decor makes a change from the usual American diner vibe, as the owners have jazzed up the inside with bright colours and and pop-culture references. Expect to find posters from The Big Lebowski
and a shrine to Johnny Cash.