Are you visiting Ames, the home of Iowa State University, and wondering where are the best places to eat? As an Iowa State University alum and now currently working in the Ames area, I have been able to explore the many restaurants within this town and have listed out the 10 best restaurants for you to try!
Now there are many amazing options I’m about to list, but make sure to read the details for each one in order to know exactly the kind of vibe or cuisine you’re looking for!
Disclaimer: In the time of this article with COVID-19 restrictions, please contact or check the restaurants website for their current operating requirements. Remember to support your local restaurants through take-out and following dining rules set by them during this time.
Address: 2400 N Loop Dr, Ames, IA 50010
Provisions is nested within the ISU Research Park area, and is perfect for any business outing, brunch get together, or date night. Both a modern, but easy-going atmosphere. They also have a nice patio area next to a pond.
The food is local, clearly states and caters to various dining preferences (gluten free, vegan, etc), and has ever-changing menu updates! They also have a bakery and coffee section where the pastries are almost always the size of your head, and worth it every time.
2. The Cafe
Address: 2616 Northridge Pkwy, Ames, IA 50010
The Cafe in Ames is the perfect place to bring friends and family to enjoy a farm-to-table experience of food, bread and desserts. I personally love coming here for a weekend brunch and a perfectly made latte.
Address: 2733 Stange Rd, Ames, IA 50010
Wallaby’s is not your ordinary sports bar. The food here is elevated from your typical sports bar food and drinks, and has a modern feel inside that makes it perfect for couples or group gatherings. Any type of bar craving you might be having, they have it here!
During the Spring through Fall, it also has an open rooftop area with heaters, a bar with TVs, and seating throughout. You don’t really have to worry about the college crowd since this is further north of campus town, but you can still watch the game and celebrate as if you’re still a student.
4. El Azteca
North Address: 2727 Stange Rd, Ames, IA 50010
South Address: 2120 Isaac Newton Dr., Ames, IA 50010
El Azteca is a local authentic Mexican favorite! There are two locations in Ames, the north location is also in the same area as Wallaby’s, which has more of that modern, new-build feel.
The more south location is located near a block of hotels and is a little more isolated, but both have delicious food and good-sized portions.
Address: 2704 Stange Rd, Ames, IA 50010
Brick City Grill is a modern style sports bar but also very welcoming for the whole family with a kids menu included. They were named the best burger in Iowa by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and Iowa Beef Industry Council.
6. Hickory Park
Address: 1404 S Duff Ave, Ames, IA 50010
Hickory Park, an Ames tradition! Did you even visit Ames if you didn’t go to Hickory Park? Hickory Park serves the best variety of hickory smoked meats and amazingly large portions for what you pay for. Perfect for big groups and families of any size and those on a budget.
They also have a ton of room for front parking, but just be wary of college game days, big college events, or graduations, as you might be waiting a while to get in at peak times.
Don’t forget to save room for the Blue Bunny ice cream menu at the end, there is literally just about every flavor and combination you can think of!
Address: 129 Main St #101, Ames, IA 50010
Great Plains is a staple in Ames, having been around for three decades! As a lover of all pizzas, you truly can’t go wrong with any of the styles they serve here.
They offer six different and unique pizza styles to suit any craving, but don’t forget to add the honey to your pizza, it’s worth it!
Address: 320 S 16th St, Ames, IA 50010
Dublin Bay truly embraces the family atmosphere, and wants you to feel like you’re coming home when you visit. There’s no shortage of authentic Irish food, but also offer American-like dishes with Irish flare.
Don’t forget to check out the appetizers and the drink menu, my personal favorites! They have delicious and unique cocktails, a variety of wine offerings, and of course, an section for Irish whiskey.
There’s also a back patio area perfect for both intimate or large gatherings.
Address: 2504 Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50014
Or Cafe B as the locals call it, offer Brasilian fusion cuisine and drinks. You are in the heart of Iowa State’s campus town, as you’re just across the street from campus.
The inside is definitely cozy, and can become more of a college bar in the weekend evenings, so just keep that in mind when you plan to visit, but don’t let the deter you from visiting!
Don’t forget to try the Yucca fries with the garlic aoili, you will not regret it! Everything else is simply delicious and can’t go wrong. They also offer some patio tables out front for sitting outside, which you’ll see many people there enjoying their coffee or brunch.
Address: 3100 S Duff Ave, Ames, IA 50010
The Mucky Duck is near and dear to my heart, and personally my go-to place of choice. The inside has a kitschy feel, with murals, beer taps, mugs, flags and more that decorate the place, so there’s always something new you’ll find when you go.
The staff are the kindest people you’ll meet, they can give you the best food or drink recommendation, and you feel like family. They also have one of the few dog-friendly patios in the area, but make sure you’re following the rules posted before you bring your furry friend.
The British food is always delicious, along with a handful of delicious burgers to choose from as well. You can never go wrong with their fish and chips, and my personal favorite is the pasty and their cheese curds.
If you really want to experience Iowa brews, this is a great place to find many local drinks in one place, and on tap! They always have a page or two on the menu with beers on tap, but otherwise there is a wonderful selection of cans and glasses as well.
Lastly, (can you tell I love this place?) there is an impressive tea menu! My husband and I are big tea drinkers, so we love trying out a new pot of tea, and they pull out all the stops to make sure you have the best tea experience.
- Fuji Japanese Steakhouse – The only hibachi and sushi restaurant in town (no, I am definitely not counting Hy-Vee sushi), lots of delicious sushi and sashimi selections!
- Pho & Tea – We FINALLY have a Pho restaurant in Ames, and it is delicious! It recently opened or I may have put this one on my list when I made it.
- Stomping Grounds – Don’t let the “coffee & chill” vibe here make you think it’s just a coffee shop. Their brunch is and dinner selections are immaculate, and are always using in-season produce.
Trust me, it was hard to narrow down this list. So any other locals reading, try not be upset if your favorite did not make the list, and I’d love to hear your must-try places!