When it comes to college towns, you’ll usually find no shortage of dining options. And Ames, Iowa is no exception. Home to Iowa State University, Ames is full of unique flavors and beloved dining establishments.
From fan-favorite pizza to English pub fare to vibrant café culture and more, there’s something delicious for everyone to enjoy in this central Iowa community. The next time you’re in the area, make plans to dine at one of these eight must-try restaurants in Ames.
Ames restaurants to try next
Great Plains Sauce & Dough Co.
Pizza is a staple of any campus town, but Great Plains Sauce & Dough Co. is not your average pie. This local favorite has been in business since 1979 and serves mouth-watering pizzas with six different styles of thin and thick crusts. Choose from one of Great Plains’ signature pies or build your own.
If you’re unsure where to start, the restaurant’s most popular option is the Denver Style crust, which is a rolled-edge whole wheat crust. And don’t forget the honey! A drizzle is tradition and pairs perfectly with the thicker crust options.
Great Plains Sauce & Dough Co., 129 Main St., suite 101, Ames
The Mucky Duck Pub
Experience the atmosphere of a traditional English pub without ever leaving Iowa. At the Mucky Duck Pub you’ll find favorites like Fish and Chips as well as traditional English fare like Scotch Eggs, Pasties, Bangers and Mash, and more.
In addition to its delicious dining, this pub also serves as a popular community gathering place, hosting weekly quiz nights and even a mug club.
The Mucky Duck Pub, 3100 S. Duff Ave., Ames
As its slogan boasts, Hickory Park is an Ames tradition and its regulars certainly agree. Known for its hickory-smoked meats and generous portions, this fan favorite barbecue restaurant almost always has a wait.
While the meat options are the natural stars of the show, don’t fill up before dessert. Hickory Park has a wide array of ice cream and dessert options that are the perfect way to end your meal.
Hickory Park, 1404 S. Duff Ave., Ames
For more than 20 years, The Cafe has been a go-to restaurant for both locals and students alike. While the name suggests a coffeehouse atmosphere, The Cafe is actually a full-service restaurant with plentiful breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
One of this favorite spot’s biggest draws is its fresh-baked bread. The Cafe offers a rotating weekly menu of freshly baked loaves you can enjoy at home (or select for one of their many deli sandwiches).
The Cafe, 2616 Northridge Pkwy., Ames
While the namesake of Aunt Maude’s is a fictional persona, the restaurant’s owners’ goal is to embody an ethos of exceptional service, delicious cuisine and warm hospitality. And for the last more than four decades, that’s exactly what they’ve done.
This Ames eatery uses fresh, local ingredients to create lunch and dinner options that are as wholesome as they are hearty. With a wide variety of salads and sandwiches as well as more upscale bistro fare, Aunt Maude’s makes comfort food modern.
Aunt Maude’s, 547 Main St., Ames
Provisions Lot F
With both a cafe section and traditional dining room, Provisions Lot F is a stylish American spot with ingredient-forward dishes and seriously swoon-worthy desserts. With a full menu of coffee drinks, wine, beer and craft cocktails, this is the perfect place to catch up with a friend or celebrate a special occasion.
From the same owners as The Cafe, Provisions Lot F offers dishes as delectable as its restaurant counterpart’s with a modern spin.
Provisions Lot F, 2400 N. Loop Drive, Ames
While Hickory Park is about tradition, Cornbred Barbecue is all about innovation. In fact, the team behind this trendy spot has won more than 250 awards, including 35 Grand Championships, for their barbecue skills.
Located in the Old Train Depot in downtown Ames, Cornbred Barbecue boasts options for every occasion from bar snacks like pimento cheese and fried okra to award-winning craft meat dinners to weekend brunch.
Cornbred Barbecue, 526 Main St., suite 106, Ames
If you’re in the mood for authentic Mexican food, look no further than El Azteca. With two locations in Ames, this local favorite serves up a large menu of specialty dishes. From fajitas and enchiladas to burritos and more, El Azteca offers delicious lunch and dinner options sure to satisfy any craving.
El Azteca North, 2727 Stange Road, Ames
El Azteca South, 2120 Isaac Newton Drive, Ames
About the Guest Blogger
Megan Bannister is a freelance writer and blogger at Olio in Iowa based in Des Moines, Iowa. When she’s not sampling and writing about food, Megan enjoys visiting unique destinations, roadside attractions, and “world’s largest” things across the Midwest and beyond. Her book, Iowa Supper Clubs, highlights classic eateries past and present from around the state.