If you are searching for the best restaurants in Ames, IA, then you are in the right place.
Located in the heart of the Story County of Iowa, Ames is a great city established in 1884 to serve the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad.
The city is 30 miles north of Des Moines in central Iowa. With a population of 66,424 as of 2021, it is one of the largest cities in the country.
In addition, Ames prides itself in its stable economy, comprehensive healthcare, and budding cultural environment. It also has numerous recreational centers and restaurants that keep it lively and inviting.
You can find interesting places for fun and relaxation in the city’s heart. While at that, you need a good restaurant to refuel and enjoy a good meal.
You don’t need to ransack the city, looking for the best restaurants in Ames, IA; Below is a list that will help you out.
Best Restaurants in Ames
1. The Café
First on our list of best restaurants in Ames, IA is The Café.
This little gem in Ames, providing diners with a mouthwatering experience, is one of the best places to get a good meal. It uses farm-to-table and seasonal ingredients to create fresh breakfast, lunch, or dinner items. The staff is passionate about giving you the best service, which is why they build their service around hospitality and comfort.
While the menu may change regularly to include seasonal dishes, it contains a little of something, reflecting cuisines from diverse ethnicities. You can find homemade pastries, bread, soups, and coffees on the menu, which are also served hot and fresh. Why not try the corn chowder bisque with salad for lunch and pair it with a good drink?
The best part of stopping in this smart spot is the welcoming ambiance where friendship is created, and loved ones share laughter and reminisce on old times. One more thing, the price is pocket-friendly.
The Café is open on Monday to Thursday, from 7 am – 8 pm, Friday to Saturday, from 7 am – 9 pm, and Sunday, from 7 am – 2 pm.
Address: 2616 Northridge Pkwy, Ames, IA 50010-4059, Phone: +1 515-292-0100
2. Hickory Park Restaurant
Since its inception in 1970, Hickory Park Restaurant has become a household name in Ames. It specializes in serving a range of hickory-smoked meats, with over 100 varieties. Never mind, the menu is vast and has something for everyone, including non-meat items.
Hence, you will find all-American favorites and desserts for your appetite. You will love the sampler platter with well-seasoned BBQ meats. Get a sundae and enjoy the cool effect on your taste buds.
Folks gather here to celebrate their special days and hold business meetings. The restaurant also offers takeout services for guests who may not be in the mood for dine-in. It is always a great moment to come around and get some nice treats.
Hickory Park Restaurant is open on Sunday to Thursday, from 10:30 am – 9 pm, and Friday to Saturday, from 10:30 am – 10 pm.
Address: 1404 S Duff Ave, Ames, IA 50010-8022, Phone: +1 515-232-8940
3. Aunt Maude’s
Along downtown Ames is Aunt Maude’s restaurant, offering unique dishes. This family-style restaurant has everything figured out for you, and serving traditional Italian dishes in a quaint atmosphere is the answer. The food is always made fresh and deliciously prepared.
So, you won’t be disappointed coming to Aunt Maude’s. The service is fast and friendly. Most of its customers are old-time diners who understand the quality of hospitality they receive.
Delight yourself in the excellent blackened chicken pasta with sauce. It is filling and refreshing. But if you want it light, you can go for salad and top it off with a glass of white wine. They also have delicious seafood, sandwiches, and desserts.
Aunt Maude’s is one of the top Ames restaurants and it is open from Monday to Friday, from 11 am – 2 pm and 5 – 9 pm, and Saturday, from 5 – 9 pm.
Address: 547 Main St, Ames, IA 50010-6008, Phone: +1 515-233-4136
4. Dublin Bay Irish Pub & Grill
You don’t get to see many Irish pubs and eateries in this city, and seeing a great one is worth celebrating. Dublin Bay Irish Pub & Grill is a traditional pub bringing Ireland’s taste to Ames’s streets. It is set in such a way that you feel the atmosphere of Ireland once you walk in through the door.
In addition, the food is made from scratch and hits differently when combined with an ice-cold beer from the full bar. Don’t miss eating the shepherd’s pie straight from the oven and served with potato soup or any side dish. Enjoy the chicken dishes, entrees, appetizers, and desserts that beckon your taste bud, as you glance through the menu.
Aside from the food, this classic Irish pub features an excellent environment with a woody, old-world interior décor that releases a laid-back vibe. It also provides a patio for those who wish to enjoy the exterior atmosphere. Besides, your presence is acknowledged by a friendly team that works together to ensure everyone enjoys a great time.
Dublin Bay Irish Pub & Grill is open from Sunday to Saturday, from 11 am – 10 pm. It is also one of the best places to eat in Ames, IA.
Address: 320 S 16th St, Ames, IA 50010, Phone: +1 515-956-3580
5. The Mucky Duck Pub
Located a few distances south of the highway, The Mucky Duck Pub is a British restaurant serving family-style meals in Ames. It is a casual restaurant that understands the needs of its clients and creates food that hits the spot. The atmosphere is fun, and you can be lucky to meet live music scintillating your ears with lovely tunes.
Many of the meals are specially cooked and are unique to this pub alone. Check out the menu; you will find simple dishes like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, steaks, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, and soups. They also have good beers and other drinks.
It is not about the food alone; this hotspot provides a great setting for relaxation while taking in the fresh air. There are always fun things, from hanging out with friends to getting something to bite or drinking quietly at night. If you are a fun lover, hit the road and meet other happy guests in this charming pub.
The Mucky Duck Pub is open from Sunday to Thursday, from 11 am – 11 pm, Friday, from 12 – 11 pm, and Saturday, from 8 am – 11 pm.
Address: 3100 S Duff Ave, Ames, IA 50010, Phone: +1 515-232-8888
6. Provisions Lot F
Set in the heart of Ames, Provisions Lot F is a must-visit spot for award-winning breakfasts. It is one of the best restaurants in the city, delighting guests with made-from-scratch meals. The atmosphere is casual, well-lit, and aerated.
The items to select include steel-cut oatmeal, milk, caramelized sugar crust, fresh berries, sub-oat, and soymilk. The pancake combo is also a hearty breakfast, which includes two buttermilk pancakes, two eggs, and any bacon, sausage, or ham. The rest of your day will thank you when you combine it with hot chocolate or coffee.
The restaurant also has lunch and dinner dishes, freshly cooked and served with your choice of beer or wine. It is a typical American restaurant with everything you crave. The food is expensive and generously served, leaving you happy and filled.
Provisions Lot F is open on Monday to Thursday, from 7 am – 8 pm, Friday to Saturday, from 7 am – 9 pm, and Sunday, from 7 am – 2 pm.
Address: 2400 N Loop Dr, Ames, IA 50010-8229, Phone: +1 515-598-1783
7. Cafe Beaudelaire
If you have a soft spot for Brazilian dishes, you will appreciate Cafe Beaudelaire and all it offers. It is a cute little pub with an excellent selection of pub-style food and an inviting atmosphere. The restaurant is vegan and vegetarian-friendly, with gluten-free options, for an inclusive service.
Go for gyro meat with pepper sauce; you will love the spicy taste that hits your palette. They also serve amazing fries, chicken sandwiches, burgers, snacks, and specials in Ames. Some cold ones if you would love to sip sodas or iced teas.
As a locally owned restaurant, this pub is warm and best to relax for a late-night meal. Come for a bottle of your favorite drink if you are not in the mood for food. But the overall feeling and service are worth the visit.
Cafe Beaudelaire is open from Sunday to Saturday, from 10 am – 1:30 pm. Feel free to add this restaurant to your list of best places to eat in Ames, IA.
Address: 2504 Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50014-7145, Phone: +1 515-292-7429
8. El Azteca
El Azteca is the best spot if you are passionate about creating a memorable experience after enjoying excellently cooked food. It offers authentic Mexican cuisine, freshly cooked with bold flavors and served to order. The tastes are heavenly and hit the spot when combined with a cold drink.
With two locations in Ames, the restaurant prides itself on making the atmosphere comfortable and warm for guests. The experience is the same, regardless of where you choose to have fun.
The eclectic menu features classics like fajitas, tacos, burritos, guacamoles, quesadillas, and enchiladas. They can be spicily cooked and served hot in diverse flavors and plate combinations. Moreover, it would be best to pair a glass of margarita or beer with the meal for a fine dining experience.
El Azteca is open on Sunday to Thursday, from 11 am – 9 pm, and Friday to Saturday, from 11 am – 10 pm.
Address: 1520 S Dayton Pl, Ames, IA 50010-6438, Phone: +1 515-232-0116.
9. Cornbred Barbecue
At the Historic Train Depot in Ames is nestled Cornbred Barbecue. What started in 2008 as simple cooking metamorphosed into a lovely spot serving barbecued meats and delicious drinks. You will get hooked after your first visit because Cornbred is a world champ.
Try the pork spareribs and briskets; it is a meaty plate with a delicious sauce you cannot resist. However, you may start with the mini cornbread muffins, and don’t forget to pick a piece of dessert to complete your meal.
Although Ames has many BBQ shops, this spot beats most of them. The environment is clean, and the team is up and doing with professional skills. They are open from morning until late at night, which means you can walk in any time and fill your stomach.
Cornbred Barbecue is open on Tuesday to Thursday, from 11 am – 9 pm, and Friday to Saturday, from 11 am – 10 pm.
Address: 526 Main St Suite 106, Ames, IA 50010-6002, Phone: +1 515-715-1066
10. Texas Roadhouse
Next on this list of best Ames restaurants is Texas Roadhouse.
This is not just your typical restaurant in Ames but is one of the chains in the country, popular for their high-quality meals. Texas Roadhouse is excellent for Southern dishes in a family-style atmosphere. Besides, the food is made from scratch, and only fresh ingredients make it to the kitchen.
You will always find something to eat, from hand-cut steaks to fresh baked goods, fall-off-the-bone ribs, and sides. The menu also features ice-cold beers and margaritas with diverse flavors for your satisfaction.
Come in the evening and relax with a portion of delicious food or drink, which can help you to unwind. The experience in this Texas Roadhouse is different, as the staff politely treats you like a family. If you do not feel like cooking something at home, you can pick takeout for everyone.
Texas Roadhouse is open on Monday to Thursday, from 4 – 10 pm, Friday to Saturday, from 11 m – 11 pm, and Sunday, from 11 am – 10 pm.
Address: 519 South Duff Avenue, Ames, IA 50010, Phone: +15152327427
11. Bar la Tosca
With Chef Brett DeBlieck churning out food from the kitchen, you won’t be able to resist coming to this beautiful diner for an upscale meal. It is among the top restaurants in downtown Ames, specializing in Italian small plates, cocktails, and beers. Most of its ingredients are locally sourced, evidenced by the food’s taste.
In addition, the owners care about the menu, which is why they keep improving the old and adding new favorites. It is an excellent place for quality breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night food. The menu is loaded with surprises, from breakfast classics to pasta dishes and their sauces, flatbread, burgers, and Mac n cheese. You will love the antipasti dish with salami, marinated veggies, crostini shallots, and triple Cree Brie.
The patio is a nice place to relax and enjoy a freshly made meal when the weather permits. The service is also worth the hype. So, whenever you want to enjoy a unique fine dining experience, you can make Bar la Tosca your next stop.
Bar la Tosca is open Monday to Thursday, from 11 am – 10 pm, and Friday to Saturday, from 11 am – 11 pm.
Address: 303 Welch Ave, Ames, IA 50014-2504, Phone: +1 515-232-8484
12. Brick City Grill
This old-world sports bar offers grilled meats and other nice food and drink selections. It provides a family-friendly atmosphere to eat, chat, and watch sports on the television. Moreover, the menu is filled with American comfort food and kid’s meal with contemporary fusion.
Whether you want sandwiches, salmon, burgers, pork chops, wings, nachos, soups, or salads, there is always something for you. Your kids will love every item on the dessert menu. Plus, you can pair your food with delicious cocktails, beers on tap, and other drinks.
In addition, the restaurant is excellent for quick bites and sit-down meals. It is great to bring your family for a relaxing meal. The prices are reasonable, and you will enjoy everything down to the last drop.
Brick City Grill is open on Sunday to Thursday, from 11 – 12 am, and Friday to Saturday, from 11 – 1 am.
Address: 2704 Stange Rd, Ames, IA 50010-3974, Phone: +1 515-268-4224
If you crave freshly prepared Thai food in a cozy setting, Spice is a fantastic spot. It is an exquisite and sophisticated restaurant with a laid-back vibe, offering only classics. The food quality is high, and the menu has a little of everything for everyone.
Each dish has the freshest and finest ingredients, from seafood to meats, burgers, and unique Thai dishes. Try any curry, chicken, or noodle dishes, like Pad Thai, Cashew Chicken, and Shrimp Curry. They are spicily and flavorfully cooked and served hot.
From the door, you are treated as a family, which leaves you relaxed and satisfied. Every meal is cooked with you in mind, which is why it is uniquely served. Never worry; the prices do not cost an arm and a leg.
Spice is recognized among the best Ames restaurants and is open from Monday to Saturday, from 11 am – 2:15 pm and 5 – 8:45 pm.
Address: 402 Main St, Ames, IA 50010-6150, Phone: +1 515-232-0200
14. Red Lobster
Since its conception, Red Lobster is a restaurant worth the stop for lunch meals. It is located in a convenient place along Buckeye Avenue, Ames. The extensive menu has a good selection of seafood, appetizers, sandwiches, desserts, sides, beverages, and wines.
Try the Seafarer’s Feast, comprising scampi, lobster tails, coconut shrimp, and scallops. The food is worth the hype and comes out hot and as ordered. Get yourself a bottle of wine and relax for a fine dining experience.
Besides, the service is attentive and friendly; you can request anything and are served with smiles. You will be happy to stop again and be treated like the royalty you represent.
Red Lobster is open on Sunday to Thursday, from 11:30 am – 8:30 pm, and Friday to Saturday, from 11:30 am – 9:30 pm.
Address: 1100 Buckeye Ave., Ames, IA 50010, Phone: +1 515-232-2922
15. Stomping Grounds
Concluding this list of top restaurants in Ames, IA, is Stomping Grounds.
For a mouthwatering meal experience, Stomping Grounds has the freshest and finest Southern dishes you would love. It offers a cheery atmosphere that leaves a lasting impression on the guests. If you enjoy eating out in the morning, check out the breakfast options.
Although the menu is limited, it has enough food to satisfy everyone. Why not consider any of the egg sandwiches, pancakes, toast, desserts, and bacon? Then, complement it with a cup of espresso or any coffee drink.
You can choose the indoor dining or patio; the experience is the same. The walls are adorned with local art, which gives the setting a lovely appearance. The price may not be easy on the pocket, but the money is worth the value.
Stomping Grounds is open Monday to Friday, from 7 am – 12 pm, and Saturday to Sunday, from 8 am – 12 pm.
Address: 303 Welch Ave Ste 101, Ames, IA 50014-7219, Phone: +1 515-292-5258.
Plan a Trip to Ames
It will be a great delight to visit any of the above top restaurants in Ames, IA whenever you are around. They have surprises for the locals and visitors, and you will enjoy the premium service you will receive as you step in. Have a fun trip!