25 Best Restaurants in Ames, IA

This article was written by local contributor Katherine Davidson & edited by the Travel Lens team.

Best Restaurants in Ames, IA

Welcome to Ames, a vibrant and charming city in the heart of Iowa!

I've been lucky enough to call this place home for quite some time now, and one of my favorite things to do is explore the diverse and delicious dining scene.

From cozy cafes to elegant dining establishments, you'll find an array of options to satisfy your cravings and excite your taste buds.

In this article, I'm excited to share with you my personal favorites and hidden gems that you won't want to miss during your visit (or if you're a fellow resident looking to try something new).

So, let's dive into the culinary delights this city has to offer with this list of the best restaurants in Ames, Iowa.

Rico's Tacos

I recently visited Rico's Tacos for the first time and was blown away by the quality and taste of their dishes.

I tried the steak burrito, and not only was it delicious, but the portion size was generous, and the cost was very reasonable.

I couldn't resist checking out their Facebook page here to see what other customers had to say about their experiences.

It seems that I'm not the only one who thinks highly of this place.

One reviewer mentioned that for just $12.50, they got two tacos, two tamales, and a Jarritos, which is quite a deal.

The Asada also comes highly recommended, with its mouthwatering crispy bits, making it clear that no mass-prepared food is served here.

The employees at Rico's Tacos are genuinely welcoming and will go the extra mile to make you feel like a friend.

Rico’s Tacos · 624 E Lincoln Wy, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Taco restaurant

The Mucky Duck Pub

I have visited The Mucky Duck Pub a couple of times, and I must say, it has a unique charm to it.

The cozy roadhouse vibe, paired with British grub and English-style old ale, makes for a delightful experience.

I particularly love their outdoor seating area, which is perfect for a relaxing meal with friends or family.

On a recent visit, I decided to try their German Platter, and it did not disappoint.

The food was delicious and satisfying.

I also couldn't resist ordering their Onion Rings, which were just as good as I remembered - crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

My friend Pam and I can't get enough of their fish and chips, which is probably one of the best we've had in the area.

One thing that sets The Mucky Duck Pub apart from other places is their selection of imported groceries and their extensive beer and tea menu.

I'm always excited to try something new from their offerings, and I've never been disappointed.

The Mucky Duck Pub · 3100 S Duff Ave, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

The Cafe

I can't believe that after all these years, The Cafe is still my go-to spot for delicious food in Ames.

Just last week, I went there with a group of friends to catch up, and, as always, the experience was nothing short of amazing.

We started our meal with some appetizers, and I highly recommend the Kimchi fried rice - it's packed with flavor.

As for the entrees, I opted for the pepperoni and hot honey pizza, a dish that I fell in love with during my college years.

My friends all had different dishes, and each one was just as delectable as the last.

The Cafe is also known for its boutique bar, so it's the perfect spot for grabbing a drink with friends after a long day.

The atmosphere is cozy and inviting, making it an excellent choice for date night or just a casual dinner with friends.

Plus, the fact that it's located on the first floor and offers handicapped parking makes it accessible for everyone.

The Cafe · 2616 Northridge Pkwy, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Aunt Maude's

One of my go-to spots for a delicious meal and a lovely atmosphere is definitely Aunt Maude's.

I've been there multiple times, and it never disappoints.

The locally sourced, modern American cuisine always hits the spot, and the extensive wine list has something for everyone.

I remember the time I took my family there for a special occasion.

I had the Teriyaki Salmon, which was so flavorful and cooked to perfection.

My partner tried the roasted mushroom risotto with truffle oil and couldn't stop raving about it.

Aunt Maude's truly has a knack for crafting dishes that you won't find anywhere else in town.

The service, too, is always top-notch.

And don't even get me started on the desserts - the Crème Brûlée is to die for!

Aunt Maude’s · 547 Main St, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · American restaurant

El Azteca

I remember the first time I visited El Azteca with my friends.

We were looking for a place to relax, have some good food, and watch the NCAA basketball games.

El Azteca turned out to be the perfect spot for our evening hangout!

They have a lot of large TV screens, which made viewing the games a great experience.

The chips they served were fantastic, and I especially loved their mild salsa.

The queso was hot, though a little too runny for my taste.

What surprised us the most was the incredibly fast service.

Our food arrived so quickly that we hadn't even finished our first bowl of chips!

The portions were massive, and the food was absolutely delicious.

Since then, I've visited El Azteca multiple times, and they never disappoint - their quick service, even on a busy Friday night, is truly commendable.

A friend of mine even had El Azteca cater for their wedding, and she couldn't stop talking about how amazing the food and service were.

The prices were reasonable, and everyone at the wedding was extremely happy with the food.

El Azteca · 2727 Stange Rd, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Mexican restaurant

Pammel Deli

One of my favorite places to grab a delicious meal is Pammel Deli.

It used to be a hidden gem, but it seems like the secret is out, and more people are discovering how fantastic their food truly is.

My partner and I often go there for lunch or dinner, and we have never been disappointed.

Although I haven't tried their burgers, I've heard great things about them.

However, I can't stop myself from ordering their amazing gyros, falafel, and other delightful vegetarian options.

There are also plenty of choices for meat lovers, so everyone can find something they enjoy.

One of the things that make Pammel Deli special is that it's a family-run business, and you can feel the hard work and dedication they put into creating mouth-watering meals.

The fact that they offer halal food is also a great bonus for people seeking that type of cuisine in Ames.

It's not just the main dishes that are worth trying at Pammel Deli - their baklava is a must-try as well.

I can't wait to go back and try some of their other dishes, like the chicken kebab dinner and shawarma.

And next time, I'll be sure to save some room for that delicious baklava.

Pammel Deli · 113 Colorado Ave suite 133, Ames, IA 50014, United States
★★★★★ · Halal restaurant

Celaya TexMex

I recently visited Celaya TexMex for the first time, and I was truly impressed with their food and service.

The chips and salsa they served were hot and delicious, with the salsa being thick and hearty.

I tried their tacos, which were wrapped in foil and perfectly seasoned.

The steak burrito gigante was also a hit, as it was huge and filled with meaty bites of steak that had a nice crust to it.

The service at Celaya TexMex was fast and friendly, and the atmosphere was amazing.

I also enjoyed their iced tea, which was quite refreshing.

In addition, I have to mention the fried ice cream, which was a delightful way to end the meal.

Ames has a lot of great Mexican-style restaurants, but Celaya TexMex truly stands out as one of the best.

The authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex variations they offer are definitely worth trying.

Celaya TexMex · 217 S Duff Ave, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Mexican restaurant

The Great Plains Sauce & Dough Co.

One of my go-to spots for a delicious pizza night is The Great Plains Sauce & Dough Co.

I've been coming here with my family since I can remember, and it's always been a consistent favorite in our community.

The atmosphere is cozy with its old-school, wood-lined interiors, making it a perfect place to relax and enjoy some mouthwatering pizza.

I personally love the Denver thick-crust pizza, which has become my go-to order every time I visit.

It's just the right amount of thick and flavorful and has the perfect balance of toppings.

Plus, the unique idea of dipping the crust in honey adds a delightful twist to the meal.

The portion sizes are quite generous, so sharing a small pizza between two people is more than enough if you're not extremely hungry.

Plus, the affordable prices and free soda refills make it an excellent choice for a casual dinner out.

The Great Plains Sauce & Dough Co. · 129 Main St #101, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Pizza restaurant

Dublin Bay Irish Pub & Grill

One place that never disappoints is Dublin Bay Irish Pub & Grill.

I remember my first visit to Dublin Bay as a student at Iowa State University, and even after 20 years, this place has maintained its quality and charm.

The old-world decor, craft beers, traditional Irish menu, and patio make it a perfect spot to hang out with friends or just enjoy a quiet dinner.

Their spinach artichoke dip is still as delicious as I remember, and I've had some of the best shepherd’s pies here.

The flavors are always well-balanced, and it's a satisfying meal every time.

My partner loves the boxty, which is corned beef wrapped in a potato pancake and smothered in a cheese sauce - it's mouthwatering!

The servings are generous, and the food comes out quickly, even during busy dinner hours.

The atmosphere at Dublin Bay is a perfect blend of pub vibes without being too loud.

I recently tried their salad with baked salmon, and it was a fantastic option for a healthier meal.

The default dressing on the side is a thoughtful touch, as you can adjust it to your preference without having your salad turn soggy.

And don't get me started on their fresh, crispy fries – they're perfectly salty and addictive!

My latest visit was for an appetizer and a pre-dinner drink.

The nachos were fantastic, and the raspberry mule was refreshing.

Dublin Bay Irish Pub & Grill · 320 S 16th St, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Irish restaurant

Provisions Lot F

One of my favorite spots in Ames has to be Provisions Lot F.

This stylish American restaurant offers everything from breakfast and coffee to dinner and even has its own take-out counter and bakery!

I remember my first experience at Provisions Lot F like it was yesterday.

I had ordered the pasta dish with broccoli rabe, and it was so flavorful and delicious that I still daydream about it.

I can't wait to drive through Ames again and dine at this amazing place.

The ambiance is beautiful, with a bakery and take-out counter on one side and a dining area on the other.

Both are aesthetically pleasing, making it the perfect place for a special occasion or just a casual dinner.

Provisions Lot F · 2400 N Loop Dr, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · American restaurant

Cafe Beaudelaire

I can't believe I didn't try Cafe Beaudelaire sooner!

My coworker recommended it to me for lunch, so I decided to give it a shot.

I ordered the Cuban sandwich, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

The flavors were amazing, and I can't wait to go back and try something different next time.

Cafe Beaudelaire is a charming, late-night eatery with a bar that offers a variety of Brazilian and global meals, cocktails, and coffee.

One time, I was on a road trip with my dogs and opted for takeout – the yucca fries, beef Beirut sandwich, and Brazilian burger were all fantastic.

I'm so grateful they have a takeout option, though I'd love to enjoy the dine-in experience next time to savor their ambiance and cocktails.

And as a dessert lover, I must say, their tiramisu is a must-try!

Cafe Beaudelaire · 2504 Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50014, United States
★★★★★ · Brazilian restaurant

Pho & Tea

I am a huge fan of Pho & Tea!

It has become my go-to spot when I'm craving some delicious Vietnamese food.

Their chicken pho soup is simply amazing, with a light and savory sauce that really hits the spot.

The crab rangoons are a must-try as well; they're absolutely scrumptious.

You can find their location on Google Maps and see for yourself.

Their Korean rice menu, though not entirely authentic, still offers a tasty and enjoyable meal.

One thing I love about this place is the generous portions of bean sprouts and mint they provide when I ask for more.

My partner and I often share beef noodle soup, and we're big fans of their fried dumplings.

Pho & Tea · 725 24th St #102, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Vietnamese restaurant

Taste Place

One of my favorite places to dine in Ames has to be Taste Place.

Their authentic Chinese dishes never disappoint, and their hot pot is simply out of this world.

I can't get enough of their dry pot, which is packed with so much flavor and always cooked to perfection.

The portions are generous, making it a great spot for sharing a meal with friends or family.

Every time I pass through or have friends visiting, I make sure we stop by Taste Place.

Some of my must-try dishes include the classic wonton and curry chicken (which comes with white rice).

Their spicy crawfish and spicy pork are to die for, especially if you're a fan of spicy food.

I can't wait to go back and try more items on their menu.

The atmosphere is casual and comfortable, making it an ideal choice for a laid-back meal in town.

Taste Place · 223 Welch Ave Upper Level, Ames, IA 50014, United States
★★★★★ · Chinese restaurant

Hickory Park

One of my favorite spots in town is Hickory Park, a long-standing family-owned eatery that serves house-smoked barbecue in a spacious setting.

Whenever I visit, I'm always amazed by the portion sizes and the extensive menu, which includes a fantastic ice cream selection with over 20 options!

The ambiance at Hickory Park is truly something special, as the restaurant is housed in a renovated train station giving it a unique and cozy atmosphere.

Just be prepared for a bit of a wait, especially on weekends, but trust me when I say it's worth it.

I've tried a variety of dishes here, and some favorites include the saucy sandwich with BBQ pork and the sampler platter featuring chicken, ribs, and a really flavorful sausage.

But as good as the mains are, make sure you save room for dessert.

The apple pie milkshake is simply out of this world, and even the small sundaes are generously sized.

The service at Hickory Park is always top-notch, with friendly and attentive service.

Hickory Park · 1404 S Duff Ave, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Barbecue restaurant

Blaze Pizza

One of my favorite places to grab a bite in Ames is Blaze Pizza.

This hip counter-serve pizzeria is perfect for satisfying my cravings for crispy, thin-crust pizza with a fun twist.

I love the concept of being able to build my own pizza, much like Subway, but with a delicious variety of creative toppings and sauces to choose from.

Whenever I visit Blaze Pizza, I never have to wait long for my food, as their fast-fire oven ensures my pizza is ready in just a few minutes.

Plus, their environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic straws for fountain drinks is a nice touch.

But the real hidden gem at Blaze Pizza is their desserts, especially the s'mores cookie sandwich.

It's the perfect sweet treat to indulge in after enjoying my custom-made pizza.

Blaze Pizza · 2320 Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50014, United States
★★★★★ · Pizza restaurant

Daytime Diner

I finally had the chance to visit Daytime Diner, and it did not disappoint!

Their brunch menu is simply delightful, and the coffee they serve is top-notch.

I found their pour-over coffee machine quite interesting, and it made the coffee taste amazing.

I'm already planning my next visit to try out their waffles!

The atmosphere at Daytime Diner is so welcoming - open, clean, and genuinely friendly.

The seasonal honey almond coffee was highly enjoyable.

I went with a friend last time, and we both absolutely LOVED IT.

The latte was so good that my friend ended up ordering one too.

Daytime Diner · 127 Dotson Dr, Ames, IA 50014, United States
★★★★★ · Brunch restaurant

Flip'N Jacks Pancake House & Eatery

I recently visited Flip'N Jacks Pancake House & Eatery for breakfast, and I must say it was a delightful experience.

I went there specifically for the mimosas, which were fantastic!

I opted for the Cluck Cluck Skillet, which was a heavenly combination of breaded white meat chicken, country potatoes, country gravy, cheese, and eggs.

The dish even came with a side of pancakes, making it an incredibly satisfying meal.

My significant other ordered the cinnamon roll french toast, which was equally delicious.

We were both impressed with the generous portion sizes and the attentive service.

The food arrived quickly, hot, and delicious.

Not to mention, the restaurant was clean and well-maintained.

One thing I particularly loved was their own hot sauce, which I ended up buying a bottle of to take home.

Flip’N Jacks Pancake House & Eatery · 1520 S Dayton Pl, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Pancake restaurant

Fuji Japanese Steak House

I recently had the pleasure of dining at Fuji Japanese Steak House with my family, and it was a delightful experience.

I was initially worried about bringing my young kids along, but they make us feel right at home.

The restaurant has an excellent selection of sushi rolls and hibachi options.

The onion soup was rich and flavorful, and the seafood hibachi was simply amazing.

We also tried the $8.99 lunch special, which was a great deal for the quality and quantity of food served.

The happy hour deals at Fuji Japanese Steak House are definitely worth checking out, and I'm already looking forward to our next visit.

This place may not be fancy, but the delicious food and delightful experience make it a must-try spot for anyone in the area.

Fuji Japanese Steak House · 1614 S Kellogg Ave #101, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Japanese restaurant

Botanero Latino

Let me tell you about my experience at Botanero Latino Colombian & International Cuisine.

Being both patient and understanding, I was rewarded with a delicious and authentic meal that didn't break the bank.

I was in and out in less than an hour on a Sunday night.

To make your visit more enjoyable and cut down on wait time, I recommend calling ahead to order your food.

This is definitely a must-try spot in Ames!

Botanero Latino Colombian & International Cuisine · 604 E Lincoln Wy, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Latin American restaurant

Cornbred Barbecue

Let me tell you about my recent experience at Cornbred Barbecue.

I decided to give it a try after reading so many positive reviews online, and I must say I was not disappointed.

The warehouse-style venue, with its wood-fired BBQ and a great selection of cocktails and draft beer, is a real gem in Ames.

Choosing the brisket with cornbread pudding, I was blown away by the delicious flavors and perfectly cooked meat.

To top it off, their house-made sauces are simply amazing and add a whole new level to the BBQ experience.

When I went there, I noticed the outside patio seemed perfect for a more casual gathering, but the main dining area is where you want to be for a more comfortable and upscale experience.

The prices were quite reasonable for the quality of food and service provided.

One thing that really stood out to me was their unique selection of sides, like the hallelujah potatoes, and desserts, like the cinnamon roll bread pudding.

Cornbred Barbecue · 526 Main St #106, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

The Grove Cafe

The Grove Cafe has always been one of those places that were consistently packed with customers.

It took me a few tries before I was able to dine there.

When I finally did, I was not disappointed!

The place is famous for its huge pancakes and homestyle dishes that you can check out on their website.

I ordered the rhubarb raspberry pancakes that came highly recommended, and let me tell you, they were worth the hype!

The portion was generous, and I couldn't even finish my plate.

The Grove Cafe · 124 Main St, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

La Fiesta Bar & Grill

Whenever I crave Mexican food, I make sure to visit La Fiesta Bar & Grill.

I've been a regular customer since 2017 when it was called Los Altos.

Although some people argue that La Casa Maya is the best Mexican restaurant in town, I have a soft spot for La Fiesta.

One of the things I love most about La Fiesta is that their food quality is consistently good.

Don't even get me started on their desserts - they're just divine!

La Fiesta ticks all the boxes for me when it comes to a great dining experience.

Their food is delicious, the prices are reasonable, and the service is fast and friendly.

I especially appreciate that the beef in their chimichanga is actually steak and not just ground beef!

La Casa Maya · 631 Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★☆ · Mexican restaurant

Bar La Tosca

I decided to check out Bar La Tosca with a few friends last weekend, and let me tell you - it did not disappoint.

The atmosphere was cool and stylish, just as advertised, and it was the perfect spot to unwind after a long week.

When it came to choosing from the menu, we couldn't resist trying out a few of their Italian small plates.

The mushroom toast was a hit among our group, and the pork belly was absolutely delicious.

We also gave the fusilli with lamb a try, and though the texture could have been better, the flavor was fantastic.

And don't even get me started on the cocktails!

The Aviation was hands down one of the best I've ever had.

It's safe to say that we'll be back soon to sample more of their craft concoctions and local draft beers.

But what really stood out was the friendly and attentive service.

Bar La Tosca · 303 Welch Ave, Ames, IA 50014, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Flame and Skewer

I've always been a fan of trying new food spots in town, and Flame and Skewer caught my attention.

Located inside the mall, it's a great option for food when you're done shopping.

I decided to give it a try, and I must say, I was quite impressed.

My friends and I started with their fantastic cauliflower appetizer, which was a delicious surprise.

The main courses we ordered were absolutely to die for!

I had a patty melt while my friend ordered a gyro, and we were both really happy with the portions and the price of our meals.

Apart from the food, the service was quick and efficient.

Flame and Skewer · 2801 Grand Ave #1125, Ames, IA 50010, United States
★★★★★ · American restaurant

Thai Kitchen

One of the best discoveries I've made is the Thai Kitchen restaurant.

It's a family-owned eatery with a simple setup, offering an array of noodles, rice, and curry dishes that always leave me wanting more.

My personal favorite is their pad thai – it has just the right amount of peanut and sweet flavors.

I also highly recommend their Pad See Eil with beef and the tempura shrimp appetizer, which were both amazing during my last visit.

It's worth noting that they recently changed ownership and removed all the vegetarian options from the menu since their base sauces are pre-prepared with fish sauce.

Thai Kitchen · 2410 Chamberlain St, Ames, IA 50014, United States
★★★★☆ · Thai restaurant

Final Thoughts

Ames truly has a diverse and delicious culinary scene that can satisfy any palate.

I have personally enjoyed countless meals at these establishments, each offering unique flavors and experiences.

It's always a pleasure to share a meal with friends and family at these places, be it Aunt Maude's for a special occasion or a casual lunch at Pammel Deli.

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