Ames foodThough I loathe helping a Hawkeye, I will give you the lowdown on Ames. I have lived here for 10 years and have eaten in about every place in this town. To start there is about every national chain in the country, both sit-down and fast food. With that said, they we be dismissed as they deserve.
In reference to your original post, there is only one restaurant that I am aware of that make the claim of using local and/or organic products. The restaurant is called the Café and located in the Somerset subdivision. Their menu changes depending on what is available. They think they are pretty cool and in fairness their food is good. I have been the victim of bad food once and poor service another, but the incidents were isolated. Finally the Café features trendy food and was actually bold enough to serve raw tuna over a wonton crisp in Iowa. Strangely, I had to ask for olive oil with meat and cheese antipasto. Even, stranger they didn’t have any. Fortunately, olive oil was recently added as an option. Specials are usually around $15 while sandwiches and pizzas are $10. They also make their own potato chips that are quite tasty.
As for fine dining there is Aunt Maude’s in Ames and The cottage in Story City. The Cottage has better food in my opinion including a duck breast with a ginger Grand Marnier sauce. The Cottage also makes a very nice prime rib and uses blue cheese olives in their martinis. Aunt Maude’s makes a tasty steak and their coconut ice cream is very good. An entree and desert will fun you about $30 at both places.
Great Plains Pizza is an Ames institution. The deep dish pizza has enough cheese to choke on (I am serious) and serves honey to pour on their crust. Some people love it, other realize that when there is that much cheese on a piazza the cheese is of questionable quality. Must be tasted to be believed, you may love it. Other than that most pizza in Ames is unremarkable.
Another Ames institution is Hickory Park. That place funnels hundreds of people in and out everyday like the feed lot it is. They serve massive amount of barbeque and it is decent for the Midwest (I once lived in Memphis). Very reasonable prices and a full soda and ice cream shop add to the historic vibe. Again it must be experienced to be believed. Better barbeque is available at Battle’s Barbeque, but it is a small time operation and only holds about 25 people.
There are two good delis in Ames, Downtown Deli serves sub-style sandwiches and has a good cappicolo. West Street deli serves very large loaf style sandwiches and will put things like coleslaw on it, which is actually pretty good.
Due to a large Asian population all Asian restaurants here are average to good, with stand outs being Little Taipei, Thai Kitchen, and Chinese Home Cooking. All are reasonably priced and supplied by multiple Asian markets in Ames.
An oddity in Ames is Café Baudelaire. They seem to have a South American theme though I am not familiar enough with South American food to assess authenticity. They do have a hamburger with ham, corn, and a fired egg that is very good.
Well that’s not the complete story but the highlights and I am running out of the will to type. I know it is long but I am obsessed with food and it is my hometown. Hope this helps.