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Any food in Ames or Ankeny? Or do I have to go to Des Moines?

I'll be in Ames and Ankeny, IA next week and am looking for anything decent/unique to eat. In the past, I've gone into Des Moines for Big Daddy's BBQ, but I know that's closed. There's a decent Vietnamese restaurant in Des Moines also - at least an interesting option compared to anything else I've found.

So... I'm open to suggestions for what/where to eat in this part of Iowa. For example, is it worth a trip to Rube's in Waukee if I can't find something special any closer?


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  1. Well Ames isn't too tough. There's quite a few places around campus. I'm partial to Battles BBQ on Welch and Bali Satay House on Lincoln Way. My favorite place is "The Cafe" (2616 Northridge Pkwy). I'd describe it as an upscale coffee shop/bakery with a very good dinner menu. I haven't been there in quite a while myself though. A lot of people really like Hickory Park on S. Duff for BBQ but I don't really care for it myself as the place feels like a train depot. The food's ok too.

    Ankeny is tougher. Chain restaurant hell. Believe me - I know. I live there. There's a couple of decent places downtown in Ankeny. Leaning Tower pizza makes one of the better pies in town. Bear's Restaurant is also pretty good if you're into pub food. It gets pretty busy sometimes though.

    Hope that helps.

    1. I'll second Battles BBQ. Might be best in the state. Also Aunt Maude's in Ames is owned by the same folks who do the Cafe.

      1. I ordered 10 different take-out dishes from Bali Satay House, and none of them were worthwhile. They are supposed to be Indonesian, but the food tasted like bland Chinese.

        There is a Thai restaurant in Ames, do not remember the name, but they did a wonderful tofu dish for me last year...

        1. I'm surprised. Bali was always a favorite. But I don't get there very often anymore. Probably not more than once every few years. I wonder if they changed ownership? They used to have an incredible lamb soup of some sort. I don't remember the name. I liked their satay a lot too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dg2445

            Hicory Park,Great Plains Pizza,Aunt Maudes and save atrip to DesMoines.If great steak but little else Rube's, but in Montour.

          2. Thanks for the suggestions. I ended up at Stomping Grounds today, taking advantage of good food and free wireless. Not sure what I'll do in Ankeny this evening... still feeling full from a late lunch!

            1 Reply
            1. re: dimsumfan

              You might check out Rannallo's on Third (that would be "old downtown") Ankeny. Owner is second generation food purveyor who was trained at the local community college in Ankeny. Have only been once, but had a quite nice experience.

            2. Along with Aunt Maude's, Battle's BBQ, and Hickory Park, there are a few others that i might add. Lucillan's is an italian restaurant on Main Street that has been in town as long as i can remember, and i grew up in Ames. it's an italian restaurant which has pretty good food, and great bread. there are 2 other places that i would check out, although they may not still be there as they are located in Campus Town, near the university. one is Pizza Kitchens, home of the crock pizza. they serve your pizza in a single sized crock, but it's more like an unfolded calzone. very good from what i remember. i believe that was a block west of welch avenue. the other place was at the corner of welch and lincoln way, right across from people's bar, called cafe beaudelaire, kind of an organic, bohemian type of place, and good food too. and for a great sub, the downtown deli, on Main, is awesome. it's just down the street from Lucillan's.

              1. In Ankeny- I would recommend next time you are in town "Leaning Tower of Pizza" They have great sandwiches. pizza, and onion rings. So yummy....

                1. I enthusiastically second Dr. Wine's recommendation that you check out Ranallo's. I favor it over most places in Des Moines or Ames. It has a mellow atmosphere and VERY delicious food. If you are very hungry, try the Seafood Trio. Yum yum yum! The crabcakes rival the best I had when I lived out east.

                  For adventure in the libation department, try the Mohito Martini. If you do not have a designated driver, tread softly with that one.

                  I hope you make it to Ranallo's and ENJOY!

                  1. I never understand the deal w/Hickory Park. It seems like a better option for a children's birthday party, than a place to get real food.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: rozz01

                      I'll second that opinion. I used to go there frequently when I was a student, but I lived nearby and worked right next door. Plus it was cheap and fast.

                      Sadly the food is ok at best, it's noisy, and I always felt rushed.

                      Battle's was always (and still is) my first choice for BBQ in Ames.

                      1. re: dg2445

                        Battles has better BBQ hands down compared to HP. I moved to KC from Ames in June and still find myself craving for a brisket sandwich from Battles.

                        I hated HP when I first moved to Ames, however by the time I graduated I appreciated it for being quick and cheap. I also feel they had the best burgers in Ames. Their shakes and ice cream sundaes are also bliss.

                        As for the Ames dining scene in general, I thought it sucked. Lucullan's has went terribly downhill over the past 5 years. The Pizza Kitchens, sadly, closed a couple of years ago. Aunt Maudes is fair, but a bit over hyped. The Cafe is usually a good choice. La Fuente on South Duff and 4th St has excellent fajitas and other great mexican choices.

                        Whenever we had birthdays or other special occasions we always went to Des Moines.

                    2. If it is in the summer hours there is a GREAT spot in Nevada, just down the street from Ames called Starbuck's it has been around for 50+ years and it is not a chain coffee shop. Hand breaded tenderloins, loose meat sandwiches, malts, burgers, onion rings (onion strings for the hand breaded ones). It is sit down fast food. Only in the summer though, they close in the winter and go to Florida. It is on Lincolnway Highway on the East side of Nevada. In Ames the cafe is great and Old Main is pretty darn good too.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: coldcream

                        Do you mean Old Main Brewery downtown? If so, have the owners changed recently because the first few years it was open the food was horrible. I haven't been there since last May, but every time we went the service was slow and the waitstaff was incredibly uninformed. The food itself was usually cold before it hit the table. I remember the burgers being especially bad. The only thing the place has going for it is the wonderful atmosphere and decent beer. I remember having to go there for lunches/meetings/socials a lot and always dreading it.