Students give suggestions on Ames dining

Danielle Ferguson

Business Insider named Ames No. 2 in the November 2013 list of “Top 20 Best College Towns in America,” based on academic environment, quality of life and college experience.

Many students say an essential part of the college experience is the food.

Ames has a variety of eateries for a variety of pallets. Almost any craving can be satisfied with multiple pizza places, sandwich shops, quaint cafes and international eateries.

Liz McMurrin, sophomore in graphic design, said she recommends that new students head to Great Plains Sauce & Dough Company on Main Street.

“Their pizza is the best,” McMurrin said. “It’s different. You dip the crust in honey … and the cookies are huge.”

McMurrin also recommended students try out Cafe Diem, also located on Main Street, because of the atmosphere.

“It’s a good place to study,” McMurrin said. “It’s a good size and also has good hot chocolate.”

Cafe Diem offers free Wi-Fi, is locally owned and features coffee, smoothies, sandwiches, salads and soups.

Another cafe on Main Street is Grove Cafe, recommended by Kim Hasstedt, Memorial Union Hotel attendant.

“It’s downtown, it’s old and a lot [of people] don’t know about it,” Hasstedt said. “It’s a good place for breakfast.”

Jonathan Ostermann, a 2012 alumnus, also said students should check out Grove Cafe because the quaint shop has “big pancakes.”

Grove Cafe is also locally owned and was voted one of the 20 best breakfast restaurants in America by Local Eats. The cafe features daily lunch specials and weekend breakfast specials.

Ostermann, who continues to stay involved with the ISU campus, said students should head over to Capanna for “great gelato and coffee.”

Capanna is another locally owned specialty shop featuring more than 60 flavors of gelato and in-house roasted coffee.

Hasstedt said students should also check out Hickory Park Restaurant on Duff Avenue.

“[It’s] the most popular among a lot of people,” Hasstedt said. “You get quite a bit of food for a decent price.”

Hickory Park focuses on smoked meats and burgers and accompanies the smoked and broiled meats with a variety of Blue Bunny ice creams. It serves about 23,000 pounds of meat and 750 gallons of ice cream per week on average. In addition to dine-in, Hickory Park caters and allows carry-out.

Hickory Park serves about 15,000 guests on an average week and seats about 450 customers in the restaurant. The restaurant only takes reservations Monday through Friday.

If students have a more diverse pallet, Pradeep Inampudi recommended Indian Delights on Dotson Drive off of Lincoln Way.

Inampudi, graduate student in computer science, said students should try the restaurant out because “it’s good and cheap.”

Indian Delights is family-owned, Ames-based and has been open since September 2010. The authentic Indian cuisine restaurant offers a full catering menu and features a variety of Indian meals and desserts, including gulab jamun — cottage cheese balls that are deep fried and served in syrup — and cham cham — sweet cheese dumplings.

Abishek Reddy, graduate student in supply chain and information systems, said he suggests India Palace on Hayward Avenue for a full international flavor.

The restaurant says it focuses on a “merging of various cultures and traditions, primarily Hindu and Muslim, and is becoming a new identity known as ‘Indian.’” India Palace has vegetarian options, rice specialties, soups, seafood delicacies, curries, classic Indian breads and more.

Another international pallet pleasure is a Korean-inspired restaurant on Welch Avenue called Scallion.

“It’s tasty,” said Jajun Ryu, sophomore in mechanical engineering. “They have a lot of good stews.”

For more information on dining in Ames, visit the Ames Convention and Visitors Bureau website,, and go to the “Shop and Dine” tab.