Whether you are making the trip down to Iowa City or cheering from Ames for CyHawk game day, we’re all looking forward to the best part of the game day festivities; the delicious food. I, for one, am not about the tailgate food life. I do enjoy a hotdog or chicken kabob here and there, but this weekend, I’m just not feeling it. 

I will be staying in Ames this weekend while my roommates make the trip down to Iowa City. Nevertheless, I’ve got the real low down on all the greatest places to feed your face in Ames and Iowa City.

Ames Eateries

Brick City Grill

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Brick City Grill is not like your typical burger joint. Yes, they have fifteen different burgers on the menu (if that’s what you’ve got a hankering for), but they also have a menu jam-packed with appetizers, sandwiches, salads, boozy drinks and other meaty entrees bound to leave your belly full and ready for the CyHawk match up. 

Something that caught my eye on the menu was the “Game Day Dogs.” These dogs have names that refer to Major League Baseball teams. So this Saturday, you might just catch me scarfing down a Wrigley Dog while showing support for both my Cubs and Cyclones.

#SpoonTip: If you haven’t eaten in days because you’re out of groceries in the house or you just simply like a challenge, let me tell you about the Triple Double Food Challenge. If you can finish six beef patties, with twelve pieces of cheese and twelve pieces of bacon all gracefully positioned between a toasted brioche bun AND a double order of fries in 30 minutes, congratulations, you will be full. 

Oh, and you will get a Brick City Grill t-shirt, recognition on the website, bragging rights, and they will pay you for the meal. I dare you to try this and share a picture.

El Azteca

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What makes a CyHawk game day even better? El Azteca. With two locations in Ames, they serve the same menu of authentic enchiladas, burritos, fajitas and quesadillas. Also, you can never go wrong with ordering some chips and cheese dip or nachos for the whole table. My personal favorite is the quesadillas since I’m not a big fan of spicy foods, and let’s not forget their fabulous drink menu.

Great Plains Sauce & Dough Company

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You can never go wrong with pizza, am I right? Great Plains Sauce and Dough Company also features cheese and garlic bread appetizers, oven-toasted sandwiches and, for those of you salad lovers out there, they’ve got you covered. If I’m really motivated, I could down a whole frozen pizza while watching some Netflix, but at Great Plains, this is not the case. The pizza styles and sizes can range, but trust me when I say a piece or two will have you set for the duration of the game.

#SpoonTip: If you really don’t feel like leaving the comfort of your home, have no fear because Great Plains Sauce and Dough Co. will deliver your pizzas so you can grab a slice and watch the game.

Olde Main Brewing Company

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If you want to watch the game in style, check out Olde Main Brewing Company. They serve hand cut steaks, pork chops, salmon and even meatloaf to satisfy a comfort food craving. Aside from the meaty entrees, they make pastas and sandwiches as well. 

If you ask me, the whipped Yukon Gold potatoes are to die for. If you’re looking to wash down your meal with a beer or two, Olde Main features several house brews and allows you to taste samples. I believe whoever created the cocktail menu might have majored in mixology by the sounds of some of these thirst-quenching drinks.

Iowa City Eateries

Short's Burgers and Shine

beer, wine, alcohol
Photo courtesy of Short's Burgers and Shine

Many residents of Iowa City know of Short’s Burger and Shine considering it’s been around since 1920. Here, you can find high-quality beef patties styled up 20 different ways including a black bean burger. Short’s Burgers are made from 100% corn-fed black Angus beef that comes from Ed Smith Farms of Mystic, Iowa. You can also find 10 different Iowa Breweries on draft and one review raves about the wide selection of whiskey featured at the bar. This is the perfect place to dine if you're in the burger and fries type of mood.

El Cactus

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El Cactus has all of your favorite Mexican dishes as well as the traditional chips, salsa and homemade guacamole dip. They also feature a variety of salads which includes a taco salad (a real staple when it comes to this Mexican restaurant menu). El Cactus serves entrees with a variety of meat options ranging in pork, chicken, beef to crab and shrimp. 

For all the non-meat eaters out there, they also serve an assortment of vegetarian options. Yet again, what is a good meal without a nice boozy drink to chug from? The cantina menu claims to have the best margaritas in town and I’ve heard they’re quite strong if you’re having a hard time dealing with a tough loss (@hawkeyefans). 

Z'Mariks Noodle Café

Many people claim Z’Mariks is like Noodles and Company, but better. Unlike most pasta bowl restaurants, they offer noodle, mac, rice, salad and soup “bowlz.” All of these “bowlz” incorporate an array of flavorful sauces, hearty vegetables and noodle shapes. Some dishes even have a spicy flavor to them if you're looking for a little heat in your pasta.

If you are like me and just can’t decide between going healthy with a salad or loading up on carbs, guess what? You can do both. Z’Mariks lets you combine any small bowl (noodles, mac or rice) with a small soup or salad to make it a z’combo. Truly the best of both worlds. 


beer, liquor, alcohol
Photo courtesy of Nodo

A true hole-in-the-wall place that has a menu full of goods adequate for any foodie. Nodo has numerous sandwiches and wraps that are better than any deli you can go to. These sandwiches go beyond your meat, cheese and veggies with options like the Thai peanut wrap, Cajun salmon melt and the turkey and cranberry wrap. 

You also have the option to build your own sandwich with your choice of meat, cheese and bread. Salads are also a big hit at Nodo with simple options like a Caesar salad or some unlikely, but still scrumptious choices like the turkey and apple salad. If nothing else, go to Nodo and order a side brew city fries or sweet potato fries. The garlic aioli dip paired with the fries is reason enough to dine at Nodo.

Now that I’ve given you the real rundown on where you can chow down this weekend, go ahead and strap on those cardinal and gold overalls, jam out to some pump up music and crack open a drink because the CyHawk game is upon us. If you feel like heading out after, whether you're celebrating a well-deserved victory or toasting to valiant efforts, nothing is better than being a well-fed cyclone fan.