At the beginning of the 20th century, horses whinnied and snorted in the basement of The Livery building, according to the Des Moines Register. Today, though, the cleaned-up space is home to a cozy cafe run by Betsy and James Gideon. Betsy and James strive for thoughtful quality in the form of single-pour brews of coffee and the pastries they bake in-house. The café's ovens are not only for pastries, though; the Gideons also bake fresh bread for sandwiches rather than using prepackaged bread or reconstituted croutons. Guests can recline on wooden furniture that James Gideon constructs himself, or head to the outdoor patio in warm weather.
A quaint Italian restaurant with old-country roots and classic flair, Pazzesco heaps piles of pasta and charm onto guests’ plates while leaving ample room for a succulent hand-cut steak. Founder Chris Patterson’s fusion of fresh Italian and chophouse fare incorporates menu items that have been passed down through generations or decoded from complex metrical schemes in Virgil’s lost epics. The antipasti freddi ($13) starts meals off heartily with an assortment of Italian meats and cheeses served with peppers and olives, and diavolo eggs ($3) make spicy souvenirs from Dante’s trip to the Inferno. Spaghetti marinara ($8.50) and lasagna layered with sausage and cheese ($12) co-star in an extravagant production of pasta dishes that includes a supporting cast of homemade meatballs or sausage links ($3 each). Hand-cut chophouse steaks such as the thick 12-ounce Iowa Chop ($15) or the juicy 14-ounce rib eye ($18) are chargrilled or broiled in butter and garlic and topped with a rich brown-butter sauce.
WestCyde Wings bastes their signature buffalo-style wings in a selection of 21 lip-smacking sauces. Canines first chew on decisions, opting for traditional bone-in or boneless bites, and mouths water mournfully when forced to choose between dipping cups of blue cheese or ranch dressing that accompany every wing platter and glass of water. Spice sensors with a need for heat can coat the crispy pinions in a spicier ensemble, selecting a sauce that is hot, x-hot, blazing hot, or inferno-ally hot, and milder temperaments with a taste for travel can sample sauces such as curry, Cajun, teriyaki, sweet & sour, or Caribbean jerk (one sauce/order; additional sauces $0.59). Eight beers—including brews from Boulevard, Fat Tire, Bud Light, and Miller Light—cascade from the tap at the bar, slaking thirst wrought from the saucy sustenance or while exchanging pleasantries about optometry with the larger-than-life referees projected on the 8-foot TV screen.
Wallaby's sports-centric atmosphere lures revelers with big-game broadcasts, daily drink specials, and an upscale pub-grub menu, which has led to a 10-time ranking as the Best Sports Bar in Story County by the Ames Tribune. Under the luminous glow of 34 sports-beaming televisions, kick off a meal with a group of friends or pet footballs by savoring a single order of ISU State Flappers, classic wings served in a choice of sauces including sweet asian chile, buffalo garlic, and inferno ($5.99 for 6 or $10.99 for 12). Open-faced Wallaby burgers use mushroom-and-marsala-wine sauce to incite incisors ($8.49), and the Wally dip's sliced roast beef and cup of creamy au jus provide fuel for choreographed homerun celebrations ($8.79). To quell inland blues, treat taste buds to underwater treasures, such as the grilled Atlantic salmon or the Cajun ahi tuna ($9.99 for each).
Owned by an intrepid pair of dough-spinning brothers, Jeff's Pizza Shop is a haven for delicious, quickly prepared Italian-American cuisine. Patrons can design trillions of custom pizzas using the five pie sizes and an ample toppings list or choose a specialty creation such as a 12-inch Cordon chicken ($13.49), which mixes rich ham with chicken strips and dumps the meaty medley over a thin crust stippled with alfredo sauce and honey mustard. Diners diagnosed with meat-deficiency syndrome can wrap their lips around a 14-inch Farmer Frank and all its ham, ground beef, bacon, bison meat, and extra cheese ($15.99), and vegetarians can indulge in the self-explanatory spinach, havarti, and artichoke pie ($10.69/10") paired with Sprecher's root beer ($1.69). Jeff's menu delves deep into baked savories beyond pizza, heaving hot, hefty calzones ($4.99+), toasted subs ($5.79), and thick cuts of saucy lasagna ($5.99) directly into mouths before they can apologize for taking small bites out of all the breadsticks ($2.99/side).