Midwest Black Angus beef, free of hormones or antibiotics, joins with creative ingredients such as A.1. sauce and chipotle aioli to create more than 15 unique burgers at Legends American Grill. These burgers embody a variety and thirst for excitement that radiates throughout each of the grill's central-Iowa locations. There, nestled amid deep-umber booths or brick walls, diners watch sports flicker across flat-screen televisions, rooting on their team and showing disdain for the ref’s decision to wear white pants after Labor Day. But if the score is disheartening, fans can dig into the menu to cheer themselves up. Hand-cut Creekstone Farms steaks offset surf entrees such as salmon in béarnaise sauce or grilled mahi-mahi in a sweet-and-spicy thai sauce. Comfort-food favorites such as meatloaf and fried chicken also make an appearance, pairing with cocktails and beers served by the bottle and pint.
Inspired by trips to the state's northwestern lakes, Okoboji Grill conjures the wayfaring spirit of summer vacation with hearty American comfort food. Chefs marinate chicken strips in beer before hand-breading them in a secret blend of spices, crown crispy onion strings with Iowa-raised pork chops, and stack thin-sliced meats into towering club sandwiches and edible replicas of the Chrysler Building. Okoboji Grill also culls recipes from international cuisines, adding an American take to greek gyros, housemade tzatziki sauce, and italian bruschetta and pastas.
Papa Murphy’s pizza eschews monarchical store baking and provides fresh, high-quality pies for customers to enjoy on their own terms. Every pizza on the menu is made to order and whipped together in moments by artisan dough-throwers, who slather on a groundwork of sauce and cheese and then construct leaning towers of harmonized toppings. Stuffed pizzas sandwich a slew of meat and veggies between two layers of dough in a tasty Windy City tribute ($12.99–$14.99) and gourmet pizzas such as the Papa’s Favorite feature traditional red sauce and smorgasbord of meat and veggie pie packers ($11.99–$13.99). A cornucopia of thin-crust pizzas can be loaded with one of four different sauces, including traditional marinara and herb tomato ($5.99–$11.99). With detailed instructions provided for baking, grilling, or laser blasting your personalized pizza at home, Papa Murphy’s lets you finally reclaim culinary sovereignty from the dictatorial delivery boy.
Ames British Foods was originally started to sate the comfort-food cravings of Iowa State’s expats, but it didn't take much time for owner Marcus to discover he had a native fan base as well. His new restaurant—The Chip Shop—serves up traditional fare from across the pond in a friendly setting that encourages relaxing over a plate of fish ’n’ chips or starting a game of cribbage. Customers can also shop Ames British Foods in downtown Ames for imported British biscuits, chocolate, and other UK-leaning groceries, and enjoy a free cup of tea offered by a friendly staff member or that overly friendly regular customer.
The crafty couple, Scott and Deb Coldiron, recreate the traditional Italian pizza with a menu of wood-fired pizza. In an imported, handcrafted oven, burning only seasoned hardwood, the pizza preparers cook up their tasty two-dimensional dishes at over 800 degrees. They do as the Neapolitans do by using locally produced ingredients when possible and baking fresh dough daily. The pizza pros proffer a selection of signature concoctions, such as the pie splattered with La Quercia dry coppa, Stickney Hills goat cheese, arugula, and crushed red pepper ($10), and the smoked provolone, goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, rosemary, and basil cheesily chatting atop hand-worked dough ($8). Personalize the belly-filling experience by topping a palatable pie with one of the 23 topping options, such as the toasted pine nuts, goat cheese, and prosciutto sausage, or by toting along childhood photos (build-your-own pizzas start at $7, with additional toppings $1 each extra).
The skilled chefs at Carlos O’Kelly’s Mexican Cafe whip up burritos, enchiladas, and sizzling fajitas to fill an extensive menu of south-of-the-border cuisine. Diners push aside still-steaming nacho and quesadilla starters as a waiter approaches, arms meticulously stacked with plates of enchiladas and burritos ($8.99–$9.99 each). Chefs slather spinach and mushroom enchiladas in butter garlic sauce, and the burro en fuego specialty burrito befuddles meat detectors by burying contraband shredded beef and spicy chili sauce deep inside a warm flour tortilla. Diners can also look over a gluten-free menu to bite into enchiladas and fajitas prepared on corn tortillas as, in the kitchen, blenders buzz up pomegranate and strawberry frozen margaritas into salt-rimmed glasses for frozen fruit consumption without fear of stuck tongue.
Tutored in the ways of cookie craftwork, Cookies, etc.'s team of bakers bend batter to their will to bake a variety of tantalizing treats from scratch using tested family recipes. Take the echo out of lonely cookie jars with a lid- and taste bud-lifting dozen baked discs in any combination of six flavors. The chocolate-chocolate-chip cookie settles exponential cocoa cravings by embedding milk-chocolate chips into a chewy brownie circle, and the pecan-chocolate-chip cookie infuses a nutborne crunch to please textural tasters. Cookies, etc.'s Frankenstein refreshment fabricators have harnessed all the powers of edible science to assemble the monster cookie, a rich blend of crunchy peanut butter and oatmeal dough packed with M&M'S and chocolate chips.