Last updated on January 5, 2023 by Wandering our World
The State of Iowa is home to Ames, a small city that, despite its size, boasts numerous significant landmarks and historical areas, such as the Historic District in Downtown Ames and Iowa State University.
The presence of that university means the city accommodates large college crowds, which, naturally, has created an active nightlife and a wide array of bars here.
Luckily if you’re new in town, to save you the effort of looking for the best bars in Ames we have shortlisted them just for you, including where some of the best happy hours are too!
From a luxurious speakeasy-style bar that hosts live jazz shows to a brewery with sixteen beers on tap to a wine bar that serves tasty specialty cocktails, Ames offers variety and quality in abundance.
Let’s get started!
- The Three Best Cocktail Bars
- The Two Best Bars For Food
- The Three Best Bars For Live Music & Entertainment
- The Best Bar For Beer
- The Best Dive Bar
The Three Best Cocktail Bars In Ames
1. Cellar 626
Laid-back bar that serves excellent smoking cocktails and numerous beer, wine, and spirits labels, while proving an excellent alternative to college bars.
This bar operates in Lincoln Center as Cyclone Liquors’ tasting room. Combining top-shelf spirits, fresh ingredients, and expert bartenders, Cellar 626 produces some of the best cocktails in Ames.
You can choose from over fifteen hand-crafted beverages—some are classics with a twist, and others are signature recipes.
These creations are outstanding in every way, but if you want something even tastier, you can order them smoked. Smoking cocktails is Cellar 626’s specialty and makes for a one-off drinking experience!
This bar’s offerings doesn’t end there, though, as beer, wine, and international liquors are also on the menu.
The beer selection includes some seasonal draft brews and an array of bottled and canned beers, whereas the wine list boasts uncountable international labels, constituting the state’s most extensive selection.
Regarding the liquors and spirits, Cellar 626 sells rum, gin, vodka, tequila, brandy, and whiskey—you can try them mixed into a cocktail or order them neat to get a better taste.
If you are looking to get away from the college atmosphere while sipping fabulous drinks, Cellar 626 is definitely one of the best bars in Ames for that. You can visit it from 4 pm to 11 pm on Thursdays and Fridays.
Address: 626 Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50010
2. Della Viti
Cozy wine bar that offers forty international wines, over twenty draft and bottled beers, an extensive menu of specialty cocktails, small plates, and daily happy hour specials.
This bar‘s interiors are inviting and cozy, with many comfortable seating options and subtle decorations, such as fairy light rows and vintage posters. The candle-lit barrel tables and wine-colored walls also give the venue a rustic-but-elegant feel and are also fitting since Della Viti is a wine bar.
This bar offers forty excellent wines by the glass, and the best part is that you can pour your own glass through a self-serve system that customers love.
Expect rich red, dry white, blends, and rare wines, among numerous varieties. You can also choose from six draft brews and over twenty canned and bottled beers.
However, this bar did not earn a spot in our best cocktail section because of the wine and the beer—it was thanks to its incredible craft drinks.
The menu features over thirty classic and creative specialty cocktails, the favorites being the Mules, aesthetically served in copper mugs. Their quality is unmatched, as the bartenders craft them with first-rate brands and fresh, rare ingredients and garnishes.
All the drinks mentioned above are also included in Della Viti’s daily happy hour specials. The offers are ever-changing, but you can find out which deal is available on the day of your visit and the schedules by going to the bar’s website.
Hours of operation are from 11:30 am to 11 pm Tuesday through Thursday, from 11:30 am to 1 am on Fridays, from 10 am to 1 am on Saturdays, and from 11:30 to 10 pm on Sundays.
Address: 323 Main St, Ames, IA 50010
3. London Underground
Fun English bar that offers over sixty whiskey options, an exciting seasonal cocktail menu, wines, beers, and daily happy hour specials.
This English-themed bar specializes in whiskey. The selection includes local, American, and international whiskeys, putting together an incredibly varied 60-item list. You can order a single or a double pour, or pay for a whiskey flight to try several different varieties at once.
However, although whiskey is the standout at London Underground, it shouldn’t overshadow the cocktails.
From Martinis to Gin & Tonics to hot drinks, the beverage options seem endless and are original and creative. Mixing top-brand flavored spirits with contrasting ingredients, London Underground’s bartenders achieve delicious, well-presented drinks. Don’t get too attached to one particular cocktail, though, as the menu is seasonal.
Wine and beer options are numerous as well—both domestic and imported—and feature discounted prices in the bar’s happy hour deals, which also include whiskey and cocktails.
The offers are available until 7 pm daily, in addition to Late Night deals that last from 10 pm until close Monday through Thursday.
London Underground opens at 3 pm Monday through Thursday and 2 pm Friday through Sunday. Closing hours are at 2 am every day.
Address: 212 Main St, Ames, IA 50010
The Two Best Bars In Ames For Food
1. Wallaby’s Bar and Grille
Upscale sports bar with an outdoor terrace that serves high-quality bar food with out-of-the-box twists, gluten-free and vegan dishes, beer, wine, and original cocktails.
Wallaby’s is a sports tavern turned into a more upscale restaurant bar. While there are jerseys on the walls and numerous TVs streaming different sports, the sleek furniture keeps the venue looking high-end—cushioned leather booths, classy stools around the bar, and fire pits on the glamorous terrace certainly don’t sound like your typical sports bar decor.
The interiors’ restaurant-like feel reflects the quality of the dishes that come out of the kitchen—this bar serves bar food, but better!
For example, the burgers are made with out-of-the-ordinary sauces like marsala wine sauce and raspberry spread instead of just cheddar cheese.
In addition to this, the menu is quite inclusive, as it includes gluten-free alternatives, vegan options, and more elaborate dishes, so there is something for everyone.
Regarding the drinks, Wallaby’s has ten beers on tap, bottled options, Mules, and house wines. The drinks menu also features over ten cocktails, some of which are unique recipes made with signature blends.
Hours of operation are from 11 pm to 9 pm every day.
Address: 2733 Stange Rd, Ames, IA 50010
2. BNC FieldHouse
College bar that serves the best chicken wings in Ames and excellent bar food, presents an array of beer options, and offers daily happy hour deals.
This bar is located in Campustown, where the principal student housing options, fraternities, and sororities are, which makes it the perfect place to get the college bar experience. However, BNC being a college bar does not make its gastronomic offer any less remarkable.
The food menu consists of bar food for the most part. The appetizers are finger food options such as nachos and homemade beer-breaded pickles, salads, wraps, sandwiches, burgers, and chicken wings, the true star of the menu.
The wings are famous all around Ames, and customers consider them the best in town—they are crispy but tender and make a perfect pair with whichever sauce you choose.
The best drink to accompany this bar’s meals is beer, which is why BNC stocks plenty of it behind the bar—domestics, IPAs, Ales, Sours, and DIPAs are just a few examples of all the beer types this bar offers.
Most beers are included in the student-friendly happy hour deals that BNC provides daily, so you can drink your ice-cold delight without affecting your wallet too much. This is definitely one of the most budget friendly bars in Ames.
Hours of operation are from 4 pm to 12:30 am Monday through Wednesday, from 4 pm to 1:45 on Thursdays, from 2 pm to 1:45 on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 2 pm to midnight on Sundays.
Address: 206 Welch Ave, Ames, IA 50014
The Three Best Bars In Ames For Live Music & Entertainment
Elegant speakeasy-style bar that offers themed signature cocktails, a wide range of spirits, sharable dishes, and live music shows by blues and jazz bands.
Walking into Noir feels like entering a 1920’s speakeasy because of the luxurious and dark ambiance.
This prohibition-era concept applies to the drinks, too, as the signature cocktail menu contains numerous bourbon and whiskey-based drinks with themed names, the Charleston and Charlie Chaplin being perfect illustrations.
If you visit Noir on a Friday or a Saturday, anywhere between 7 pm and 10 pm, you will get to enjoy your cocktail or glass of neat whiskey while listening to live music shows by talented artists and bands.
In order to harmonize with the bar’s theme, the shows revolve around blues and jazz performances that create a unique moody atmosphere.
Apart from drinking and listening to music, you can also have dinner at Noir. The menu consists of flatbreads with numerous topping options, ranging from Caprese to Italian sausage to vegetarian. Delicious and sharable, these flatbreads are perfect for a group meal.
You can live the one-of-a-kind Noir experience from 4 pm to midnight Wednesday through Sunday.
Address: 405 Kellogg Ave, Ames, IA 50010
2. The Angry Irishmen
Relaxed bar that hosts karaoke, live music, and open mic nights and serves beer and cocktails.
Formerly called Deanos, The Angry Irishmen is the designated karaoke bar in Ames. Surrounded by pool tables, a few booths, and a dive-bar-like atmosphere, the stage welcomes anyone who feels like singing their heart out every Saturday from 9 pm.
However, karaoke is not the only entertainment The Angry Irishmen offers. Friday nights are for live music—the usual repertoire includes rock performed by local bands and artists that set the tone for a fun night.
On the other hand, on the first Monday of every month, the bar hosts Open Mic nights for any kind of performance: you can expect acting, magic, music, and much more!
While enjoying the shows, you can sip an ice-cold beer or a cocktail—the bartenders are ready to mix up any classic you want for an affordable price.
This bar offers daily drink specials and happy hour discounts like $1 or $2 off deals and 2-for-1 bargains, which are available Tuesday through Friday from 6 am to 10 am and from 4 pm to 7 pm.
Hours of operation are from 2 pm to 2 am on Tuesdays, from 6 am to 2 am Wednesday through Saturday, and from 2 pm to midnight on Sundays.
Address: 119 Main St, Ames, IA 50010
3. Time Out
Fun bar that offers numerous arcade games, retrogaming, rare specialty drinks, tap beer, and karaoke nights.
The entertainment at Time Out has nothing to do with music and everything to do with games. Darts, arcade, pinball, and claw machines fill the venue, making this bar every gamer’s paradise.
Super Mario Bros., Skee-Ball, and Ms. Pac-Man are some of the renowned games this bar offers, in addition to lesser-known but equally fun ones.
It is one of the few bars in Ames that is perfect for children and family gatherings during the day. However, at night Time Out turns into a 21+ establishment with a full bar available.
This bar offers tap beer, bottles and cans, and unique specialty drinks such as butterbeer and The Slimer, a green fluorescent cocktail.
Although we have mentioned that there are no live music shows at Time Out, this bar does host karaoke nights on the weekends for customers looking for even more fun. You can get on the stage, choose your favorite tune, and musicalize the gaming evening!
Step into this fun bar and spend some quarters from 4 pm to midnight on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 4 pm to 2 am on Fridays, from 2 pm to 2 am on Saturdays, and from 2 pm to midnight on Sundays.
Address: 120 Kellogg Ave, Ames, IA 50010
The Best Bar For Beer
1. Torrent Brewing Company
Laid-back brewery with more than fifteen beer varieties on tap, specialty brews, snacks, games, and excellent service.
This bar is set in an industrial building, which gives both the brewery and the beer an authentic feel. However, don’t let that deter you, as the venue is well-decorated, clean, and has many comfortable seating options.
With over fifteen beers on tap, Torrent Brewing Company has one of the most extensive beer selections in the area.
The list is ever-changing, but you will always find excellent IPAs, Ales, Stouts, and rootbeer written on the bar’s blackboard.
There are also some rare specialty beers with flavors like vanilla and raspberry, which are hard to find around other bars.
If you cannot choose one beer, you can always order beer flights to combine different flavors. You could also ask the staff to advise you—they are attentive, knowledgeable, effective, and one of Torrent’s greatest assets, providing customers with top-notch service.
Snacks are available in this bar, such as pretzels and popcorn. You can pair them with your beer and eat while you play pool or a board game.
Hours of operation are from 4:30 pm to 10 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 4:30 pm to 11 pm on Fridays, from 11 am to 11 pm on Saturdays, and from 1 pm to 9 pm on Sundays.
Address: 504 Burnett Ave, Ames, IA 50010
The Best Dive Bar
1. Tip Top Lounge
Laid-back dive bar with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere that serves beer and chili and offers pool games, TVs that stream various sports, and sporadic live music shows.
If you want to feel welcomed, visit Tip Top Lounge – one of the friendliest bars in Ames!
The staff are always happy to engage in friendly conversations with customers, which attracts crowds equally as pleasant and with the same eagerness to chat. If you enter this bar alone, you will probably leave with good new friends.
No conversation is complete if it is not over a cold pint. Luckily, Tip Top Lounge has a few beers on tap and also sells many bottled beer labels, some of which used to be favorites in the USA and are no longer sold in any other bar.
During the fall and winter, you can pair your beer with Tip Top’s beloved chili, which has been popular since the 80s, when the bar’s chili eating contest took place.
This bar also offers some forms of entertainment—numerous TVs for sports-watching, pool tables, and occasional live music shows. Tip Top usually has a relaxed atmosphere, but keep in mind that it gets quite crowded during the performances.
Hours of operation are from 7 am to 2 am every day.
Address: 201 E Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50010