If you graduated from Iowa State University, you’ve probably been to Stomping Grounds. The coffee shop and café is filled with studious students, chatting staff and hungry locals from morning to night. Patrons go for fresh-brewed coffee, a healthful menu with dishes made from local ingredients and a quiet spot to read or to catch up with a friend.
Located on Welch Avenue, the star of Stomping Grounds is a large patio that looks out onto Campustown. Situated just a couple of blocks south of the bars, Stomping Grounds offers views of a bustling Campustown during school months, which turns into a lazy, quiet street when summer starts.
Inside, floor-to-ceiling windows mean patrons can see just as far as patio squatters, in a climate-controlled environment. If you’re grabbing a cup of joe to go, order at the counter inside. If you’ll be staying awhile, find a seat — inside or out — and a server will help you.
We stopped by on a quiet Thursday afternoon for a late lunch. The café was dotted with students, most sitting in small groups talking. Shortly after we seated ourselves, a server arrived with glasses of water and menus.
Stomping Grounds’ menu is full of healthful, lighter fare including sandwiches, salads and soups. At the recommendation of our server, I tried the ham and Gruyére croissant. The light and flaky roll was soft, but sturdy enough to keep thick slices of Black Forest ham, tomato and lettuce together. The melted Gruyére cheese over the ham was mild and added a boost of flavor. Mayonnaise is served on the side, but isn’t needed. I ordered my sandwich with a side of pasta salad tossed in a light oil-based dressing. It was flavorful, but not heavy.
My dining partner tried the roasted tomato and goat cheese crepe, a delicate dish with lots of flavor. Inside, sautéed baby spinach and basil were mixed with roasted tomatoes, and topped with slightly melted goat cheese. He ordered a garden salad for his side, which satisfied with mixed greens, shredded carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Stomping Grounds isn’t just for students. If you’re in Ames, be sure to stop by the café — they offer several items appropriate for any time of day, from breakfast to smoothies to coffee to lunch and dinner items. The cost is affordable and if you want to sit awhile, you’re welcome to stay. In the summer, don’t forget to spend a little time on the patio, perhaps with a cool caffeinated drink and a good book.
Roasted tomato and goat cheese crepe, $8.50
Ham and Gruyére croissant, $7.50
Total, with tax and tip, $20.
Stomping GroundsFind it: 303 Welch Ave., Ames
Hours: 7 a.m.- midnight Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-midnight Saturday and Sunday