It’s been a long time since we ate at Cafe Northwest, especially after they had moved to the new location, east of town. It’s now by the Tip Top Lounge, All Animals Pet Hospital, and the Dollar Store. Yes, that part of town of Ames, IA. It has bigger space with a separate bar called “Sopranos”. Yet from what we experienced last night, the food or service is not bigger or better. There was only one waitress and a host.

Not only it was a slow service, but also low quality. If this was a cafetaria-like restaurant, I’d understand. Claiming “Good food, good drink, good people”, you’d think they’d know their shit. Not only they didn’t pick up the empty beer bottle after putting the new one on the desk (of course, we had to ask first); they screwed up our orders. Although it may be normal to be out of a certain entree (in my opinion, the waiter/waitress should be able to have that info ahead of time when customer’s ordering instead of returning after a long time when the waiter/waitress brought out the appetizer), it’s almost unheard of to be out of frequently-requested sodas.

Their menu stated, “As you feast on genuine Greek specialties prepared with the freshest, hand-selected ingredients, you will savor that only the most
experience chef’s can create!”.
So we ordered their $4.95 Greek appetizer, Sagnaki, which is fried Keseri cheese and sausage “served flambe at your table”. They flambed it alright, but the waitress could not get the fire out, so she kept squeezing the lemon juice to it. Too much that it killed the flavor, it was so unbearable to digest. OPA!

Ordered three main courses: Greek Salad, Greek Spaghetti, and Kotopaula (Greek chicken: full half chicken oven roasted using the finest Greek herbs and spices).  Well, the salad came first. It was quite ‘plain’ with no kalamata olives or boiled eggs like a Greek salad should, though their menu stated so. When asked, the waitress said, “Oh… did you mean to order the main course of Greek Salad?” Duh.

When she’s back with the Greek Spaghetti (which turned out to be bland), she told us that they’re out of the Kotopaula (Greek chicken). “Would like to order something else?” the waitress asked. Why didn’t you tell us earlier? Frustrated with trying to order Greek food, I tried to play it safe, “Just give me your Basic Burger, please.” Nothing should go wrong with good ol’ Iowan beef, right? Wrong! They screwed it up again. It was dried and bland.

So we’re not planning to go back to this place again. But we love Greek food. What to do? No fear, Greek food lover, for there is a better place to go: Pammel Grocery/Pammel Deli. It’s been here forever, with their original location on Stange Rd, when it was just a small grocery store and was only selling gyros.

Now it’s located at the west side of Ames, 113 Colorado Ave. It’s now a bigger store with a deli tucked in at the back. One of Yelp user wrote:  

This is quite possible the most overlooked, undiscovered place to eat in Ames.  While it’s largely an ethnic grocery store, there is a fantastic restaurant in the back.  Hands down the best gyros in town.  Ahmed, the owner, tends to make everything from scratch – a big plus in my book.  If you get a chance to get the lamb shishkabobs – don’t hesitate.  But don’t order them if they don’t have some that have been marinading for a while.  You can’t force this stuff along in a short time frame.

Ames people thought the best gyro in town is the gyro stand in Campustown on Welch Ave. Some said it’s Flame & Skewer’s at the mall. You should really try gyros from this place, it whooped the other places’ gyros.

If ambiance is what you’re looking for, then head down to the mall. If it’s the taste that’s important to you and you wouldn’t mind sitting in a cafetaria-like place, then Pammel is the place to go.