Lots of smoked meat and a nostalgic gyro

After a big cheeseburger and loaded pizza on Wednesday, I  didn’t even think about food until around 6 p.m. Thursday.

As I mentioned in this space, we planned a trip to the iconic Ames smoked meat joint, Hickory Park. We arrived about two hours before the Iowa State versus Arkansas game, and the lobby was packed.

However, Hickory Park is equipped for large crowds with a huge dining area and an army of staff. We only waited on a table for about 15 minutes. In about another 20 minutes, I had a plate of smoked half-chicken and four ribs.

While Arkansas has Iowa beat withimage a variety of sauces, Iowa smoked meat is pretty darn good. The chicken was meaty, smoky and flavorful. The ribs were prefect, too. It was way too much meat, but since I don’t know when I will return, I ate most of  the ribs and chicken with some beans and sweet potato fries for good measure.

I wouldn’t have needed anything else to eat, but Justin Acri went for a taste of nostalgia, and I joined him after we hung out in campus town after the game. As an ISU student, Acri was a regular at the gyro stand that was parked outside one of the bars. We located the stand where a young girl with blue hair was braving 29-degree temperatures making fresh gyros. Everything tastes good after a night out in college, but the gyros were surprisingly good — piping hot and filled with flavorful lamb. It may be the last time I eat a gyro late at night, but I enjoyed it.