Friday, June 2, 2023

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Belly Up To...

TrailSide Tap


Start here. End here. 

The TrailSide Tap at 710 S.W. Third St. in Ankeny is a favorite for bikers traversing High Trestle Trail. Photos by Jackie Wilson

The High Trestle Trail is a popular 25-mile bike trail between Ankeny and Woodward. Along the trail, businesses offer thirsty and hungry bikers dining and drinking options. One of those places, the TrailSide Tap, is worth a visit.

TrailSide Tap is located just behind the Ankeny Market Pavilion and the High Trestle Trailhead in Ankeny’s uptown district. 

It opened in September 2020. Before that, it was the Pig ‘n Pedal, which shuttered last year after a brief opening. The new owner, Mike Holman, was formerly with the Café in Ames, where he was awarded Iowa Restaurant Association Chef of the Year. He was looking for a change, and this was the opportunity to start fresh.

The highlight of the bar includes 18 local brews, and for good reason — next door is Firetrucker Brewery. The beers scroll on the Untappd app screen where users can check in and rate their craft beer.

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The Tap’s Strawberry Shortcake consists of made-from-scratch pound cake topped with whipped cream, basil and macerated strawberries.

There’s a full bar, and beers start at $4, house wine starts at $5, or patrons can choose from the Cocktails for Thirsty Riders drink menu with options starting at $8. The Bourbon & Blues consists of Cedar Ridge bourbon with blueberries.

The snacks and small plates are inventive. Brussels sprouts are a good way to get your veggies in, but the handmade cheese curds are also tempting, as are the cauliflower wings and liver and bone marrow plates. Summer menus cater to the patio crowds and rotate.  Holman says, although they are a bar, they are food-focused and turn to local sources in their menus, including Berkwood Farms meat. 

“We try to see what works,” he explains. “We have a local farm ready when tomatoes are in season.”

The menu includes two desserts: Milk & Cookies and Strawberry Shortcake. Who doesn’t like something sweet at the end of the meal? I’ll definitely have to come back for a weekend brunch starting at 9 a.m. and indulge in the Monster Cookie Pancakes. Imagine oat pancakes, peanut butter, M&M cookie dough and chocolate chips, dripping in syrup. If we ate this meal frequently, we might rename this column “Belly Out.”

The Bourbon & Blues with Cedar Ridge bourbon.

Fortunately, you can work off your dinner by playing one of the two shuffleboard courts outside. The large outdoor patio is casual and offers bar seating. Last year, the patio often accommodated bikers who were either starting or returning from bar crawls along the trails. 

Inside, the décor is simple and has a classic comfortable look. There are only two TVs inside, and that was a refreshing change. 

Although Holman opened during the pandemic, the watering hole has experienced gradual growth, and that has helped.

“It wasn’t all that bad,” he says. “We’re happy with the place and up to full staff.” 

The next time you bike the High Trestle Trail, bring your bike lock and follow the TrailSide Tap’s motto: “Start here. End here.” ♦

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