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Canteen Lunch In The Alley

112 1/2 E 2nd St, Ottumwa, IA
(641) 682-5320
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Ranked #1 of 65 Restaurants in Ottumwa
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52 reviews from our community

90% Recommend
    40
    7
    3
    1
    1
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Iowa
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2014

We had read about this place and finally made it there. We had a terrific meal and were not disappointed in the slightest. The ladies tending the shop were friendly and entertaining as they prepared our sandwiches right in front of us. They also filled us in on the history of the place and answered our questions. The sandwiches were... More

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Konya, Turkey
Top Contributor
73 reviews 73 reviews
21 restaurant reviews
62 helpful votes 62 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2014

I'm a native Ottumwan, and this place, down to the portraits of FDR and JFK, hasn't changed much since it was founded in 1936. There is something about the older women bustling around in a tiny space producing cheeseburgers, Canteens, and malts that is, for me, pure nostalgia. Brings back my paper route days when, on Saturday mornings, I'd spend... More

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Kansas City, Missouri
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2014

This place has been here for 78 years for a reason! Best loose meat hamburgers ever! Nothing like Maid-Rite. Staff is super efficient and friendly. We had a canteen with cheese and butterscotch milkshakes. Delicious!!! I have been going here for 30 years with my dad who has been going since he was a kid. Always tastes the same!! They... More

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New Port Richey
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2014

It brought back memories of my youth, when my grandfather would take me to the diner on the corner and buy me ice cream or a malt. The history and reputation of the Canteen Lunch drew me to Ottumwa, as a side trip on my cross-country drive from my home in Florida. I ate a "canteen" with a chocolate malt,... More

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Ottumwa, Iowa
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2014

The canteen... what a classic! I was very impressed with the efficiency of the workers, and I loved the food! Totally awesome!

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Roseville, Minnesota
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 31, 2014

This place is the local secret it is always packed but you just have to stand and wait for the next spot to open. Everyone sits at the little bar surrounding the 3 women fixing food. The canteen sandwiches are what you go for they are just loose hamburgers with special seasoning and your condiments but they are tasty. The... More

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Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2014

A unique dining experience. Classic loose meat sandwiches. Handmade milkshakes in metal canisters. Homemade pies. As rustic as you can get. My brother-in-law, who is a world-famous plastic surgeon from New York, still talks about going to the Canteen and he tends to favor 5-star restaurants. You have to like sitting at a counter with everyone else in a restaurant... More

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Ankeny, Iowa, United States
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
29 restaurant reviews
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 7, 2014

50 years ago my friends and I ate "canteens" here (loose hamburger steamed in a big steamer right in the middle of the serving area) in an alley .Ever since those days I stop in with my wife when we drive through Ottumwa--about 90 miles away from our home. Talk about no changes, the canteens are as delicious as ever,... More

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Ottumwa, Iowa
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2014

I live 40 miles from Ottumwa and go there once or twice a week and usually stop at the Canteen for a meal. The Canteen is a special place and I enjoy the food and the company. The horse-shoe shaped counter makes it something of a social event as you are facing the cooks and the other patrons. The food... More

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Madison, Missouri
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2013

Born and raised in ottumwa and nothing has changed with the food here. My wife makes much better loose meat hamburgers. We used to hit it on a regular basis when in town but don't anymore. Thanks for the memories though.

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