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Canteen Lunch In The Alley

Certificate of Excellence
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112 1/2 E 2nd St, Ottumwa, IA 52501-2925
+1 641-682-5320
10:00 - 19:00
Closed now
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Mon - Sat 10:00 - 19:00
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132 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Traveller rating
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Time of year
Showing 131: English reviews
Filer, Idaho
Level Contributor
34 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

We were visiting Ottumwa and a family member brought us to this restaurant. It is small, seats about 20-25 in a counter diner type seating. I tried the burger with cheese and everything on it. It was delicious. A little messy but they give you a spoon. Then I tried the pecan pie. It was the best I've ever had.... More 

1 Thank my_travel_th0ughts
Level Contributor
2 reviews
Reviewed 16 April 2017 via mobile

A must try when in Ottumwa. Great sandwiches and milkshakes! Homemade pies are delicious too. Small space but great taste!

Thank Tanya R
Level Contributor
31 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 April 2017

Loose meats can be purchased anywhere but THE CANTEEN has been serving their special loose meats since before World War 2 and it looks like it! Yes, it is a small building...stools surround the steamer where the meat is cooked and dished into buns, wrapped into paper and handed to you to enjoy. YES...the meat will spill all over and... More 

Thank David C
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviewed 21 March 2017 via mobile

Never had a bad visit here. Only "fast food" my kids will consistently eat. The ladies have been working here since I was little and they know what they are about.

Thank cwhennen
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
Reviewed 14 March 2017

The Canteen is a wonderfully delicious place to eat! They will serve your loose meat sandwich any way you want it!

Thank grammylynn2001
Zion, Illinois
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
Reviewed 7 March 2017

Canteen is a MUST eat at place in Ottumwa. So interestingly tucked under a parking structure...town wouldn't let it be raised!!

Thank ronald4206
2 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 March 2017 via mobile

Like usual, its nice to step back to something not so fancy. Sandwiches and milkshakes are delicious. And waitresses are nice.

Thank clifflls
Branson, Missouri
Level Contributor
115 reviews
73 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 February 2017

This is one of the best places to eat in Ottumwa. It has been here for many, many years. A small and quant place to eat loose meat burgers, a bag of chips, coke and a slice of pie makes it worth the while to walk down the alley for this meal. Get there early because the stools at the... More 

Thank Rick B
Covington, KY
Level Contributor
510 reviews
239 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 305 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 January 2017

We were driving across Iowa on our way back from Colorado. We got off I-80 just past Des Moines to go to Ottumwa for lunch (and also visit the American Gothic House Museum in Eldon). It didn't really take us much out of our way and it's all highway once you get out of Des Moines. It doesn't look like... More 

Thank CovingtonCat
Level Contributor
14 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 November 2016

Its a VERY odd place, stuck in an alley. It looks like a biker bar...but its a friendly family restaurant where local farmers pop in for..."a loose meat sandwich"... Its all they really serve. A semi-circular counter wraps around a mysterious alter-like pedestal on which sits the mysterious "holy meat cooker". They bring offerings in the form of 10 pound... More 

2 Thank Enviro G

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Restaurant Details

Rating summary
  • Food
  • Value
American, Fast food
Lunch, Dinner
Restaurant features
Takeout, Parking Available
Good for
Child-friendly, Kids
Open Hours
10:00 - 19:00
10:00 - 19:00
10:00 - 19:00
10:00 - 19:00
10:00 - 19:00
10:00 - 19:00
Location and Contact Information
  • Address: 112 1/2 E 2nd St, Ottumwa, IA 52501-2925
  • Location: United States  >  Iowa (IA)  >  Ottumwa
  • Phone Number: +1 641-682-5320
Features loose meat sandwiches.

Questions & Answers

Questions? Get answers from Canteen Lunch In The Alley staff and past visitors.
Posting guidelines
Typical questions asked:
  • Do you have gluten-free options?
  • Is there a dress code?
  • Do you allow dogs on the outdoor patio?