I visited Ottumwa, IA the other day and asked about a recommendation for lunch. Without a hesitation, I was directed to Canteen Lunch which I may have been the only person that had never heard of it. Dating back to the 1930s, Canteen Lunch in Ottawa, IA is an institution.
I didn’t quite understand at first what they were telling me … they said go down to the Ottawa Hotel, and go into the parking garage and the alley across the street.
It’s a parking garage for goodness’ sake!
After going into the parking garage, the alley in the rear reveals the restaurant. … I guess if the city wants to build a parking garage and the restaurant won’t budge … this is what you get!
Although the menu lists several items, basically you can have whatever you want, as long as it’s a Canteen … a chopped sirloin sandwich on a plain bun with your choice of everything (ketchup, mustard, onions, and pickles) wrapped in white paper.
Service is provided by a group of women who offer a Canteen ready-to-eat in less than a minute from the time you order.
It’s well worth the visit, but be warned. As the regular patron sitting next to me advised … one Canteen is not always sufficient!
Thanks ladies for a wonderful lunch, and experience!