Cecil’s Café

Review by: Michael Stern


Giant animals on top of restaurant roofs tend to be a beacon of good things to eat. If you are traveling along Highway 14 outside of Marshalltown, Iowa, and you see a large concrete chicken looming high above the pavement, prepare to stop and eat. The chicken is the emblem of Cecil’s Café, a favorite among truck drivers, local business folks, and members of the Marshalltown Kiwanis Club, who meet here every Wednesday night.

Cecil’s is quite literally a crossroads diner, where locals and travelers meet from five o’clock in the morning through supper time for simple meals that include breakfast of bacon and eggs and cinnamon rolls and lunch of deluxe hamburgers and hot beef sandwiches. At peak mealtime, the counter and booths will likely be crowded; and while morning customers tend to linger, the turnover is fast at lunch. At every meal, the coffee keeps flowing and spirits are high.

Other than breakfast, the meal we recommend is a tenderloin — a pounded-thin patty of pork that is breaded and fried crisp and served on a bun. It is a big sandwich and a satisfying one; but it’s not at all uncommon to see the burly customers at Cecil’s Café enjoy them two by two.

What To Eat


tenderloin sandwich

Cinnamon Roll


Cecil’s Café Recipes


What do you think of Cecil’s Café?

One Response to “Cecil’s Café”

Katharyn Bine

July 11th, 2022

Sadly, Cecil’s is closed and it does not appear that it will reopen anytime soon. Fear not hungry traveler: in the spirit of the long-closed Stone’s, you will not go hungry in Marshalltown.

I can HIGHLY recommend La Carreta Mexican Grill, lacarretaiowa.com, which is just a bit farther east on Iowa Avenue. Delicious Mexican food. No tacos, no love. :). Also good: Jack’s Pho House http://www.jacksphohouse.com, Hometown version of a meat-and-three cafeteria is Haley’s, which used to be a grocery store but now it’s a restaurant. Great barbeque: haleysdelibbqandcatering.com.

The landmark restaurant to go to now is Taylor’s Maid-Rite, home of loose meat sandwiches and a countertop so worn that you have to look under the salt and pepper shaker holders to see what color it used to be. They usually have pie available.

Zeno’s Pizza http://www.zenosrestaurant.com has been open in the same location for ages, and sorry to say I have not been back since the 80s. I also look forward to trying Opa Grill opa-grill.com.

There used to be a dining room in the Tallcorn Towers, but the building has converted to assisted living apartments. I can find no indication of food for sale there. :/


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