Coffee Cup Café

Review by: Michael Stern

If you find yourself southeast of Des Moines looking for a square meal, drive around the town square of Sully until you spot the Coffee Cup Café. With its short counter, laminate tables, and menu of heartland square meals, this inconspicuous eatery is a hearty slice of Roadfood, Iowa-style.

At breakfast, we love the plate-wide golden pancakes accompanied by rounds of sausage; and this being Iowa, of course the kitchen makes beautiful cinnamon buns (the unofficial state pastry). The buns are not huge, but they are mighty good, served warm from their pan with plenty of butter on the side.

The lunch menu includes hot beef sandwiches and tenderloin steaks, and there is one big hot meal every day – such fare as baked ham, roast chicken, and pork chops. Whatever else you eat for lunch, have a Dutch salad on the side. This is a regional specialty made of crisp iceberg leaves bathed in a warm sweet and sour creamy mustard dressing with pieces of bacon and slices of hard-cooked egg.

Of course, dessert at the Coffee Cup Café must be pie. The kitchen’s cream pies are ethereal, virtually floating off their crusts; the fruit double-crust pies are dusted with sugar crystals and are the sort that you simply don’t find outside the pie-happy state of Iowa.

What To Eat


Dutch Salad


Pecan Roll

Cinnamon Bun

Hot Beef Sandwich



Coffee Cup Café Recipes

Dutch Lettuce


What do you think of Coffee Cup Café?

One Response to “Coffee Cup Café”

Paul Kloss

October 28th, 2003

A late breakfast at the coffee cup café lacked some of the ambiance one typically finds in a roadfood joint. The waitresses were getting ready to switch over from breakfast to lunch and the menu did nothing to hint at any sort of deliciousness that would set the CCC apart from a Denny’s or IHOP. We even dared talk amongst ourselves that as long as the pie delivers the goods, the Sterns are less than picky about the rest of the place. To top it all off, banana cream pie wasn’t even on the daily pie menu. We ordered and waited and waited. Once the food hit the table, however, the Coffee Cup Café quickly proved it’s a worthy roadfood addition.

The cinnamon bun was yeasty and sweet enough to make one’s teeth hurt. Alas, no butter was on the side. The pancakes were impossibly large, impossibly fluffy and impossible to finish. They struck a perfect balance between the salt/sweet/griddle flavors that makes diner pancakes so luscious. Sausage patties were nearly as big as your hand and raised the bar for patties with their spicy kick. The hash browns were more like home fries– perfectly brown and crisp. While it’s hard to mangle scrambled it’s equally difficult to create transcendent eggs. The eggs at the CCC aimed fairly high.

Humbled and fattened by breakfast, the pie menu still urged us on. Rhubarb and Coconut Cream were selected to decant for a spell in the car. I won’t recommend steering with your knees on 1-35 while trying to eat but I will recommend these lovingly crafted pies. Great crust, rich filling and heartland know-how combine to make the CCC pie a must order no matter the meal.

The CCC is a super friendly place even if you are immediately marked as not being from around there. The sparse setting of the place was completely redeemed by the wonderful food and I’ll see a bug crawl out of my food before I question the Stern’s nose for the dining gems that dot this great country.


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