Tastes Like Home

Every town has one. That restaurant that is an icon of the town. The one that when you go back “home” you have to visit or it just isn’t a trip home. Maybe even the one you crave desperately whenever you are pregnant? No? Just me?

For me, that place is Taylor’s Maid Rite. You may have had something called a Maid Rite before. It is sort of a chain. But Taylor’s is the one they write books about and do PBS shows about (seriously, it is always featured in best sandwich kind of shows). It is simple: loose hamburger on a bun with pickles, mustard and onion. Never ketchup. A true Taylor’s fan would never ruin their sandwich with ketchup. In fact they only added ketchup to the counter 70 years after it opened because customers asked for it. But the purists among us find that to be sacrilege.

You would order one…two…for the bravest and hungriest three. You can order them wet or dry. With everything or my personal favorite: mustard extra pickles. Always with a malt or a root beer float. I preferred a butterscotch malt. No fries on the menu so you went with chips. The waitress would put down your sandwich with a spoon. Why would anyone need a spoon? To scoop up all the meat that fell out while you ate of course. It was too good to let any go to waste.

It was my first job. I waited counters. There is a u-shaped counter with red swivel stools. No tables. No room. It is a tiny restaurant that is often packed 2-3 deep at lunch and dinner. The counter is worn down from so much wiping that most of the print is gone. The prices have gone up a bit, but other than that little has changed on the menu. Some of the older ladies have worked there for 20-30 years. To my 14 year old self it was the coolest job I could have. My hands stunk of onions for days. Which was a bit of a bummer because I don’t know if you know this, but onions somehow smell a bit like BO.

I don’t have any family in Marshalltown anymore so I don’t have a real reason to go back. I try and think up excuses to drive the nine hours just so I can have a taste of home again. But now, the restaurant that means so much to me is being threatened. The cooking method they have used for 80 years is coming under fire. It seems to be about health safety, but I have a feeling it is really about politics (isn’t everything?). It makes me as horribly sad there is so little I can do about it, but if it closes you can bet I will make the nine hour trip for one last taste.

What “tastes like home to you?”

*I am honestly not sure if it will make a difference or not, but there is a Save Taylor’s Maid Rite Facebook page. They are trying to reach 10,000 people. If you feel so inclined, head over and join.


  1. Last time you wrote about this place, I wrote about a similar place here in Kansas called Nu-Way. Sounds pretty much identical, except that they have fabulous curly fries and onion rings. :) I am all about the crumbly! I hope that they can save their restaurant and their old school ways of doing things. If it’s worked for 80 years, why is it suddenly broken? Def. politics!
    .-= Devion´s last blog ..LONG NIGHT??? =-.

  2. I just saw the story on the news about Taylor’s Maid Rite! I live in Des Moines but go through Marshalltown on my to visit my parents in Cedar Rapids. I will have to stop at Taylor’s and get a maid rite. :) The story on the news did make me very sad – I hope they are able to continue what has worked for them for so long. They said they wouldn’t be able to even keep up with the demand if they were forced to do it the new way that is being suggested. We didn’t have a special maid Rite in Cedar Rapids, but it does remind me of high school – all my friends worked there. :)
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Swat a Letter =-.

  3. Marge G-S says:

    I followed your link to this blog from the Save the Taylor’s maid-Rite Sandwich Shop Fan page back at facebook, Jill. Thanks for mentioning it here; that was a nice thing for you to do.

    Y’know, I happened to enjoy your blog; I’ll be back to read more. ‘Til then, have a great week!


  4. I LOVE little hole-in-the-wall places!! Anytime I go on vacation, I seek them out. I can eat at a chain restaurant anytime, but local places, that’s a limited-time engagement. In my hometown, there is a Mexican place called Fiesta Jalapeno. It is family-run (and I live in Ohio, lol…). It is the BEST Mexican ever. It only opened when I was maybe a junior in high school but it was just so great. I still get it almost every time I go home! Despite living in a major city now, and having access to lots of little ethnic places, nothing comes close.

    Out of curiosity, what is the “cooking method” they’re worried about? Sad to shut something down over their cooking method….
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Saving Plans =-.

  5. I grew up in the Chicago area, where we have a chain called Portillo’s. They have roast beef sandwhiches that are so incredible…oh, I so wish I was there now. Everytime I go back to the Chicagoland area I just have to have one. Sadly, it is rare these days for me to go there, but I will be there next month and I will surely get one then.

    I hope that your favorite place is able to work it out with the government to make sure they stay in business. I can see both sides of the arguement as food borne illness is a serious problem. Got to be a solution that will keep the food safe and quality as good!
    .-= Amys blah, blah, blogging´s last blog ..10 Smile Tuesday =-.

  6. In Atlanta, it has to be The Varsity! I hardly ever get hotdogs, but almost always get a chili dog with fries…and a peach pie!!

    SO bad for you, but oh so good!
    .-= Staci Brown´s last blog ..Friday Favorites – Fonts =-.

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