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Loose Meat Sandwiches in Iowa

Besides Charley Boy's at Miles Tap in Sioux City and Canteens in Ottumwa, anyone know of any lunch counters or bars in Iowa known for their loose meats. (Of course, I already know about Maid Rite so no use telling me about those

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    1. ground beef fried on a griddle so that it is crumbly. It's like a sloppy joe but without the sauce. An Iowa thing, I think.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jwagnerdsm

        this is not what a maid rite is. It's steamed in a perf pan in a steam table. it's the steaming that gives it that mushiness that helps hold it together on the bun.

      2. In Des Moines George the Chili King serves a good one. They, and many others, refer to it as a beefburger. It's just ground beef spiced in whatever way an establishment wants. George uses a little of their chili in it. They serve Cincinnati style chili.
        I had never heard of them refered to as "loose meat sandwiches"
        until all the fuss about Tom Arnold and Roseanne Barr opening a place that specialized in them.

        1. At Coney Islands in Detroit you either get a hot dog or a "loose"- loose meat hamburger in a hot dog bun, typically topped with chili, mustard and onions.

          1. Yeah I think everyine calls them "maid rites" regardless of where they come from. I had never had them until I married in to an "I" stater. I have had a few when visiting Illinois/Iowa-they seem to have in common: ground crumbled beef on a hamburger bun with kethup, mustard, pickle.some with raw onion. actually sounds good now.

            3 Replies
            1. re: lyn

              Never heard of it called that before. We always said "loose meat" and I'm from Ohio.

              1. re: navygirl7

                In Greenville, Ohio, they have a Maid-Rite. It is not part of the "newer" chain. They are an independent store, with a different recipe. There is a bar down the street that serves what they call a "made wrong meat" sandwich, which, of course, is loose meat.

              2. re: lyn

                A Maid Rite does not include catsup. Mustard, pickle and onion. Having grown up near the original store in Muscatine, IA, we always heard stories about the secret ingredient. After hearing all of these, the closest I can come to recreating the Maid Rite taste is to add Coca-Cola during the steaming process. It seems to add a slight sweetness to the meat. Who knows if there was a secret ingredient. For anyone following this try to find an owner store rather that a franchise store. The meat for the franchise store is prepared off site and reheated (I think) which for me gives it a different taste. Enjoy an Iowa tradition!

                PS: If you end up at George the Chili King in Des Moines try the breaded tenderloin.

              3. 40 years ago I was in college in Iowa, Maid Rite (loose meat) was a staple of our diets.


                1 Reply
                1. re: LikestoEatout

                  Was this the MaidRite on Iowa Ave. in Iowa City?
                  I used to work there in high school.30 some years ago
                  College students studying all night on a ten cent cup of coffee with free refills.
                  Worst tippers in the world.
                  We made ours with beer instead of chicken broth.
                  Can't say that I miss that job

                2. One of the secret ingredients is vinegar which accounts from some of the tanginess. Also, even at actual Maid-Rites (Mason City for sure) every time I've had them they were served up with ketchup, mustard and pickles. I've never had them any other way.

                  1. There's Ross's in Bettendorf, IA, at the foot of the I-74 Bridge. They serve loose meat sandwiches and also incorporate the loose meat into the Magic Mountain.

                    4 Replies
                      1. re: jwagnerdsm

                        Ross' is a truck stop in Bettendorf, Iowa. In addition to loosemeat sandwich's, they serve a Magic Mountain: Texas Toast, covered in french fries (or hashbrowns), ground beef (the same as in their sandwiches), and cheese sauce. Add chili to the top for a Volcano.

                          1. re: jaycooke

                            Man, I remember Ross's! Fond Augie college memoires. I haven't thought of that place in years. 11 to be exact!

                      2. Maid-Rite in Marshalltown Iowa server the original at least up to a few years ago.

                        1. It has to be served with a spoon too. So you can scoop up the "loose meat" that fell