The loose meat sandwich is a comforting Midwestern classic made with seasoned beef, mustard, and pickles.
Iowa’s culinary scene boasts a unique gem that locals and visitors alike have savored for generations – the Loose Meat Sandwich. Often referred to as the “Maid-Rite” or “Tavern” sandwich, this simple yet satisfying creation has become a staple of Iowa’s food culture.
What is a Loose Meat Sandwich?
A Loose Meat Sandwich is a deliciously messy, ground beef sandwich served on a soft bun. Unlike its saucy counterpart, the Sloppy Joe, a Loose Meat Sandwich has minimal sauce or none at all. The result is a flavorful, crumbly filling that stays true to its name by being “loose” rather than saucy.
What is the Difference Between a Sloppy Joe and a Loose Meat Sandwich?
While both the Sloppy Joe and the Loose Meat Sandwich involve ground beef on a bun, the key difference lies in the sauce. Sloppy Joes have a saucy mixture of ground meat, tomato sauce, and various seasonings, giving them a messy and tangy flavor. In contrast, the Loose Meat Sandwich let’s the natural flavors of the beef shine through.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you.
What is a Loose Meat Sandwich Made Of?
This classic consists of:
- Ground beef or a beef and pork blend
- Seasonings, such as salt, pepper, and sometimes garlic
- Onions, which are often sautéed with the meat for added flavor
- Soft hamburger buns
- The ground meat is cooked and crumbled, then seasoned to perfection. Sautéed onions can be added for extra flavor and texture.
What is Another Name for a Loose Meat Sandwich?
In Iowa, a Loose Meat Sandwich goes by other names like “Maid-Rite” or “Tavern” sandwich. These names pay homage to the establishments that popularized the dish, such as the “Maid-Rite” chain of restaurants.
The Famous Loose Meat Sandwich in Iowa
Loose Meat Sandwich screams Iowa. One of the most famous spots to enjoy it is the “Maid-Rite” restaurant chain. Founded in Muscatine, Iowa, in the 1920s, “Maid-Rite” has been serving this delicious sandwich for nearly a century.
The chain has since expanded, but its Iowa roots remain strong. It is a must-visit for those seeking an authentic experience.
What to Serve with a Loose Meat Sandwich?
Enjoy a Loose Meat Sandwich with classic side dishes. This includes potato chips, coleslaw, or pickles to complement its savory and crumbly texture. You can also opt for a side of French fries or a simple green salad to complete the meal.
What Drinks is Iowa Known For?
Iowa boasts agricultural heritage, and one of its most famous beverages is corn-based ethanol. However, there are non-alcoholic options. Iowa is also renowned for its apple cider and fresh, locally produced dairy products.
How to Make Loose Meat Sandwiches?
- To make Loose Meat Sandwiches, follow these basic steps:
- Brown ground beef or a beef and pork blend in a skillet over medium-high heat until fully cooked.
- Season the meat with salt, pepper, and any desired spices or seasonings.
- Optionally, sauté onions with the meat for added flavor.
- Spoon the seasoned meat mixture onto soft hamburger buns.
- Serve with your choice of sides, such as chips, coleslaw, or pickles.
The Loose Meat Sandwich, also known as the “Maid-Rite” or “Tavern” sandwich, is a cherished part of Iowa’s culinary heritage. Its simplicity and delicious flavor have made it a beloved classic that continues to bring joy to those who savor it. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the Hawkeye State, don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in this delectable Iowa original.
Loose Meat Sandwich
- 1 lb ground beef
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- salt and pepper
- 4 hamburger buns
- ½ white onion, chopped
- dill pickles
- In a large skillet combine ground beef, water, yellow mustard, and sugar. Simmer over medium heat until meat is cooked through, breaking up meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust. Drain fat if desired.
- Serve meat on buns with more mustard and pickles.