Best loose meat sandwich? Readers say Canteen Lunch in the Alley!

Bob's Drive-Inn, Miles Inn, 10th Street Station and Montgomery's Sandwich Shop also winners

Not quite a hamburger and not quite a Sloppy Joe, the loose meat sandwich is an Iowa fast food favorite with a dueling origin stories. According to one local legend, Ye Olde Tavern in Sioux City began serving a sandwich made with seasoned ground beef piled inside a hamburger bun in 1924, calling it a Tavern Sandwich. In 1926, an Iowa butcher began serving a similar sandwich he called a Maid-Rite. No matter who originally came up with the loose meat, it's now served at burger joints throughout the state, often with no more than a squeeze of mustard and a few pickles.

  • Billy Boy Drive Thru
    Sioux City

    Family-owned since 1962, Billy Boy Drive Thru in Sioux City serves a loose meat sandwich as part of a menu filled with fast food favorites, including burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs and fried chicken.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Maid-Rite
    Multiple Locations

    Maid-Rite has been serving loose meat sandwiches since 1926, made from fresh ground beef, cooked, seasoned and served on a hot bun. The Cheese-Rite comes with a choice of American, shredded cheddar or melted cheddar cheese.
    Photo courtesy of Maid-Rite

  • Ross' 24 Hours Diner
    Bettendorf

    Ross' 24 Hours Diner's commitment to locally sourced ingredients shows in its menu. The loose meat sandwich, called a Rossburger, is made with seasoned and steamed all-natural ground beef piled on a homemade bun. It comes with or without cheese.
    Photo courtesy of Ross' 24 Hours Diner

  • Lewright Meats
    Eagle Grove

    At Lewright Meats in Eagle Grove, the loose meat sandwich is on special every Thursday. During the rest of the week, diners can choose between a variety of sandwiches.
    Photo courtesy of Lewright Meats

  • Tastee Inn & Out
    Sioux City

    At Tastee Inn & Out in Sioux City, the Tastee Sandwich (a.k.a. loose meat sandwich) includes seasoned ground beef piled on a warm bun and topped with mustard and pickles.
    Photo courtesy of Tastee Inn & Out

  • Montgomery's Sandwich Shop
    Grinnell

    The loose meat burger from Montgomery's Sandwich Shop in Grinnell is made with beef ground fresh daily with no fillers or additives. It's served on a fresh bun with mustard, pickles and onion.
    Photo courtesy of Montgomery's Sandwich Shop

  • 10th Street Station
    Fort Madison

    10th Street Station has been serving customers since 1929, and this Fort Madison favorite features several variations of the loose meat sandwich, including one with cheese and another with bacon and cheese.
    Photo courtesy of 10th Street Station

  • Miles Inn
    Sioux City

    The loose meat sandwich served at the Miles Inn in Sioux City, called the Charlie Boy, is a guest favorite made from a secret family recipe. It's best served alongside a schooner of cold beer.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Bob's Drive-Inn
    Le Mars

    No trip to Le Mars is complete without a stop at Bob's Drive-Inn, where the menu of sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken strips and other all-American items includes a loose meat sandwich – known here as a tavern.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Canteen Lunch in the Alley
    Ottumwa

    The loose meat sandwich is a specialty at Canteen Lunch in the Alley, and it comes with ketchup, mustard, pickle and onions. Guests can add a slice of cheese as well. The menu also includes hot dogs, shakes, malts and sodas. 

    Photo courtesy of Canteen Lunch in the Alley

10Best and Sandwich America wanted to find the best loose meat sandwich in the state, and to do so, 10Best editors joined forces with a local Iowa food writer and The Food Channel to nominate 16 worthy restaurants across the state. After four weeks of voting, the results are in.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Loose Meat Sandwich in Iowa are as follows:

  1. Canteen Lunch in the Alley - Ottumwa
  2. Bob's Drive-Inn - Le Mars
  3. Miles Inn - Sioux City
  4. 10th Street Station - Fort Madison
  5. Montgomery's Sandwich Shop - Grinnell
  6. Tastee Inn & Out - Sioux City
  7. Lewright Meats - Eagle Grove 
  8. Ross' 24 Hours Diner - Bettendorf
  9. Maid-Rite - Multiple Locations
  10. Billy Boy Drive Thru - Sioux City

Congratulations to all these winning restaurants!

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