A Maid-Rite loose meat sandwich with cheese
|Place of origin||United States|
|Region or state||Iowa|
|Main ingredient(s)||Bun, ground beef, onions|
A tavern sandwich is a sandwich commonly consumed in Iowa in the United States, originally consisting of unseasoned ground beef on a bun, mixed with sauteed onions, and sometimes topped with pickles, ketchup and mustard. The sandwich may also be called loose meat and Maid-Rite.
The sandwich was created first as a "steamed hamburger" in 1920 by Carroll Dietz of Missoula, Montana, and imitated in 1934 by Abraham Kaled at Ye Olde Tavern in Sioux City, Iowa. It is the latter location which gave the sandwich its name. Maid-Rite began selling their version of the sandwich in 1926 under the name "Loose Meat," predating the name "tavern sandwich". In Illinois, this sandwich is also known as a "loose hamburger sandwich".
The sandwich is well known throughout the Midwestern United States, and is served not only in small, local establishments but also in franchise locations such as Dairy Queen. The Wichita, Kansas-based chain Nu Way Cafe serves a version of the tavern/loose meat sandwich called a "Nu Way".
Cultural references 
In later seasons of the American sitcom Roseanne, Roseanne Connor (Roseanne Barr) co-owns a restaurant called the "Lanford Lunch Box" in the fictional town of Lanford, Illinois, which specializes in loose meat sandwiches. The inspiration for Lunch Box was a real-life restaurant called Canteen Lunch in the Alley in Ottumwa, Iowa. In 1993, Roseanne and then-husband Tom Arnold opened Roseanne and Tom's Big Food Diner (based on the fictional Lanford Lunchbox) in Eldon, Iowa (less than 20 miles southeast of Ottumwa's Canteen Lunch), also specializing in loose meat sandwiches.
See also 
- Mariani, p. 297.
- Grant and Ferrara, p. 235.
- Dondanville, p. 215.
- Peterson, p. 137.
- Smith, p. 87-88.
- Metcalf, p. 116.
- "TV ACRES:Restaurants, Bars & Nightclubs > Lanford Lunch Box (ROSEANNE/ABC/1988-97)". http://www.tvacres.com. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- Dondanville, Ruth. Nobody Cooks Like Ruth: Menus From Cherotree (Haverford, PA: Infinity Publishing), 2003. ISBN 0-7414-1418-X
- Grant, Tina & Miranda H. Ferrara. International Directory of Company Histories (Chicago: St. James Press), 2004. ISBN 1-55862-504-6
- Mariani, John F. The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink (New York: Lebhar-Friedman), 1999. ISBN 0-86730-784-6
- Metcalf, Allan A. How We Talk: American Regional English Today (Boston: Houghton Mifflin), 2000. ISBN 0-618-04362-4
- Peterson, Eric. Ramble: A Field Guide to the U.S.A. (Denver, CO: Speck Press), 2006. ISBN 1-933108-08-8
- Smith, Vernon L. Discovery: A Memoir (Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse), 2008. ISBN 1-4343-8431-4