Occasionally, when I tell someone I lived in Iowa for a couple of years, I'm asked my opinion of Maid-Rite. "Don't have one," I say. "Never ate there."
The reaction is similar, I imagine, to what would happen if you told someone you were from St. Louis, and they asked your opinion on T-ravs, and you claimed never to have eaten one. The Maid-Rite loose-meat sandwich is an Iowan thing, like the smell of hog shit or the cow sculpted out of butter at the state fair (a.k.a. "The Butter Cow"). The original Maid-Rite diner dates back to the 1920s; it is now a chain of franchise restaurants based in Des Moines, Iowa.
I have no idea why I didn't try a Maid-Rite loose-meat sandwich while I lived in Iowa. It certainly wasn't because I was a snob. I was a poor grad student: I cooked ramen noodles for lunch and dinner; for a snack, I ate the noodles dry. The easy answer is that there wasn't a Maid-Rite near Iowa City, where I lived -- though a Google search turns up a location in Coralville, the next town over.
At any rate, when I heard that Maid-Rite had opened a location in Ferguson (260 South Florissant Road), I realized I had to go. I dropped by today and ordered the Cheese-Rite, $7.09 with fries and a soft drink. Below, what it looked like when it arrived at my table.
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