I'm a native of Newton, IA and have lived in Tucson, AZ for 30 years now. But every time I go "back home," the Maid-Rite is one of my first stops. And I'm not alone. When you meet people from Iowa, two food topics generally come up: breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches and Maid-Rites.
It's difficult to discern what it is that makes a Maid-Rite so good. It's just a plain white bun piled up with ground beef cooked up in a steam table with tiny bits of onion and some blend of subtle spices that makes the meat perfect. When you try to cook that up at home, it's just not the same. Maybe it's the texture of the meat. When cooked at home, it just doesn't get beat up as much as at the restaurant, where it is constantly battered with spatulas as the meat is cooked and served up.
The fries are excellent, too, as are the malts and shakes. I've often thought of ordering some Maid-Rites from here; I understand that they'll freeze and ship them across the country. But I'm sure the experience would pale in comparison to getting it fresh from "the trough."
"Unique to Iowa, the Maid-Rite is also known as "loosemeats" or a "tavern." Several years ago, when comedienne Roseanne opened a diner in Iowa, this sloppy sandwich was the specialty of the house."
"Maid-Rite is one of the few chain restaurants with real character. To the far right of this picture is the drive-up window, but beware: trying to eat one of these sandwiches in your car can be a very messy business."
"Maid-Rite's stylish logo dates back three-quarters of a century."
"We took this clean bag as a souvenir; the one that held our sandwiches virtually disintegrated by the time we had finished lunch."