The Lanford Lunchbox

A sandwich is one of the most important items in American food culture. It brings people together. No matter what socio-economic background one comes from his or her community has a great sandwich. Take the Midwest for example. More specifically, take the sandwich from a small blue-collar town in Lanford, Illinois. The sandwich is called a Loose Meat Sandwich and it’s served at the Lanford Lunchbox on Connor Street.

How does one know that the Loose Meat Sandwich is the quintessential thing to get at this no-frills coffee shop? Because it’s the only thing on the menu. They have the opportunity to truly focus on their craft and not get distracted with other options. Oh, and just because the Lanford Lunchbox didn’t originate the sandwich, they sure perfected it.  

It’s like a Sloppy Joe with out the sloppy part. If it was given a proper name, it would be called just a Joe. The version at the Lunch Box is a blend of chuck and sirloin. The fat content far exceeds 80/20 making it more flavorful than its competition. People can argue what makes a loose meat sandwich perfect. For starters, it’s the grind of the meat. In the Lunchbox’s R & D kitchen, which is really just a kitchen in a suburban home, they put the meat through the grinder at least 20 times for a single batch. It’s not as pureed as sand but it’s a lot finer than hamburger ground beef. Mixed with onion then drained and reduced with beef broth, butter, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce, you got yourself the best filling in between an over sized, store bought, steamed bun. It’s topped with onions and pickles, but the real kicker, every sandwich comes with a small plastic spoon to scoop up all the seconds. Of course, they’re not “sloppy” though.

The bedside manner from the crew at the Lunchbox is something one will find at the Dick’s Last Resort tourist traps scattered around the US. One might get service or one might not. And the service might be sweet, or it might be, “Here’s your sandwich now get the hell out of here.” It all depends on the waitress’s moods.

It’s probably a good idea to leave in a hurry. The Lunchbox is not a place to hang out at and surf the web. But then again, if you want to observe blue collar Americana at its finest, grab one of the few stools at the counter and eat your heart out.


The Lanford Lunchbox

Lanford, Illinois

ATMOSPHERE: Loud and proud cafeteria vibe where the waitresses rule and the customers are second rate.

SERVICE:  Depends on the mood of the waitress.

SOUND LEVEL:  Loud and obnoxious. One will know everyone’s business in a matter of seconds.

RECOMMENDED:  The Loose Meat Sandwich

DRINKS AND WINE:  Coffee, water, and soda

PRICES: $3.50

OPEN:  7 days a week 10am-9pm

RESERVATIONS:  That’s funny


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