Anita Dufresne knows all about steamed cheeseburgs (New Englanders often drop the –er suffix from burger). She mans the steambox behind the twelve-stool counter at the Lunch Box on East Main in Meriden. Locals certainly have their loyalties to steamed burger joints around town, and those new to town have probably heard of Ted’s across town, thanks to the Food Network. But the Lunch Box is a cut above with a juicier burger, tangier cheese, and a fresh bakery bun to bind the whole package together.
The Lunch Box may be the only steamed burger establishment to serve breakfast, and more often than not, even in the afternoons, you’ll see a few guys digging into plates mounded with eggs, sausage, and home fries. Plump omelets, waffles, and even blue pancakes are available, but the steamed cheeseburg deserves the spotlight here. Anita won the Most Creative Award in last year’s Battle of the Burgers competition, sponsored by Meriden’s Record-Journal newspaper. The “Military Burger” was topped with guacamole, blue cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, bacon, onion, lettuce, tomato, and mushroom, though I’ll gladly take just bacon and spicy mustard on my steamed cheeseburg any day. Bonus points for offering both cherry and strawberry Fanta in cans, too! The Lunch Box is open Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., closed Sunday.