Review by: ayersian


Anita Dufresne knows all about steamed cheeseburgs (New Englanders often drop the –er suffix from burger). She helms the steambox behind a twelve-stool counter at the Lunchbox on East Main in Meriden — one of a handful of restaurants in this small part of Central Connecticut that specialize in steamers.

So, what exactly are they? They are thick hunks of well-fatted ground beef cooked in a steam cabinet in an individual tray that allows them to wallow in their juices. Blocks of cheddar also are cooked in their own separate trays in the cabinet, just long enough to become viscous enough to seep into every crevice of the meat on which they are placed. The soft hamburger (no crust on a steamer) and cheese are layered in a roll, usually along with lettuce, tomato, pickle. onion, and mustard.

Most locals have loyalties to one or another of the steamed cheeseburger joints around Meriden; and culinary tourists likely have heard of Ted’s, across town, which had its moment of fame a few years ago on TV. But we believe the Lunchbox is a cut above. Its burger is juicier and its cheese tangier. And there’s a fresh bakery bun to bind the whole package together.

The Lunchbox may be the only steamed cheeseburger establishment to serve breakfast; and more often than not, even in the afternoons, you’ll see a few guys digging into plates crowded with eggs, sausage, and home fries. Waffles, French toast, southwestern Migas, even blueberry pancakes are available. Or how about a steamed cheeseburger omelet?

Anita’s Military Burger won the Most Creative Award in a Battle of the Burgers competition a few years back. This mighty mountain comes topped with guacamole, blue cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, bacon, onion, lettuce, tomato, and mushrooms! It’s amazing, but we’d advise first-time steamed-cheeseburger eaters to keep it simple.

What To Eat

Steamed Cheeseburger


Chicken Soup

Military Burger


Lunchbox Recipes


What do you think of Lunchbox?

2 Responses to “Lunchbox”

Bart Gullong

October 2nd, 2012

Ted’s may be the original but The Lunchbox is what the steamed cheeseburger was always meant to be. The burger is fresh and sweet, with no freezer or cheap-meat taste. The cheese has a Black-Diamond-style aged cheddar bite that counterbalances the beef perfectly. And the bun fits the burger in both size and texture, encompassing the meat and cheese but giving way to your bite, delivering the perfect balance of resistance and surrender, rendering every bite a perfect ratio of flavorful goodness.

I know to many it may seem like blasphemy, but the Ted’s emperor is naked. The beef is inferior and the 372 satellite is embarrassingly bad. I’m still a powerful disciple of the steamed cheeseburg as uniquely Connecticut fare, but when I have guests in from out of town, the Lunchbox is the place I take them to show off the qualities of multicultural working class food that makes our little nutmeg melting pot what it is.


Jeff Beeton

March 10th, 2011

My large special breakfast of kielbasa, scrambled eggs, and home fries with rye toast was delicately prepared and presented by the friendly and pleasant owner Anita. She told me a little about her victory four months ago as the “Best Steamed Hamburger” competition held in Meriden. The win included a large trophy, which Anita proudly displays in her Lunchbox restaurant.

Although I visited during a slow mid-morning, Anita offered to whip up her steamed burger. I declined, saying I will return sometime during lunch to experience the full pleasure of the meal.


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