One of the best

The steamed cheeseburger is one of the most geographically focused of all Roadfood specialties. It is available within a twenty-five mile radius of Middletown in central Connecticut, where a handful of restaurants make and serve it. Fifty miles away in Connecticut, or anywhere else on earth, it is almost unknown.

A steamed cheeseburger is cooked not on a grill or grate, but in a steam cabinet, the meat held inside a squarish stainless steel tin as it browns but does not sizzle. Adjacent to the cooking beef patties in the steam cabinet are tins into which are placed small blocks of cheddar cheese. The effect of the steam on the cheese is to make it molten. The concept of steaming meat and cheese was supposedly devised in the 1920s, when steaming food was considered more healthy than frying it. Local historians credit Jack’s Diner as source of the first steamed cheeseburgers. They say Jack’s began as a horse-drawn eats-cart out of which Jack served steamed cheese sandwiches to local construction works. When the men wanted a more substantial, he added beef to the steam box and the steamed cheeseburger was born.

Jack’s is long gone, but at Ted’s in Meriden, you can eat a steamed cheeseburger made to perfection. A steamer is assembled by putting a steamed rectangular patty onto the bottom of a hard roll, then using a spoon or spatula to slide a big gob of partially melted cheese out of the steel tin onto the top of the burger. Into the bun go lettuce and tomato and, preferably, mustard; and you’ve got one heck of a messy but delicious cheeseburger.

Ted’s is a tiny place with four booths, but the best place to sit is at the counter. Here you have a view of the bin of chopped meat from which fistfuls are retrieved for the burger boxes as well as a pile of hard rolls and big blocks of cheese ready to be melted.

Tony Badalamenti | April 09, 2007

I usually pass this way very early or very late, so I was happy to find myself in Meriden at lunch time. I know there are mixed reviews of Ted’s, but I love it.

The burger is flavorful and juicy. The cheese also has a lot of flavor, unlike the wax-like cheese in some places, and the toppings, such as lettuce, tomato, and onion, are fresh and of good quality. Even the roll is a beefier variety to help withstand the rigors of holding a juicy steamed burger. This, in my mind, is one of the best burgers around. I also had some home fries, which were a bit bland… but hey… I didn’t come to Ted’s for potatoes!

What to Eat
Ted’s, steamed cheeseburger
steamed cheeseburger
The juicy beef is loosely packed, and the cheddar is quite good.
Ted’s, Potatoes
Standard home fries, but the preparation and seasoned grill make them fantastic.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday11am - 9pm
Monday11am - 9pm
Tuesday11am - 9pm
Wednesday11am - 9pm
Thursday11am - 9pm
Friday11am - 9pm
Saturday11am - 9pm
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
4 stops | 16 MILES | 24 min

We're not saying that the steamed cheeseburger is the best burger variation on earth, but if you care about regional specialties, it is something you must have. Limited to a small region of central Connecticut and dating back to the 1920s, when anything fried was considered unhealthful and steamed food was the nostrum of the…

Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Lunchbox

    Meriden, Connecticut

    The Lunchbox is a best source of Meriden, Connecticut’s unique steamed cheeseburger, which is extremely juicy with tangy molten cheese on a sturdy bun.

  • Super Duper Weenie

    Fairfield, Connecticut

    A firm-fleshed local hot dog, split & grilled, is served with homemade condiments. Whatever you eat at Super Duper Weenie, get French Fries. They’re the best.

  • Sycamore Drive-In

    Bethel, Connecticut

    The Sycamore of Bethel, Connecticut, is a genuine drive-in with car-hops (& indoor seats) serving crisp-edged Dagwood burgers and house-brewed root beer.

  • Chef’s Dog House

    Newington, Connecticut

    Chef’s Dog House features over 30 different toppings for excellent hot dogs. Burgers are great, too, served with thin-fried potatoes or onions called frizzles.

  • Hubba

    Port Chester, New York

    Chili at this Port Chester dog house dive is all-beef, no bean, hot and greasy. A natural hot dog topping. Hubba: Love it or hate it!

  • Rawley’s

    Fairfield, Connecticut

    Rawley’s is a Gold Coast snack shack with blue ribbon red hots cooked in a deep fryer then finished on a griddle so their skins turn crusty. A Connecticut best!