Hanging out in Wichita again and where should I find myself but at one of the NuWAY locations. NuWAY is decidedly old-fashioned, actually; it’s been around in Wichita since 1930. The NuWAY specializes in a specific kind of burger. It’s called different things, depending on the part of the country you’re in. In Kansas, you’re apt to hear it called a “crumbly;” the burger originated, I believe, up Iowa way where it’s still called a “loosemeat” (not the most appetizing name, I grant you). The loosemeat is simple; it’s the ground beef that would typically be pressed into a hamburger patty. Thus, instead of a beef patty on your hamburger, you have a loose pile of ground beef. It’s a lot messier, obviously, but those who love it, love it. The loosemeat, by the way, migrated to Kansas directly from Iowa; the NuWAY was started by a fellow who’d just moved from Iowa to Wichita back in the late 1920s. So, there’s some territory in between the two states where you won’t find these sandwiches for sale. In Oklahoma, I live less than three hours from Wichita and there’s not a single place I’ve ever encountered around here that sells loosemeats.
So, anyway, it’s a regional favorite with a long history. But as with much of the food I’m encountering on this journey it’s really most interesting because of its history. It’s a perfectly fine sandwich. The bread is steamed and soft. The sandwich is endearingly stripped down; you get a pickle slice and a swipe of mustard and that’s it aside from the meat itself. But I don’t know; I just prefer a regular hamburger. A patty just feels more substantial and its more solid form allows it to hold more juices and flavors and to have a better texture. Is the loosemeat sandwich worth your time? Not this one. 2 stars.
tl;dr – regional sandwich known as the loosemeat is different from a hamburger and not in a particularly good way; stick to the patty as far as I’m concerned. 2 stars.