No Bum Steers Here

When you’re in need of comfort food, roast beef sandwiches are a satisfying, classic solution. While they appear all over the United States, there are plenty of regional variations and famous renditions worth exploring. In the Midwest, pot-roast-style beef is served open-face on bread covered in gravy, and roast beef po’boys are popular on the Gulf Coast. From Baltimore pit beef to California tri-tip, here are some drool-worthy roast beef sandwiches lauded by critics and reviewers.

Mr. Beef on Orleans2 / 40
Shawn C./Yelp

Mr. Beef on Orleans

What to order: Italian beef
The Italian beef sandwich is as important to Chicagoans as the Chicago hot dog. At Mr. Beef on Orleans, which has been around since 1979, they roast beef in Italian seasonings, slice it thinly, and let it get happy in its own juice while waiting to be eaten. Get your sandwich "dipped" if you want it completely soaked in delicious au jus, and opt for the spicy giardiniera peppers instead of the sweet roasted bell peppers. Check out the celebrity photos on the walls while you try not to drip on your shirt.

Kelly C./Yelp


Brooklyn, New York
What to order: Hot roast beef
New York City has some of the best Italian sub shops in the country. Defonte’s was started by an Italian immigrant almost a century ago, so it’s about as old-school as you can get. Their hot roast beef sandwich is stuffed full of shaved rare roast beef, fresh melty mozzarella cheese slices, and the shop’s specialty: fried eggplant slices. It’s a unique combination worth seeking out and standing in line to get.

John H./Yelp

Chamberlain’s Roast Beef

Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania
What to order: Roast beef sandwich
Located in the Booths Corner Farmers Market, Chamberlain’s Roast Beef is a small, bare-bones operation, but the roast beef is exceptional. It’s carved by hand off a huge choice top round roast right on the counter, then piled on kaiser rolls baked daily. Since it’s hand sliced, the beef is relatively thick, leading to a hearty meal. The beef is topped with cheese and a splash of au jus, plus there’s horseradish at the table.

Lisa D./Yelp

Kelly’s Roast Beef

Revere, Massachusetts
What to order: Surf and turf
Roast beef sandwiches are a way of life in the Boston area, and Kelly’s Roast Beef is one of the original purveyors. It opened in 1951, and still operates the same walk-up-window location on the beach in Revere, along with a few others in the area. Order a Surf and Turf and get the two things Kelly’s is known for: a lobster roll and a roast beef sandwich. The seeded roll the thinly sliced beef is piled on is grilled and crusty, making it perfect to sop up any condiments you like.

Brian L./Yelp

Pioneer Pit Beef

What to order: Super pit beef
Pit beef is ubiquitous in the Baltimore area, and it’s generally a simple sandwich of charcoal-roasted beef on a bun. At Pioneer Pit Beef, they offer pit beef at whatever doneness you prefer — stick with medium-rare if you’re a beef lover — and sliced thinly on a meat slicer. It’s piled on three different size sandwiches, then topped with whatever you like from a long list of sauces and toppings. Since it’s only a shack, eat it on the picnic tables outside, or take it to go.

Vanessa B./Yelp

Ray’s Place

Eau Claire, Wisconsin
What to order: Roast beef sandwich with cheese
Ray’s Place is a quintessential Wisconsin dive bar with taxidermy on the walls, an unpretentious attitude, and lots of regulars. It offers only a few things: roast beef and ham sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and a few soups. The roast beef is hot, falling-apart tender, and dripping with juice. It can get messy, especially since it’s served on a piece of parchment paper and a napkin, but that’s okay. Upgrade with a thick slice of cheese for a real Wisconsin touch, and add some of the bar’s homemade horseradish mustard for heat.

RD P./Yelp

Sill’s Cafe

Layton, Utah
What to order: Hot beef
Although most people go to Sill’s Cafe for the Utah-style, deep-fried scones topped with honey butter, the hot beef sandwich is a popular and more filling meal. It’s open-face, with sliced, well-done beef served on toast with mashed potatoes and generous ladles of dark brown gravy smothering the whole thing. It’s hearty, stick-to-your-ribs food. Order one of those huge scones to take home with you.

Meredith G./Yelp

Parkway Bakery & Tavern

New Orleans
What to order: Hot roast beef poor boy
When people think of po’boy sandwiches, they usually think of fried oysters or shrimp. But roast beef po’boys are just as common and delicious. Parkway has been serving po’boys in NOLA since the 1920s, and it’s got one of the best hot roast beef versions in town. The beef is cooked so long that it’s shredded and soaked in gravy, but that means it’s also incredibly tender and packed with flavor. Get it "dressed" to add lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo.

HoneyHole Sandwiches/Yelp

Honey Hole Sandwiches

What to order: The Gooch
Honey Hole is a funky, eclectic bar and sandwich joint that’s been serving for over 20 years. All the sandwich meats and fillings — including the roasted tri-tip beef that goes into the Gooch — are made from scratch. The beef is sliced and topped with sharp cheddar cheese, red onions, and horseradish mayo on a baguette, and served with a side of au jus for dipping. The bread is crusty and the cheese is melty, making for a great rainy weather meal.


Michael’s Beef House

Wheeling, West Virginia
What to order: Large roast beef
Located inside the Centre Market is a little shop called Michael’s Beef House. It serves thinly sliced roast beef sandwiches seasoned with a sprinkle of seasoned salt on a sesame seed bun. It’s a simple classic, and it doesn’t need much more than a slice of cheese or a smear of horseradish, if you like. Order a large sandwich, because you’ll want all the meat you can get.

Chuck M./Yelp

Bump’s Family Restaurant

Glencoe, Minnesota
What to order: Hot beef commercial
If you’ve never heard of a beef commercial sandwich, don’t worry, because it’s only called that in parts of Minnesota and the Dakotas. It’s made up of roasted beef sandwiched between two slices of bread, served with mashed potatoes and topped with gravy. You can find a great version at Bump’s, where the beef is pot-roast-style, and the mashed potatoes and gravy are homemade. Each plate gets 12 ounces of that gravy, so you’ll never have to complain about a dry sandwich. This is the ultimate comfort food, and it’s a sandwich you must eat with a fork.

EARL kamuki/Yelp


What to order: French dip
E.A.R.L. stands for "Eat A Real Lunch," and this hip, tiny sandwich shop has been serving real good sandwiches since 2014. Its version of the French dip includes freshly roasted and sliced beef, roasted garlic mayo, herb-filled green chimichurri for freshness, fennel onion marmalade for sweetness, and pepper jack for a little heat. If that doesn’t make you salivate, try the beer-braised brisket sandwich with roasted poblano peppers and horseradish mayo.

Philippe the Original/Yelp

Philippe The Original

Los Angeles
What to order: Beef dip
There are two L.A. eateries that claim to have invented the French dip sandwich: Cole’s and Philippe. No one may ever know for sure which one actually did, but at least one food critic has chosen Philippe as the better version of the sandwich. It’s a simple thing with roasted beef on French bread, dipped, double-dipped, or "wet," depending on how much delicious beef au jus you’d like soaking the roll. You can add cheese if you like, but it’s not necessary. The hot mustard is more of a requirement to cut through all that rich au jus. Neon pink pickled eggs and potato salad are classic sides here.

Neil T./Yelp

Carbone’s Market

Torrington, Connecticut
What to order: Roast beef grinder
Carbone’s Market is an Italian deli and grocer that’s been serving its community since 1945. The grinders are legendary for their massive size. The roast beef version has piles of shaved, pink beef and comes with cheese, tomatoes, seasonings, oil, and vinegar. You can add other toppings; the roasted peppers are a great addition. The 8-inch regular grinder will practically be round from everything stuffed inside the freshly baked bread, so plan on having leftovers.

Steve N./Yelp


Buffalo, New York
What to order: Roast beef sandwich on kummelweck
Beef on weck is Buffalo’s version of the roast beef sandwich. It’s served on a kummelweck roll, a German hard roll with caraway and coarse salt on top, giving the sandwich a distinct flavor and savoriness. No one knows who sold the first beef on weck, but Schwabl’s is a good contender, considering it’s been around since 1837. The beef is carved by hand and mounded in half-pound portions on the kummelweck roll. Traditional sides here are pickled beets and a vinegar-based, mustard-seed specked German potato salad.

Jeff W./Yelp

Ed Walker’s Drive-In

Fort Smith, Arkansas
What to order: French dip
Car-hopping since 1943, Ed Walker’s Drive-In makes a mean French dip sandwich. You can either enjoy the retro diner decor inside, or flash your car lights outside for carhop service (they’ll even bring beer to your car). The beef is slow roasted and so tender it falls apart, and it comes with a cup of au jus for dipping. If you’d rather have brown gravy than au jus, order the open-face hot beef sandwich and mashed potatoes.

Mark P./Yelp

Beefy King

Orlando, Florida
What to order: Roast beef sandwich
Beefy King is a simple counter-service restaurant that’s been in business since 1968 and is still family run. The restaurant and the brief menu are no-frills, but the service is friendly, and the namesake beef is delicious enough that it’s been going strong for over 50 years. When you order a roast beef sandwich, the shaved meat is steamed to heat it, making it moist and juicy before it’s tucked into a kaiser roll. Because of the steaming, any cheese you order on your sandwich will be nice and gooey.

Zachary V./Yelp

Blues City Deli

St. Louis
What to order: Mike’s Spicy Beef n’ Cheddar
Besides the amazing sandwiches, other things you’ll notice at Blues City Deli are the live jazz music and the line out the door during peak hours. Their po’boy-style roast beef sandwiches are all unique, but Mike’s Spicy Beef n’ Cheddar is a standout. The thin-sliced hot roast beef is piled high, along with bacon, sharp melted cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, and a creamy, smoky, spicy Delta sauce that brings it all together. If that’s not your style, try the Big Tommy, with roast beef served on cheese garlic bread.

Danielle L./Yelp

Maverick’s Real Roast Beef

Roseville, Minnesota
What to order: Roast beef sandwich
When Maverick’s closed in early 2018, a new owner stepped in to reopen it, and critics have chimed in and praised its roast beef, declaring it largely the same as beloved original version. The roasted beef is tender, rare, and cut by hand. It’s a blank canvas for the large variety of self-serve sauces, condiments, and toppings. Order your sandwich open-face for it to be smothered with thick gravy. Unlike most places, here a beef and cheddar will get you a sandwich covered in cheddar cheese sauce for an extra-gooey experience.

Barrister’s Deli/Yelp


What to order: Horsey Roast Beef
Though Barrister’s is well known for its corned beef, don’t overlook the roast beef. It’s also made in house, so it’s always fresh and juicy, and then sliced thinly to ensure its tenderness. The Horsey Roast Beef is a simple deli-style sandwich, with a large mound of roast beef topped with provolone, lettuce, tomato, and a creamy house-made horseradish sauce on rye bread.

Phil S./Yelp

Tune Inn

Washington, D.C.
What to order: Joe’s West Virginia Sandwich
When a fire damaged much of Tune Inn in 2011, people wondered whether it would lose its dive bar charm when it reopened. Luckily that wasn’t the case, and the third-generation owner still operates it. The Tune Inn’s version of a roast beef sandwich is called Joe’s West Virginia, named after the original owner. It’s got freshly roasted beef along with American cheese and a secret sauce all grilled on rye bread.

FoodWanderer A./Yelp

Charlie the Butcher’s

Buffalo, New York
What to order: Beef on weck
Another staple for Buffalo’s beef on weck, Charlie the Butcher’s is a homey little spot serving comfort food. The slow roasted beef is front and center as you walk in, and you can watch it being trimmed and carved for every sandwich. It’s served on fresh kummelweck rolls along with horseradish and a pickle spear in a paper boat. Order a mini beef for kids or if you just want a snack.

Mvp S./Yelp

MVP Sports Deli & Eatery

Anchorage, Alaska
What to order: Slam Dunk
MVP Sports Deli is a Chicago-themed sandwich spot, so naturally it has its own version of Italian beef. The Slam Dunk sandwich is made with medium-rare beef roasted in house, dipped in au jus, and topped with provolone and homemade spicy giardiniera. Order it by size: quarter-pound, half-pound, or a mammoth 1-pounder. Don’t forget to make a trip to the toppings bar, which is almost as large as any other restaurant’s salad bar.

Wyster M./Yelp

Cold Spring Tavern

Santa Barbara, California
What to order: Tri-tip sandwich
Tri-tip cooked slowly over a charcoal grill is a specialty of Santa Maria, California. The Cold Spring Tavern in nearby Santa Barbara makes its own version in sandwich form. The rosy beef is thickly sliced and served with three sauces on the side. It’s a rustic meal to enjoy in the century-old former stagecoach stop that looks straight out of an old Western movie.

Hersh A./Yelp

Al’s Italian Beef

What to order: Italian beef
Close temporarily since May for a mid-pandemic relocation, Al’s claims to have invented the Italian beef sandwich in 1938 at a little stand in the Little Italy neighborhood as a way to stretch expensive meat into a filling meal. The recipe hasn’t changed at all since then, and it’s still one of the best you can get. The giardiniera here has more red peppers in it than most, making the color distinct from other spots. Once Al’s reopens, be sure to order a combo sandwich, adding a grilled Italian sausage link to your beef.

Katherine R./Yelp

The Station Cafe

San Antonio
What to order: Pele’s Fire
The Station Cafe is for beef and spicy food lovers. It specializes in making homemade sauces with all kinds of fresh Texas peppers. On Pele’s Fire, hot roast beef on a homemade roll comes with super-spicy ghost-pepper sauce. If that’s a little too much heat for you, try the version with a garlic habanero aioli instead. Or get the unique Thai Fighter with roast beef and a Thai-style curry sauce. No matter how spicy you want your roast beef sandwich, you’ll be satisfied here.

Alex S./Yelp

Dad’s Favorites Deli

Lexington, Kentucky
What to order: Asiago pot roast sandwich
Dad’s Favorites is a small food company with an equally quaint deli that’s extremely popular. You’re likely to see Dad at the deli handing out cheese samples so you can decide what you’d like on your sandwich. The Asiago pot roast sandwich is made with shredded roasted beef on a crusty sub roll with Asiago cheese and the best part: a side of roasted red pepper sauce for dipping.

Tochka R./Yelp

Al’s Big Dipper

Albuquerque, New Mexico
What to order: NM roast beef
Green chile is a common, much-loved regional specialty in New Mexico, and it goes on everything from burritos to burgers. So why not put it on a roast beef sandwich? That’s the thinking behind the NM roast beef sandwich at Al’s Big Dipper — closed by the pandemic since March and still supposedly waiting to reopen. Hand-sliced roast beef is layered with roasted mild green chile, mayo, and cream cheese, and pressed until it’s all hot and melted.

Marty S./Yelp

Dan & Jami’s Railway Bar and Grill

Council Bluffs, Iowa
What to order: Hot roast beef sandwich
Dan & Jami’s Railway is a casual, laid-back bar and grill that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s known for burgers and other bar food, but the hot roast beef sandwich is a sight to behold. Roasted, falling-apart beef is sandwiched between white bread, topped with a huge scoop of mashed potatoes, and drenched in dark, rich gravy. You may need a nap after you eat it, but it’s worth it.

Conrad J./Yelp

Jon’s Roast Beef & Deli

Laconia, New Hampshire
What to order: Big Bear
Jon’s Roast Beef & Deli is a rustic roadside spot that feels a little like a cabin at the lake. The standard roast beef sandwich comes either hot or cold and with your choice of three toppings from a long list or things like banana peppers, honey mustard, and cheese. The Big Bear, though, is your best bet because it’s loaded with extra roast beef, sautéed mushrooms and onions, Swiss cheese, and creamy horseradish on an onion roll.

Mike C./Yelp

Domilise’s Po-Boy and Bar

New Orleans
What to order: Roast beef po’boy
Domilise’s is a bare-bones, no-nonsense place, and that’s part of its charm. It’s been around for over a century, and closed for any length of time only because of Hurricane Katrina. The po’boys are legendary and come in a wide variety of styles, including a great rendition of the roast beef po’boy. Unlike many roast beef po’boys, the beef on this one is mostly in slice form, instead of shredded. It’s topped with deep brown gravy, Swiss cheese if you like, and lettuce, tomato, pickles and sauces if you get it dressed.

Jeremy L./Yelp

Hofbrau der Albatross

Morro Bay, California
What to order: French dip
It’s hard to determine which is the better view: the ocean from the patio at Hofbrau der Albatross or the rare roast beef being carved for your sandwich. The restaurant has been around since 1971 and still serves roasted top round on a sandwich dipped in rich au jus. Because it’s hard-carved, some slices are thick and some are thin, but it’s all tender and juicy.

JhaRee M./Yelp

The Wheel Inn

Watertown, South Dakota
What to order: Hot beef combination
What they call the "hot beef combination" at The Wheel Inn is the same as a hot beef commercial, or just hot beef in other parts of the country. Two slices of fluffy white bread are filled with sliced roasted beef, then topped with a generous scoop of real mashed potatoes and covered in thick, luxurious beef gravy. In the cold South Dakota winters, you need meals like this.

Alan B./Yelp

Zel’s Roast Beef

Hammond, Indiana
What to order: Roast beef sandwich
This fast-food-style restaurant shows Arby’s how it’s done. Zel’s Roast Beef has been around for over 45 years and has four locations in northwest Indiana. The roast beef is cooked using the restaurant founder’s original recipe, then sliced paper-thin and piled on a roll. Chili cheese fries and a milkshake are classic sides here.


Abby’s Restaurant & Bar

Blacksburg, Virginia
What to order: Abby’s Special
Abby’s is a friendly, unpretentious bar and restaurant with a large menu of family and comfort food favorites. The roast beef sandwich is called Abby’s Special, and it comes with 6 ounces of slow-roasted beef on a kaiser roll with a side of horseradish or barbecue sauce. You can order it either cold with red, rare beef, or hot, where the beef takes a dip in au jus to warm. Either way, it also comes with a side of homemade, crispy, boardwalk-style fries.

Talmo F./Yelp

Liza’s Kitchen

Panama City, Florida
What to order: Roast beef and pimento
Liza’s Kitchen is a casual, quirky, and fun sandwich and brunch spot a block from the beach. Fresh herbed focaccia bread is made every day for the sandwiches, along with a rich Southern staple, pimento cheese. Besides snacking on it with pita chips, you can get the rich pimento cheese on a hot roast beef sandwich. The cheese and mayo melts and melds with the thinly sliced beef, and it’s all held together with that fluffy, fresh focaccia. It’s a unique Southern take on roast beef.

Kate W./Yelp

Barn’rds Restaurant

Wichita, Kansas
What to order: Roast beef sandwich
The philosophy at Barn’rds is that you can get good, healthy food just as inexpensively as fast food. Most everything is made from scratch, and the place specializes in super-lean roast beef that’s thin-sliced and piled on a sturdy bun. Pair it with a cup of homemade soup like hearty vegetable or cream of potato for a filling meal.

Darin B./Yelp

Fat Guy’s Fresh Deli

Meridian, Idaho
What to order: Bleu Bronco
Steak and blue cheese is a common combination, so why isn’t blue cheese used on roast beef sandwiches more often? Try the combo for yourself at Fat Guy’s Fresh Deli. The Bleu Bronco is stuffed with shaved roast beef, a thick layer of blue cheese, plus crisp bacon and a creamy, herb-filled pesto mayo on a golden brown bun.

Wayne R./Yelp

Sign of the Beefcarver

Royal Oak, Michigan
What to order: Roast beef sandwich
Founded in 1957, Sign of the Beefcarver is a cafeteria line-style restaurant. The main draw is roast beef, which is carved thinly right in front of you. If you order a sandwich, it’ll be drenched in the restaurant’s thin, au jus-like gravy, which completely soaks the bread with meaty flavor. Definitely opt for a pile of mashed potatoes to help soak up that gravy. Maybe pandemic restrictions mean you can’t grab a table at the fireplace for maximum coziness, as you could before, but at least the Beefcarver reopens Feb. 2 after a long, COVID-19 pause.