A roast beef roundup is a doozy of an assignment, especially in Boston. Bostonians take their beef seriously, and as a (more or less) lifetime citizen of the Bay State, I grew up immersed in the prominent sandwich-counter culture, and, in turn, am familiar with the formula that defines most worthwhile roast beef sandwiches.
Let's start with the name of the restaurant: If it sounds like the place is owned by someone who could be your uncle (think Nick, Billy, or Mike), there's a good chance it's worth eating there. Even better if the sign promises roast beef and seafood (the two go hand-in-hand), and claims that its food is "famous." Bonus points if the walls feature dusty plaques of regional awards and photos with local celebrities.
But the most important factor in the formula is the sandwich itself.
Elements of a Great Roast Beef Sandwich
Meat: Moist, pink, and sliced thin.
Bun: Soft, quickly griddled, and studded with sesame seeds (or onions, as most larger sizes are served on onion rolls).
Toppings: The traditional toppings include "the three-way" of mayonnaise, cheese, and barbecue sauce. Some would argue that it serves as important a role as the meat itself, bringing the whole lot together in a sweet, messy heap of handheld goodness.
There are way, way more than 13 great roast beef sandwiches in and around Boston (North Shore, I'm looking at you). But try any of these, and you won't be disappointed.
13 Roast Beef Sandwiches We Love
Beachmont Roast Beef
John's Roast Beef And Seafood
Liberty Bell Roast Beef And Seafood
Mino's Roast Beef
Billy's Famous Roast Beef
Mike's Roast Beef
Royal Roast Beef And Seafood
Steve's Roast Beef
Bill And Bob's Famous Roast Beef
Kelly's Roast Beef
All Star Sandwich Bar
About the author: Mari Levine puts her culinary degree and lifelong eating experience to work as an editor at America's Test Kitchen in Brookline, Mass. She believes in quality, not quantity, when it comes to tweeting (@marilevine).