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A roast beef submarine sandwich
A fast food hot roast beef sandwich with fries

The roast beef sandwich is a sandwich that is made out of sliced roast beef or sometimes beef loaf. It is sold at many diners in the United States, as well as fast food chains, such as Arby's and Roy Rogers Restaurants. This style of sandwich often comes on a hamburger bun and may be topped with barbecue sauce and/or melted American cheese. The roast beef sandwich also commonly comprises bread, cold roast beef (either the leftovers from a homemade dinner or deli meat), lettuce, tomatoes, and mustard, although it would not be uncommon to find cheese, horseradish, fresh/powdered chili pepper and even in some cases red onion.[1] Roast beef sandwiches may be served cold or hot, and are sometimes served open faced.[2]


Some trace the origins of the modern (American-style) roast beef sandwich as far back as 1877, with the then little known "beefsteak toast" recipe: cold beef, bread and gravy dish.[3] In 1900, the dish was described by The Washington Post as "unattractive" and as "a tired ark in a gravy flood". The dish gained popularity in the coming years and by 1931, some critics even went as far as to describe it as "a true taste of South Dakota".[4]

By regionEdit

Roast beef sandwiches have been a specialty of the Boston area, in particular in the North Shore of Massachusetts, since the early 1950s, typically served very rare, thinly sliced (sometimes referred to as shaved) and piled on an onion roll. [5] Restaurants specializing it include Londi's in Peabody aka "The Mecca", King's of Salem, Hot Box of Somerville, Mike’s of Everett, Nick's of Beverly, Harrison's of North Andover, Land & Sea of Peabody, and Bill and Bob's of Peabody, Salem and Woburn.[6] In Brooklyn a small handful of establishments, beginning with Brennan & Carr in 1938, have served a variant of the sandwich, and two more directly Boston-derived roast beef restaurants opened in the early 2010s.[7]

A modern variety of roast beef sandwich has become a staple in Eastern Massachusetts. Their most popular toppings are mayonnaise, James River BBQ sauce, and cheese (white American cheese on the bottom) individually or in some combination of the three, all together being called a "3-Way". A horseradish cream sauce can also be added for extra tang/zest. Kelly's Roast Beef restaurant of Revere, Massachusetts, claims to have invented the sandwich in 1951.[8]

Similar sandwichesEdit

Beef on weckEdit

A traditional beef on weck sandwich

The beef on weck is a sandwich found primarily in Western New York.[9][10][11] It is made with roast beef on a kummelweck roll topped with salt and caraway seeds. The meat on the sandwich is traditionally served rare, thin cut, with the top bun getting a dip au jus and topped with horseradish.

Chivito sandwichEdit

The chivito sandwich is a national dish in Uruguay, and consists primarily of a thin slice of filet mignon (churrasco beef), with mozzarella, tomatoes, mayonnaise, black or green olives, and commonly also bacon, fried or hard-boiled eggs and ham. It is served in a bun, often with a side of French fries.[12][13] Other ingredients might be added into the sandwich such as red beets, peas, grilled or pan-fried red peppers, and slices of cucumber.

Corned beef sandwichEdit

The corned beef sandwich is a sandwich prepared with corned beef.[14] The salt beef style corned beef sandwiches are traditionally served with mustard and a pickle. In the United Kingdom, pickle is a common addition to a corned beef sandwich.

French dipEdit

A French dip sandwich

The French dip sandwich is a hot sandwich consisting of thinly sliced roast beef (or, sometimes, other meats) on a "French roll" or baguette. It is usually served au jus, that is, with beef juice from the cooking process. Beef broth or beef consommé is sometimes substituted. Despite the name, this American specialty is almost completely unknown in France, the name seeming to refer to the style of bread rather than an alleged French origin.

Pastrami on ryeEdit

The pastrami on rye is a classic sandwich made famous in the Jewish kosher delicatessens of New York City. First created in 1888 by Sussman Volk, who served it at his deli on Delancey Street in New York City. It became a favorite at other delis, served on rye bread and topped with spicy brown mustard.[15] Delis in New York City, like Katz's Delicatessen, have become known for their Pastrami on rye sandwiches.[16][17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Deluxe Roast Beef Sandwich". Archived from the original on 24 November 2009. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  2. ^ Neman, Daniel (March 30, 2016). "Variety is the slice of life". The Daily Gazette. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  3. ^ "Feeding America". Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  4. ^ Lynne Olver. "TheFood Timeline: history notes--sandwiches". Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  5. ^ Sarah Walker Caron. "Regional Bites: Roast Beef Sandwiches of Greater Boston". Sarah's Cucina Bella. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  6. ^ Daniel Maurer. "Boston-Area Roast Beef Will Take On New York's 'Crappy' Competition". Grub Street. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  7. ^ Serious Eats (10 February 2010). "This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef". Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  8. ^ Kennedy, Louise, "At Kelly's, roast beef sandwiches rule", The Boston Globe, May 18, 2011
  9. ^ "Beef on Weck: A Locally Famous Sandwich, Upgraded". Archived from the original on 31 August 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2009.
  10. ^ "History of Beef on Weck". The Kitchen Retrieved 10 October 2009.
  11. ^ Ekfelt, Lynn Case (Spring–Summer 2003). "Buffalo's Other Claim to Fame". Voices Volume 29. The New York Folklore Society. Retrieved 10 October 2009.
  12. ^ Caskey, Liz (2010). Knack South American Cooking: A Step-by-Step Guide to Authentic Dishes Made Easy. Guilford, CT, USA: Globe Pequot Press. pp. 148–149. ISBN 978-1-59921-918-9.
  13. ^ Bernhardson, Wayne (2008). Moon Buenos Aires. Berkeley, CA, USA: Avalon Travel div. of Perseus Books Group. p. 74. ISBN 978-1-56691-991-3.
  14. ^ Serious Eats (5 March 2008). "Serious Sandwiches: Hot Salt Beef Bagel". Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  15. ^ Marks, Gil (2010). Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0544186311. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
  16. ^ Weissmann, Jordan (October 27, 2014). "The Ur-Deli". Slate. Archived from the original on March 26, 2016. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
  17. ^ "NYC Jewish Delicatessens: The Ultimate Guide". New York Eater. December 22, 2015. Archived from the original on March 26, 2016. Retrieved March 25, 2016.

External linksEdit