The Top 10 Three-Way Roast Beef Sandwiches in New England
Beef. This is a sensitive topic for many.
If you are reading this, you are likely in one of two categories.
Person 1). You understand why it's so sensitive. You are a beef person. You know that a roast beef sandwich is NOT just a roast beef sandwich. You know that there are certain places that do the three-way roast beef sandwich far better than others. And yes, it matters.
Person 2). You like roast beef so you are curious about good spots, but you don't care enough to know why this is so sensitive.
I will make it clear: roast beef people are passionate about their beef. They know that there is a right and a wrong way to make a beef.
Don't believe me? Check out the North Shore Beef's Facebook page with nearly 30,000 people. They constantly comment about new places, the best places, the right vs the wrong way to make a beef, and more.
This official group, dedicated to keeping tabs on true three-way roast beefs is...harsh. I mean, they are all honest, but harsh. So if you do not review a sandwich with correct guidelines, you may be victim of some playful jabs.
The group really has a fair grading system.
First thing's first: identification. In order to judge a variety of locations, you need to have some kind of grading scale. Otherwise, the "best roast beef place" is probably the one that's closest to your house.
Not how it works.
Many would argue that TRUE three-way roast beef sandwiches are only available in Massachusetts. After all, that is where the three-way was invented. Curious about that? Check out where the invention of the three-way came to Massachusetts here.
Before determining the top 10 beef spots, the grading scale should be included. Below are the universal signifiers for a top notch roast beef sandwich.
TOB - Time of Beef or Time of Birth - That puppy better be warm and pink. Brown or grey? NO WAY JOSÉ! Warm and pink is a must.
S2B - Sauce to Beef - The sandwich should look overwhelming. The amount of meat should sicken the average human. The amount of sauce should frighten a clean freak. The sauce itself must be James River. One thing to note while picking the winning roast beef is who does not have James River BBQ. Most beefers in New England will agree that it HAS to be JR sauce. Nothing else.
COTB - Cheese on the Bottom - Perhaps it's a tradition, perhaps a preference. Many beefers in New England would say the cheese on a three-way must be on the bottom. Why? Well, with a mountain of beef on top, it holds the beef in the bun. That actually makes sense, doesn't it?
S2M - Sauce to Mayo - What makes the three-way a three-way is the combo of cheese, BBQ, and mayo. You cannot call it a three-way without one. Many would not consider a roast beef sandwich a roast beef sandwich without all three.
B2B - Beef to Bun - Too much bun is a hard no-go. You are paying for the beef, not the bun. Again, the amount of beef should certainly scare most vegetarians, and even frighten most carnivores. That said, the bun is a very important piece of the puzzle. It makes or breaks the sandwich. Many like an onion roll around the saucy, pink beef.
FOB - Flavor of Beef. Ultimately, you are eating a beef. Not a sauce. So although it is often doused in cheese, mayo, and bbq, the flavor of the beef must be apparent and savory.
NC - Napkin Count - In the words of a true beefer, Brett Dockery, it "should be a murder scene of James river (BBQ Sauce)...so the more napkins, the better."
FPW - Fresh, Pink, Warm - I said it before, and I'll say it again: FRESH, PINK, and WARM. No grey.
NGB - Nice Griddled Bun - Was the three way meant to be on a soft bun or grilled? Some would say griddled, others would demand soft and squishy, but all of this is really preference.
I think I should, before getting into the list, reiterate that last one. This is all preference. Now, according to the 30,000 people who review and live by the roast beef sandwich, maybe not.
That said, this is all in the eyes of a beefer. If you like a grey roast beef with no cheese, charred bun, and Sweet Baby Rays, stay away from a true beefer. They will chew you up, eat you for breakfast, and spit you out for not knowing the right way to consume a beef.
*I included a top 10 list. Following the top 10 list, I have included some honorable mentions. If you have any more to add, please include them in a comment. Let me know what I missed and what needs to make it on the list.