Today we are talking about a phenomenon not found anywhere else in New England (and probably anywhere else in the world). We mean the “three-way” (“three-way” roast beef that is). Hundreds of quality roast beef sandwich shops are found across the North Shore of Massachusetts. These are not your typical Boar’s Head deli roast beef sandwiches. These creations are thick, juicy, and will have you craving to make more and more day trips up to the North Shore.
Before we dive into a few of our favorite spots to grab a roast beef sandwich, let’s break down what makes up the iconic term, “three-way.”
It’s pretty simple, when they ask if you want your roast beef a “three-way,” you say “yes.” So, what is the key to this magical combination? Actually, it’s cheese, mayo, and barbecue sauce. The cheese is typically American cheese, and the best sandwiches will have the cheese slightly melted from the heat of the fresh roast beef. The ideal barbecue sauce is slightly tangy, slightly sweet, and with minimal viscosity (in other words, not too thick). However, what we think is even more important to a good roast beef is a toasted onion roll. Some places might make the sandwich with a sesame seed or water roll, and that’s perfectly fine, but the best roast beefs will have a crispy, crunchy onion roll.
Now that we have your taste buds salivating, here are a few of our favorite beefs on Massachusetts’ North Shore:
Hands-down one of our favorite sandwiches, Atha’s roast beefs are the size of small child, so bring your appetite. These are also extremely messy so make sure to grab extra napkins. The star of the show here is the meat. The beef is sliced to perfection, and it has a succulent chewiness that explodes with flavor during every bite.
Atha’s is no one-trick pony either. They are a Greek spot at heart, and their chicken kabob is tender and loaded with Mediterranean flavor. Their pizzas are that classic cheesy, greasy pizza that you crave at the end of the night. Come for the beefs, stay for the Greek food (and bring an appetite).
We might be burying the lead by not having this as our first spot– because this is indeed our favorite roast beef spot of all time, and its not even close. The Modern Butcher is unlike any of the other roast beef joints on the North Shore because they are a whole animal butcher first, and roast beef maker second. We could have an entire post devoted to all of the meats they have to offer (and one day we probably will), but let’s try to stay on topic.
Every day, Modern has a different “sandwich of the day.” There is only one type of sandwich and it will be available from opening until they sell out. These sandwiches can range from Doritos-crusted fried chicken to loaded Italians. You never know what you might get on any given day. But almost every Friday and Saturday their next-level roast beef will be available. You would think that their roast beefs will give you wings with how quickly they sell out. If you think you will stroll in around 1 PM for a roast beef, then think again. Modern opens at 11 AM and they can sell out of beefs by 11:30/12. That’s a couple hundred beefs in under an hour. Expect there to be a line, and get there nice and early. 10:45 and you’ll be fine.
Nick’s is a mainstay of the North Shore. They opened in 1975, and they have been slinging beefs for generations, If you are between the large or the super beef, you have to go super. The large comes on a classic sesame seed bun, whereas the super brings that extra kick of an onion roll. Alongside the great beefs, the fries are super crispy and great to dip in that extra sauce that is bound to fall off your sandwich.
While we only touched upon a few of our favorite spots, there are still many, many more that are serving up great beefs all around the North Shore. It’s time to go check them out for yourself! Also, check out our friends @northshorebeefs for all of the mouth-watering beef action you can dream of.
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