Chicago's beloved Italian beef sandwich and Buffalo's signature beef on weck taste like they were separated at birth. But it's the nuances that set these regional favorites apart from each other and that other famous juicy roast beef sandwich, the French dip. Here's how to tell them all apart.
The Beef on Weck
Hometown: Buffalo, NY
Origins: Brought to New York by German immigrants in the early 1800s, beef on weck is one of America's oldest sandwiches.
Defining characteristics: Thinly sliced hot roast beef served on a kimmelweck bun, a Kaiser-type roll sprinkled with caraway seeds and salt crystals, and dipped in roasting juices.
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Origins: Invention is credited to Philippe Mathieu, the French immigrant who opened his restaurant in 1918 — after a stop in Buffalo. Coincidence?
Defining characteristics: Traditionally, hot roast beef or pork, sliced thin and forked onto a soft French roll dipped in au jus, though many restaurants serve the sauce on the side. Newer versions also add cheese.
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Origins: Al's Beef lays claim to the invention of this sandwich, first served at Italian American-owned food stands in 1940s Chicago.
Defining characteristics: Thin sliced, highly seasoned beef, cooked in its own juices, then topped with hot giardiniera or sweet peppers or both. The Italian roll is also dipped in juice.
Source: Flickr User Nickgraywfu