Unless you’re from Buffalo or well acquainted with a Buffalonian, you maybe haven’t heard of beef on weck. But this regional favorite is one of the country's oldest sandwiches. Though I still haven't made it to Schwabl's, the Buffalo joint that opened in 1837, I recently tasted a very authentic (says my Buffalo friend Jonas) beef on weck sandwich in San Francisco.
So what the heck is weck? Weck is short for kummelweck (or kimmelweck), the caraway-seeded and salted bun the sandwich is served on. Think of the best pretzel roll you've ever had, but with crunchy bursts of flavor in the form of caraway. Otherwise, the sandwich is similar to a French dip, with tender pink roast beef drizzled with its own roasting juices. Simple, but delicious.
In San Francisco, the beef on weck shows up as an occasional Thursday special at Greenburger's, a casual restaurant in the Lower Haight that serves delicious milkshakes, sammies and burgers, American comfort food, and tributes to the USA's regional cuisine. Though the owner is from Buffalo, the restaurant seems to admire all aspects of American cooking. But the beef on weck is definitely worth a stop.
I can't help but respect a sandwich joint that advertises itself as "wrap free since 2006." Admittedly, I eat the occasional wrap when I'm trying to be healthier, but they just don't satisfy like a sandwich made with bread. And Cambridge, MA's All Star Sandwich Bar certainly isn't a place to start trying to get healthy.
I've come across All Star before, and recently, its atomic meatloaf meltdown sandwich (pictured) landed on a list of 12 great sandwiches in Boston; featuring grilled meatloaf and jack cheese laden with hot sauce, this is a very serious sandwich indeed. Other standouts at All Star include some of America's greatest hits: Buffalo's very own beef on weck, a Reuben, a "Texas Reuben" (which looks like it's made with brisket), a very topnotch looking Cuban, and even a veggie Cuban.
My only problem would be deciding what to order. If anyone has eaten here, I'd love to hear your recommendations.
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.
Where to try one: Schwabl's in Buffalo or Charlie the Butcher.
Keep reading for the "French" and "Italian" takes on hot roast beef.
After seeing how I yearned for a beef on weck, my Buffalonian buddy Josh made a special trip to Charlie the Butcher, his weck destination of choice, located "on an awkward corner adjacent to the Buffalo Niagara airport." Not only did he take a bunch of photos ("Everybody thought I was crazy snapping photos every 5 seconds," he says) but he also sent in a wonderfully written account of his 'wich trip.
If you want to be as awesome as Josh, share your own sandwich by emailing your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with a description of what's on your sandwich. Meanwhile, check out Josh's trip to Charlie the Butcher below!
Unless you are well acquainted with a Buffalonian, as I am, you've probably never heard of beef on weck. A cousin of the French dip — possibly even a predecessor — this famous regional sandwich originated in Buffalo, NY, in the early 1800s, making it one of America's most historic sandwiches. And beef on weck purveyor Schwabl's has been around almost as long, since 1837. The catchy name is short for beef on kummelweck or kimmelweck, and the weck in question is a Kaiser-type roll sprinkled with caraway seeds and salt crystals. It's piled with thinly sliced hot roasted beef and drenched in roasting juices, either on the roll, on the meat, or on the side, much like an Italian beef sandwich or French dip.
The rolls are thought to have been brought to Buffalo from the Black Forest by William Wahr, a German baker, and the fact that the credited French dip inventor, Philippe Mathieu, stopped off in Buffalo en route to California from France suggests the beef on weck might be the French dip's inspiration.
As with any beloved regional sandwich, locals seem to have strong opinions on how to make 'em right, like whether or not you should spread horseradish on the sammie. So Buffalonians, tell me: what's the best way to eat beef on kummelweck? And should I try Schwabl's or somewhere else?
Source: Flickr User Nickgraywfu