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Jun 4, 2008 07:33 AM

Pit Beef in Baltimore

After looking around and doing some searches, I have not found a good post on here for favorite Pit Beef places. Most posts seem to have conflicting information or are based on stands at festivals.
Is this whole pit beef thing so fickle that one day a place has the best and then that same sandwich the following day gets terrible reviews?
I have had the corner pit beef station at the JFX farmers' market twice now, and quite frankly has not been that good.
If this whole Pit Beef thing is as much of a Baltimore tradition as some claim, there must be places that make it worth while.
Where is your go-to-hankering-for-red-meat-raw-onions-and-horseradish sandwich?

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  1. i prefer the charcoal deli off of York rd in timonium. right across the street from the Corner stable, which by the way has the best ribs in the area.

    1 Reply
    1. re: elegantelliot

      I haven't been to the Charcoal Deli but know people who love it.

    2. There's a good place on Falls rd just north of Shawan. It's in a derelct gas station so you might miss it, but it's good (I believe it's the one that was in Windy Valley. Go early--it can be out of beef by 1.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tartuffe

        I think you're referring to Shortys

      2. Midstake in address--just north of Padonia.

        2 Replies
        1. re: tartuffe

          I think I have been there before... a big make-shift wood burning grill out front. You have to go inside and place the order with "Miss Rose" and then sit on some of the 20 year old, colorful, deck funiture next to the grill. Are we talking about the same place? If so, I would have to say that was certainly my best Pit Beef experience to date!
          That's for re-hashing my memory. I will have to get back there very soon!

        2. I'll once again give a strong rec for Pioneer Beef right near Security Square Mall. If you've read the other pit beef posts, you'll see most agree.

          They give you a slice to taste so you'll know how done it is. Quarters are cramped and they are stingy with napkins, but excellent beef and excellent fries as well.

          Sorry to hear the JFX market beef wasn't that good. I've liked it in the past, but haven't been for over a year.


          7 Replies
          1. re: KOK

            I think my main problem with that sandwich was the toughness of the meat. I'm not sure if it had been cut incorrectly, or if I have just gotten a couple atypical sandwiches. Also, the fact that it's served on thin slices of white (or wheat) bread, really is unfortunate because I think a roll with a little more substance would be very beneficial for their pit beef. They are hard enough to eat with one hand while walking around dodging people... But by the time you are actually ready for a pit beef (sometime around 8:30 usually works for me), you are also trying to snag a bag of donuts while juggling the fresh softshells in the other hand! Throw me a bone and assemble the sandwich in a way that is not going to self destruct on me after bite #3. Before you know it, your softshells now have some raw onions to keep them occupied, and Migue's Magnificent Mini Donuts you waited 5 minutes in line for now have some horseradish mixed in with the cinnamon sugar (not as bad as it sounds). Also, the guy who throws the sausages on the grill and is in charge of making sure they are all positioned correctly is always smiling and smirking at me, which makes me slightly uncomfortable.
            Am I the only one? Or does anyone else feel the same way about the whole experience?

            All of this has made me really hungry. I can't wait to do it all again on Sunday!

            1. re: gregb

              Wow! I'm really in admiration. Do you regularly eat three meals at once?

              I've been known for one after another, but I limit it to two. AND - you're crossing boundaries! Crab and donuts? That's gotta just take the prize right there!

              As far as Pioneer - only had it once the past week, but it held together well.

              1. re: gregb

                Well it's obvious to me that your technique is lacking. Here's what works, although some of it is dependent on arriving early:

                1. Arrive 7-7:15 and park right in front of market.
                2. Check out produce stands with an eye toward bulky items -- potatoes, strawberries, asparagus, whatever. Return bulky items to car.
                3. Walk to Zeke's and get coffee, then get donuts. At this point it helps if you have a companion, since one of you can hold the bag while the other takes a donut, then switch.
                4. Walk along and check out other items you like.
                5. Stop at pit beef guy and get sandwiches. Eat them at tables at the end of the condiment area.
                6. Walk through craft area and make another complete circuit of the market, grabbing whatever else caught your eye on the first time around (step 4). This is the time to buy green onions, herbs, eggs, pickled green tomatoes, etc. Stop for a refill on your Zeke's (only $1 this time).
                7. If needed, get bread from one of the bread vendors right before leaving.

                1. re: JonParker

                  Well guys, I am embarrassed to say exactly what and how much I eat while at the JFX market. Jon, I am very impressed with your methodical dissection of your Sunday mornings! I, however, seem to be a little less organized probably because I don’t get there until 8:30 or so:

                  1. Arrive 8:30, make a couple wrong turns looking for the parking lot adjacent to the market, since it magically changes its location every week. I’ve lived down here 2 years now and still can’t quite get my one-ways straight over there! (I’ll be the Black Hyundai holding up traffic.)
                  2. Throw a quarter to my favorite peddler James, you all know who I’m talking about.
                  3. Hit the pork stand near the entrance for a sausage biscuit, a good start to the day.
                  4. Walk past the falafel stand wishing the quarter I gave James had been given to the “Our falafel stand doesn’t make enough money to buy a razor” bucket. Keep making those falafel guys, really good! But no falafel for me today.
                  5. Grab a couple grapes from the orchard stand for a taste test. I usually tell them I’ll be back.
                  6. Try a few cheese samples next to the creamery truck. Their smoked cheddar is really good, the rest are OK.
                  7. Buy a fruit Danish from the bakery stand. Apple and cherry are good.
                  8. Ask the person per holding up a newspaper if George W Bush is able to run for a 3rd term. They love that!
                  9. Talk to the cutting board guy for a while and then decide $60 is too much for a 6x6 cutting board, no matter how cool it looks.
                  10. Pick up a couple soft-shells from the kids at the stand. Anyone else worried about child labor laws? I never see an adult around this stand. Great crabs though!
                  11. Hit the omelet station. Ham, mushrooms, spinach, onions, and cheese with some of those potatoes on the side.
                  12. Check out the exotic mushrooms.
                  13. Hit the Asian stand for a couple of their chicken spring rolls.
                  14. The next couple stands towards the east entrance is usually where I’ll pick up some lettuce, asparagus, onions, and whatever looks good and fresh.
                  15. Stand in the crepe line behind a mother of 6 who all have walkie-talkies, which they think they need to use in order to communicate from one side of their red wagon to the other. Twenty minutes behind that has made me a little cranky especially when I see canned peaches and 4 blueberries thrown into my mildly torn crepe.
                  16. I then make eye contact with Migue, he and I both know the $2.00 bag just isn’t going to cut it today, “double it up Migue!”
                  17. Three donuts into my bag I decide I have way too many and my sweet tooth is pretty much taken care of at this point.
                  18. Take a long lap and start preparing myself for the Pit Beef. While standing in line, I talk myself out of a combo and decide to go with just the beef. “How would you like your meat, sir?” they ask, “Medium-well…just kidding, give me the red stuff!”
                  19. Now, my arms, stomach, and whole body hurt, and it’s time head back to the car so I can make my way up Calvert St. to catch mass and say some prayers for the gluttonous display I have just put on.

                  1. re: gregb

                    I think I've seen you there before!

                    Why do those grapes always have seeds? Are you supposed to eat them or spit them out like sunflower seed shells?

                    Ever tried any offerings from the hot sauce guy? That stuff is tasty!

                    1. re: aburkavage

                      I think those are the Connies, spit those seeds out!

                      Hot sauce guy is solid. I have a bottle of his carribean hot sauce in the cupboard. Slather some of that on grilled bone-in chicken... Loffin!

                    2. re: gregb

                      as someone who's never been to the market, this post and Jon's above are really great for first timers.


              2. Also see this thread from the day before your post: