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Sep 11, 2008 10:54 AM

Chaps Pit Beef - Not Impressed

Went last night on way back from NJ to DC. The good news was that it's right off 895. But I was expecting and hoping for a great, rather than average sandwich. It was around 8:00 pm. Is that too late? The beef was ok, the roll a little soft. Horseradish helped, but did not overcome my disappointment.

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  1. I wasn't impressed either the last time I had it, the meat didn't taste like anything.

    6 Replies
    1. re: hon

      The most impressive thing is how Baltimore native Steve Raichlen liked Baltimore pit beef it when he was little, and writes about it now, forgetting that something exotic and grill-tasting that can impress a 7YO is actually, at high-volume places like Chaps, just cheap self-juice-steamed cheap meat sliced thin that gets all --all-- its taste from condiments. Back then, smaller quantity pit beef places really finshed off on the grill. The food press is flat out derivative, so the story gets repeated and the legend is born. They are too busy, lazy or underfunded to go taste. It's just lame fast food. Raichlen has been told, but doesn't care. Some others, like the stand on Church Lane in Cockeysville across from Corner Stable, are better with some actual char edge. Anybody got better places?

      1. re: hon

        Totally agree.
        Coming from Seattle and watching the foodies on TV I was excited.
        I don't get it and agree with hon that it was tasteless indeed.
        The only good thing was the gal taking my $100 bill flirted outrageously with me in front of my 19 year old daughter. Well, I guess I started it.
        Are the other pit beef places any better?

        1. re: JayDK

          Pioneer Pit Beef. Literally a shack under the highway. More details downthread.

          Pioneer Pit Beef
          1602 N. Rolling Road, Woodlawn, MD 21244

            1. re: Dennis S

              I ate 2 of them for lunch yesterday. awesome.

              1. re: natewv

                I live in DC and considering the drive, Pioneer is by far the best. Beefalow Bob is a very close second, and I mean very very close.

      2. i almost went after seeing it featured on guy fieri's show but after reading henry hong's criticism, i stayed away.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Minger

          That got me researching--Hong had it right, Fieri got it wrong, but he's entertaining, it just means his production team is gullible and lazy and did it by online research, not tasting. Now I'll take his advice with a bigger hunk of salt. He did get Jim's Blimpie Burger in Ann Arbor right the other day. And the place I was thinking of was Charcoal Grill but they closed their Cockeysville branch, here's their Parkville location which I have not tried:

          Here's a link to an earlier thread mentioning better ones than Chap's:

          1. re: chowsearch

            The place in Cockeysville is called Charcoal Deli and they're open again. They had a fire in April and opened back up in June. I've been to Charcoal Grill in Parkville (live in Parkville) and was uninpressed with their pit beef and pit was sliced thick and very bland. Charcoal Deli, OTOH, has better flavored pit beef and ham. I've been to Chaps and wan't impressed with their beef, either. Very dry and not dipped in sauce like Charcoal Grill/Deli. I've been recently going to some smaller unknown stands off the beaten path and have found a couple good ones. There's a stand behind the Farmer's Market on Joppa Rd between Loch Raven and Perring (near the Goodwill and Salvation Army). The beef is pretty good...don't like the ham too much, though. There's also one down on Cromwell Valley Rd near the beltway exit for Loch Raven (head towards Providence...he's on the left). He only has lunch hours, though.

        2. I too had the Chaps experience. Bland and tasteless.
          The folks under 83 at the market is much better on Sundays.

          Anyone have a report on Expressway Pit Beef in Odenton, or Canopy in Glen Burnie?

          8 Replies
          1. re: RobertM

            The Canopy has been gone now for at least 3 years! It's now called Jumper's Grille.

            1. re: lrebetsky0423

              Just got off the phone, The Canopy in Glen Burnie is still open.
              Guess I have to make a run up there this weekend......

              1. re: lrebetsky0423

                Jumper's grill has decent Pit Beef, but on weekends I prefer the Riddler's BBQ truck closer to Severna Park.

              2. re: RobertM

                I'm not terribly impressed by Canopy, but others seem to disagree. It's possible that my opinion of their meat is clouded by how much I hate their fries.

                I don't really think of Canopy as a pit beef place, though. They are hawking all kinds of barbecued (and non-barbecued) items, cooked indoors. What I think of as a canonical pit beef place is a shack that's almost outdoors, with a very limited menu. And there wouldn't be a deep fryer for fries anyway.

                1. re: Hal Laurent

                  Noted: Now where else do you suggest a good Pit Beef, BMore style, other than Chaps?
                  Feel free

                  1. re: RobertM

                    Try Pioneer Beef just off Rolling Road near Johhnycake

                  2. re: Hal Laurent

                    I enjoy the food at the Ellicott City branch of The Canopy.

                    1. re: elgringoviejo

                      The Canopy in Ellicott City seems a little better since they reopened after the fire. The beef has been more flavorful and less dry than it used to be. Maybe I've just been lucky, but the last 3 visits have been pretty good.

                2. I'm really not sure we read the same thing written by Henry Hong. They do not use processed meat at Chaps and it is one of few places doing pit beef correctly using charcoal versus a gas grill. I disagree on all levels. I like their pit beef. Also, I don't think any Food Network show has he funding to be sending an advance team to taste all the places they're considering featuring. They can only rely on the local folks they talk to and professional folks who review food for recommendations. Geesh.

                  1. I don't think I've had pit beef from Chaps (but if I did it was a long time ago), but it's perfectly normal for the roll to be soft. Kind of like Carolina pork barbecue, which is served on cheap white rolls or bread.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Hal Laurent

                      Also, the flavor comes from the charcoal. I think folks have become so used to crap processed that the real thing they don't get. The bun has to be soft, ick to the stiff hamburger type bun. At Chaps, everything they make with respect to meats is done daily. Yum. I loved the subtle hint of the charcoal flavor on the beef. Reminds me of the great beef sandwiches I used to be able to get at what are now franchises like Arby's.