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Feb 20, 2010 04:46 AM

The Best Beef-On-Weck in Buffalo

When you think of Buffalo's signature food, Buffalo Style Chicken Wings probably come to mind. But Buffalo has a few other signature foods - the most popular of which is Beef-On-Weck.

A Beef-On-Weck sandwich is made from slow-roasted rare roast beef that is hand carved or sliced and then placed on a "kummelweck" roll - a hard roll crusted with kosher salt and caraway seeds.
The top half of the roll is usually dipped in the jus from the roast. Prepared ground hot horseradish is the usual condiment. Traditional sides are french fries and a kosher dill pickle spear. Beef-On-Week was traditionally tavern fare and a lighter style pilsener would be the usual beverage.

Frequent postings by chowhounders visiting Buffalo, request the best place to get a good Beef-On-Weck, so it makes sense to start a thread exclusively for this topic.

"Best" is a subjective term, and it is unlikely that any one chowhound has visited enough taverns, pubs, restaurants, and deli's to have a definitive answer through comparison - so this thread will be a good place to make suggestions, compare notes, and discover new destinations for this unique Buffalo creation.

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  1. Schwabl's is, perhaps, the best place to start when discussing Beef-On-Weck. Many establishments serve the sandwich, but none are as 'known' for Beef-On-Weck as Schwabl's.

    A small restaurant / tavern with a 150-year old family history, and "old-school" atmosphere - stepping into Schwabl's is like stepping into the 1940's. Many restaurants have updated their dining rooms to look retro-cool - at Schwabl's, one gets the sense of walking into the original well-preserved "real deal."

    Schwabl's offers a Beef-On-Weck with a crusty substantial roll, with ample salt and seeds, piled with hand-carved 1/4 inch slices of roast beef. The top half of the roll is dipped in jus. Prepared horseradish is provided for the customer to add to taste. A 'special' is offered with cole slaw or pickled beets, and your choice of fries, mashed potatoes, or German Potato salad.

    On my last visit, the sandwich was excellent, with tender juicy beef, and just enough moisture added to the roll. The german potato salad was good, perhaps not the best example I've had, but the cole slaw was excellent - not too sweet or soggy.

    It was winter, so I ordered a Tom & Jerry, a hot cocktail made from rum, brandy, and eggs.

    Cocktail purists will be pleased to note that Schwabl's uses fresh juices squeezed to order, and the white-jacketed bartenders feature classic cocktails, such as old-fashioneds, sours, and collins.

    First-time visitors to Buffalo, or those looking to re-acquaint themselves with Beef-On-Weck, could start here for an introduction to the sandwich.

    Schwabl's Restaurant
    789 Center Rd, Buffalo, NY 14224

    1. I'm with jerryc123 on Schwabl's being the place to start for a great beef on 'weck, especially if you're looking for atmosphere and amazing cocktails. Their German Potato Salad and pickled beets are perfect sides for their sandwich. There's frequently a wait (sometimes a long wait) at a cramped bar, and sometimes they are unable to honor requests for your meat temp - I prefer medium-rare or rare, and I've had to suffer through well-done sandwiches are Schwabl's on several occasions. But it's still the first place we take out-of-town visitors, and the place they are most likely to request on return trips.

      Another great place for beef on 'weck is Bar Bill way out in East Aurora. It's frequently mentioned around this site, and well worth the trip in many people's opinion. Their beef is freshly carved and stacked high, the rolls always fresh, and their horseradish is appropriately strong. They also serve a mini-beef, which is a great option for people who can't scarf down the gigantic normal beef, or for those who want to make a meal of both beef and wings. And that's probably the other reason to travel out to Bar Bill - you can get not only a top-notch beef, but also some of the best wings in Buffalo. There's an on-going battle over who has the "best" wings around, but Bar Bill makes just about every list I've ever seen, and it's one of the few places where both the wings and beef are outstanding. Bar Bill has the old school/dive bar atmosphere, but it's tiny inside. If there's a Sabres or Bills game on, forget about getting a table. But in the summer, their patio opens, offering more space, and is an ideal laid-back spot to grab a beer and a beef. (Schwabl's doesn't have any outdoor seating, so we never go there in the limited nice weather months).

      But what about those who want to stay in the city? I think Ulrich's is the best beef within the city limits. It's pretty darn good, and with their new windowed room off the bar area, I've been visiting more often. What do other Buffalonians think about city Beefs?

      4 Replies
      1. re: RosemaryHoney

        Maybe not the best in buffalo, but Vizzie's on Kenmore ave makes a really good BOW.
        They are really known for their burger's, but I think their BOW is kind of a secret. They don't skimp on the beef either.

        1. re: RosemaryHoney

          Gabriel's Gate on Allen St makes a good beef on weck. Their sandwiches are almost always good, but I have been disappointed by the service and dinners there before, depends how busy they are.
          I remember Brennans out in Amherst had a good beef on weck with a crusty roll and lots of meat.
          Charlie the Butcher's used to be good, but I haven't been there in years.
          Do we even mention Andersons, or is that taboo here?

          1. re: dudleyanne2

            Bar Bill is constantly a favorite of many people on this board, for chicken wings as well as beef -n weck. East Aurora is an old-timey village, known as the home of both the Roycroft Movement and Fisher Price Toys, only a short 20 minute drive from downtown Buffalo and easy to find with google maps. Visitors to Buffalo would be well advised to make the trip.
            mflipp: You're right Vizzie's is really well know for their burgers, and usually mentioned in the top ten burgers in Buffalo. I did not know they had good beef on weck - looks like a field trip may be in order for me.
            dudleyanne: Time for me to visit Charlie the Butcher again for some "research." It has been a while, and a don't recall their sandwich being remarkable. Also, re: Anderson's, discuss away. I don't think any restaurant is taboo here.

            Bar Bill Tavern
            185 Main St, East Aurora, NY 14052

            Charlie the Butcher
            495 Main St, East Aurora, NY 14052

            Brennan's Bowery Bar and Restaurant
            4401 Transit Rd, Buffalo, NY 14221

            Gabriels Gate Restaurant
            145 Allen St, Buffalo, NY 14201

            Anderson's Frozen Custard
            2235 Sheridan Dr, Buffalo, NY 14223

            967 Kenmore Ave, Kenmore, NY 14217

          2. re: RosemaryHoney

            I was recently in the south end of the Buffalo/Niagara Region and stopped in at Schwabl's. I chose a table near the carver, and was treated to a show for my entire stay. My timing wasn't the greatest, as the carver was getting the few sandwiches from a roast, so my request for as rare as possible resulted in medium to medium-well. However, that didn't matter as the sandwich was delicious! The meat was sliced quite thin and some, but not all, were dipped in the juices in the pan. The result was a sandwich that, despite being overcooked for my taste, was wonderfully moist and flavourful. (I will use Canadian spellings!) I had ordered with the German Potato Salad and coleslaw. The slaw was vinaigrette-style and good, but the Potato Salad worth be worth ordering on it's own. But if you did that, what about the sandwich?

            Just as I was finishing, a new roast came out, so I said to myself, "I'll make up for this tomorrow," and ordered a second sandwich. This time, the sandwich was piled with medium rare slices and was without a doubt, one of the best Roast Beef Sandwiches I can recall having.

            Schwabl's Restaurant
            789 Center Rd, Buffalo, NY 14224

          3. I think the answer may well depend on what you want with your Beef on Weck. If you want the "Full Monty" - say some German Potato Salad and pickled beets washed down with one of their German Imported beers - then it is unquestionably Schwabl's. (And pay for it!)
            If you're more in the mood of say, six wings and a Flying Bison Ale with your Beef on Weck, then you might want to visit BarBills.
            If you don't mind the imitation Weck and don't want a beer (and no atmosphere) go see Charley the Butcher. If you don't want it rare or with a beer, and speed is the issue - go to Anderson's.
            And there are a couple of other worth mentioning along with the others mentioned herein like Eckl's and Vizzi's.
            But it's grim! It used to be that beef on weck was available in just about any street corner bar in Buffalo and there were a plethora of good offerings. Not so any longer and I morn the passing of places like Meyers and Bailos.
            What we need is a local Chowhound Club that can keep up on changes.

            7 Replies
            1. re: houdini

              Houdini: That is my biggest beef, ahem, problem with Anderson's - no beer to wash the sandwich down. I can live with the rotary sliced beef and the sometimes soft roll, I like their fries and their soft custard ice cream, I can live with the fast food ambiance, but I really need a cold beer to wash it down. Sigh.
              Eckl's has been on my wishlist for years, I just haven't made a big enough effort to get there. Have you been recently?

              Eckl's Beef & Weck Restaurant
              4936 Ellicott Rd, Orchard Park, NY 14127

              1. re: jerryc123

                Not in a while. As I recall, they have awkward hours.

                1. re: jerryc123

                  I like Andersons, and I'm not afraid to say it. I'm not much of a beer drinker, so that doesn't bother me. I usually get a milkshake with my order of weck and fries.
                  Then I go get my cholesterol checked.

                  1. re: lisagambino

                    I think Anderson's is all right. As someone said, I think of their roast beef as fast-food, not cuisine.
                    RosemaryHoney, I agree about Ulrich's, though as a regular there, my opinion may be a bit biased.

                    Ulrich's Tavern
                    674 Ellicott St, Buffalo, NY 14203

                    1. re: jerryc123

                      I love Anderson's on a hot, summer evening, when I'm on my way somewhere and need a good, quick meal. I always get the beef and a lemon ice/vanilla custard swirl, and it never fails to hit the spot. But as much as I love it, I'm with jerryc123 - it's kind of more in the vein of fast food than "cuisine". It's great for grabbing a bite to eat in the midst of other plans, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it or plan a meal around it.

                      Eckl's was never a favorite of mine - probably because I was indoctrinated on BarBill's Beef. I always felts Eckl's was kind of stuffy...more for the over 60 crowd? And perhaps that negatively biased my opinion of the Beef, which was just ok.

                      And Charlie the Butcher has never done it for me. I know people who swear by their beef, but I've had 2 stale buns there! TWO!! And a stale bun can destroy the entire sandwich for me.

                      1. re: RosemaryHoney

                        I had a chance to go to Anderson's with some friends and ordered their Carl's Choice, which is basically their big beef-on-weck. I was seriously disappointed. Beef was barely warm, had no flavor, soggy bun, and a blob of tasteless horseradish. No thank you. Certainly not worth recommending as Best In Buffalo.
                        Fries were good though. Ice cream was good too.

                2. re: houdini

                  Living in Houston, I go first to Anderson's on Sheridan when I come back to home town. I would prefer Bailos but sadly they are long gone. I miss Pat's Hot Dogs too, from the 50's and 60's and so go to Teds on Sheridan, for hot dogs that is. Gone from Buffalo for 49 years I do miss the food.

                3. Schwabl's, Schwabl's, Schwabl's. I did a Jane & Michael Stern Roadfood tour of Buffalo/Rochester last fall, and sampled Schwabl's and Eckl's. A pal also sampled Charlie the Butcher's, which I, alas, missed. (Love that sign!) Schwabl's beef on weck was fantastic; I have to say the atmosphere and the terrific German potato salad were contributing factors in making it so yummy. Looking forward to sampling some of the other places mentioned.

                  Charlie the Butcher
                  495 Main St, East Aurora, NY 14052

                  Schwabl's Restaurant
                  789 Center Rd, Buffalo, NY 14224

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Kat_in_Ossining

                    Kat, in looking over your posts, it looks like you've been to Charlie's and Schwabels. What a contrast! You need to enlarge your sample (not that there is anything wrong with Schwabel's). Before you close the book, try a couple of other places. Oh, and by the way, the traditional roll has caraway and you can brush off salt and caraway to taste. Charlie's roll is amongst the worst local examples IMHO.

                  2. Sorry to revive an old thread:

                    I'm coming down to the Buffalo/Niagara falls area from Toronto for the day and was hoping to get some decent beef on weck. Unfortunately, I'm going to be on a schedule that won't allow for any big detours.

                    Is there anywhere worth eating beef on weck in either:

                    1. The area around the Niagara Falls outlet mall at Military Rd & Niagara Falls Blvd.
                    2. The Elmwood area (Elmwood & Forest).
                    3. Anywhere between #1 & #2.


                    4 Replies
                      1. re: rkaene

                        The beer selection alone at Cole's makes it worth the stop. Add decent enough wings and weck and you should stop.

                        1. re: jmoryl

                          Thanks! Cole's is our regular stop for lunch (& beer), but I hadn't realised they do beef on weck as well.


                          1. re: detritus

                            Cole's also owns Brennan's in Amherst. Get the platter of beef on weck & a few wings for a great taste of Buffalo.