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Next best option to Nick's Roast Beef Sandwich inside Boston/Cambridge

Annie S. Oct 23, 2011 12:46 PM

From what I can tell Nick's is the place for a roast beef sandwich. Unfortunately I don't have the time to get up that way. I've been searching the board but I've not been able to figure out the best place to go inside Boston/Cambridge area for a facsimile to Nick's. Any ideas for a destination worthy roast beef? Futile pursuit?

Nick's Roast Beef
139 Dodge St, Beverly, MA 01915

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    Gabatta RE: Annie S. Oct 23, 2011 01:56 PM

    Skampa in Cambridge is probably the best option for a traditional roast beef in the city. It's worth a visit.

    424 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

    9 Replies
    1. re: Gabatta
      Annie S. RE: Gabatta Oct 23, 2011 02:04 PM

      Thanks, I did see Skampa recommended but wasn't sure if it was done in a similar style (or what that traditional style is exactly) as Nick's. After reading some more it sounds like BBQ sauce is pretty standard on a roast beef sandwich.

      424 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

      1. re: Annie S.
        Gabatta RE: Annie S. Oct 23, 2011 02:51 PM

        A classic North shore 3 way roast beef comes with sauce, cheese and mayo. The BBQ sauce is generally James River type sauce which has a bit of a distinct flavor.

        1. re: Gabatta
          hckybg RE: Gabatta Oct 23, 2011 04:00 PM

          Gabatta, have you been to JImbo's near Union Square, Somerville? I haven't been in several years but always thought it was pretty good. But I'm curious if it compares to Skampa, where I also haven't been.

          1. re: hckybg
            Gabatta RE: hckybg Oct 23, 2011 05:07 PM

            Haven't been to Jimbo's. Skampa is good, not great, but better than anything I have had in town. The Roast Beast sandwich is good, but not very traditional IMO.

            1. re: Gabatta
              hckybg RE: Gabatta Oct 23, 2011 08:50 PM


            2. re: hckybg
              Small Plates RE: hckybg Oct 25, 2011 08:51 AM

              Jimbo's is fantastic! My husband, who grew up in Swampscott and feels he and his high school friends have a certain authority on roast beef, says that Jimbo's is very, very good. His favs include Mike's on Route 99, John's on Route 107 in Lynn - and another I forget, but I will report back on after I speak to him. Jimbo's toasts the roll, which is key! :)

        2. re: Gabatta
          Annie S. RE: Gabatta Oct 26, 2011 01:16 PM

          Alright well I made it to Skampa this afternoon for a Super Beef. First meal here after the red eye from SFO. I enjoyed it fine but I could pretty much take it or leave it. I was slow on the uptake and ended up with every fixing save pickles, so the overall experience was not totally unlike eating an especially sloppy California burger + bbq - not necessarily a bad thing. It would have been nicer a bit warmer. It's what I wish an Arby's sandwich was - fast, cheap, jumbo, sloppy, satisfying but ultimately just so so food. Instead, Arby's is just awful and Skampa's seems fine for what it is. No regrets. Thanks for the rec. I saw some Brazilian restaurants in the neighborhood I'm curious about.

          Tomorrow I conquer sandwich #2: the lobster roll at Neptune Oyster. I will be there tryna blend in at off hours so as not to displace the locals.

          424 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

          1. re: Annie S.
            Locutus RE: Annie S. Oct 26, 2011 02:59 PM

            You should have gone to Mikes. All other RB sands. suck compared to mikes

            1. re: Annie S.
              GretchenS RE: Annie S. Oct 27, 2011 10:01 AM

              Thanks for the report, hope you like the lobster roll MUCH better.

          2. Locutus RE: Annie S. Oct 23, 2011 05:35 PM

            O Boy! My favorite subject :) I think you will find it superiour to Nicks. Also try the fried clams. They put the N Shore clam joints to shame

            Mikes Roast Beef
            Rt 99 Everett across from the honda dealer

            3 Replies
            1. re: Locutus
              emannths RE: Locutus Oct 24, 2011 05:35 AM

              Can anyone give a reasonable explanation on how fried clams and roast beef got paired up? As a non-native, this pairing has always seemed a bit odd.

              1. re: emannths
                Dave MP RE: emannths Oct 24, 2011 09:20 AM

                A google search found this article: http://gastrotraveling.com/2010/04/11...

                It suggests that it's because of Kelly's Roast Beef - "Creator of the Original Roast Beef Sandwich." They popularized the combination of roast beef sandwiches and fried clams on the North Shore

                1. re: Dave MP
                  itaunas RE: Dave MP Nov 1, 2011 07:08 AM

                  Dave there have been a couple of newspaper articles in past years with some history of Roast Beef shops particularly from North Shore sources.. The Globe one referenced in the post below is the only one I can find now (have some articles on a hard drive stuck in customs) and as they have since made it subscription based, I will mention you can still find the complete article elsewhere via google.


                  Certainly Kelly's had an influence, but the Greek heritage of the immigrants which opened RB shops had in influence -- not only in overlap with seafood businesses, but diners which all serve fried seafood. Also at one time just about any sub shop in general had fried haddock on the menu. The weird combination for me is fried fish and donuts which does exist, although assuming they change the fryer oil nothing wrong with that. :-)

            2. c
              CookieLee RE: Annie S. Oct 24, 2011 05:43 AM

              I don't know what makes Nick's unique. There is Roast Beast on the corner of Comm Ave and Naples Rd. in Packard's Corner. Here's a thread about it:

              2 Replies
              1. re: CookieLee
                Libbypizza RE: CookieLee Oct 24, 2011 08:34 AM

                Roast Beast. Their beef is very good but they don't have the right kind of BBQ sauce. Just sweet BBQ and then some crazy spicy sauces and mayos. A N. shore RB is not the same without James River BBQ deliciousness.

                Roast Beast
                1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                1. re: Libbypizza
                  BobB RE: Libbypizza Oct 24, 2011 08:57 AM

                  Having never been a fan of BBQ sauce, I don't consider it an essential element of the classic roast beef sandwich, so I give high marks to Roast Beast. I take mine with horseradish (not horseradish sauce, mind you, straight horseradish).

                  Roast Beast
                  1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

              2. s
                Soxfan49 RE: Annie S. Nov 1, 2011 02:10 PM

                My favorite roast beef sandwich in the Boston area is Cutty's in Brookline Village; tender roast beef, crisp shallots, and a perfect amount of sauce.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Soxfan49
                  Gabatta RE: Soxfan49 Nov 1, 2011 02:34 PM

                  Great sandwich. Definitely not a traditional RB like Nick's as is being discussed in any way though.

                2. s
                  sunalso RE: Annie S. Nov 3, 2011 09:49 AM

                  Try the roast beef sandwich at Baker Street Market in West Roxbury. They make it with sauce and mayo, served warm on a toasted onion roll. That's the large, and I love that they have small and medium too, but on different rolls. Really yummy.

                  1. nsenada RE: Annie S. Nov 3, 2011 12:17 PM

                    I would bet La Grassa could do something similar - they roast their own beef, for one thing, and they don't stint on the quality of their ingredients. I always get a cuban, pastrami, or brisket when I'm there, so I never get RB. The beef at Nick's is blessed by the gods, though - so tender, rare, and thinly sliced...

                    1. nsenada RE: Annie S. Jan 28, 2012 11:18 AM

                      A bit off the beaten path, but I just had a roast beef sandwich from Inna's Kitchen - it was awesome. It was a special on the board, and came on a brioche roll with horseradish sauce. Beef looked like they had cooked it, and it was medium-rare and sliced thin. Definitely going back for the knisches - they looked amazing.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: nsenada
                        Fly RE: nsenada Jan 29, 2012 02:14 PM

                        I'm sure it was a tasty sandwich with roast beef, but this was not a Roast Beef Sandwich as requested by the OP.

                        1. re: Fly
                          nsenada RE: Fly Jan 30, 2012 06:55 AM

                          It was pretty close - about the only major difference was the roll, otherwise it had rare, homemade roast beef, thinly sliced, and horseradish sauce (one of the offered toppings at Nicks, which I've been to a number of times). Also, the OP didn't say it had to be exactly like Nick's, or even a traditional North Shore RB sandwich.

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