– By Rachel Leah Blumenthal
Sandwiches are the ultimate nostalgia food. One bite can bring you right back to that daily brown bag lunch packed by your mom, or the squished sandwich pulled out of the cooler on the annual beach trip with the family, or your favorite guilty pleasure greasy food truck sandwich during late night study-a-thons in college.
Nostalgia led me to two of my favorite Boston-area roast beefs.
The Classic Roast Beef Sandwich
Jimbo’s Famous Roast Beef & Seafood
40 Bow St.
Union Square, Somerville, MA 02143
From growing up in Sharon, my childhood culinary memories consist of Chinese food at Mandarin Taste, ice cream at Crescent Ridge, pub-style pizza at Town Spa in Stoughton, and…ridiculously rare roast beef sandwiches at the now-defunct Stoughton shack, Mur-Mac’s. The Mur-Mac’s roast beef sandwich – just thinly sliced beef on a toasted bun with a little bit of A1 – has achieved epic status in my memory, probably because I haven’t been there in ages (and now that it’s closed, I’ll obviously never return). In truth, the place was pretty creepy and grimy. Something about those sandwiches, though, has ruined all other roast beef for me.
Finally, recently, I decided to find a replacement, and after some intense Yelp research and taste-testing, I’ve found a winner. The ambiance is completely different, but the sandwich – well, it’ll do. Jimbo’s piles extraordinarily rare beef high on a soft bun and tops it with their sweet-and-sour BBQ sauce, if you’d like. (Personally, I get a plain sandwich to go and add A1 at home.) It’s not quite Mur-Mac’s, but since Mur-Mac’s is gone forever, Jimbo’s is the place to go.
Buffalo’s Beef on Weck
All Star Sandwich Bar
1245 Cambridge St
Inman Square, Cambridge, MA 02139
I went to college in Rochester, New York, and I loved the city – which tends to confuse others who have lived there. To some extent in Rochester and even more so in nearby Buffalo, there was a ubiquitous sandwich called Beef on Weck: thinly sliced, rare, juicy roast beef on a kummelweck roll (like a bulkie roll but topped with coarse salt and caraway seeds) served with hot au jus (like a French dip). As a lover of all things carb and beef and without too many condiments or toppings, I immediately fell on love with beef on weck.
Once I came back to Boston, I sadly never saw it again… until All Star Sandwich Bar opened in Inman Square. (Rumor has it you can also find it at Bleacher Bar at Fenway, but I have not been there to try it out yet.) All Star does a more than satisfactory job: the beef and au jus are spot on. The bun is a bit crispier than I’d like, but until I make it back up to Rochester or Buffalo, All Star helps me relive those cold, snowy and wonderful college years.