Everyone knows the best roast beef sandwiches are found in New England. The classic version, called the “three-way” in local lingo, stuffs a soft roll with thin-sliced roast beef, then smothers it with American cheese, James River barbecue sauce, and mayonnaise. It is a beloved regional staple.
But with so many choices north of Boston, it can be hard to know which sandwiches are the best of the best. No problem: We’ve narrowed it down to five restaurants on the North Shore that will satisfy your craving for roast beef – and then some.
Kelly’s Roast Beef
Kelly’s Roast Beef takes pride in satisfying guests and serving up legendary roast beef sandwiches. The institution was founded in Revere in 1951 by Frank V. McCarthy and Raymond Carey. The pair started their business by slicing roast beef at a hot dog stand, creating what they say was the first iteration of the classic North Shore roast beef sandwich. It caught on and, 60 years later, they have locations in Saugus, Danvers, and Medford in addition to their spot on Revere Beach.
This popular joint has won numerous awards for their delectable food and has been mentioned on-screen by $40 a day with Rachel Ray on the Food Network, Saturday Night Live, and Good Will Hunting. To watch the action yourself, check out the live feed of the beachfront location.
410 Revere Beach Boulevard, Revere, kellysroastbeef.com
Jamie’s Roast Beef
Jamie’s Roast Beef is a hidden gem in Peabody. The mastermind behind the superb roast beef sandwiches is Matthew Marquis, a Peabody high School graduate and a trained chef who decided to put his own foodie spin on the North Shore’s most classic sandwich. He thin slices beef that has been seasoned and roasted in-house to a perfect medium rare. In addition to the standard roast beef, Jamie’s menu includes such gourmet variations as the “Full Send,” which features piles of beef topped with truffle aioli, taleggio cheese, and pickled onions. Need a final push to get you heading to the shop? Check out these sandwich shots on Instagram.
44 Margin St., Peabody, jamiesroastbeef.com
Nick’s Famous Roast Beef
A lot of North Shore roast beef shops call themselves “famous,” but Nick’s truly earns that title. Its large beef with cheese and sauce was named the best sandwich in Massachusetts by People magazine in 2019. The restaurant itself is an unpretentious shop in a low-slung brick building on a busy street in Beverly. The humble exterior, however, does not put off the legions of fans who consider Nick’s the only true roast beef experience worth having.
139 Dodge St., Beverly, nicksfamousroastbeef.com
The Modern Butcher
The Modern Butcher’s meat is sourced from within 150 miles of the Newburyport shop, and the owners personally visit the farms they work with to ensure animals are health and well-treated. The roast beef three-way is served only on Saturdays, so you’ll have to time your visit just right. If you wander in on another day, though, you really can’t miss with the overstuffed Italian, the oven-fried chicken with rotating sauces and toppings, or the Cuban with house-smoked ham. The shop’s social media is frequently updated, keeping customers updated with drool-worthy pics of the daily offerings.
226 Merrimac Street, Newburyport, themodernbutchershop.com
One of the best roast beef sandwiches is found at this family-run business in Newburyport. Two years ago, the current owners took over for another popular roast beef shop and promised to honor the legacy of its predecessor, keeping the signature sandwich on the menu. They have, it seems, succeeded, receiving rave reviews for their roast beef. The owners also give back to the community, supporting local charities and giving to the Alzheimer’s Association, in honor of a family member who had the disease.
192 State Street Newburyport, pomodorinbpt.com
Niko’s Place Roast Beef & Seafood
This appealing, family-run restaurant was opened in Salisbury in 2005, and has been pleasing roast-beef-hungry diners ever since – one review even declares the roast beef the best on the entire planet. Stick with the three-way, or make it your own by choosing from an extensive list of available condiments: Some horseradish sauce might be good, or perhaps try the Swiss cheese instead of American.
194 Elm St. #1805, Salisbury, nikosroastbeefandseafood.com
What’s your favorite spot for roast beef on the North Shore? Share your picks below!