With the Pats facing off against the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs on January 15, 2022, it might seem blasphemous to acknowledge the Bills fans in our midst, but let’s face it: You were probably already planning on eating Buffalo wings this weekend. Why not add another Buffalo specialty to the repertoire, even if you’re not cheering on the team?
Massachusetts already loves roast beef sandwiches: The iconic North Shore “three-way” traditionally tops a generous pile of ultra-thin roast beef with mayo, barbecue sauce, and a slice of white American cheese, served on an onion Kaiser roll, sesame seed bun, or unseeded hamburger bun, depending on the size of the sandwich.
In Western New York, Buffalo has its own take on a roast beef sandwich: beef on weck, which has been served since at least the 1830s, making it much older than the more well-known Buffalo wings, which only date back to the 1960s.
“Weck” refers to the bun, a kummelweck roll (the spelling “kimmelweck” is also common) — a Kaiser variation that is topped with coarse salt and caraway seeds. The beef is usually cooked rare and sliced thin, typically topped with a bit of horseradish and served au jus. (Sometimes, the top bun is dipped in the jus.)
Here’s a very short list of places that serve beef on weck in the Boston area, with a couple bonus options for other Buffalo fare available locally. (Note: Cambridge’s Lamplighter Brewing recently offered beef on weck on the menu of its in-house cafe, Pepita Coffee. It’s not currently available, but keep an eye out in case it makes a comeback.)
All Star Sandwich Bar
1245 Cambridge St., Cambridge
The popular Inman Square sandwich shop has been serving beef on weck since opening in 2006; it’s one of several sandwiches that are still on the menu to this day, alongside options like the atomic meatloaf meltdown and the pastraminator. All Star roasts the beef in-house, slicing it to order and serving the sandwich warm, au jus, and topped with extra hot horseradish. Try it with All Star’s spicy hell fries — or stay on the Buffalo theme with an order of Buffalo fingers.
82A Lansdowne St., Boston
The Fenway bar is one of the city’s notorious hangouts for Buffalo sports fans, both for football and hockey. During Buffalo games, there are typically specials available that pay homage to the city, including beef on weck, Buffalo wings, Labatt Blue, and Chiavetta’s chicken sandwiches. (One might also find garbage plates on the special menu, although those were born in Rochester, 75 miles east of Buffalo.) The beef on weck isn’t quite on weck; Bleacher Bar serves its take on the sandwich on a toasted French baguette topped with caraway seeds. The beef is slow-braised and also gets a sprinkling of caraway, and the sandwich is served au jus and with a side of fries. It’s only available on game days (including January 15).
Multiple area locations, including 3850 Mystic Valley Pkwy., Medford, and 200 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill
With roots in Rochester, New York, it’s no surprise the beloved grocery chain carries some Western New York specialties. Availability may vary by location, but some outposts serve beef on weck at the made-to-order sandwich and sub counter, served a little nontraditionally with horseradish mayo and lettuce. Shoppers also might find it bagged and ready to go in the prepared foods section. See more reasons to go to Wegmans below.
Other Buffalo (and beyond) foods to find around Boston
- While shopping at Wegmans, be sure to keep an eye out for a variety of Western and Upstate New York products. Buffalo-area picks include barbecue marinade from the aforementioned Chiavetta’s and wing sauce from the city’s famous Anchor Bar. (Really, though, you just need Frank’s Red Hot and butter to make your own traditional Buffalo wings.) From Rochester, look for Country Sweet sauces (especially the hot version), Zweigle’s red hots and white hots, Sal’s Sassy Sauce from Sal’s Birdland, and the good-on-just-about-everything Boss Sauce. From Syracuse, try all the various sauces and rubs from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Pasta’s Daily Spicy Hot Tomato Oil. And from Corfu, try Yancy’s Fancy cheeses, including a Buffalo sauce-flavored aged cheddar.
- Like Bleacher Bar, Boston bar the Harp (85 Causeway St. in the West End) welcomes Bills fans and offers specials during games. There’s no beef on weck, but there is a burger on a kummelweck roll, topped with caramelized onions, bacon, cheddar, horseradish mayo, and an optional fried egg. There are also wings, a garbage plate pizza, Labatt Blue, and Genesee Cream Ale.
- Just looking for legit wings? Local folks with Buffalo roots tend to recommend Buff’s Pub (317 Washington St., Newton) for the most authentically Buffalo Buffalo wings. Give them a try while pondering the fact that “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” is a grammatically correct sentence.