Between the premium burgers, artisanal hotdogs and handcrafted sodas, Los Angeles has become the land of elevated fast food. So, maybe I should be surprised that there aren’t more places fixing to take on Arby’s style roast beef sandwich.
I’m not quite sure what happened to Arby’s place in the American fast food market. Throughout my childhood they were mentioned alongside McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. In my part of Pennsylvania you would have also had to add Hardee’s and Roy Rogers (do they still exist?) to the list but Arby’s was most definitely there. Then I moved to Europe and when I returned to live in the States they had shifted to being the the butt of jokes from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
A bit of a shame since it is difficult to argue with the fundamental concept of roast beef between bread.
We were both craving meat on Sunday. One of those cravings where you know you want something but not exactly what that something might be. We just knew that it had to be something with meaty juiciness to satisfy carnivorous urges.
Top Round Roast Beef (1000 S. La Brea Ave.) has been on our radar for a couple months. The nostalgic burger stand vibe caught our eye. Signs pushing their roast beef and frozen custard offerings certainly didn’t hurt. Since we couldn’t come up with any other definitive solutions to our craving we decided to take our chances with them.
Top Round Roast Beef doesn’t have a vast menu. More like a list of variations on a few base recipes. Which, to me can work in the favor of a restaurant if they really focus and get those base recipes right. After all, what are most pizza places than a basic cheese pizza that they then mix up through different combinations of toppings.
In the case of Top Round Roast Beef, they do have hot dogs and chicken but the majority of the majority of the menu is made up of roast beef sandwiches and fries. Each of the roast beef sandwiches starts with seasoned slow cooked roast beef and au jus on a butter toasted bun.
From there it is a matter of selecting what else you want on the sandwich. If you want something basic there is the Beef & Cheese which is the roast beef, homemade cheese ‘wizz’ and round sauce (think Arby’s Sauce) on an onion bun. More adventurous offerings include the Bar-B-Cue which is the only sandwich where the roast beef is chopped rather than sliced. It’s then topped with fried onions, jalapeno straws, their Bar-B-Cue sauce and Provel cheese on the onion bun.
I was tempted by that one but the jalapenos resulted in my spicy heat wimp tendencies giving it the veto. Instead,I went for the Horse & Hole sandwich. It is made up of the sliced roast beef, Provel cheese, horseradish cream and roasted mushrooms on a sesame bun. I don’t know why I can’t do spicy heat but that I enjoy horseradish and mustard intensity. Go figure.
Chris- he had the Original Roast Beef without any toppings – and I had the same reaction when we bit into our sandwiches. Which boiled down to – wow, it is actual roast beef. I’m not sure what we were expecting. Likely we were weighing it up against the thin slices that are piled onto an Arby’s sandwich. Instead, this was juicy pink roast beef sliced to a medium thickness. Just what our taste buds had been craving.
A big thumbs up for Top Round Roast Beef’s Horse & Hole sandwich. I loved the taste and mouth feel of the smooth melty cheese combining with the earthy flavors of the mushrooms. Any danger of blandness was blown away by the horseradish cream. Depending on the bite it delivered either a lovely taste bud tingle or a sinus clear out.
At $7.95 it was obviously more than I would have paid at Arby’s but it isn’t outrageous for Los Angeles and it was vastly better than I have ever had from them.
I would be slacking if I didn’t mention the curly fries that I ordered as my side. They were incredible. Which sounds a bit crazy because there wasn’t anything fancy going on. They were just real potatoes spiraled out and lightly salted. What probably makes the difference is that they are fried in real beef fat. I ended up devouring most of the order before any of them came anywhere near ketchup. Crazy good!
We’ll certainly be back to Top Round Roast Beef. The challenge will be to save enough room so that we can try that frozen custard.