Beef On Weck Is Buffalo's Beloved Roast Beef Sandwich

Buffalo is the land of chicken wings, sponge candy, sports fanatics, and a unique roast beef sandwich. The All-American city boasts beef on weck: a sandwich that, at first glance, may seem like just another roast beef slider. After all, roast beef sandwiches are fairly common and already come in a range of shapes, styles, and servings. Outside of Buffalo, you can easily find your favorite cut of meat on a fluffy roll and experiment with all kinds of toppings.

But Buffalo is no stranger to culinary creativity, nor is beef on weck your average roast beef sandwich. Just look at Buffalo pizza for proof that the city knows how to upgrade any conventional dish. According to Visit Buffalo Niagara, Buffalo toyed with regular pizza, adding ample pepperoni, a sweetened sauce, and a soft crust. The end result? A uniquely Buffalo concoction.

Beef on weck similarly straddles that culinary line between the universally familiar and the uniquely regional. The sandwich is a culinary game-changer in the form of a seeded bun, meaty interior, and flavorful horseradish topping. Here is a meal that can contend with the hungriest of Bills fans and Niagara Falls tourists alike.

Beef on weck predates Buffalo's other hallmark: the chicken wing

Chicken wings are practically synonymous with Buffalo. But perhaps we should better associate the city with its beef. Beef on weck came decades before the chicken wing though the sandwich's exact origins remain unclear. It is commonly believed that the meal arrived in western New York via a German immigrant or food stand at the 1901 Pan American Exposition (via Visit Buffalo Niagara).

According to Taste Atlas, beef on weck originated in 1901, when hotel and tavern owner Joe Gohn opted to feed his tenants and diners roast beef sandwiches. Gohn employed a German baker, who first floated the idea of adding caraway seeds and salt to the bread. However, Gohn's story is just one potential origin in the sandwich's folklore; other outlets point to different pub owners and timelines.

One thing everyone can agree on is the impact of the roll's salt; because the bread was — and is — so salty, its consumers tended to pair the sandwich with a pint of beer, as well as a pickle and some french fries. Beef on weck is a win-win for German cuisine and western New York alike.

Beef on weck ingredients

Beef on weck is fairly straightforward, as the sandwich consists of only three ingredients. The most obvious ingredient is, well, beef. The Spruce Eats clarifies that beef on weck should utilize thinly sliced roast beef over other, thicker cuts. Taste Atlas similarly recommends meat that is slightly pink in the center. Grate some horseradish overtop for extra fresh flavor.

While horseradish and beef fill the sandwich, neither is the meal's star — nor the food's distinct namesake. Beef on weck sandwiches its meat between a roll covered in salt and caraway seeds. This roll is what distinguishes beef on weck from its peers, both in name and taste. The word "weck" is a nickname for Kummelweck: the type of roll used in the sandwich (via Taste Atlas).

If you're far from Buffalo or your grocery store doesn't carry the right bread, you can still try the sandwich from home. Today recommends picking up some Kaiser rolls. Brush them with egg, add some pretzel salt and caraway seeds, and pop them in the oven for just a few minutes. You'll have weck-worthy rolls in no time.

Where to try beef on weck

To experience the best of beef on weck, you'll likely need to head to Buffalo. Beef on weck is a staple in Buffalo's culinary roster and reappears at grab-and-go food stands and sit-down restaurants alike. The Chicago Tribune highlights Charlie the Butcher: a long-standing beef-on-weck establishment located in the heart of Buffalo.

Meanwhile, Visit Buffalo Niagara recommends a series of taverns where you can order a beef on weck with a pint of whatever's on tap. Buffalo locals swear by their favorite neighborhood eateries, and the sandwich is ingrained in the fabric of the city's culture. So, the next time you head upstate, consider going west. The salty roll is unique to the city, and because the bread hardens quickly, it can't be truly tasted elsewhere. Beef on weck, therefore, makes for a uniquely Buffalo experience — one that's less ubiquitous than the chicken wing.