13 Best Roast Beef Sandwiches In NYC

There's just something about a perfect roast beef sandwich. Maybe it's the bold flavors of slow-roasted beef, the fluffy rolls with a hint of sweetness, or just the nostalgia of a good, messy sandwich. When it comes to roast beef, much like any sandwich, there are different approaches. We have the old standbys that center around gravy, Italian-influenced sandwiches with fresh mozzarella, and even kosher, squished between two pieces of hearty rye.

A roast beef sandwich isn't hard to come by, but a good roast beef sandwich? That's a different story. What began as a means to power through leftovers, the roast beef sandwich has really come into its own identity. The modern-style sandwich, doused in gravy, is said to have been first conceived on the North Shore of Boston. A plethora of roast beef leftovers motivated the crew at Kelly's hot dog stand, to serve up sandwiches in 1951. Kelly's Roast Beef is now a Massachusetts staple and still lays claim to the sandwich's origin, but from there, roast beef sandwiches could be found everywhere. Today, there are endless mouth-watering variations, and New York City has several. That's the beauty of NYC — you can ask a dozen people about their favorite spot for a given dish and receive a dozen different answers. In this city, we all get to find our little favorites. No one has to agree with us on the best roast beef sandwiches the Big Apple has to offer, but we're sure they will.

John's Deli

Here we have the holy grail of roast beef sandwiches. John's Deli has been around since 1968 and somehow seems to be unaffected by time. If it wasn't for some of the fading photographs on the wall, signed by an array of celebs, you would think you just jumped into a time machine. 

The deli's menu is separated by meats, naturally, and its signature roast beef sandwich is the Johnny Roast Beef which is smothered in gravy, caramelized onions, and mozzarella cheese. The staff is clearly fans of mafia-themed entertainment, with the other two roast beef sandwiches named after "The Sopranos" and "Goodfellas" characters. The Tony Soprano is a super classic option simply with roast beef, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise, whereas the Paul "Paulie" Cicero is topped with crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, gooey American cheese, and Russian dressing. All delicious options, but the standout has got to be the simple classic. The gravy-drenched sandwiches are laid out on a paper plate, even when wrapped in tin foil to go, leaving proof of just how much gravy we're talking about here.


This old-school sandwich spot tucked away in Red Hook, Brooklyn is as classic as classic gets. With a menu stretching across the entire side of the shop, there are enough options to keep you reading all afternoon. Although, when in doubt, go for the roast beef. Defonte's classic hero, simply named Hot Roast Beef includes the standard fresh mozzarella and natural jus, but there's something extra that puts it on the map: fried eggplant. The breaded addition adds just the right amount of crunch alongside soft, earthy eggplant notes that pair perfectly with the fresh roast beef.

Staying true to its Italian roots, Defonte's stuffs its iconic fried eggplant into a number of massive heroes on the menu. Some are conventionally Italian, while others are not. With the novelty size and unique flavors, it's no surprise Guy Fieri made a pit stop here on "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives," giving it a 10 out of 10 without skipping a beat. Typically, fried eggplant is reserved for veggie alternatives like eggplant Parmesan, but Defonte's thinks of it more as an addition to a meaty grinder, and it can make just about any sandwich better.

Brennan & Carr

Brennan & Carr has been around since 1938 and hasn't changed a single thing, right down to where the ladles hang. It's become a Sheepshead Bay fixture due to its mellow, local vibe, but more importantly, its timeless sandwich menu. Usually "wet" isn't how one wants their sandwich described, but you have to trust the roast beef professionals here. There's an art to ordering at Brennan & Carr, as there are three variations of its iconic sandwich.

First, we have the "Dingle Dangle" which is served with a dry bun, but tender roast beef that's been dunked in the restaurant's signature gravy, aka "broth." The next level up is the "Double Dip" which delivers doused beef sandwiched between a gravy-dipped bun. Last but very far from least is the KFJ, or ​ "Knife Fork Job." This behemoth of a sandwich is topped with a ladle full of gravy, hence the name. The roast beef sandwiches may be simple at Brennan & Carr's, but they're legendary. They always use the finest cuts of meat for tender roast beef sandwiches. There's nowhere else that's doing it like Brennan & Carr's. With only a slab of cheese as an optional additional, this family and friends run spot may be stuck in its ways, but as it turns out, that's lucky for us.

Roll N Roaster

A common detour on the way to Coney Island, Roll N Roaster is an iconic sandwich spot with a 1970s aesthetic that isn't a shtick — it's authentic to the core. With over 50 years of top-notch service, Roll N Roaster is a neighborhood landmark. Its motto, "simply delicious," says it all. On a fresh, fluffy roll, thinly sliced roast beef is stacked high and drenched in gooey cheese that seeps onto the plate. The bigger the mess, the better. 

Unlike most of the other old-school counter-style sandwich joints, Roll N Roaster lets customers choose the temperature of their roast beef: rare, medium, or well done. The juicy sandwich is best washed down with Roll N Roaster's housemade Orangeade. While we would never advise going to this spot and not getting a roast beef sandwich, bargain hunters should take a look at the pizza menu as well. It might not be New York's best pizza, but it's pizza at its purest, and only $4.95.

Pastrami Queen

As an NYC institution, it's only expected that this roast beef sandwich makes the list. He may have gravitated towards the pastrami on rye, which in his eyes was a "quintessential New York meal," but the late Anthony Bourdain praised Pastrami Queen as the best of the best. The hardworking crew behind the scenes cooks everything fresh daily, and it shows with each bite. The Pastrami Queen menu offers customization, but the "royal size" roast beef is the way to go. It's smothered in grilled onions and served on garlic bread, with plenty of Russian dressing and coleslaw on the side.

The original sandwich spot was actually "Pastrami King" during its Brooklyn days. It first opened in Williamsburg in 1956 before migrating over to Kew Gardens. The newfound Queens pride prompted the name change, but not until the late 1990s when it jumped ship for Manhattan. Gary Zinger, the former restaurant manager, pleaded to The New York Times back in 1998, ”I hope that Queens won't think of us as traitors.” Having been such a mainstay in the borough, they carried their loyal customers with them by officially changing to Pastrami Queen.

Sarge's Deli

Sarge's Diner and Delicatessen is one of the big apple's shining stars. Between the late night hours, leather booths, and framed history lining the walls, this place radiates comfort. The bright red awning almost reels you in, and the more than generous portions will keep you coming back. The deli has come head to head with Katz's Delicatessen over the decades, battling for the title of the best Jewish deli in the city. While Sarge's may make fewer headlines, locals know its worthy of competition. Luckily, everyone has their preferences, so we're spoiled for choice.

Sarge's Deli is another place known for its pastrami, which means other meaty menu items are often overlooked, one being roast beef sandwiches. Like all of Sarge's sandwiches, they're comically large. You can never go wrong with a good old roast beef sandwich, but Sarge's French Dip is arguably better than the standard. It's served alongside Sarge's spicy horseradish sauce, and, of course, extra au jus for dipping.

G & S Salumeria & Pork Store

This true mom-and-pop shop would be easy to miss, but it should not be. There's a battle with the incredible hole-in-the-wall spots because we want to share the love and give their owners all the support and business they deserve, but we don't want to see it transform into another big-shot establishment and lose its local heart. G & S Salumeria & Pork Store is going strong and from what we can see (and taste) the hardworking team will never lose their spirit. Eddie, the man behind the salumeria's success, proudly boasts his love for the neighborhood after 19 years of running the show at G & S.

While its American Hero has plenty of roast beef, in order to give G & S's succulent roast beef the attention it deserves, invent the sandwich of your dreams with the super customizable menu. The sandwich chefs will create just about anything, but considering they make fresh mozzarella right in the shop, it's highly advised to toss that on your roast beef sandwich.

Panino Rustico

Panino Rustico is on the newer side, having opened its first location in Bensonhurst in 2011. But don't let the sandwich shops' youth fool you — its sandwiches are top dollar. As the name suggests, paninis are the team's forte, and that includes the signature roast beef. It's a mouth-watering grilled dream with layers of thinly sliced roast beef, mozzarella, and gravy. If there's any stomach room left, your meal can be topped off with a sweet crepe or a Tiramisu martini.

If hot sandwiches aren't your thing, there is a smaller section of the menu dedicated to wraps. The roast beef option is simple and wholesome, rolled with fresh mozzarella, sun-dried tomato, and mayo. While the wrap is a fresh, delicious lunch option, Panino Rustico's hot-pressed sandwiches are really where it's at. Once you have experienced the roast beef panini, you'll understand why. It's clear Brooklyn agrees, as the panini cafe now has five locations with a sixth in the works.

Sal, Kris & Charlie's Deli

Known as the "sandwich King of Astoria," Sal Kris & Charlie's Deli is a must-visit for sandwich fanatics when in Queens. Specifically, roast beef fanatics. The deli makes ginormous grinders that can hardly fit in anyone's mouth. Sometimes outrageously large sandwiches can just feel gimmicky, like novelty foods that can't even be consumed, but that is not the case in Queens.

With more than three decades under their belt, the current crew, or family, behind Sal, Kris & Charlie's knows what they're doing. Kris and Charlie are a wife and husband duo who bought the quaint place back in 1987, and apparently, Sal was part of the sale. People often skip to the deli for its famous sandwich, The Bomb, which is basically an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sandwich. It's so beloved that it's even featured on Gold Belly, ready to ship off to fans craving the notorious sandwich. Tender, juicy roast beef is one of the many types of meat on the sandwich, but a roast beef purist should go for an ever-classic that allows the perfectly roast beef to shine, tailored to their liking.

Court Street Grocers

This hip little grocery and sandwich spot may be trendy, but with good reason. While they have a handful of other locations and business endeavors today, the original Court Street Grocers, or CSG, is a reimagined corner store serving creative renditions of Italian favorites to Carroll Gardens. Its fandom is widespread, with celebs rocking Court Street Grocers merch and taking over headlines. Ordering from CSG's colorful menu can be overwhelming, so make it easy for yourself by ordering the Droopy sandwich without hesitation. It's packed with juicy roast beef, spicy horseradish mayo, arugula, and heaps of French's fried onions, piled high on a seeded hero roll from the one and only Caputo's Bake Shop.

If cheese is a must, there's also The Jawn which is overflowing with three different types of cheese, just-roasted beef, lettuce, onions, red wine vinaigrette, and CSG's very own hoagie spread. While waiting for the sandwich geniuses to prepare their masterpiece, customers can get a jump on their weekly grocery shopping. The shop's walls are lined with Italian gourmet goods that have been carefully curated both locally and throughout the country.


This Italian deli is a West Village mainstay. It has been helping Italians feel a little less homesick since 1900 and is still run by the Faicco family. Faicco's is a true Italian deli, with all of the sliced meats, homemade sausages, cheeses, and antipasti imaginable. Lucky for New York, the crew at Faicco's is happy to toss all of their top-of-the-line ingredients into dozens of gourmet sandwiches. 

The kitchen staff is always bustling behind the counter making arancini and homemade sausage, so they leave the sandwich creations up to the patrons for the most part, aside from the daily specials that are always a hit. Among them was once the Roast Beef Italiano which they can (and will) likely recreate any day. They topped roast beef with sharp shavings of Parmesan and sundried tomatoes, all doused in a balsamic glaze on their crunchy hero roll. Faicco's peppery roast beef is absolutely delicious and pairs well with just about anything, making sandwich combinations virtually endless. Another crowd favorite is the simple, ultra-American roast beef and bacon sandwich, dripping in melty cheddar.

Minetta Tavern

As one of the best restaurants in NYC, Minetta Tavern isn't what most would consider a go-to spot to snag a roast beef sandwich — but they would be highly mistaken. Of course, a Michelin star steakhouse would have top-of-the-line roast beef, but serving a notoriously sloppy sandwich on those white tablecloths? It's an understandable surprise, but Minetta Tavern has a slightly more laid-back brunch that has a French dip, otherwise known as a beef dip, on the small sandwich portion of its menu. The taste is out of this world. Purists may say that a French dip, a sandwich designed to be dunked into a broth, isn't a true roast beef sandwich, while others are in full support. Regardless of where you stand on the matter, it is one hundred percent worth a try.

Nothing like a meal with a view, and if it's not the intimate, old-world interiors at Minetta Tavern, it's some of the best people-watching New York has to offer. The fine-dining French bistro is known for its food, yes, but also for being a beloved hangout of A-listers for decades. As fun as a chance celebrity sighting can be, it pales in comparison to that flawless roast beef sandwich.

Katz's Delicatessen

It would be sinful to omit New York's oldest deli from this list. Katz is one of the few tourist traps that are worth the hype. Gracing the Lower East Side streets in 1888, Katz changed the game for Jewish delis in the city. There have been a few name changes over the decades, but other than that, Katz has stayed true to its roots.

Katz's is known for its pastrami, matzoh ball soup, and for being the backdrop of Meg Ryan's iconic scene in "When Harry Met Sally" where she fully displayed her acting talent. The fandom may have taken off thanks to the frequent famous patrons, but the real star power is on the menu. One Katz order that's often overlooked is the roast beef. Unlike most of the other sandwiches on this list, Katz cuts its roast beef thick, rather than thin. There's the traditional sandwich option, tossed right on some untoasted bread, or the hot open-faced route. Neither will disappoint, because it's all about that beef.