Top Round Roast Beef is One of Mid-City’s Best New Lunches


It will probably surprise nobody to learn that there was a time, before my lunching was professionalized, when hot roast beef sandwiches served with fries from a beachside shack was one of my once a week go-to lunches. Kelly’s Roast Beef on Revere Beach was about a ten minute drive from the radio station I worked at, on the north shore of Boston.  And we made that drive often.  Not just for roast beef sandwiches of course. On the days you were feeling particularly rich there were also lobster rolls, whole fried clams, and pretty much everything else you’d expect to find at a New England seafood shack. Some days it was cold and windy, and keeping the pelicans away from your fries was a constant struggle.  But sitting out on the beach on a work day eating a roast beef sandwich is still probably one of my top 10 weekday work lunches of all time.

So imagine how excited I was to hear about Top Round Roast Beef, the new roast beef sandwich place on La Brea and Olympic.  In the month or two since they’ve opened I’ve heard a lot of talk of it being a “better version of Arby’s”.  But I have no love or nostalgia for the bologna of roast beef.  I was hoping it would return me to the beach.


Ordering roast beef at Kelly’s was a simple proposition.  Small or large beef, on a seeded bun, with or without cheese, with or without sauce (of the bbq variety.)  There was horseradish mayo, of course, but real horseradish fans knew to ask for the pure white stuff; uncut by any other condiment.  Swirl some that in with the bbq sauce and you had something.


Top Round’s menu is a bit more complicated, featuring a number of regional specialties.  Their simplest sandwich is the beef on weck ($4.95), which comes on a bun crusted with salty caraway seed goodness, and topped with atomic horseradish.  There’s also the Beef & Cheese ($5.95), which comes with bbq sauce and “wizz” (a topping that Philly cheesesteak fans should be familiar with.)  Horseradish cream, and a sesame bun, makes an appearance in the “Horse & Hole” ($6.45), but the roasted mushrooms make it decidedly un-Kellys’ish. And in Massachusetts blue cheese is something you dip your pizza into, but here you can get it on a sandwich with black pepper and caramelized onions ($6.45).


My personal favorite of their combinations was the Bar-B-Cue ($5.45), which was topped with barbecue sauce and fried jalapeno and onion strings.  So good.

As for my quest to replace Kelly’s, none of their combos quite fit the bill. But thankfully you can create your own combo, so I did it myself.


Sesame seed bun. Barbecue sauce.  Plain horseradish. Done.  It wasn’t quite the magical experience of a small beef w/ sauce and horseradish, but it will definitely do.  The roast beef is cooked to that perfect pink, and sliced super thin, making it tender and super easy to sink your teeth through. It may lack the supreme beefy punch of, say, a proper butcher shop roast beef sandwich, but it’s a great fast food roast beef sandwich.


I love me some curly fries, cut fresh from real potatoes, so I was pretty excited for these.  They’ll top ‘em with cheese wizz or provolone, gravy, meat, bbq sauce, and caramelized onions, but to be honest I like them just plain with salt and vinegar.  And the best part is, there were no pelicans to fight off.


I don’t usually do dessert at lunchtime (something’s gotta give, right?) but if you’re a fan of frozen custard or concretes (think: DQ Blizzards) you won’t be disappointed by the ones at Top Round.

So, Top Round wasn’t as much of a full trip down Boston memory lane as I was hoping. And if you’re hoping to some kind of roast beef sandwich revelation, you’ll likely be disappointed too.  But if you’re idea of a great mid-city lunch is a fast food roast beef sandwiches w/ curly fries, followed by a frozen custard or concrete, you’re not going to do better than this place.

THE + (What people who like this place would say)

  • I used to love Arby’s but refuse to eat at Arby’s anymore.  This place is a godsend!
  • I love fresh cut curly fries (and they have vinegar on the side.  It’s like we’re at the fair!)
  • Fried onion and jalapeno strings on a roast beef sandwich?  Genius!
  • Horseradish FTW
  • Did I mention how much I love fast food roast beef sandwiches?
THE – (What people who don’t like this place would say)
  • I like my roast beef and bit beefier.
  • The ingredients might be quality, but it’s still a fast food roast beef sandwich. Let’s not go crazy people.

Top Round Roast Beef, 1000 S La Brea Ave. 323-549-9445


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