There are many foods that began their journey into becoming American food icons that all began in Upstate New York.  For a starter think about the hamburger, or the potato chip, or even Jell-O.  These three have their earliest roots in Upstate New York  Of course there are many others you could add to the list.  (Hot wings, Thousand Island dressing, the ice cream sundae, and on and on it goes).  No matter where you live in the United States, be it Honolulu or Houston or Maine, you can go into a restaurant and order a plate of chicken wings and a hamburger, with a salad topped with Thousand Island dressing, and end your repast with a dish of Jell-O and an ice cream sundae.  And you would never know that you were eating foods that were born in Upstate New York.

So, what about the smaller, micro-regional food items?  Things like sponge candy, the garbage plate, half moon cookies, or salt potatoes?  That gets a little trickier, and that what this gallery is going to focus on.  A delicious, micro-regional food favorite from Western New York called the Beef on Weck sandwich.

Most people agree it was born in Buffalo, maybe a century ago.  The circumstances of its birth are a little more uncertain.  The sandwich itself is simple, basic.  Thinly sliced roast beef piled high on a kummelwick roll, and served with jus and a sinus-opening side of horseradish.  Pair it with a tangy dill pickle spear and you have a beef on weck.

Yes, it is a roast beef sandwich.  But, here in Buffalo and Western New York it is all about the roll.  The kummelwick roll is crusted with kosher salt and caraway seed on the top of the roll.  Almost certainly the sandwich has German roots.  After all, "kummel" means caraway in German, and the "weck" means roll.  You can get into a fast argument in the Nickel City trying to determine where the sandwich started, but I like the story about a city German bar owner who salted the top of his roast beef sandwich bun in hopes that it would keep thirsty bar patrons hanging around for one more beer to soothe their newly-salted lips.

The sandwich is micro-regional, and can be found all over Erie County.  Go a little bit farther east and you can see it fairly regularly on restaurant menus in Rochester, Syracuse, and even Ithaca.  After that, you will be hard pressed to find it on a New York menu.

So here is to you , the "Mighty Beef on Weck," the official sandwich of Buffalo and Western New York.  Here are a whole bunch of great places to find this sandwich on your next journey "west."  All places listed in this gallery are in Erie County.

They are all delicious!

UPSTATE LEGENDS: The Story of Buffalo's "Beef on Weck Sandwich!"

While writing my Upstate New York food book (A Taste of Upstate New York) I came to realize that some upstate New York foods are regional, some are micro regional. Turkey joint candy, for example. This unusual looking candy is really known by only those who live in the Utica/Rome region. Salt potatoes are usually known only in the wider Central New York region. Other foods have taken off and while they were once regional only, today have a national following, like spiedies (Binghamton) or half-moon cookies (Utica).

Beef on Weck is an example of a regional food (Western New York) that is slowly seeing its fame and reputation grow all across Upstate New York. The sandwich is made of thinly sliced roast beef, pile high on a crusty kummelweck rolls (salty top) and served with a jus or tangy horseradish. And always with a tart dill pickle spear laying next to it on the plate.

Nobody really knows who started this traditional sandwich, although some think it came from a German bar owner who decided to put kosher salt and caraway on top of a hard roll for his roast beef sandwich believing that it would make his patrons thirsty for "just one more beer." Apocryphal? Who knows?

But what we do know is that, although very simple, the five components to a legendary Beef on Weck sandwich must always be included: The kummelweck roll itself (crusted with Kosher salt and caraway), the thinly shaved roast beef, the eye-watering horseradish, and the drool-inducing dill pickle. Sounds right? Yup!

Since it was "born" in Western New York, this gallery looks at 13 of the best Beef on Weck restaurants in Erie County. They are all awesome!

Gallery Credit: Chuck D'Imperio

Take a Walk Along These 12 Charming Upstate New York 'Main Streets'

Typically the heart of any community is its Main Street. Upstate New York is no different. While big box stores, strip malls, and franchise restaurants can now be found at the outskirts of most towns, here are a dozen really nice small town Main Streets that would make for a perfect afternoon stroll. Check them out!

Gallery Credit: Chuck D'Imperio


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