308 Bowery, New York, NY
Do not make the mistake I did and try to eat this sandwich on the go. It's delicious, yes, but also extremely messy, a pile of tender roast beef dripping in a slightly spicy barbecue sauce. Apparently this is how they eat it in Boston, a small Northeastern city that people live in for some reason.
Here, it's served in a small space located in the front of the Bowery Poetry Club, all decked out in a heap of nostalgia for a time when the neighborhood wasn't filled with expensive condos. Giant pots hang from the ceiling, entwined with massive chandeliers. Ten seats rest against scuffed white tables, where neighborhood locals rest for a quick meal or visiting poetry fans fill up before the night's event, with antique mirrors and worn-in hardwood floors completing that turn-of-the-century feel.
You order your sandwich from a dude behind the glass counter. First, they toast the small, springy bun, giving it a nice crisp exterior that doesn't get soggy after what comes next: a big pile of tender roast beef, cut extremely thin on a shiny metal meat slicer. Then it gets slathered, and I mean slathered, in bright James River BBQ Sauce, which features just the right amount of spice and sweetness. A slice of melting white American cheese contributes a hint of creaminess and, voila, you have yourself one hell of a roast beef sandwich.
It might seem like a steal at $5 ($6 with cheese) but you should know that each sandwich is only slighter bigger than a slider, meaning if you are really hungry you might need to order two for a full meal. If you're feeling adventurous, you can always order it with "everything," which includes mayo, horseradish and raw onion. Beware: getting the sandwich with everything makes it even messier than it already is.
A meaty roast beef sandwich probably isn't what you're craving in the morning, which is why they serve lox-covered H&H bagels and Blue Bottle drip coffee in the morning. Cheap, casual, delicious; this is the kind of Bowery gentrification that doesn't seem so bad.