Los Angeles has a few good roast beef sandwiches. I'm particularly fond of the Rare Roast Beef at Clementine's and the French Dips at Phillipe The Original and Little Next Door. But that's about it. Truth be told: LA is not a roast beef city. Whether it be the health conscious city mantra or just a general lack of interest, the sandwich so beloved elsewhere has never really found solid footing in the Southland. Top Round Roast Beef, from a well-accomplished local restaurant quartet, hopes to forever change that. Top Round is a roast beef shop. And only a roast beef shop (and ice cream and homemade curly fries). High quality roast beef at non-high quality prices. Almost like Arby's... but good. No LA multi-faceted menu here looking to appease all denizens. You come to Top Round, you're getting roast beef, so leave your calorie apps in the car. Hell, the curly fries are fried in beef fat and even the mushrooms are cooked in the stuff.
Opened Monday at the grub-desolate corner of La Brea and Olympic, it was no surprise the very affordable fast casual spot was already buzzing on Day 2 as I accepted a gracious invite to sample Top Round's fare. Sitting next to me? Two cops - which is always a very encouraging sign.
THE SPACE/RESTAURANT: Top Round is located in the former Bee's Donuts spot, tucked into the busy corner of La Brea and Olympic. Patrons can order and sit either on the front patio or the slightly smaller inside space. In a nice twist, unlike many recent local restaurant openings, Top Round strays away from the ever-popular exposed beams and recycled woods motif, instead going for a very cool, retro Southern California fast food vibe. Rightfully so, I would say. Covered in bright orange, red and white, it's sort of like a trip back to "American Graffiti." The prices aren't too far off either - the most expensive sandwich on the menu clocks in at a mere $6.45. As I sat there awaiting my food on the expansive covered patio on a beautiful LA June afternoon, I imagined the owners hoped to transport customers to a simpler time... with more complex roast beef sandwiches. Well, mission accomplished.
|Beef On Wick.|
|Horse & Hole.|
I sampled three of the six sandwiches: Beef on Wick (roast beef and "atomic horseradish" on caraway & sea salt bun), Horse & Hole (Provel cheese, horseradish cream and roasted mushrooms on sesame bun) and the Bar-B-Cue (fried onion & jalapeno straws and bar-b-cue sauce on an onion bun). The distinct salty bun taste of the Beef on Wick fondly reminded me of my late night, inebriated collegiate visits to many of Boston's roast beef shacks. The roast beef itself, as it is on all on the sandwiches, was well cooked and seasoned. My fears of low prices equaling small servings were also alleviated. Each sandwich is plenty hearty. As for the "atomic"-ness of the sauce? Pretty manageable for a horseradish sauce lover like myself. The Horse & Hole tasted very much like an Arby's sandwich - except much better. The mushrooms in particular provided a nice touch. Surprisingly however, my favorite was definitely the Bar-B-Cue. While many bbq roast beef sandwiches are drowning in sauce, Top Round doesn't overwhelm the sandwich with sauce and rather lets the roast beef and onion and jalapeno straws do most of the work. Overall, it's a very tasty flavor combination. At $5.45, I can't think of too many LA sandwiches better for the money.
They also have TWO Coke Freestyle machines for soft drink consumption. This is the first place I've seen to possess two of the pricey dispensers and should come in handy as they get busier.
IN CONCLUSION: Overall, I really enjoyed my first Top Round Roast Beef experience. For the money, it immediately becomes one of LA's top value sandwich destinations. Especially for its La Brea and Olympic location, which offers nary a competitor. The roast beef and curly fries are solid. My only real complaint: it was NOT a light lunch. I see myself returning to Top Round, but probably more ideally for dinner or a late night snack. I feel like if I had a Dirty Fries and Bar-B-Cue combo on a work afternoon, I'd sleep the rest of the day. But that may just be me. I'm weak. Besides, me complaining that a spot offers a filling, delicious meal at a low pricepoint? That's not a complaint. That's a compliment.
Top Round Roast Beef
1000 S. La Brea, LA
Open 11 am - 11 pm everyday.