Massachusetts is known for its various types of cuisine, but one thing that is often overlooked is just how good the restaurateurs of the Commonwealth are at putting their own unique spin on foods that you didn’t think could be prepared in any other way.

We’ve told you before about South Shore bar pizza, a unique type of pizza that got its start in Brockton and has become a phenomenon across Southeastern Massachusetts and beyond.

Did you know, though, that the region north of Boston has its own food phenomenon as well?

North Shore roast beef goes beyond just the regular sliced beef you’ll find on the menu at the local sub shop or that you can pick up from any deli. North Shore roast beef is always rather rare, and is sliced super-thin – so thin, in fact, that sometimes it’s just mere meat crumbles filling up the (preferred) onion bulky roll that will house it.

Something you must know about North Shore roast beef spots: every one of them must claim to be “the original” and to be “world famous.” There is no formal qualification to claim either; you just slap it on the sign or the menu, and it becomes fact.

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A true North Shore roast beef spot will offer it up in the classic “three-way” form: roast beef on a toasted bun with James River BBQ sauce, mayo, and American cheese. The James River is the key, because any other BBQ sauce might be too thick or too tangy to work with the rest of the sandwich. You can add on other toppings such as lettuce, tomato, or some thin-sliced white onion, but most opt for the three-way.

Most North Shore roast beef restaurants also offer sandwiches in three sizes: the junior, the large and the super. These will usually range in price from $6 to $10. Often, the junior will come on a hamburger roll, the large on a sesame seed roll and the super on an onion roll. Don’t ask why each size has a different style of roll. Just go with it.

My childhood go-to was Mur-Mac’s in Stoughton. Down the street from Mur-Mac’s was a neighborhood where, when you made one turn around the bend, the sidewalk edge was painted with white stripes – what me and my siblings called the “zebra sidewalk.” You knew if you saw that zebra sidewalk that you were just moments away from sinking your teeth into a Mur-Mac’s sandwich.

Sadly, Mur-Mac’s closed in the first decade of the new millennium. However, there are still plenty of other spots to get yourself a delicious North Shore roast beef sandwich, as recommended by our listeners.

North Shore Roast Beef Places Worth the Drive

North Shore roast beef is its own kind of special sandwich. From the thin-sliced rare beef to the toasted bun, it may seem easily replicable, but not very roast beef sandwich is a North Shore roast beef sandwich. The best way to order one is as a "three-way" with James River BBQ sauce, American cheese and mayo. Here are some of the spots that our listeners say do it the best.

The Best of South Shore Bar Pizza

There's pizza, and then there's South Shore Bar Pizza. Birthed in Brockton (and to this writer, perfected in Randolph – Lynwood Café is the true G.O.A.T.), it must meet certain qualifications to be considered "SSBP," which include: it's a 10-inch pie; it has a thin, cracker-like crust with minimal "flop;" the cheese is a blend that features more cheddar than mozzarella; and bonus points if you take it home between two carboard-type plates wrapped in flat brown paper bag. They also usually come with "laced" or "burnt" edges (terminology depends on where you are ordering), which is when the sauce and cheese are extended all the way to the edge of the pan, creating a crispy, flavorful coating to the crust. We reached out to the hugely popular South Shore Bar Pizza Social Club Facebook group to ask the experts to share the best of the best (in no particular order).

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