Pit Beef Barbecue in Windsor Mill, Maryland.
NOTE: I spent this holiday season back in my home state of Maryland, so some of the reviews are going to show a little somethin’ somethin’ from back home.
When I found out that I was finally going back home to Maryland for the Holidays, I was…of course, overjoyed. Knotted in with all the family stuff I wanted to do, I wanted to nosh on my home State’s native foods in a way I haven’t done since I’ve been gone.
But what to do, what to do, when you’re allergic to you’re State’s most proud food accomplishment? What do you when you’re allergic to Crabs, as tasty and delicious as they look.
Well, you turn to Maryland’s other great food accomplishment: Pit Beef Barbecue.
Now what is Pit Beef Barbecue? It’s basically a good hunk of bottom round beef, flame roasted until charred black on the surface, and the surface alone. Inside, the meat is cooked rare to medium rare, and left moist and juicy. The meat is then sliced thin, and piled up on a Kaiser roll, and then served with the condiments of your choice. In Baltimore, you’re really looking at Onions, Tiger Sauce (which is a mix of Horseradish and Mayo), and maybe some tangy barbecue sauce.
Now, the funny thing is, I’ve been having Pit Beef (or something close to Pit Beef) for years, and just didn’t realize it. The old local Maryland haunt Roy Rogers served a similar kind of sandwich down in my part of the state for years, and I didn’t make the connection until one of my Step Grandmothers in Houston (who was from the Maryland Eastern Shore) made them one Christmas morning, complete with Tiger Sauce.
If you live near an Arby’s, you can sorta kinda have one. The only problem is the meat is so processed that it feels, well…weird wen you bite into it.
Do yourself a favor. Go get the real thing at a place like Pioneer Pit Beef (Sorry, Pioneer does not have a website).
Pioneer, sits just opposite a small office park, and not too far from the Security Mall. It’s almost hard to find (it doesn’t have…from what I can find, an actual address). Yet, it also sticks out o like a sore thumb, surrounded by a number of modern office buildings. Look for the little yellow building with the green roof, and you’re there.
Pulling open that screen door, you’ll hear a squeak that sounds like it hasn’t changed in 30 years. In fact, the building, the menu and the interior doesn’t look like it’s changed in 30 years. It’s a mark of quality if nothing else. Just step up to window one and place your order. Pay your money and wait a few moments as your Pit Beef is sliced fresh, piled high on a Kaiser Roll, wrapped up and handed back to you. Simple as can be.
If you’re lucky, the good folks behind the counter might even offer you a slice of that beef while you wait.
Swear to you, Dear ol’ Dad was with me, waiting in line for his sandwich. He was grouchy after such a long drive. He couldn’t believe it took so long. What do you mean it only takes cash. Why I oughta…
…takes a bite of the beef.
Let’s get two.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: This is another circumstance of “Duh”. You’re getting the Pit Beef Sandwich. The only question is how big. We’re talking a basically constructed sandwich. Kaiser Roll, paper thin sliced meat, and…
…and like I said, that’s about it.
The normal size is enough to give Dad his share of the Meat sweats. There is a Super sized version that will really do a number on you.
I’d recommended if this is your first time getting a Pit Beef Sandwich, go ahead and get the normal sized one. You can swing around later for an ultimate meat lovers.
You’ll be asked how do you like your meat done. Medium Rare or Medium? Medium Rare is the traditional way to go. I find the Medium a bit dry, but heck. Dad likes it. So who knows?
The real trick is what you’re gonna get on it. From what I understand, true Baltimore style is with onions and Tiger Sauce. Tiger Sauce is just Horseradish cut with Mayo, but it delivers a really creamy, smooth feeling with a kick, instead of the spice heading straight for your nostrils, clearing out them sinuses.
I’m a bit different, I get mine like that, except adding Barbecue sauce. I put Barbecue Sauce on a Pit Beef Sandwich, I’m in heaven.
Best of all, I know I’m home.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Like I said, Pioneer Pit Beef has the advantage of being being both a place that’s a little hard to find on your Google Maps, and a place that sticks out like a sore thumb. You should be able to find it.
I did manage to wrangle an address from Urbanspoon, so we’ll see how it works. Usually all Google tells you is North Rolling Road & Johnnycake Rd as an address. Try the one below if you’re relying on Waze or Ms. Garmin to get you where you’re going.
Also Pioneer is a cash only establishment.
PARKING: Pioneer has it’s own lot, and it’s got plenty of free parking. Just saddle up, and get on in there.
Pioneer Pit Beef
1602 N. Rolling Rd. (Approximation)
Windsor Mill, MD 21244
Closed Sunday (and yes, I learned that the hard way)