Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Maverick's Real Roast Beef

When I was a kid, an outing to Grandma and Grandpa's house was one of the biggest possible deals. And if there was the chance of a sleep-over involved... that would mean more happiness than I thought my little eight-year-old heart could contain. No matter how much fun I could have in my own neighborhood, it always seemed like there was more to do at Gran and Gramp's. You could go to the market. You could feed the squirrels (now that I'm grown up, I am certain they're just rats with better agents). You could grab the unicycle that you were once small enough to ride and take a tour of the block. Or, if you were really lucky, and begged long enough to be persuasive and not long enough to be locked in your room, Gran and Gramp just might take you to the mall. Now, I was never much for shopping, even then, but a trip to the mall almost certainly meant a trip to Arby's, and for me, that was as close to heaven as I ever imagined I'd get.

Now before you begin your next sentence with, "What the hell...," let me remind you that, before Arby's fell victim to the cost-cutting corporate yahoos who think that chopped, formed, and simulated beef is a good thing, there was a time when they served the real deal. Not surprisingly, it was wonderful, or at least I remember it being wonderful. It's been years.

If you, too, remember that time, and remember enjoying it, get yourself to Maverick's, stat. This is truly a Saint Paul jewel, and it's a cryin' shame that more folks don't know about it. Tucked into the same strip that houses 'Ol Mexico and Red Wing Shoes, Maverick's is a pretty unassuming little storefront. You could drive right by without noticing. But if you did, you'd be missing some of the best meat in town. Take a chance next time you're heading up Lexington, and stop by. They're open till eight, and they'll take care of you.

Maverick's is all about the meat. Vegetarians, don't bother. You'll only go away frustrated, and I like many of you. I'd hate to see that. For the rest of you, you can choose from roast beef, barbecue, pulled pork, turkey, and brisket, with no end of trimmings. Last time I looked, you could add horseradish, onions, two different pickles, and four different peppers, then top it all off with three or four sauces from basic barbecue to sassy chipotle. All of this, of course, is utterly beside the point. If it's your first time, you need plain roast beef, and you won't need to put a thing on it.

Maverick's roasts are a thing of beauty. They're rare and beautiful and sliced paper-thin right there in front of you. They'll build you an open-faced dinner, with gravy and mashed, but you'll be just as happy having them throw it on a bun. This is a sandwich for the ages, and a perfect example, like the whole place, of substance over style. The decor is a perfect match for the food: warm, welcoming, and wholly without pretense.

It's good to be in a restaurant that trusts you. Here, there's no pomp, there's no floor show. No jukebox, no uniforms, no flat-screen TVs in the corner, and no long-winded descriptions telling you exactly why you should appreciate the food. There's just good, honest grub, and Maverick's trusts that you will get that, and come back for more. Judging by the lunch rush every day, lots of folks are doing just that.

Maverick's isn't dirt cheap, but there's nothing at all unreasonable about the price to quality ratio here. $4.49 gets you a regular roast beef. A few bucks more, and you can make it a combo with a drink and fries that are made to order. Slightly higher than fast food, but infinitely better. When was the last time anyone offered to make you fresh fries?

Try Maverick's once, and it will become a staple. The people are friendly, the food is beyond good, and you'll feel like you're in on a very tasty secret. If you liked Arby's as a kid, it will take you back. If you've never had anything like it before, then I envy you. That first bite is going to change everything.


  1. Thanks for the recommendation. We tried it tonight and it was delicious. We will be going back. I had the brisket plain and loved it! How long has this been hidden in plain sight?

  2. I'm going to have Maverick's tonight. And I look forward to reading your future posts! I fear it will make me run out and get whatever you are writing about.

  3. Ryan and I went to Maverick's on Sunday...dude. Two thumbs up. According to Ryan, of course. Though the onion rings that I had were quite delicious. :)