I know when you think of a dive you don't typically think of freshly carved sandwiches, but in the case of MGM Roast Beef, you will indeed find a small hidden dive, that delivers just that. Since moving to DC 12 years ago, I am always on the lookout for random dive restaurants as I drive from place to place. In the case of MGM Roast Beef, I have to admit, that I must have driven past this place a hundred times on my way to the Home Depot. I thought for sure, that it was some kind of meat packing place. I would have never imagined that inside this nondescript corner building would be a clean well diner, serving breakfast and not much more then freshly carved sandwiches during lunch (they are not open at dinner).
The system is simple at MGM. Stand in line (I have never had to wait more then 10 minutes), write your sandwich order on a piece of paper, hand it to the person behind the desk, and then wait for your sandwich at the cashier. While most of their business it take out, there are about 20 bright red stools around their lunch counter, which gives the feel of a 50's diner. As the name implies, roast beef is the specialty here. When we say roast beef though, we are not talking about the stuff you find at subway, or at the grocery deli. At MGM we are talking about fresh cooked, dripping with juices, brisket or top round. Regardless of the sandwich you choose, I recommend ponying up the .35 cents for the Onion/Poppy role. Other then that, the choice is yours. Fresh horseradish (or they even have horsey sauce for those of you who grew up on Arby's), 3 different mustard's, sautéed onions, or peppers, several hot pepper choices and the typical L,T,O are just some of the options offered on all sandwiches. On my most recent dining experience I went with the brisket, on an onion roll with horseradish, sautéed onions, hot peppers, and provolone. I am sure no matter what I got on it, I would have loved it. However, I have to say that this sandwich was awesome. The meat was perfect, and juicy, and unlike chain sandwich places, there was enough meat on this sandwich that a good portion of it will likely fall out as you eat it.
Ok, so enough about the roast beef, I know this perfect slice of red meat is not for everyone. So is there anything for the non roast beef fans? The answer is a resounding yes. I can vouch for both the turkey and Ham sandwiches. (See a picture below that does not even come close to doing either sandwich justice). For the turkey, I went with a spicy mustard, Swiss cheese, and wait for it... cranberry chutney that made the sandwich. While standing in line I was 100% sure that I was going to spring extra for the “white meat only” turkey. However, I was lucky enough that the woman in front of me ordered the dark meat. To explain to you how fresh everything is here, I can best do it by describing how they prepared her sandwich. Once her bread was all condimented up, the carver reached into his oven area, and pulled out a giant turkey leg (the kind you would see on your thanksgiving table), and literally pulled off meat and placed it on her sandwich. This was no day old meat in a container getting all greasy. This was fresh off the bone, warm, perfectly roasted turkey meat. Needless to say I immediately changed my order to a mix of white and dark. I don't have any fun stories about the ham preparation, but the final result was a fantastic ham and cheese sandwich.
As you can probably tell by now, I love this place. Let me tell you though, I have not even gotten to the best part. At the little fridge by the cashier they have slices of cakes and pies (though I have to admit, that I do not know if they are made in house or not). One my last two occasions at MGM I made sure to get a piece of their carrot cake. I can honestly say this was the best carrot cake I have ever had. My one friend who hates carrot cake finally had a bite, after I would not shut up about it, and even she admitted it was fantastic. Now back to that little fridge. In it you can also find several choices of soda, and a personal favorite of mine, coconut juice. The only slight disappointment about MGM was also found in that same fridge. We decided to get a side of potato salad that left us wanting for a bit more taste then the miracle whip and chunks of potato provided. I would say skip the salads in the fridge, and if you really need more then just the sandwich you can always get chips or fries (which I never tried).
Overall, I would say that MGM is a real find. I have found myself coming up with excuses to go to the nearby Home Depot these days. Even though I live just a mile or so from Letteri's and two different Taylor's locations, I am finding my cravings for MGM to be overwhelming (though I still find time to hit up Taylor's often). This is a place that will reward you for venturing into a neighborhood that offers not much more then the Brentwood post office. I highly recommend.
MGM Roast Beef is located at 1905 Brentwood Road Northeast, Washington, DC