There are two distinct families of steak sandwich. The first is sliced or shaved steak, which is normally seen either the heading of “tri-tip” or is a roast beef or French dip sandwich that is gussied up and putting on airs. The second family of steak sandwiches is generally about as honest as a sandwich can get: a steak on bread, typically with some sauce. That is the beast we are dealing with today.
Smalley’s roundup is the most famous and tenured BBQ establishment located in the home of the California Rodeo. Beloved for its sauce and grilled selections, I hoped the quality would translate well to the sandwich medium. There are three steak sandwich options: the 8 oz. NY, the 5 oz. Filet, and a “BBQ Beef” option, which is sliced tri-tip. When dealing with the steak sandwich family that is “a steak on
bread,” I feel the key to a fine sandwich lies solely with the tenderness of the steak. Since the filet would be a more naturally tender cut than any New York strip, I wanted to put Smalley’s through its paces, as it were. You can often gauge the overall quality of an establishment by its basest offering.
I am pleased to report that the steak was tender and did not necessitate my tugging at it as though I were a dog with a chew toy. The sauce was flavorful and applied with just the right amount of gusto. The bread held up nicely without being anything special. The overall experience was one of a hearty, pleasing, and filling meal. Simplicity can often be richly rewarding.