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Being from the area, I love pit beef sandwiches. Just wanted to see if the board has any recommendations for great pit beef.

Personally, I like Canopy Pit Beef in Ellicott City the best.

The beef is roasting over the so-called pit and you can get it cooked to your preference. The rare is really bloody!

Served with horseradish on a kaiser roll - classic Baltimore flavor.

Canopy also has pretty amazing freshly cut fries made in peanut oil- dipped in beef gravy, yum.

Another bonus is birch beer in their soda fountain.

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Being from the area, I love pit beef sandwiches. Just wanted to see if the board has any recommendations for great pit beef.

Personally, I like Canopy Pit Beef in Ellicott City the best.

The beef is roasting over the so-called pit and you can get it cooked to your preference. The rare is really bloody!

Served with horseradish on a kaiser roll - classic Baltimore flavor.

Canopy also has pretty amazing freshly cut fries made in peanut oil- dipped in beef gravy, yum.

Another bonus is birch beer in their soda fountain.

I'm with you on The Canopy, my friend.

A large Pit Beef Sandwich ($6.75, 75 cents off with coupon) was just as you described. Ordered medium-rare, with barbecue sauce and horseradish (a very good combo), it's what Roy Rogers and Arby's used to pretend to be, but never were. This juicy mound of meat on a bun was only moderately large; the rare version I saw was extremely rare-looking.

If anyone is trying to find this shack - as you're going north from Columbia on Route 29, just before you get to I-70, you'll loop around onto Route 40 West, and The Canopy will be less than a mile on your left. It's a busy strip of commerce, with a Lotte right at the intersection of 29 and 40, and Korean stores cropping up in the vicinity. Carryout only, and character galore.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I've now been to The Canopy in Ellicott City more than any other restaurant this year - this place is to roast beef what the Lee Heights Crisp and Juicy is to chicken. It's great! If you go, get a large pit beef, medium rare, with BBQ sauce and horseradish, and a large fries. Find a vacant parking lot or scarf it driving back - the paper wrapper on the sandwich has some exterior texture, and if centered properly, will not slide off your lap, and the bag of fries can be torn slightly and placed on the passenger's seat.

Incidentally, Kirkwood's, in Catonsville at the intersection of Route 40 and Rolling Road (across Route 40 from Wal-Mart), is pretty mediocre, especially the fries which are just plain lame. That said, between the beltway and Route 29, Route 40 is a long, bleak strip of Taco Bells, McDonald's, etc., and I'd still go to Kirkwood's just because it has a modicum of character.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I just happened into the Canopy branch in Glen Burnie off Ritchie Highway- it actually has a half dozen or so tables you can sit at to enjoy your meal.

The quality of beef is the same as Ellicott City's branch- had me a medium rare sandwich, gravy fry and a birch beer before watching The Wire finale tonight.

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What makes these tasty sandwiches so great is that they slice them to order. I take mine medium rare and sliced paper thin with horseradish and mayo.

Just bring cash because they don't accept credit cards. They have one of those no-name portable ATMs there. But to save on the service charges, come prepared.

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Just bring cash because they don't accept credit cards. They have one of those no-name portable ATMs there. But to save on the service charges, come prepared.

The Glen Burnie branch takes credit cards and has a little dining room, so you don't have to eat in your car or on the picnic table out back at the Ellicott City branch.

I have not been to the Catonsville branch.

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Ray's Hell Burger or Canopy Large Pit Beef?

Price: Both $6.95

Includes: Ray's - Meat on a bun, watermelon, corn. Canopy: Meat on a bun.

Description: Both primal.

Parking: Ray's - no spaces in lot. Canopy - used condom in lot (this afternoon, honest).

Fries: Ray's - not available. Canopy - available.

Beer: Ray's - no. Canopy - no.

Tables: Ray's - yes. Canopy - no.

Location: Ray's - close to DC. Canopy - close to Baltimore.

Preference: Coin toss.

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On my way to visit some friends in Catonsville, I took a roundabout route and dropped by Canopy (Ellicott City) for my first pit beef. I asked for BBQ sauce, onions, and horseradish. While they skimped on the condiments, the actual beef was delicious with a definite charcoal-grilled tang. If I have a chance, I'm coming back.

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I often fail in the spirit of exploration, and that's what happened when I ordered a Large Pit Turkey ($6.95) instead of my usual pit beef.

Visually, the rounds of beef sitting on the grill are beautifully blackened on the outside, whereas neither the ham nor turkey look particularly well-charred. I was looking right at the turkey, which walked like a duck, and quacked like a duck, but ever-optimistic me hoped it might be a goose.

But it was just a duck - the beef sandwiches here are special; the turkey sandwiches are ordinary, and everywhere the turkey went, the ham is sure to go.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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We were in Catonsville and decided to check out the Canopy. We couldn't find any info for the (supposed) location in Catonsville, so we drove over to the Ellicott City location. Fantastic! The large pit beef (with barbecue sauce and horseradish) and fries were a great combination. The sandwich is weighty and deserves to be eaten as soon as possible (for maximum bun integrity), but I could imagine eating this sandwich (if there were a place to sit down) almost as an open-faced roast beef/mashed potatoes/gravy sandwich, with fries, horeseradish and barbecue sauce on top. I can't wait to go back--I'll certainly get the beef again, but will have to try the turkey and ham to form my own conclusions...

In terms of an eating location (if you don't want sauce/beef juice in your car seats, we drove over to a civil war-era schoolhouse right outside of old Ellicott City, parked, and sat on the back of our car enjoying our sandwiches. Not ideal, but a bit better than the strip mall hell that surrounds the Canopy.

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Went yesterday on my way up to the Baltimore Antiques Show. Awesome sandwich (RB rare w/mayo, horseradish, onions and BBQ sauce) and excellent fries. Can't wait to go back. Also discovered an impressive wine store in Fulton, right off Route 29. Called IM Wine - great selection, good staff, in a beautiful store.

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Went yesterday on my way up to the Baltimore Antiques Show. Awesome sandwich (RB rare w/mayo, horseradish, onions and BBQ sauce) and excellent fries. Can't wait to go back. Also discovered an impressive wine store in Fulton, right off Route 29. Called IM Wine - great selection, good staff, in a beautiful store.

Mark, I also stumbled across I.M. Wine earlier this year - click for more details.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I love living right by here...stopped by on Saturday and the medium-rare pit beef hit the spot, as usual. I always end up waffling between medium-rare and rare but I've always enjoyed my pit beef sandwich regardless. However, the fries I got were a bit overcooked on this particular trip, which was slightly disappointing. I quickly get over that as I downed my sandwich and birch beer though.

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On 1/13/2010 at 12:08 AM, Ericandblueboy said:

Thinking about stopping by this joint on the way back from NJ on MLK Day. Too lazy to do much research, should we go here or somewhere else?

ETA: Looks like we should go to Canopy but that's a little out of the way. Does the difference in quality warrant the extra driving (considering we'll be driving home from NJ, already a 4 hr trip)?

Is the Canopy also known as Pioneer Pit Beef? Just wondering. Word is that it is the best.

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On 6/28/2018 at 2:39 PM, curiouskitkatt said:

Is the Canopy also known as Pioneer Pit Beef? Just wondering. Word is that it is the best.

The Canopy is a separate establishment from Pioneer Pit Beef. It has been years since I was at either one but back then, the Columbia/Ellicott City Canopy was far superior to Pioneer Pit Beef.

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On 6/30/2018 at 11:04 AM, DonRocks said:

I had a Large Pit Beef (rare, with barbecue sauce and horseradish) at The Canopy two weeks ago, and it's just as good as it has ever been - best in the area.

I followed suit, and made a trip to The Canopy. I def prefer it over Chaps, hands down. I ordered a small with tiger sauce, honey bbq, thick slices of sweet onion and a sweet tea to wash it down. The flavor of the beef is actually better than Chaps as well, and the choice of bun is better too. I do like a potato roll, but sometimes a roll with a bit of chew is better to frame the beefiness. I find the flavor at Chaps meh. I thought maybe I just wasn’t a fan of pit beef. After having The Canopy, I can say I do like it. 

Meaty,

kat

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Pit Beef: Baltimore's Answer to Barbecue, Bill Addison for eater.com, 2017

Add another option for pit beef! 

Pioneer Pit Beef, hands down, is the juiciest pit beef Ive had to date. Its in an obscure location in Catonsville, next to a liquor store , with two picnic tables . Cash only,but there is an ATM machine next door in case you don’t carry cash on the regular.  Hours are Monday thru Saturday, 11-5. Would go again, 10/10. Worth the detour from Chaps, or Canopy. 

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5 hours ago, curiouskitkatt said:

Pioneer Pit Beef, hands down, is the juiciest pit beef Ive had to date. Its in an obscure location in Catonsville, next to a liquor store , with two picnic tables . Cash only,but there is an ATM machine next door in case you don’t carry cash on the regular.  Hours are Monday thru Saturday, 11-5. Would go again, 10/10. Worth the detour from Chaps, or Canopy. 

I want you to try Canopy again, Ellicott City location, make *sure* to ask for it "as rare as they'll serve it." Get a Large with barbecue sauce (get an extra tub before you go) and horseradish, and a Large Fries - if you don't think it's the best pit beef sandwich you've ever eaten, I'll buy your meal.

I'll try Pioneer for sure, but unless it's some sort of Wagyu, hand-massaged beef, I don't see how it's possible to be better than Canopy's (that said, I do agree that Canopy's rolls aren't very toothsome) - I've been here no less than twenty times, and with maybe 1-2 exceptions (when I didn't get a rare slicing, which infuriated me because I forgot to ask - and that time I also ordered a Pit Ham which just wasn't that good), nothing has ever come close - and the fries are consistently addictive, the oil never (almost never?) being old, at least not that I can remember - they do a great job here considering I saw a *used condom* in the parking lot once.

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28 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

I want you to try Canopy again, Ellicott City location, make *sure* to ask for it "as rare as they'll serve it." Get a Large with barbecue sauce (get an extra tub before you go) and horseradish, and a Large Fries - if you don't think it's the best pit beef sandwich you've ever eaten, I'll buy your meal.

I'll try Pioneer for sure, but unless it's some sort of Wagyu, hand-massaged beef, I don't see how it's possible to be better than Canopy's (that said, I do agree that Canopy's rolls aren't very toothsome) - I've been here no less than twenty times, and with maybe 1-2 exceptions (when I didn't get a rare slicing, which infuriated me because I forgot to ask - and that time I also ordered a Pit Ham which just wasn't that good), nothing has ever come close - and the fries are consistently addictive, the oil never (almost never?) being old, at least not that I can remember - they do a great job here considering I saw a *used condom* in the parking lot once.

After leaving Pioneer, I actually headed to Ellicot City for dessert at Shila. By coincidence, I drove by Canopy thinking maybe I should pop in for comparison, but passed on it. I will venture over again , & follow your instructions. Ill follow up with my feedback. 

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21 hours ago, curiouskitkatt said:

After leaving Pioneer, I actually headed to Ellicot City for dessert at Shila. By coincidence, I drove by Canopy thinking maybe I should pop in for comparison, but passed on it. I will venture over again , & follow your instructions. Ill follow up with my feedback. 

I wanted to visit Canopy while the taste of Pioneer was fresh on my palate, and I have to conclude I prefer Pioneer. The taste of the beef is just beefier to me. I’d be curious to know your take on it. 

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3 hours ago, curiouskitkatt said:
I wanted to visit Canopy while the taste of Pioneer was fresh on my palate, and I have to conclude I prefer Pioneer. The taste of the beef is just beefier to me. I’d be curious to know your take on it. 

I trust your palate implicitly, and am flattered that you went out of your way to go here - I will absolutely go out of my way to try Pioneer the next time I'm in Baltimore (which will be in a few weeks).

Thanks much, Kat! 

PS - One thing that worries me about the term "juicy" is, for example, at John's Roast Pork - the pre-sliced pork is sitting in vats of liquid, and they tong it out to-order, slap it on a bun, and assemble the sandwich with pre-sliced pork (in other words, "juicy" means nothing to me per se; at Canopy, they slice the pit beef (which has been sitting in the charcoal grill) right in front of your face while you're in line - this is not to say much of anything, other than I'm skeptical of the word "juicy" by itself (think about the old DC Hot Dog carts, where the nasty hot dogs bathed in water all-day long)). Some people love John's; I lost respect for it when I realized they were tonging pre-sliced pork (it took me about five visits to realize this, and in fact, I like their Steak and Cheese better than their Roast Pork, because that's grilled to-order).

I'm quite certain there's nothing inherently "great" about the beef itself at The Canopy, but I do love that it's roasted right there, and sliced to order - I feel a healthy debate coming on! :)

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My pit beef quest was sparked by a conversation on Facebook. Outside of Chaps Pit Beef, there aren’t that many that pop up on a web search. It seems that Chaps dominates the listings for pit beef. So this made be curious about how different other places prepared said beef, and to want to seek out other spots. 

The beef at Pioneer is sliced to order as well, and peaking into the kitchen I saw rounds of beef on the grill.  The attendant actually sliced a piece for me to try just like they do at the deli counter at the grocery store. I am careful not to say it’s the best, but for what have I tried so far, it ranks as my favorite. On my next visit I want to try the french fries, and possibly the pit Turkey. 

I’m always up for for a healthy debate on the nuance of pit beef. 😌

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16 minutes ago, curiouskitkatt said:

The beef at Pioneer is sliced to order as well, and peaking into the kitchen I saw rounds of beef on the grill.  The attendant actually sliced a piece for me to try just like they do at the deli counter at the grocery store. I am careful not to say it’s the best, but for what have I tried so far, it ranks as my favorite. On my next visit I want to try the french fries, and possibly the pit Turkey. 

I’m always up for for a healthy debate on the nuance of pit beef. 😌

If Pioneer is sliced to-order, there's absolutely no reason it shouldn't be the equal of, or superior to, Canopy. This might save me a detour down Route 40 going forward.

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It has probably been over a decade since I compared The Canopy to Pioneer but at that time I definitely thought that The Canopy had a far superior product. I had the pit beef at The Canopy a few months ago and it was great. May have to give both of them another try and see if Pioneer has improved... but this time of year, if I'm heading to Maryland, I'm going for steamed blue crabs.

FYI Steve Raichlen has a rather good recipe for pit beef, https://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/28/dining/how-to-say-barbecue-in-baltimore.html. And Chris Capellini, from Dizzy Pig, just published his pit beef recipe, https://dizzypigbbq.com/recipe/maryland-pit-beef-with-creamy-hopradish/. When this heat wave breaks, I'll try Chris' recipe. If your making this at home it is best to slice your pit beef on a meat slicer.

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7 hours ago, curls said:

It has probably been over a decade since I compared The Canopy to Pioneer but at that time I definitely thought that The Canopy had a far superior product. I had the pit beef at The Canopy a few months ago and it was great. May have to give both of them another try and see if Pioneer has improved... but this time of year, if I'm heading to Maryland, I'm going for steamed blue crabs.

In your opinion, what about Canopy made it superior to Pioneer? I sincerely want to know, not a challenge. 

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13 hours ago, curiouskitkatt said:

In your opinion, what about Canopy made it superior to Pioneer? I sincerely want to know, not a challenge. 

The comparison was so long ago that I don't recall but based on your review I 'd like to give Pioneer's pit beef another try. I'll report back when I do.

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