The beauty of a pit beef sandwich -- the smoke, the beef, the slight char, the horseradish -- comes through at Pioneer Pit Beef in Woodlawn.
This is a simple thing. The Pioneer is a shack on Rolling Road just north of Rte 40. Inside, there is just room to line up for a sandwich. Order beef, ham or turkey. Take the "tasting" slice to be sure that you're picking right from "rare, medium or well-done?" Ask for fries or cole slaw. Step outside.
But you step outside for an absolutely delicious sandwich. I go for medium meat with horseradish and maybe some onion. In the crowd, people lather up with mayo, BBQ sauce and "tiger sauce" (mayo and horseradish combined), but I can't condone the practice. I don't want to cover up the meat -- the beef flavor of a tough cut, grilled and then sliced so thin that you bite through like filet.
Pioneer is one of my absolute favorite foods. Simple. But done so perfectly that it makes me want to skip pit beef that is just okay. (Boogs?) Ironically, I stumbled on Pioneer long before I started HowChow. I literally drove past this stand on the side of the highway when I was following Google directions to the Salvation Army. When I tried to find it again, I failed -- until I realized that the City Paper's "best pit beef" sounded like the stand by the highway.
Pioneer Pit Beef is just north of the H Mart in Catonsville. You can stop for a sandwich, then shop for groceries. Pioneer has no phone. They only take cash, but the sandwich is a bargain at $5.50. I understand that they're open from lunchtime until early evening Monday through Saturday.
If you like pit beef, check out the local spot -- Uncle Grube's on Rte 1 in Elkridge. For the best in BBQ and kabobs, check out this post for carnivores in Howard County.
Pioneer Pit Beef
1602 N. Rolling Road
Woodlawn, MD 21244
NEAR: Take Rte 40 from Howard County towards Catonsville and Rte 29. Turn left at the light at Rolling Road. This is the intersection with H Mart on the right and a diner on the left. Follow Rolling Road through a residential neighborhood and look for a yellow building with a green roof. It says "Pit Beef" on the roof. Turn left at the light onto JohnnyCake Road and then right into the Pioneer shopping center.