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Royal’s Roast Beef

In East Boston, across from Constitution Beach, lives a small restaurant. Has about three tables and a large aerial photograph of Logan airport from the 60s hanging on the wall. This small eatery is probably the best competition that Kelly’s Roast Beef has in the area. It’s Royal Roast Beef and Seafood, one of my favorite places to stop for a pre- or post-spotting sandwich.

Royal is decidedly a hole in the wall, but their interior decor got a bit of an upgrade over the past year. Fresh paint, fixed tables, and a new big screen for sports events livens it up a bit. The aerial photo has been taken down (and is reportedly in the back room when I asked about it) due to the painting process. I hope it returns soon. It’s not a haute restaurant, but it is certainly better than Waltham’s own Mimi’s roast beef in terms of seating and decor. Though you’re probably likelier to take out from here, the seating is generous enough that you’ll usually get a place to sit. This renovation was much needed, and it gave the restaurant a facelift it desperately needed.

The first thing you see when walking in is a gigantic menu box with options you’ll find at your average combo roast beef/seafood place. I usually order the regular roast beef, which is a generous helping of roast beef on a sesame roll. You can put whatever toppings on it you want. Royal’s beef is hot but not overcooked, served on a buttery toasted roll. Onion rolls will cost you more, but are tasty as well. Most people will be plenty satisfied with a regular roast beef, which is a decent sized sandwich. Super beefs are overstuffed, and are probably best split between two people or a part saved for later. There’s also a junior roast beef for the kids or those with less of an appetite. All of them use the same beef and toppings.

Over time I’ve preferred their barbecue sauce over my mainstay of spicy mustard. The mustard was merely average, while the sauce was certainly of higher quality and gave a different flavor to the roast beef. Unfortunately, if you like a french dip, there is no au jus.

The Regular Roast Beef value meal, at $7, is a steal. With a 16 ounce fountain drink and a small basket of fries, it certainly beats Kelly’s, which doesn’t have any kind of combo deal. One inconsistency is that the regular roast beef value meal has a soda but costs less than the “Regular Roast Beef Dinner.” I haven’t been able to really figure out what the difference is between these other than maybe the dinner one coming with the onion roll by default.

If you like seafood, Royal’s has plenty to offer. Though it’s not quite Belle Isle Seafood in terms of selection, your usual favorites like lobster rolls, clams, and haddock are there. A highlight for fish and chips lovers is Royal’s homemade tartar sauce, which is one of the best. Tangy and full of bite. The lobster roll comes with fries, and at $17 is about what you’ll usually pay in the area.

The french fries are good. They’re not hand cut, but rather slightly breaded with a crunchy outside. While they are good, I would prefer a curly fries or spicy fries option at one point. Onion rings are homemade, and rival Kelly’s in terms of the onion’s tastiness and the ring’s batter quality.

One flaw is that the soda machine always seems temperamental. Sometimes, especially with the orange soda fountain, it can spurt and spew. I’ve mentioned this to the staff a few times, but it seems to be the same every time I visit.

Royal’s is a quality roast beef place and is a solid alternative to Kelly’s if you’re not up to going to Revere Beach. The value is better and the food is comparable or better in quality.

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