Neba Sandwich from Mike's Neba

Mikes Neba Schenectady neba sandwich cross section

By Deanna Fox

Whoever coined the saying "absence makes the heart grow fonder" probably didn't mean for the quip to apply to a sandwich.

Hey, love comes in many forms, including -- but not limited to -- roast beef layered between bread.

When people speak of comfort food, sandwiches are rarely listed in the ranks, but sometimes a PBJ just the way Mom made it, or a melty grilled cheese, provides a feeling of warmth akin to the embrace of a lover after a detente from distance or quarrels.

The Super Neba from Mike's Neba in Schenectady offers the same.

Many longtime Capital Region residents remember Mike's-Neba on Central Avenue in Albany, glistening and resplendent in neon lights. But that location closed nearly 30 years ago and while others have tried to replicate the taste of the roast beef au jus that Mike's-Neba was best known for, it ain't nothing like the real thing (baby).

(Mr. Dave writes about the Mr. Subb version here.)

The family that retained the rights to the Mike's name (and roast beef recipe) opened Mike's Neba (hyphen-free) on Edison Avenue in Schenectady this summer, bringing back the classic Neba sandwich that would rival the western New York beef on weck (a staple of Upstate New York cuisine) for top billing in a round robin Best State Sandwich tournament.

Mikes Neba Schenectady neba sandwich

Neba is an acronym for "nicest eating beef around," a claim that is substantiated by perfectly seasoned meat that is sliced wafer thin and takes limited effort to chew. The meat is salted and retains hints of sweet vinegar, almost as if it were cooked in a brine. Looking at recipes online, garlic and tomatoes seem like possible inclusions in the cooking liquid for the beef.

I opted for the Super Neba, which comes with bacon and cheddar cheese. The bacon is cooked to be the same texture as the meat -- not too chewy, not too crisp. Its presence is almost unnecessary, save for the slightly smoked flavor it imparts. The neon orange color of the cheese (harkening to the signage of the former Albany location?) and viscous texture points to jarred cheese sauce. It's not an exquisite inclusion, but it doesn't deter from the flavors of the sandwich and points to the nostalgic nature of the sandwich. (Plus, a little cheese-product everyone now and again won't kill you.)

Sesame-studded rolls come from Bella Napoli's bakery in Troy. The warm nuttiness from the seeds are really what sets this sandwich apart from fast-food versions of roast beef sammies, and the texture is just soft enough to be bitten into with ease (and not torn with the teeth like a wild dog descending on fresh kill).

Mikes Neba Schenectady exterior 2017-August

The Super Neba is $5, sans the chips and pickle that some other sandwiches come with. My companions and I (read: my kids) also tried the small BLT sub with American cheese and a small turkey sub with lettuce and house dressing (a spicy blend of oil, vinegar, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder).

We shared our sandwiches at the counter, leaving nary a morsel to take home, and watched construction vehicles pass by in this light-industrial section of Schenectady between Broadway and 890. As soon as we left, my kids asked when we could come back, further prodding the issue before bed and insisting we go back for lunch today.

We probably will.

Deanna Fox writes about many things, mostly about food. More can be found on her website, Twitter, or Instagram.

More Eat This
+ Wagel bagel at West End Bagels
+ Halal options at Zaitoon Kitchen
+ Ice cream sandwiches at Different Blend Bakery

Find It

Mike’s Neba (Mike's Giant Submarines)
451 Edison Avenue
Schenectady, NY 12305

Comments

Ugh. She said "melty".

NEBA used to mean Never Eat Beef at Arby's. Good luck to them nonetheless.

I hate roast beef but I want to stop by just for the nostalgia.

Mike's subs were great.

Decent sandwiches, glad to have them here and I'll be going back. But no way even close to a good beef on weck or the roast beef sandwiches you can get at a place like Roll-N-Roaster in Brooklyn.

NEBA is an Albany staple, too many newjack transplants in and around the capital region. We don't do garbage plates, beef on a whatever, chicken riggies, or whatever they do in Brooklyn, this is Albany N.Y. folks....

Nicest Eating Beef Around was a back-formation. It was actually named for the founder, Mike Davis' dog; as he once said in a 1969 interview. And for those saying "it's an Albany thing"- the chain was huge and was in Florida even, which is where the headquarters moved to. Because Albany can't keep anything nice.

I worked for Mr. Weinberg the summer of 1971. I made those delicious Neba sandwiches and Mike's subs. Also he put in a donut machine which was fun to watch. The manager was a young guy named Morris. Albany finest would sometimes take a dinner break and eat in the basement. I closed the place 6 days a week, leaving about 3am

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