Arby’s New Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye Sandwich Doesn’t Stink

Arby's manages to pull off a steak sandwich with gastropub vibes.

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Arby's Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye Sandwich
Photo: Su-Jit Lin

Filet mignon is a prized cut of the cow. Lean, supple, tender, and limited (only two long tubes per cow), it’s a rare treat, and I long bought into its hype. But then, while waiting tables at Mr. John’s Steakhouse in New Orleans, I learned a restaurant industry secret: Filet is great, but nothing trumps a good ol’ ribeye.

A good ribeye is a glory, marbled throughout with crisscrossing rivulets of fat. These lacy patterns baste the steak as they melt down, creating flare-ups in the flame that add extra smokiness to the meat’s already earthy, beefy notes. Seared just right, the snowy band in the cap crisps up in heartachingly delicious fashion. I can’t even tell you my favorite part of this steak—there are four major parts, and I could write odes to each of them. So, yeah. One could say I like a good ribeye.

Therefore, when Arby’s announced it was releasing a new Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye Sandwich, I can confess I didn’t even finish reading past its name before I zipped past my colleague/hero Dennis Lee in requesting to cover this launch for The Takeout. And now, here we are: the day Arby’s went beyond having the meats to having The Meat.

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Arby’s Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye Sandwich, explained

According to the press release, this sandwich contains 100% ribeye steak seasoned with “traditional steakhouse flavors of salt, black pepper, garlic, and thyme” topped with natural Swiss cheese, crispy onions, and garlic aioli on a toasted bun. According to the nutrition facts, it’s 215 grams—just shy of half a pound—of all of the above.

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My first impression as I eagerly pulled the sandwich out of its plain white paper bag was that Arby’s wasn’t screwing around with its slogan. This thing’s got heft. The new release comes out swinging, a big, packed-out sandwich that literally overflows with medium-thin slices of meat. I’ll go so far to say that this is one of those rare moments when fast food marketing actually underpromises. Don’t be fooled by the airy stacks of protein in the promotional photos—this is a brick of a beef sandwich.

Image for article titled Arby’s New Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye Sandwich Doesn’t Stink
Photo: Su-Jit Lin
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How does Arby’s Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye Sandwich taste?

The main event was slightly chewy, not super tender, but that’s as steak should be. I was delighted to find that there was no question that I was eating a steak sandwich, whereas an overly silky or paper-thin cut would’ve pushed it into beef territory. Whether I could’ve identified the steak as a ribeye is much less definitive. As much as this is a steakier sandwich than, say, a Philly cheese steak (which is also ideally a ribeye), it’s no gastropub steak tips or prime rib sandwich.

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Where Arby’s Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye has the advantage over those types of sandwiches (besides the obviously lower cost) is that almost all the gristle is processed out of the meat for a softer, more consistent texture throughout. The protein is also leaner than what’s typically used in a steak sandwich, which points to a less prime ribeye, but again, easier to eat, more uniform bites.

And in keeping with the theme of consistency, the slices of beef are folded and stacked in such a way that there’s plenty of overlap between the steak’s discernibly peppery outer edges and milder interior. The thyme in the seasoning is subtle, but nothing else about this sandwich was. Which is a real good thing in my book.

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Arby’s garlic aioli kisses every slice of meat from the top of the pile to the bottom. The sauce was quite well done, which is saying something, since I’ve previously accused Arby’s of going soft on us when it comes to flavors that bite back. This thick, creamy garlic spread has a raw, acidic snap that woke my mouth right up without being overbearing. In fact, for a brand that typically way over-schmears, I was not only relieved, but a little let down by the restraint here, because this sauce is awesomesauce.

Another element contributing to the overall heft and flavor is a pile of fried onion “strings,” which I put in quotes since there’s nothin’ stringy about any part of this sandwich, from bulbs to beef. The onions had a good crunch and shatter, weren’t too greasy, and added moisture and sweetness to balance the salty beef. Heck, even the slice of Swiss had character, and a bit of maturity that complemented everything well.

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Critically important for a sandwich of this magnitude is a strong foundation on which to set it. And Arby’s 100% got the bun right. The marketing lists it only as a toasted “specialty roll,” but again, it’s that rare instance of corporate understatement.

The pictures might make it look a little dry; in truth, it’s pillowy and pliant, with the density and elasticity to withstand all that Arby’s asks of it. No disintegration, no sogginess, no degradation of crumb. As you chew, it transitions you into a sweet finish that’s like a comforting after much garlic, onion, and peppery red meat.

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Image for article titled Arby’s New Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye Sandwich Doesn’t Stink
Photo: Su-Jit Lin

Is the Arby’s Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye Sandwich worth buying?

Well, beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, right? Arby’s gets a participation trophy for even playing with ribeye steak. Though it comes out slightly processed, it smokes the classic roast beef that I eat for pure nostalgia (and as a vehicle for Arby’s Sauce, if we’re being honest).

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I have some mixed feelings, too, about trialing a sandwich that has sat in its own steam, been wrenched in and out of bags, ferried to the car, and slightly aged on my kitchen table as I photograph it with its lid off. It’s not optimal. I worried it might all amount to 630 subpar calories of wasted effort.

But even with half of those calories being straight-up fat (it is ribeye, mind you) and all the situational odds working against it, the Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye Sandwich is worth it. With 29 grams of protein, this is one of the only fast food sandwiches filling enough to be a meal, especially with some fistfuls of curly fries on the side. Equally important is that it’s experientially satisfying to eat, even though I didn’t eat it fresh off the line. In light of how well each of the various textures remained preserved even with the delay between the making and the eating, it just felt good to savor it—no need to rush, knowing its structural integrity remained solid.

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Overall, it brings the gastropub vibes (with, yes, plenty of The Meats) for roughly half the price. And that, unlike the wonderful wealth of alliums, does not stink.