We visited Rocco's—a sandwich shop in front of the South Philly Home Depot, constantly bustling with contractors covered in drywall dust—a while back for their awesome italian sausage sandwiches. I couldn't help but notice a wild menu of exotic-sounding cheesesteak flavors like "cajun chipotle" and "teriyaki."
'cheesesteaks' on Serious Eats
Ever since I went to San Lucas for their amazing al pastor and carnitas pizza, I've been meaning to get back to find out what their Mexican cheesesteak is all about. Like many Mexican pizza places, at San Lucas a lot of Mexican and American foods sit on the menu side by side—pepperoni pizza with a side of tacos, bacon cheese fries and a 2-liter of Jarritos? Sure. And sometimes the two worlds collide and you (hopefully) get something amazing.
For years nearly every article about food in Philadelphia proudly proclaimed that the city "wasn't just about cheesesteaks any more!" as if the thriving new restaurant scene meant the city had to reject its lowbrow, neon orange cheese covered past. But cheesesteaks are an undeniable staple in Philly, on virtually every menu—no matter if the house specialty is Thai, pizza, or Chinese. We traveled throughout Philadelphia and South Jersey gathering a selection of truly solid steaks.
Okay, this looks nothing like a cheesesteak. But for $3.75, it's still a great lunch.
Ask the people of Philadelphia who makes the best cheesesteak and you're bound to hear the names Geno's and Pat's thrown around. The catty-corner rivalry between two of the oldest cheesesteak shops in the city gets talked about perhaps more than any other restaurant rivalry in the country. And both of them make a great cheesesteak. But it wasn't until I tried Dalessandro's Steaks & Hoagies in Roxborough that it finally clicked. Oh that's what all the fuss is about.
We hadn't been back to La Cense Beef Burger Truck since it first hit the streets in 2009, but we recently found out they're now doing sandwiches as well as burgers. And a visit for a cheesesteak ($8) turned out to be a very, very good idea.
A steak is a steak is a steak with cheese on it is a cheesesteak, right? Not so. The meat on your hero may be chewy, thick, ribbony, or in the case of many classic cheesesteaks like those at Steve's Prince of Steaks, pressed into homely, wrinkly sheets.
While I'm skeptical of many cross-cultural dish mashups, the Cheesesteak Pita ($6) at Midtown cart Kwik Meal is an excellent, excellent thing.
the Chink's steak wit onions and Cheez Whiz came out oozing. Gingerly seared onions—browned, grease-kissed corners but still crunchy—cascaded over top of the Whiz. (Though some prefer provolone, the liquidy Whiz can actually penetrate through each layer and crevasse of ribboned, gooey steak—this is key.) A soft, but mildly crusty hero roll keeps this cheesesteak's contents structurally sound.
As a Serious Eater, I bet I'm not alone in being dubious whenever a cheesesteak is recommended outside of a stone's throw from Philly and its suburbs. So an eye roll was in order when my sister-in-law waxed poetic about a newish cheesesteak joint, Papa Geno's, we had to try by her place in the Heights of Houston. Whether she fully grasped it or not, within one bite, I knew this place was cooking up a cheesesteak incredibly close to the real deal.
All expats living in NYC need a place that feels like home, and for those who are (west) Philadelphia born-and-raised, Wogies is as good as it gets. But while the soul of the place lies south of New Jersey, the rib-sticking, balls-to-the-wall comfort food that Wogies specializes in is universally appealing. This is late-night stoner food at its finest.
Jimmy Buff's in New Jersey is known for inventing the Italian Hot Dog, but they also make a killer cheesesteak piled high with deep-fried potatoes.
If "cheesesteak" comes up in a word association game, chances are you'll say "Philly." But, unless you're in the City of Brotherly Love, it's often hard to find a decent one—or find one at all. As a lifelong cheesesteak fanatic and native Pennsylvanian (though from the west side of the state), I decided to see how some of the big sub chains would stack up in the cheesesteak department: Subway, Quiznos, Blimpie, and New England favorite D'Angelo.
As editor of the site Nachos NY, it's obvious that I love nachos. But people always ask me, can one nacho really be that different from the next? Enough to inspire a whole blog? Oh, they absolutely can. Here are five variations on the nacho in honor of National Nacho Day (technically last Saturday, but it's never too late to celebrate) with cheesesteak, carne asada, buffalo chicken, pulled pork, and a dessert spin with Rice Krispies treats and brownies.
In this great city of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around New York. Got a sandwich we should check...
Sandwich options at Beach Street Eatery are almost too many to make sense of, but focus your attention on the ones made to order, such as the Skirt Steak Sandwich ($9).
An occasional journal of a habitual restaurant diner; or, Not Eating at Home in New York. As many meals as I eat in a week, that is how many times I eat out. It's not that I can't cook—it's just...
It's hard to bring yourself to order a Phat Lady. But it's equally hard to put it down.
In this video from Philly.com, Stewart admits she's never had a cheesesteak. Sure she's had a cheesesteak, just not in Philly. Come on, Martha! Philadelphia is, like, 90 minutes away (on a good traffic day)! Given a Pat's and a Geno's cheesesteak to try, she calls Pat's bland and says Geno's is better, though she doesn't seem that enthused about cheesesteaks in general. Related: Pat's vs. Geno's on Colbert Report...
Photograph from Jason Santa Maria on Flickr Graphic designer Jason Santa Maria conducted an epic cheesesteak crawl to seven spots in New York City (no, not by himself—with the help of 17 cheesesteak-hungry people). After visiting BB Sandwich Bar, Wogie's...