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Oct 6, 2006 08:38 PM

REAL cheesesteaks...

Okay, I've done my research and collected a list of places to find the best cheesesteaks in Philadelphia. However, there doesn't seem to be a lot of agreement on who has the best. So is there any agreement on what makes a good one? What should I be looking for as a sign of a great, authentic cheesesteak?

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  1. Thin-sliced ribeye steak with American, Provolone, or Cheez Whiz, with or without grilled onions, on a Sarcone's or Amoroso's roll.

    1. ....and cooked to order. As good as D'Allesandro's is at lunchtime there is a 20 lb. stack of grey meat STEAMING on the grill. Better to go to Chubby's across the street. A decent steak can be made with top round, but nothing beats ribeye !!

      Also, the meat should be chopped while cooking. The Pat's/Geno's slabs can slide right off your bed of Whiz onto Passyunk in a split second !!

      13 Replies
      1. re: phillyjazz

        This is closer to what I'm asking for. I understand the concept and the constituent parts. But I'm more asking what the constituent parts are like in a good one.

        eg, if I were to describe the perfect carnitas taco, I might say something like: succulent, tender hunks of pork where the connective tissues are melted and the sinews lubricated with the lard the meat was fried in, crispy and salty on the outside with a hint of orange flavor wrapped in a freshly made corn tortilla that's still moist, but substantial enough to hold the meat without breaking, topped with onions and cilantro.

        1. re: extramsg

          just go to John's Roast Pork, or Steve's Prince of Steaks, or Jim's on Baltimore Pike in Springfield, or Tony Luke's, or Talk of the Town on South Broad, order a cheesesteak with mild provolone, and what makes a great sandwich will be obvious. Chopped steak vs flipped is a matter of personal preference. freshly sliced steak will always taste better than frozen pre-cut. the roll is also key, but also subject to personal taste - some prefer soft and chewy like Amoroso, others crusty and seeded like Sarcone's.

          1. re: brightman

            Sorry to say I recently had a tough to eat cheesesteak at Jim's on Baltimore Pike in Springfield, Delaware County. The meat was simply not chopped up and came out of the sandwich in huge clumps- ugh!

          2. re: extramsg

            um...hey..listen...(mouth watering, eyes glazing) there somewhere in Philly where I can get that carnitas taco you just described?

            1. re: GDSwamp

              Yeah, drive north on I-76, take a left on I-80, drive about 2500 miles until you merge with I-84 and go the rest of the way to Portland, OR and find Salvador's. If you make the trip, I'll buy. ;-) Thanks for the info below.

            2. re: extramsg

              Also, in partial answer to your question -

              As I understand it there are two (at least two) not-necessarily-warring camps with regard to the appropriate consistency of cheesesteak meat - the chopped camp and the sliced camp.

              My favorite chopped steak so far has been Dalessandro's in Roxborough, where the thin sliced and then finely chopped meat, gooey cheese and (in my case) onions form a succulent stew not that far removed - texturally - from a sloppy joe. Were it not for the roll you could pretty much gum a Dalessandro's steak.

              My favorite cheesesteak of all (so far) comes from Steve's Prince of Steaks, where they slice the meat, fry it, then slide it onto a torpedo roll with cheese, etc. The sliced meat has a toothsome (but not tough) chew that really gets to me.

              In either case, I take my steak with fried onions, Whiz, and tangy-hot banana peppers (the peppers are an absolute must for me), but undoubtedly there's considerable partisan variation.

              I think you may have a hard time getting a definitive, single answer on sliced-vs.-chopped. Or rather, you'll get a slew of very definitive answers that are all in conflict with one another.

              Best thing to do is eat them all. You're a good writer - maybe you can provide the heretofore missing last word on cheesesteak composition.

              1. re: GDSwamp

                Dalessandro's is great whgen they are not busy. Otherwise you get grey STEAMED meat. Chubby's across the street has a great ribeye-based sandwich made-to-order. Check it out even if Dallesandros is NOT busy. You won't be sorry.

                Carnitas taco is a whole 'nother thing, but Taqueria la Vercruzana 908 Washington Ave is where you want to go. For that and a whole lot more !! Order off the Breakfast menu all day. The Enchilades Verde or Mole ar a bargain.

              2. re: extramsg

                A cheesesteak is a gestalt concept. The sum of the parts make a greater whole. I agree there are "chopped" vs. "whole" partisans. The "whole" people are simply wrong.

                Once you have stood in line 45 minutes at 9th and Passyunk at 2:00 AM just to have a wafer of cooked beef slide between two slices of roll lubricated by a coating of whiz and land on your shoes, you will know what I mean. Chopped is the ONLY way.

                The BEST grillmeisters have a supply of grilled onions waiting at all times, and a little steaming does not hurt them ..

                Melting of the cheese is not so big a deal. Whiz is already a done deal, and American or Provolone (valid only on a steak HOAGIE) will melt in seconds after the hot meat is applied. Cheese does NOT really need to be added at the grill, but it works well that way too.

                Strangely enough, the ROLL is at least 50% of what makes the sammy. Most purveyors go with Amoroso and that is a no-brainer. The more adventuresome shoot for Conshohocken which are far better, but not as well preserved. You need to know the delivery schedule at these places (and the regulars DO !!!)

                John's Roast Pork uses Carangi bakery (similar to Sarcone's in quality.) They scoop the rolls, and I would gladly eat the scraps off the floor !!!!

                1. re: phillyjazz

                  once you have stood in line for 45 minutes to get a steak at Pat's at 2AM, the only thing you have proven is you don't care what goes in your belly. I prefer provolone or whiz over gummy american. IMHO, the best cheesesteaks in the Philly area are found at Steve's Prince of Steaks, John's Roast Pork, Talk of the Town, and Jim's in Springfield. Of the 4, only John's chops the meat (and it is an amazing sandwich). There is no "wrong" in personal preference.

                  1. re: brightman

                    'There is no "wrong" in personal preference.'

                    Unless your preference is for Pat's, I guess..

                    1. re: Buckethead

                      exactly. or wawa over Primo's for hoagies.

                  2. re: phillyjazz

                    Yup. chopped it is.
                    A few years ago Craig laban of the Inquirer did an "eat about town" for this same quest. a very good article if you can hunt it down in the archives.
                    It's not so much the place, there are lots, it's the sango itself. Fresh grilled, fresh rolls, heavy onions and for goodness sake, good sauce. cheese whiz is for loosers. Get the prov or american.
                    all of the above places are good, but if the place looks like they don't know what their doing, they don't. Have the soup. Oh yea, if you didn't order it, it shouldn't be on there. Like lettuce and tomato...I had a guy butter my roll once...see ya chump.
                    Thanks for reading...I needed that.

                2. re: phillyjazz

                  Ya know, I heard all the hype about D' your money. It may have a neighborhood flair, but good, not really.
                  Whimpy sauce...and that giant pile of steamed beef...yikes.

                3. The bread is very important. If the roll has the consistency of a nerf football and is cold on top of it once the sandwich is assembled then that's a pretty sad cheese steak. Resting the bread on top of the meat while still on the grill is an essential step in the process creating temperature uniformity along the cross section of the sandwich.

                  1. I went to Tony Luke's today because I saw the "throwdown" challenge between Bobby Flay and Tony Luke on the Food Network last night. All I could think about when I woke up was a cheesesteak! Anyway, I'm not a cheesesteak expert at all but I thought Tony Luke's cheesteak (w/whiz, fried onions) was really good. What made it for me was the bread. My husband had a cheesteak w/ sharp provolone and rabe and it was really tasty. actually it didnt taste like a cheesesteak at all.