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Sep 18, 2007 09:09 AM

Philly Cheesesteak in Minnesota

Are there any restaurants in Minnesota that are close in authenticity to the real Philly Cheesesteaks?

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  1. If you find one, I want to know.

    And so does buenosds:

    And so does Ramesh:

    So far, we've come up empty every time.

    1 Reply
    1. re: KTFoley

      clepro also wanted to know, and someone replied that the MN State Fair was your best bet:


    2. What does it take to be close to the authentic Philly Cheesesteaks? Uncle Franky's makes theirs by taking the beef to the griddle and chopping it up with paddles with or without onions (that seems authentic) adding Cheez Whiz while the meat is still on the griddle (authentic again) and adding sweet or hot peppers (sound good so far?) The only issue might be that I think they use the same beef and peppers that you could get on an Italian Beef and I think a purest would say that only top round or sirloin sliced really thin could be used and that the peppers need to be Italian cherry peppers. In any case it's a pretty good sandwich.

      Uncle Franky's
      728 Broadway St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

      13 Replies
      1. re: mnitchals

        Thank you for the tip. It's at the top of the list. I'll be sure to try it shortly.

        1. re: tda

          tda, please report back on what you think. Obviously, this is a burning question for a lot of people on this board since it's been asked four times in about a month!


          1. re: tda

            There is also another location.

            Uncle Franky's (plymouth)
            10160 6th Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55441

          2. re: mnitchals

            I was just at Uncle Franky's today (the Broadway location), and didn't see a Philly Cheese Steak on their chalkboard menu.

            I did get a Chicago Style dog to enjoy in the car on the way to the dentist (passive aggression, anyone? but yes I did brush & floss before getting in the chair...) and it was everything it should be right down to flourescent green relish.

            But people who go really should take a stool at the far end of the counter so they can watch the lunchtime cook. That guy does so much, so fast, in so little space that he is the living embodiment of a short-order samurai.

            1. re: KTFoley

              Huh. It's on their on-line menu and I've had them. Was this the Plymouth location? (Maybe they have an abridged chalkboard).

              Also, I just noticed when verifying the on-line menu, they say they have "satellite" locations at the Bloomington, Mpls and Plymouth Home Depot stores. Intriguing!

              1. re: MSPD

                Those Home Depot locations are just hot dog carts. I don't think they can even do a real Chicago style with all the "salad on a bun". But they are still Vienna Beef dogs and better than 90% of fast food options out there.

              2. re: KTFoley

                Good news and bad news.

                The bad news is they don't serve the Philly Cheesesteak at the Broadway location. I'm already planning the trip to the Plymouth location. Good news is, I had a Italian Beef with hot peppers and fries. It was outstanding. It was fun to watch the cook. A bit hard to understand what he was saying, but we got our food. Next time I would get the Italian Beef combo which is the sandwich that includes an italian sausage link. I think it was from Scala's. The sausage is awesome.

                1. re: tda

                  I've been to the Plymouth location twice. Once for Italian beef, (tasty, but I've had better in Chicago), and once for a Chicago style hot dog with the fluorescent green relish and sport peppers. It's close to where I work and live, so I'll be back, and will try the cheesesteak sometime.

              3. re: mnitchals

                You hit the nail on the head here. It was a pretty good sandwich. The meat was the only issue, using the precooked Italian Beef that was simmering in au juice. Sliced thin raw meat is the true ticket to get that freshly cooked steak taste.

                Thanks for the tip, it was worth the trip.

                1. re: mnitchals

                  I was watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and found out that Tony Luke's sandwiches are made with paper-thin ribeye.

                  1. re: Roberto7

                    I called Osseo meats and had them cut me some paper thin ribeye and made my own. I cooked the meat on my griddle and it turned out great.

                  2. re: mnitchals

                    The owner of Frankys will not remember the customers, apparently, and does not hesitate to say wierd things about them while they are in line. I will not go back after one such lambasting when I took my boss there, after I had been there a dozen times, and never got any sort of shit. I can get the same quality food elsewhere. The cook should stage a revolution and get rid of that ass. BTW, a cheesesteak should be ribeye. Buon Giorno in St Paul has a great chicago beef, but try the porketta, it is much better (pork instead of beef).

                    1. re: chow11

                      I heard him once make fun of a guy for ordering a chicken sandwich without mayo. It's part of the scene he's trying to create.

                  3. Hey! all my midwest food friends! I did find a decent cheese steak at T O P P's pizza in Rosemount. The did everything right wiz, the have a swiss type cheese...and they add alittle too much in the greek spice department. They do toast the roll NJ style, though. Haven't tried their hoagies yet...but I must say the best cheesesteak round here so far!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: buenosds

                      EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT!!! Not necessarily the cheesesteak, but I have driven by this place on my way to pick up my CSA boxes every Thursday afternoon for two stinking years and EVERY SINGLE TIME I think, "man...when am I going to try this place?!?". It has the look of a place I would generally love (run down, dilapidated tiny strip mall hidden behind a gas station in the middle of a forgotten corner of older suburbs). The signage says "Philly Style Pizza", Greek and American, and Hoagies (or some combination thereof). It just screams Chowhound. I honestly have failed the people on this board by not getting in there.

                      mnitchals, there are two things you forgot when mentioning the upside of Uncle Franky's (which was my one and only recommendation to each of these threads). First, the bread. The bun of an ideal Chicago beef, which is Uncle Franky's specialty has a little more density and heft to be able to support the abundance of beef and giardinera juice present in a good beef sandwich. That same bun is a little too dense and compact for the Philly cheesesteaks I grew up with out east. It's a terrible comparison but one with which most people are familiar -- a Philly cheesesteak should be roughly the length of a full-sized sub from Subway and the bun should have a similar density (air to bread ratio). That said it should be a little wider in the middle and shouldn't taste and smell like absolute crap (to end the similarities to Subway). It's a little hard to describe but a great Philly cheesesteak bun is one of those "know it when you see/feel/taste it" things.

                      The second thing is a little unfair/impossible (similar to why I believe a bagel in MSP will never amount to a bagel in NYC). It's the atmosphere. Philly cheesesteaks must be enjoyed outside, adjacent to a well-traveled city street. Preferably standing up. I honestly don't recall ever having eaten a real Philly cheesesteak sitting down except a couple I've had while driving.

                      Somewhere in South Minneapolis is a building just like Matt's Bar, on a busy street corner which is waiting to be turned into a walk-up cheesesteak and pizza place. (It'll never happen, but wouldn't it be cool?)

                      1. re: buenosds

                        Great review, I agree in all respects with your review about TOPP's.

                        My favorite cheese steak is found at a little hole in the wall called "Chicago Grill" in Hastings in the Westview mall. They toast the roll Jersey style, and use mayo and lettuce and tomato. Initially, I looked askance at the use of tomato and lettuce, but I love it! In many ways I like it more than a true philly. They have great Chicago dogs and you should also check out the Capone burger. Worth the drive!

                      2. There’s a new place “Coming Soon” at University and Dale. (Of course, that “coming soon” sign has been up quite a while now...) It’s called something like Famous Philadelphia Cheese Steak and Lemonade. It might be a chain of some sort. I did a little Googling and I think there are some of them in Chicago. It’s going in adjacent to a new chicken and fish place. Two separate signs, but it kind of looks like it’s going to be one big place. Same shopping center lot as the Wendy’s and Foodsmart.

                        Uncle Ira

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Uncle Ira

                          The place has now come to University and Dale, good and cheap but not Philly. My longing remains unrequited. (It's hard to tell if this is related to any place in Chicago. I doubt anyone's interested in the details of the inconclusive search.) Driving by, there's an ugly, unreadable red and blue blob followed by the clear text slogan "Famous Philly Steak and Lemonade." The blob is the shop's name, "Fire 'N' Ice." It's in the same shop as Hook (fried fish and chicken, though how you hook a chicken or shrimp, I can't guess).

                          Summary: not a destination, not terribly high on the authenticity scale, but tasty as an alternative to a jucy lucy.

                          Ambiance: Perfect run down mall setting, across from Saigon. (Which looked to still be open, by the way, so get your last licks in.) We got our order to go. It was doing hopping business on a Friday night, while the neighboring Wendy's stood forlornly empty.

                          Service: Friendly and efficient, at least tonight. You order centrally for both Fire N Ice and Hook menus. There's a single expediter checking orders. My guess is that both Fire N Ice and Hook have the same owner, who was going for the specialty shop feel.


                          The Fire in the name is a reference not only to the grill but apparently to hot pepper, which was liberally used in the Philly cheesesteak and especially the Italian Beef's hot cheese. I'm not among the Italian Beef cognoscenti, so I'll refrain from further comment, except to say that the hot cheese was surprisingly spicy. Not like Little Szechuan a few blocks away, but more than you typically get around here. Thumbs down for the authenticity, thumbs up for flavor.

                          Bun: too soft for the Philly cheesesteak. The proper bun outside of Philly is from Amoroso's. I'm guessing Amoroso's is the only traditional Philadelphia baker that ships nationwide. You can probably call any cheesesteak shop outside of the Philadelphia area, ask which bread they use, and if it isn't Amoroso's, it's not likely to be authentic. This one's main fault was the lack of crust. Definitely cannot be a crusty Italian bun -- there should be no crunch, no bite, flying shards of crust -- but it should have just enough tooth to avoid excessive sag. Who wants a flaccid bun?

                          Beef: maybe top round? A decent alternative to top choice top dollar rib eye, with the best Philly places arguing whether the rib eye should come from a cow or a bull. Top round, being tougher, takes to some marinating and to chopping on the grill. (With tender rib eye, the chopping is entirely optional.) The heat seemed to be in the meat itself, not in the peppers. A bit too chewy -- I'd guess it was a bit too wet from marinade, so not enough crusty browned bits, and a bit overchopped.

                          Cheese: stop saying that Whiz is authentic! It's common, but cheesesteak predates Whiz, and provolone is original. The problem is time. Provolone needs to melt, so it needs the grill man's attention, and that means time and lower productivity. Whiz, as the name says, is fast and easy and saves the grill man at least one pass. In any event, this was a white cheese of no known provenance, didn't see how it was applied, but the main problems: no work, no slide. You put down the meat, mix in the veggies, chop if necessary, add the cheese, top with bread (to steam the bun, and trap the heat and stray grease), remove the bread to lovingly work the cheese into the meat while leaving a definite cheese-rich stratum (see how much work you save by using Whiz? Who's really benefiting from Whiz?), then do the slide -- slide the spatula under the meat and all, hold out the bun, and do a sort of reverse slide to get the meat to fall just so, with most of the cheese stratum at the opening of the sandwich. There was no working the cheese into the meat, and the meat and bun must have been picked up at once, and the whole thing flipped as a unit. Wrong, wrong, wrong. All that gooey loveliness lost into the hinge of the bun, overconcentrated and sadly plastered into the bread, where it takes five nibbles to reach. And the meat, while tasty, was not cheesy.

                          Veggies: onions (fine), peppers (arguable) and mushrooms (dodgy for the Philly claim). Too much veggies for the amount of meat, which again is fine for flavor, keeps down the cost, and is healthier, but detracts from the authenticity.

                          Mayo comes standard on the sandwich. I ordered mine without -- that's certainly more authentic.

                          The sandwich automatically comes as a combo with fries and soda. Neither are worth mentioning. I'd guess that the guy taking orders would have dropped those and knocked a bit off the price had I asked, but it's not on the menu that way.

                          Off of the Hook menu, ordered chicken wings, catfish nuggets, and hush puppies for the kids. Not much to report. Plain, good oil temp so food didn't get greasy, fresh oil, the tastes didn't cross contaminate that I could tell. To my tastes, everything was just a touch under-fried, so not as crisp as I like. They might accommodate a request. Mostly little packets of sauce, some little plastic containers of (not very) hot sauce I didn't recognize offhand. Generous and cheap, but nothing to write home about.

                          The lemonade is strictly kids stuff, or maybe a hot summer day's fling. It's a slushy. Shaved ice, super sweet lemonade (probably a mix with a token spritz of fresh lemon), optional artificial flavors that drown everything else.

                          1. re: Geo in MSP

                            Man - I am craving a cheesesteak right now. Great description.

                            1. re: Geo in MSP

                              Well, I don't know that I've ever had a craving for a cheesesteak, but after all this talk I decided to try out the Fire and Ice place. It was really good-cheap too. I don't know why I waste my time at places like Subway when I can support local business.
                              I've never been to Philly, so I wouldn't know authentic if it jumped up and bit me, but this was good and kind of spicy. The bread was too soft though. BTW, I smiled and asked the guy if I could get the sandwich without the fries and drink, and he let me do it. He charged me 4.59 for a six inch. The lemonade drinks looked raunchy with mar. cherries and red dye number 40, but it's the kind of thing my eight year old neice would love.

                              1. re: jenniegirl


                                You must have a very pretty smile.... I was there about two weeks ago, and when I asked if I could get the sandwich by itself, I was told I could only get it as the combo. They wouldn’t sell it to me. I was so taken aback that I just got a small order of wings instead. (They were good, by the way......) But I’d still like to try that cheesesteak. Maybe I’ll give it another try this week now that you’ve softened them up a bit;-)

                                Uncle Ira

                              2. re: Geo in MSP

                                I second Geo's opinion on the Wiz. I went to Tony Luke's last month for the first time and ordered one with wiz and one with sharp provolone. The provolone was definitely better.

                                I don't think anyone in MSP can get the same buns they use in Philly and all other things being equal, that'll doom the true cheesesteak afficionado to disappointment in these parts. Maybe I'm wrong. Hope someone will argue that I am and point me to the real deal.

                                1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                  I don't think anyone in MSP can SUSTAINABLY get the same buns they use in Philly. The cheesesteak joint that was in the 112 Eatery location back in the early 90s was run by Philly ex-pats and they flew EVERYTHING in daily, including the meat and a good variety of Tastykakes.

                                  They had a fiercely loyal following but clearly that wasn't enough to sustain the business for whatever reason. Nothing has worked since.

                                  1. re: MSPD

                                    Forgive the dumb question--but are Philly cheesesteak sandwiches (the "authentic" kind)--always on a certain brand of bread? The way a Chicago style dog (the "authentic" kind) always must be Vienna beef?

                                    And, how sad to have to choose between 112 Eatery and a great cheesesteak place!


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      112 N 3rd St has been a lot of things. When I moved here it was Best of Philly, then Franks a Million (a hot dog joint) for a while, then Amsterdam Bistro before 112 Eatery.

                                      Edit to add: Sorry, forgot to answer your question. Yes, most Philly cheesesteaks get bread from certain vendors. I'm not an authority so I would direct you to some good info on Wikipedia. Just enter "philly cheesesteak" and you'll get the info about Amaroso's, etc.

                                    2. re: MSPD

                                      I used to eat at Best of Philly. It was good. Too bad it died.

                                      1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                        A thank you to loyal customers with long memories. I ran The Best of Philly Deli with my parents in the mid '90's. We did pretty well towards the end, and were sad to be forced to close. Unfortunately my parents relocated to California, and I was not able to run it without them. We tried to sell the biz, but since we did not own the real estate, we never found a buyer.

                                        I have since moved back to the Philly area and I am now an elementary school teacher. I still think about my time in the Twin Cities. I sometimes wonder if I could have made the shop work without my parents help. My students are glad I changed careers...

                                        1. re: Steve19003

                                          Hey Steve,

                                          Thanks for checking in. It's good to know you're doing well and I, for one, really miss having your place around.

                                          Take Care.

                                    3. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                      The discussion of cheesesteaks, Jucy Lucy's, sourdoughs, and other local specialties has been moved over to our General Topics board:

                                2. I just had Joey's Cheesesteak at Joey Nova's in Tonka Bay. It was very good. Authentic? Who knows? I never had one in Philadelphia but I'm not sure you could beat this one, at least in Minnesota. They now have a Plymouth location as well.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Davydd

                                    Here is a picture of the Joey Nova's Joey's Cheesteak. Also attached is a picture of Lyon's Pub on 6th Street in Minneapolis Philly Cheesesteak.

                                    1. re: Davydd

                                      What kind of bread is that on Joey Nova's? Looks like some kind of sourdough. It may be a tasty sandwich but it's absolutely not in the style of Philadelphia.

                                      1. re: MSPD

                                        I don't think Joey's Cheesesteak bun is sourdough. In defense of Joey's they really don't call it a Philly. Most of their sandwiches border on fast food style but compared to Culver's steak sandwich they are vastly superior.

                                        1. re: MSPD

                                          The first pic is definitely ciabatta. The second could be any number of things. As a side not to all chowhounds, you all need to go to that tastykake website and grab an order. Best snack cakes/pies in the US, hands down..