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The great cheesesteak debate...what would you trade it for?

Den Feb 21, 2008 07:33 AM

I'm a native Philadelphian and really enjoy not only eating the cheesesteaks but debating about them. Over the last 20 or so years I've traveled to Memphis several times a year and have to admit that if I had to make a choice between a Philly cheesesteak and Memphis pork BBQ, I'd have to take the Memphis pork BBQ every time.

Is there any regional cuisine you'd trade that cheesesteak for?

  1. bluehensfan Feb 21, 2008 07:45 AM

    I would gladly trade half of the cheesesteak purveyors in town for a decent Southern BBQ joint and a good Chicago deep dish pizza place.

    1. p
      Philly Ray Feb 21, 2008 09:12 AM

      I love (good) cheesesteaks too, but here's what I crave every now and then...

      New Orleans food like jambalaya, muffalettas, or po boys.

      A Chicago hot dog (dragged through the garden).

      16 Replies
      1. re: Philly Ray
        Bigley9 Feb 21, 2008 09:21 AM

        Philly Ray I was reading this post and trying to decide whether or not to respond, and before I could decide you took the words right out of my keyboard! A muffaletta or a good oyster po boy would be worth the trade (I make a mean jambalaya and red beans and rice, so I've got that covered)

        1. re: Bigley9
          smackdown Feb 21, 2008 09:49 AM

          i don't know if i could trade a (good) cheesesteak completely...BUT oh yes, if i could do an every other kinda trade i'd be right there with the po'boy for sure. every single time i hit new orleans, the first thing i do after dropping my bags at a friend's house or hotel is go straight for a po'boy and crawfish at frankie and johnny's...yum.

          1. re: smackdown
            Bigley9 Feb 21, 2008 10:01 AM

            so in 37 minutes we have three folks who want a really good NO food in Phila - any good NO chefs listening???

            1. re: Bigley9
              Buckethead Feb 21, 2008 10:21 AM

              There used to be a place in Aston, PA called the Gumbo Shoppe that made very good creole fare for takeout, supposedly they moved to the city over the summer and are now in business on Wolf St. between 9th and 10th, but I haven't been there since they moved.

              1. re: Buckethead
                Philly Ray Feb 21, 2008 11:08 AM

                Ok, I live near 12th and Snyder and I saw that NO place on Wolf St. At first, I thought it was a mirage and then I thought it was another Italian place in disguise, but now I'll have to check them out and give a report.

                Still though, what an odd location to move to for cajun/creole food.

                1. re: Philly Ray
                  Buckethead Feb 21, 2008 11:49 AM

                  That's what I thought when they moved, and they were always very successful in Aston as far as I could tell, I'm not sure what prompted it. They make a good crawfish bisque.

                  1. re: Buckethead
                    Philly Ray Feb 21, 2008 01:37 PM

                    No dice (or is it No beads??). I walked over to "Mardi Gras Cafe" and not only was the place closed there was an eviction notice taped in the window (looked like back rent was owed).

                    Maybe they should have stayed in Aston.

                    1. re: Philly Ray
                      Bigley9 Feb 22, 2008 06:12 AM

                      Rats, I was so hopeful

        2. re: Philly Ray
          bluehensfan Feb 21, 2008 10:15 AM

          Yeah...a sandwich from Mothers in New Orleans with the debris and a hamburger from the Camellia Grill!

          Also, with Pasion going under, the ceviche options in town have dwindled to a few...

          1. re: bluehensfan
            smackdown Feb 21, 2008 10:51 AM

            well on that note, wouldn't you know i found this in the Inquirer today in Table Talk on what's coming soon:
            "Les Bons Temps (that's the name of the Creole-Cajun spot from Carmine's John Mims and Howard Taylor) at 114 S. 12th St" and "H.I. Rib & Co., a casual, New Orleans-jazz-theme American grill, is under construction for a June opening at 505 W. Ridge Pike, Conshohocken"

            1. re: bluehensfan
              Philly Ray Feb 21, 2008 11:10 AM

              I agree about the ceviche. I'm hoping that Pernod took his magic to Cuba Libre, but I haven't been able to get there to see. Has anyone had ceviche at Xochitl? Is it any good?

              1. re: Philly Ray
                crazyspice Feb 21, 2008 01:56 PM

                Being a Mainer, I'll take a Lobster Roll. I will never "get" the cheesesteak obsession. With that said, having spent quite a bit of time in NO, give me a big bowl of seafood gumbo or an oyster po'boy!!

                1. re: crazyspice
                  Den Feb 21, 2008 02:07 PM

                  Yes, as a Mainer you will never get the cheesesteak thing. My wife who's a Memphian will never get the cheesesteak thing.

                  1. re: Den
                    Passadumkeg Feb 25, 2008 05:41 PM

                    Crazyspice, how about a crab, scallop or shrimp roll? Fried clams? Red snapper hot dogs? A real Eyetalian?

                    1. re: Passadumkeg
                      crazyspice Feb 25, 2008 05:59 PM

                      Hey, as long as it is on the "right" type of roll!

            2. re: Philly Ray
              jessicheese Mar 17, 2008 01:32 PM

              I agree- it's hard to duplicate the NOLA specialties, but I had to post today after eating a sandwich that was pretty damn close to the muffalettas I've had in NOLA.
              Countryside Market in Swarthmore has a sandwich called the Countryside that I've been wanting to try since the owner once told me he modeled it after Central Grocery. I went today and tried the hot version (I prefer it cold, usually, but I'm pregnant and can't have cold lunchmeat). It was awesome! A little thinner on the meat and cheese than the NOLA version, but the bread was a very good match and the olive salad was perfect. I'd had muffalettas on the brain for weeks now and this nailed the craving for me!

              Thought I'd share!

            3. OlderPhiladelphian Feb 21, 2008 07:06 PM

              I would NOT trade a John's Roast Pork cheesesteak for anything. Go Phillies!

              7 Replies
              1. re: OlderPhiladelphian
                Den Feb 22, 2008 03:41 AM

                I partly agree but have you tried Memphis BBQ?

                1. re: Den
                  crazyspice Feb 22, 2008 05:52 AM

                  Or the soft pretzel, or the Tastycake, or cheese whiz, etc, etc. My husband will take southern BBQ any time.

                  1. re: crazyspice
                    jrob Feb 22, 2008 08:06 AM

                    Stop!!! You're making me hungry and I'm stuck in the hinterlands, (MN)!! As much as I like living here, sometimes I'd kill to get a "real" hoagie or cheesesteak. My mother grew up in the Philly area and we traveled back just about every year during the holidays to be with family there. Since my grandparents died, my trips, unfortunately have become few and far between. Thanks for letting me stroll down memory lane, someone have a hoagie and think of me for lunch, please!!

                    1. re: jrob
                      crazyspice Feb 24, 2008 04:26 AM

                      Sorry! I forgot to put the hoagie on my list. I guess I should have added Goldenberg's Peanut Chews as well.

                      1. re: crazyspice
                        Bob Loblaw Feb 24, 2008 05:15 AM

                        peanut chews... those were the days. i can only imagine the amount of dental work those would yank out of my mouth if i tried to eat one now!

                        1. re: Bob Loblaw
                          crazyspice Feb 24, 2008 05:29 AM

                          Thanks for the chuckle!

                    2. re: crazyspice
                      Smileelisa Apr 2, 2008 11:06 AM

                      Oh yum on the southern bbq. I lived in Texas years ago and I ate bbq almost on a daily basis it was soooooooooo good. I love cheesesteaks but would give them up in a heartbeat for some Texas bbq.

                2. b
                  Bob Loblaw Feb 22, 2008 05:43 AM

                  I make a much better philadelphian than californian (BTDT), but i miss the burrito places in california much more than i missed cheesteaks when i was out there.
                  not that you *can't* get an ok to good burrito here, it's just the sheer number of good, cheap burrito places that's lacking. i probably ate 5 burritos a week when i lived there. yeah, i'd make that trade.

                  1. rabidog Feb 22, 2008 07:44 AM

                    i don't know if it's fair of me to answer this question, because as a vegetarian i'd really take anything over a cheesesteak!! :)

                    OK, that said... the #1 thing i miss from DC... excellent thai food! we don't have anything here like it - and at this point i'm pretty sure i've been to nearly 100% of phila's thai offerings. DC, chicago and the pacific northwest all seem to have excellent thai food and i am jealous.

                    alsoooooo count me in for chicago deep dish pizza. don't know of a single place here in phila that even does it, let alone does it well. there is a HUGE void.

                    1. b
                      bignickpsu Feb 22, 2008 12:51 PM

                      I dont think I could trade the cheesesteak for any other regional cuisine. MAybe BBQ but it seems like there are some decent alternatives opening up around here.... Firehouse BBQ, Famous Dave's, etc....

                      For those of you looking for some good NO eats, West Chester is the place to go. High Street Caffe has good upscale Cajun, while Crawdaddy's has some more casual Cajun.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bignickpsu
                        bluehensfan Feb 23, 2008 02:59 PM

                        Wow...someone else likes Firehouse BBQ too?

                      2. mschow Feb 23, 2008 04:01 PM

                        Excellent question: I would dearly love EXCELLENT Mexican food, great Po' boys, Gumbo. muffalettas, really great pizza (impossible to find here), BBQ, REAL iced tea (but i do love Chic Fil a iced tea). Yes, we have sloppy imitations all over the place but that is what I would love.
                        On the other hand, have you ever had Italian food in Texas or down south? Open up a can of Chef Boy Ardee and you have it. Throw some cheese on it and they think it's out of this world. Pizza, ha ha ha. Throw some tomato sauce on undercooked dough with some prepackaged mozzarella and that's what it is. Every place in the country has it's good and bad foods. At least here we are on the coast and have access to quality seafood, though it is fairly expensive. Can you imagine what seafood costs in the midwest? I would take the Memphis pork BBQ over the cheesesteak myself, just my opinion.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mschow
                          rachelef Mar 6, 2008 01:00 PM

                          I agree about the iced tea! I miss REAL sweet tea!
                          Though I would only trade the bad cheesesteaks for it....

                        2. cheesewit Feb 24, 2008 04:57 AM

                          I love cheesesteaks and don't want to trade them for anything. But, if I were forced to, I'd trade them for Maine Lobster Rolls. I prefer hot lobster rolls over the cold version - the difference being the hot usually doesn't contain mayo and the meat and butter are warm.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: cheesewit
                            hotdoglover Feb 24, 2008 05:06 AM

                            I love cheesesteaks, but my favorite thing to eat is a Newark Style Italian Hot Dog.

                            1. re: cheesewit
                              crazyspice Feb 24, 2008 05:06 AM

                              No one in my family would eat a hot lobster roll! Only a clam roll can be hot. Yummy!

                              1. re: cheesewit
                                mschow Feb 24, 2008 05:57 AM

                                oh...forgot about the lobster roll. I would trade most anything for a lobster roll!

                                1. re: mschow
                                  cheesewit Feb 24, 2008 09:22 AM

                                  And boy could I go for one now!

                              2. Seeker19104 Feb 24, 2008 12:16 PM

                                My dearest wish is to able to get a decent eastern NC-style barbecue sandwich in Philadelphia. Even Holly Moore can't find anything closer than Virginia that's worth writing about. Please post at once if this is no longer the case. I would like to die happy, and a chopped barbecue sandwich with slaw is as close to heaven as it gets for me. (I would settle for sliced barbecue...)

                                1. Passadumkeg Feb 25, 2008 05:45 PM

                                  I think the cheesesteak is over rated and feel a roast pork sandwich should be the real symbol of Philly or a 9th street Italian sausage sandwich! Gimme scrapple or give me death!

                                  1. d
                                    DrZibbs Mar 2, 2008 01:08 PM

                                    I agree with Passadumbkeg. The roased pork sandwich is much tastier than the cheesesteak. When at Reading Terminal next time with a friend, buy a cheesesteak and a DiNic Roasted Pork. Split with your friend and I'm sure you'll agree

                                    1. w
                                      wisteria1 Mar 6, 2008 01:39 PM

                                      I don't know if I'd trade the cheesesteak (though I'd willingly trade the incessant "Who's got the best" magazine articles and questions from visitors. But I might trade it for good Mexican food. Maybe I'm missing something, but all the Mexican food (and I don't insist it be so authentic I need a passport to get home again) around here seems to be lousy in one way or another.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: wisteria1
                                        rabidog Mar 6, 2008 03:48 PM

                                        i hear this a lot... lack of mexican food... but i'm wondering what places you've experienced that are subpar. i LOVE me some guacamole, enchiladas and a good margarita, but i find it's hard to find all three at the same place. but the places i would go back to are (forgive my spelling):
                                        taqueria veracruzana - wish they had margaritas though!
                                        taquitos de pueblos - same thought
                                        mocaljete mixto - same
                                        taqueria la michoacana - wish it were closer to me!! possibly the best of the lot.

                                        1. re: wisteria1
                                          Bob Loblaw Mar 8, 2008 08:24 AM

                                          i posted this earlier - it's not excellent mexican food i miss, it's basic, cheap, but tasty mexican food.
                                          and it does seem to me that a $4 burrito is the appropriate comparison to a cheesesteak. and, in that comparison, sorry, burrito hands down.

                                        2. w
                                          worshipsf Mar 7, 2008 05:37 PM

                                          Cheesesteaks are OK but I'd trade them for lobster rolls any day.

                                          But a juicy roast pork sandwich with sharp provolone and garlicky greens - wouldn't trade that for any other regional food!

                                          1. b
                                            Briner Mar 24, 2008 05:14 PM

                                            Having lived in Texas for a few years, I would gladly trade a cheesesteak & fries for some good old Texas brisket BBQ, a side of baked beans, cole slaw, and nice piece of jalapeno bread!! Heaven on a plate! (or a piece of parchment paper depending where you go)!!!

                                            Yet, while living there, I would have killed for a decent hoagie roll for a true Philly bakery!! I guess it's all relative!

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