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

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?

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  1. 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. 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

        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

          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

            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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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.

        2. re: Philly Ray

          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

            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

              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

                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

                  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

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

                    1. re: Passadumkeg

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

            2. re: Philly Ray

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

              7 Replies
              1. re: OlderPhiladelphian

                I partly agree but have you tried Memphis BBQ?

                1. re: Den

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

                  1. re: crazyspice

                    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

                      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

                        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!

                    2. re: crazyspice

                      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. 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. 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. 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

                        Wow...someone else likes Firehouse BBQ too?

                      2. 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

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

                        2. 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

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

                            1. re: cheesewit

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

                              1. re: cheesewit

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

                              2. 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. 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. 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. 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

                                        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

                                          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. 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. 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!