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Best cheesesteak

I lived in Philly for 8 months in 2000 and became quite a fan of the well-rendered cheesesteak (don't even talk to me about putting "whiz" on my sandwich...). My wife and I still fight over which of the "twin towers of Roxbury" (my phrase, Philly neighborhood), "Chubby's" or "D'Allesandro's", had the best. D'Allesandro's was my fave. I think the wife liked Chbby's because you could sit down and eat at the restaurant... and they had fries, curly ones. D'Allesandro's just made the best freakin' c-steak. With Provolone for chrissakes.

Are there any even close approximations of D'Allesandro's out there in greater LA? Philly expats please...help. The closer to Hollywood / SGV the better. I rarely go to the west side and have tried "Philly's Best", "South Street" and "Luigi Ortega". IMHO South street was best, but I'm not satisfied...an Amoroso roll alone won't get you to heaven...

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  1. Sadly, not the best of my knowledge. The best ones I ever had were at my house, cooked by me with super thin sliced rib eye steak with provolone. Outside of that, nope.

    1. Here is one of the MANY prior discussions of this subject that have been posted to the LA board in the past 10 years: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/408590

      You are bound to be disappointed. Why not quest for things that LA does superlatively rather than the things it does not?

      For instance, did you catch this review on Umami Burgers?


      Or delve into the wonderful Mexican food at places like Mariscos Chente for it's scintillating Sinaloan seafood or start a journey through our world class Korean offerings.

      Mariscos Chente
      4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

      Umami Burger
      850 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

      11 Replies
      1. re: Servorg

        I can't speak for anyone else, Servorg, but the reason I look for good cheesesteaks, chicken wings, and hot dogs, for example, in Los Angeles is that they are comparatively easy to prepare. They don't require exotic ingredients or special cooking skills or utensils, and I make them all at home. In an urban area with millions of people -- tens or hundreds of thousands of whom love each of these foods -- it seems reasonable to expect joints by the dozens to offer high-quality versions (not necessarily the preparations you get in Philly or Buffalo or Chicago but delicious, nevertheless).

        Even much-more sophisticated cuisines should be widely available in the food-loving big cities of this diverse country. For example, I don't give up on Mexican food when I go to Chicago -- 1500 miles from the border, but where the memory of an incredibly moist, crisp, and fragrant whole snapper served lightly fried and covered with fresh Mexican herbs lingers after 25 years.

        As I've said before, I'm convinced that if a knowledgeable audience demands and shows appreciation for great food of any kind, they -- we -- will get it.

          1. re: Servorg

            ... insist on great pasta, because Rome is not nearly as diverse as Los Angeles! ;-)

            1. re: sbritchky

              ...so concentrate on those things which ARE the strength of our diverse population (and which doesn't include Philly Fanatics in large enough amounts to make searching for "authentic" cheesesteaks anything but an exercise in frustration - which was my point to the OP).

              And which the saying "When in Rome..." is actually all about.

              1. re: Servorg

                I've made my points and won't repeat them. I hope more people will talk to restaurants about their preparations -- especially simple items like cheesesteaks -- the way many of us used to talk to Dan at Fredo's to help him improve his product.

                1. re: sbritchky

                  I understand and appreciate your point, but if restaurants are going to try and change their preparations for anyone who feels passionately enough about food to make suggestions on better ways to prepare said food at that restaurant they will probably end up satisfying no one.

                  Your approach of taking the recipe home and then "tweaking" it to meet your own, personal taste is by far the best idea for the OP. Because the only place he/she is going to get a "real" Philly CS is in "real" Philly.

                  1. re: sbritchky

                    Any word on Dan or new venture. He was the best, loved the food and the joy he took in making a GREAT sandwich!

                    1. re: Burger Boy

                      Haven't heard a thing in a long time, Burger Boy, despite all the talk last year that Dan intended to start something new. He was clearly the ideal small-restaurant guy -- always interested in hearing from his customers and in improving his operation -- and it was sincere: he made an excellent cheesesteak!

                      1. re: sbritchky

                        He made a GREAT Cheesesteak! I hope does another venture soon.

          2. re: Servorg

            I like your point. Ca. seems to attract a huge amount of folks who want "autrhentic" regioinal food from somewhere else, and I suppose it's because of our vast range of outside influence mingled with our great local resources. I just dont get it though. I'd love to have the Spanish food I had in Valencia, or the Charcutrie I've had in France or the Gumbo from Louisiana, but this is Ca. and none of the above. It doesn't make sense to expect one place to taste like another unless you totally eschew local ingredients in both places. Only canned and frozen food would taste the same everywhere.

            1. re: Servorg

              hoghoodoo, read my post on the first posting in servorgs reply to you above.. i did it today!!!

            2. I've been to Big Mike's, which does a reasonable Geno's impersonation:

              Big Mike's Philly Steaks & Subs
              507 Main St, El Segundo, CA 90245

              Big Mike's Philly Steaks & Subs
              1314 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

              The other places that come up frequently in "best cheesesteak" threads on the Los Angeles CH board are:

              Fredo's Phillys
              (Note: changed ownership last year)
              720 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104

              Philadelphia Sandwiches
              11112 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601

              You may come across references to a place called Markie D's that many reviewers were convinced was the best cheese steak, but they've been closed for over a year now (I never had a chance to try them).

              Fredo's Phillys
              720 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104

              Big Mike's Philly Steaks
              507 Main St, El Segundo, CA 90245

              Philadelphia Sandwiches
              11112 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601

              Big Mike's Philly Steaks & Sub
              1314 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

              1 Reply
              1. re: Peripatetic

                I am a big fan of the Philly Cheesesteaks at Big Mike's in El Segundo. Friendly people, they have a free lot adjacent, good rolls, lots of meat, good mild and hot pepper mixes. I order a 12-inch to eat half there and rewarm the other with a slice of processed cheese for later. Really good onion rings, too, with a light lacy batter rather than a heavy dipped breadcrumb type. Big Mike's is a haul for me all the way past the airport from W.L.A., but now that Markie D's has been gone awhile it is by far the best that I've found.

              2. If you're ever in the valley, I recommend Sam's Philly steak Depot.

                Info here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/sams-philly-s...

                1. Philly's Best, 1419 W. Olive Avenue, in Burbank, does a tasty version.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Bob Brooks

                    Plus 1! As a Jersey Native, I call Philly's Best the best tasting Phily Cheesesteak I've had on the west coast. Add to that - they have Taylor Ham IN STOCK all the time. get a taylor Ham sandwich hot off the griddle. Tasty!

                    In other words - highly recommended.

                    1. re: mrsantora

                      Do they do a Taylor ham, egg and cheese. Oh My, Oh My!

                      1. re: Burger Boy

                        They do not, more's the pity! I longed to have the Official New Jersey State Conversation:

                        "Taylor ham, egg and cheese on a hard roll."

                        "Salt, pepper, ketchup?"

                        But alas... they do not. The TH sandwich is awesome though, and the cheesesteaks, while not QUITE Philly quality, are awful damn close.

                        It puts South Street to shame, that's for sure.

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          What is on the TH sandwich then? Ham & Cheese? Ham & eEgg? What kind of bread? Thanks Das

                          1. re: Burger Boy

                            Taylor ham and cheese. I had it on a hard roll.

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              Will they make it on a bagel as well?

                  2. I lived in Philly for 3 years, but I never went to D'Allesandro's, so I can't draw any comparisons. But Big Mike's is the closest thing to a real cheesesteak I've had out here. They tend to overstuff the roll with meat though, so you might want to ask for extra cheese to get the ratio correct.

                    I thought South Street in Westwood Village was terrible, possibly the worst cheesesteak I've ever had. Philly's Best seems to vary from location to location; the one I tried (Buena Park) was mediocre. I haven't tried Fredo's (I'm never in Pasadena, and I won't drive that far just for a cheesesteak), and probably won't now that Dan is gone. But they seem to be closer to you, so you might want to give them a try.

                    1. let me start by agreeing that the best of a city is usually found in said city. chicago hot dogs and pizza, ny pizza and bagels, a parisian croissant, cream pie from boston, lobster from maine.

                      and now, at the risk of getting eaten alive here, i'm going to say that for what it is and for what its worth, bazaar's philly 'cheese steak' is damn good. like a rich, decadent whiff of the original without the grease and in a much more formal situation. dainty and darling, dare i suggest you close your eyes, take a bite and think of d'allesandro's... ?

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: AndyGanil

                          The grease, the messyness. the informality of the sandwich is what makes the cheesesteak so good.

                      1. Okay, I've only been to Philly once, about a year ago. I had my (first) cheesesteak at Gino's, which was delicious. (For the record, I got it with Cheeze Whiz, onions, and peppers.) When I got back home, I was really craving one. I went to Philly's Best, and honestly, couldn't tell the difference. Maybe I just didn't have enough there, but whatever, I am wholly satisfied with Philly's Best. And the have the nicest staff.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: schrutefarms

                          Three possibilities:

                          1) Which Philly's Best did you go to? Perhaps yours happens to be one of the better ones;
                          2) Geno's is overrated;
                          3) The Whiz covers all. ;-)

                          1. re: mrhooks

                            1) Olive and Verdugo
                            2) I was a tourist
                            3) The Whiz rules

                        2. Sadly the few cheese steaks I've ever had in my life came from chains like "The Great Steak" and "Steak Escape." Knowing that I've never had the real thing -- or at least the closest I can get to in L.A. -- what should I be looking for when I wander into these places mentioned here, or others I just happen upon while exploring? Specifically, what makes this sandwich more then just bread, cheese, and meat?

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: ReelMike84

                            OK, I'll play: First, the meat needs to be good quality, ultrathinly sliced. If it is too thick it becomes a roast beef hoagie or sub rather than a Philly cheesesteak -- this is the problem I had with the version at Victor Jr.'s in Culver City. The meat needs to be quickly seared on a flattop grill but not burned -- that was the problem with the horribly acrid mess I was served at the Great West stand down on Lincoln in Venice. And there should be enough meat for hefty bites without having to order double-meat and paying more -- like you have to do at South Street in Westwood Village. The grilled onions are an essential part of the mix in my opinion -- they need to be cooked but not burnt. I'm not an elitist when it comes to the cheese -- I don't insist on Whiz -- American is fine or provolone but it has to be melty and again not burned. I like a good roasted pepper mix on mine, both hot and mild, and a couple of shakes of hot sauce to spice things up. The classic roll is an Amoroso imported from Philly, a bit of texture and chew in the crust but not crunchy, the bread substantial not soft or airy, the roll split open and laid over the meat, onions, and cheese on the grill to crisp the edges, warm, and steam the middle before everything is scooped into the middle where the bread should not be able to come to about an inch of closing up because of all of the innards. When handed to you the insides should still be too hot to eat the first bite without some pain. Yum!

                            1. re: nosh

                              Good quality meat -- Check
                              Ultrathinly sliced – Check
                              Quickly seared / not burned – Check
                              Enough meat for hefty bites -- Double Check
                              Grilled onions – Request, Check
                              Amoroso roll, -- No, better than that small two finger crap.
                              Jolly Jug (French Beef Dip, Philly Cheesesteak dip)
                              4264 Peck Rd
                              El Monte, CA 91732-2114
                              (626) 444-8425
                              Recent discussion

                              1. re: JeetJet

                                OK, JJ, I've got to try this place after seeing you post on it a couple of times. I love all kinds of great beef sandwiches -- Italian Beef (the best, of course) in Chicago, Beef on 'Weck in Buffalo, and Steak in Philadelphia -- so I'm ready and anticipating for the Jolly Jug. Waitaminute. JeetJet, JollyJug -- is this a relative of yours??

                                Just kidding. It does sound good, and I know exactly where the place is.

                                1. re: sbritchky

                                  Jolly Jug probably has the thinist sliced beef in L.A. and IMO it is the slicing that leads to the Philly experience -- chew. Enjoy.

                                  I use to sometimes have Beef on Weck but for me that salty Kummelweck roll finally lost-out to regular burger buns. It is a special sandwich. The last one I had was at Wing’s n Things in Huntington Beach. Very good wing’s there and the house blue cheese is the best there is for dipping those wings.

                                  Wing’s n Things (Wings, Beef on Weck)
                                  18302 Beach Blvd.
                                  Huntington Beach, CA 92648
                                  (714) 848-2767

                                  No relation to JollyJug but I do have four brothers

                                  1. re: JeetJet

                                    I always thought Jolly Jug was either a "gallon 'o wine" place or a Russ Meyer movie casting business. Good to know it's true purpose.

                                    Hey, what about your cousin "YurJeet'nHeart"... ;-D>

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      Actually, the place does have a bar (a local instatution) connected to it which is much like the "gallon 'o wine" idea you have. This bar is like a Boston pub where everybody knows your name. In fact, I think the regulars live inside dat place cuz they are always there. The same cars are always in the parking lot. Once you are inside, after entering the front door, if you turn left and go through the doorway you have just stepped into that dark dark bar and may need to let your eyes adjust before you go any further. If you turn right and walk a few steps you will enter the dinning room. If you want takeout just stay in the entrance and make your order. The sandwiches travel well but really should be eat'n there cuz hot is always betta den warm and da toasted French roll is betta right outta da oven.

                                      Bout dem cuz'ns, YurJeet'nHeart and WhydJeetWitoutMe?, betta watch your back cuz da boat of'um are Hard Casses from Brooklyn.

                                2. re: JeetJet

                                  I finally got to the Jolly Jug, and I enjoyed the beef sandwich, although it's far from my favorite. I didn't try the cheesesteak. The meat in the French Beef Dip was quite dry, but thin-sliced and tender, and the dipping gravy helped significantly. This place has the look and feel of an inexpensive bar and grill on the road back from Vegas, and I wish it were. The bar is obviously a major attraction -- all but one table of my fellow customers congregated there, and they sounded like they were having fun.

                            2. I live in Westwood so I was excited when South Street moved in a few years ago. I agree their pepper bar is pretty good, when it is fully stocked and cleaned. While I think their cheesesteaks are on the expensive side when ordered solo, their combo with a small side of fries, salad, and a soft drink is a pretty good deal. Their problem is the skimpiness of the meat -- you shouldn't have to order "double meat" and pay extra to get a proper sandwich. And I was very interested to read the glowing praise of South Street's owner; in several visits there, I have never noticed hide nor hair of anyone that looked or acted like they had authority in the place, and I think that could be a large part of their problems.

                              Big Mike's! (I've only been to the one on Main in El Segundo.) Big, well-stuffed sandwiches. Very friendly and accommodating staff. Big happy crowds. If only they weren't such a drive...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jrcheesesteak

                                Big Mike's is on Main Street in El Segundo, which is the first city south of LAX. Main Street runs north/south, and is a bit inland from the coast. It is not the easiest to find -- if you are on the Coast Highway, you get blocked by the big industrial and municipal plants on the inland side, and if you cut in you get sidetracked by the airport all the way east to the 405. From Santa Monica you would take Lincoln down and then loop around to the right coastal, and make your left inland really quick after Culver or so...there is a street name that is escaping me. I think it might be Imperial Highway. Then a right on Main (south) and a parking lot and Big Mike's will be on the right (coast) side a couple of blocks south.