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FOILED AGAIN by the bizarro hours at John's Roast Pork.

*****Don't worry... this is NOT yet another "WHERE IS THE BEST CHEESE STEAK IN PHILLY" thread*****

I am ashamed to admit that I have never eaten a real Philly cheese steak.

Oh sure, we always had steakumms in our freezer, and there is any number of inferior approximations at chainlets in airports and food courts across the country. But I've never had a real, local, south philly creation, despite the fact that I grew up in New Jersey.

Well, I'm going to fix that. This Thanksgiving, my wife and I are flying into Philly on the Weds before the holiday. We are arriving 4:30pm. Here's the gameplan.

One steak at Chink's to share.
One steak at Steve's Prince of Steaks to share.

Consume, compare and contrast. Maybe snap a few photos. That's the plan.

We desperately wanted to try John's Roast Pork, but their 3pm closure/no weekend hours make that a virtual impossibility. They're always closed by the time I arrive in Philly.

So here are my questions:

Steve's Prince of Steaks:
-- Which location? Where's the original? Are some locations better than others?
-- What's the best preparation of Steve's steak? Prov? Whiz? etc.
-- Does the funny ordering Geno's/Pat's patois happen here too?

-- $5 large cheesesteak weds is super awesome deal, which we'll take full advantage of
-- What's with the name?
-- What's the best preparation of cheese steak here?
-- Same question about quirky ordering procedure here?

Really looking forward to this culinary adventure. We'll order sandwiches based on your advice.

We'll leave the Great Hoagie Debate until next time.

Mr Taster

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  1. If you are going to go to Chinks, you are really in between going to either the bustleton location or the comly location. I prefer the latter because it is easier to park there. I personally always order provolone. They will have instructions on how to order up there, but don't worry... you will get what you want.

    Chink was the nickname of the original owner Samuel Sherman. The name was not a racial slur, and though it has been criticized over the years, has never changed its name. I would again order provolone, and the other thing to do is to get a milkshake at Chinks. Its part of the charm of the place.

    A comment on John's and their hours. It really function as a luncheonette, focusing on breakfast and lunch, for a weekday business crowd. The limiting factor used to be when they ran out of rolls, they would close down. The owner John Bucci has been fighting a courageous battle against leukemia over the past few years, but has returned to the shop. It is worth your time to visit there if you can find the time.

    A last comment about the day you are coming in. Day before a holiday. Call ahead to make sure that they are not closing early.

    PS If you want an authentic Philadelphia sandwich, have a roast pork and skip the cheesesteak. Much better flavor.

    29 Replies
    1. re: cwdonald

      Thanks for the reply, and the brief history lesson. (By the way, I think you meant to say "Steve's" in the first sentence, as Chink's only has 1 location to my knowledge.)

      My wife is born and raised in Taiwan. As a result she is blissfully free of the emotional baggage that comes from that nasty sounding word, and she actually finds the Chink's name pretty amusing and, in her words, "cute". Just goes to show you, words are so much more than just a means of conveying straight facts.

      Would you recommend roast pork at both Steve's and Chink's? If so, we're looking at trying 4 sandwiches between the 2 of us... roast pork is a lesser known sandwich, so I have very few expectations or understanding of what makes a great one, so a roast pork primer would be most welcome. What cut of pork? Is it an au jus dip style thing? Is the pork marinated? On a hoagie roll? etc. What's the preferred way of ordering one? Is this a wit prov wit whiz situation like the cheesesteak?

      Sadly, John's is just not possible-- I already called around to all 3 places, and that's how we settled on Chink's and Steve's. We're arriving Weds after John's closes, and they're closed Thurs-Sun. We leave Sunday morning. Both Chink's and Steve's are open late on the Weds before (in fact Steve's is open until 3am).

      Mr Taster

      1. re: Mr Taster

        For Steve's, you'll want to go the location on Princeton, near Bustleton and order the cheesesteak. I prefer American or provolone--but cheese choice is a hot button topic on this board. And no, no strange ordering protocol--just tell them what you want.

        And I'm not surprised they are open until 3 am Wed. When I was younger (many years ago) it was the neighborhood place to go after the bars closed.

        1. re: gaffk

          You are right. The night before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest bar nights. So it would make sense to stay open.

          I am curious why you prefer Princeton over Comly. I have found no difference. (I haven't been to the Langhorne location though.)

          1. re: cwdonald

            I think I prefer Princeton just because it's the original and has what would now be thought of as a retro feel (albeit, there's is authentic). I haven't tried Langhorne either, but I agree there is no difference, from a food perspective, between the two.

            (Besides, the Princeton Ave Steve's has many good 3:00 am memories for me ;)

          2. re: gaffk

            It is not at Princeton. It's at St. Vincent, just south of Cottman Avenue.

            1. re: SushiFreak

              My bad . . .grew up in that neighborhood, so just got there instinctively.

          3. re: Mr Taster

            I am sorry for they typos in the first paragraph. I meant to say if you are COMING from Chink's you could go to either of the Steve's locations, the Comly or the Bustleton Ave location. Approximately equidistant.

            Sadly, I do not think that Roast Pork is a specialty at either place. You can search this board and find out some of the better places, including DiNics in the Reading Terminal Market, Tony Lukes, Paesanos, Carlino's in Ardmore. I personally love Pallantes in Richboro and Altamantes in Doylestown. But if you are getting to the RTM, DiNics is right there and they make a great sandwich, so that probably would be the way to go.

            Have a wonderful trip to Philadelphia, and we look forward to reading about your experiences!

            1. re: cwdonald

              DiNic's sounds like a great idea... I'd read about DiNic's on a previous visit to Philly, but never got to Reading Terminal Market.

              So since I'm a big proponent of only ordering what places are best at making, I'll hit up DiNic's for the roast pork sandwich, and I'll stick with the cheesesteaks at Chink's and Steve's. I just don't see the point of ordering a good roast pork from Chink's when I can get a great one from DiNics.

              Mr Taster

              1. re: Mr Taster

                Yes, go to DiNic's for lunch Friday or Saturday and order it wet,,,,,i orefer w/ broccoli rabe

                1. re: bonappetite

                  +1 because there is no other way to order this sandwhich in my most humble opinion

                2. re: Mr Taster

                  The roast pork at DiNic's is my favorite! I also really like Steve's for a cheesesteak. Not being from this area, it took me quite a while to warm up to the "cheesesteak" concept. But in the end, I order Whiz with onion. I have tried all the touted joints.

                  1. re: crazyspice

                    What's the parking situation like for Reading Terminal Market? Any free parking nearby? Is parking for RTM exorbitant?

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      Google Central Parking Philadelphia for great coupons in Chinatown, or take the train into Market East. Have fun! My foodie friends from Boston just hit RTM for the first time two weeks ago, and they're still raving about it. :D

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        There is metered street parking around the market. There is also a parking lot at 12th & Filbert that you can use, and if you spend more than $10 at a merchant, they can validate your ticket so it only costs $4.


                        1. re: barryg

                          The lot is a great deal. It's right across the street from RTM, and I've never had a problem getting a spot. Metered parking can run you almost as much and you won't get as close to the market. And believe me, you'll have no problem spending $10. In addition to the ready-to-eat stuff, there's plenty of things to bring home for gifts, snacks for the plane, etc.

                    2. re: Mr Taster

                      DiNic's at RTM runs out. So make sure you get there early.

                      My favorite roast pork is at Nick's Cafe, 20th and Jackson in South Philly. An 'only in Philly' experience. They will immediately know you are not a local unless you are wearing your Eagles jacket. It's a bar that has ovens in the basement for roasting beef, pork, turkey, and ham. Fries on the side. No menu. If you enjoy getting off the beaten path, it doesn't get more untrodden than this.

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        DiNic's roast pork is hands down the best sandwich Philadelphia (roast peppers and provolone).

                    3. re: Mr Taster

                      OK, so for the record, I'm answering my own newbie question about how to order a proper roast pork sandwich courtesy of Serious Eats.

                      Feel free to correct this if you find the info inaccurate.

                      "Just as with the cheesesteak, there are variations. But most aficionados agree that a roast pork sandwich with garlicky broccoli rabe and sharp provolone cheese is a holy trinity of Philly flavors. Next time you are here, skip the partially-hydrogenated cheesefood and that stupid, offensive sign. Chow down on the roast pork instead."


                      (what "stupid, offensive sign" are they referring to??)

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        Correct on both counts. A good roast pork sandwich comes with broccoli rabe and provolone.

                        A good cheesesteak does not include "the partially-hydrogenated cheesefood," but a good American or provolone cheese.

                        And Reading Terminal Market is a must--you could just eat your way through it for days--and purchase enough authentically PA Dutch food to bring home for your pantry.

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          The sign they are referring to is one that was on display at Geno's cheesesteaks in south Philly, a xenophobic sign in a multicultural neighborhood. http://www.phillyfuture.org/node/3607

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            l do it a little different, at DiNic's get pulled pork, spinach,and aged provolone wet, wet, wet. My feeling for a long time was Chink's is the best of chopped style and Steve's the best of sliced style. Feel best sandwich in city is Nick's Roast beef with prov and drowned. If in RTM Wed 11/24, come to Downtown cheese, then yell chowhound. Will be working there as a favor to the owner.

                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                              Ah thanks for that but RTM is not in the stars for Weds. Maybe Friday.... hopefully!

                              Mr Taster

                              P.S. I am guessing you meant Weds 11/24....

                                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                    i'm sure it was a good time for quiet meditation, and to gather your inner calm.

                                    1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                      Actually was a lot more quiet than in previous years. When worked for same owner, Jack Morgan at his Ardmore store in the 90's we walked in to three people deep the entire day, no time to pee even. This was far more leisurely, busy but very doable.

                                      1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                        Agreed, in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, RTM is my go-to spot for calm quiet.

                                      2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                        I do believe we chatted. Someone else was waiting on me but there was no one else around so you asked what else I needed.

                              1. re: cwdonald

                                Nice try about why the name isn't a racial slur, but you should have also told the OP why C**** was the nickname of the original owner.

                              2. Both Steve's locations in the city are good. I haven't been to the other one. A friend of mine once asked a guy that worked there which location was better. He thought about, and said the Comly Ave one because the grill was newer. But someone on this board once made the counter argument that the older grill would be more "seasoned" and have more flavor. Anyway they are both great, though the Bustleton & St Vincent location is the original and has a bit more charm to me.

                                I highly recommend you order with "both cheeses"--this is both whiz and liquefied American. The way the flavors mingle is really sublime. I like mine with hot peppers and of course onions.

                                Get a birch beer to drink with it.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: barryg

                                  Believe it or not, Steve's doesn't have birch beer anymore. They switched to root beer. I almost cried that last time I was there.

                                2. I just realized that your post references a "South Philly creation," but both of these shops are in the Northeast! Not to take anything away from them--there are great cheesesteaks in all of Philadelphia's neighborhoods (except for Center City...).

                                  1. I dont know if you will be any where near Bala Cynwyd but Mama's cheesesteaks are different because they make them with mozzarella, and they weigh about two pounds a piece. We used to refer to them as a log of meat and cheese. They are especially good with hot roasted peppers chopped up and mixed in when they are prepared by the cook. I can eat a half of one.

                                    16 Replies
                                    1. re: thehungrything

                                      I live in Bala Cynwyd, and have only had one steak at Mama's (though I can walk there in about five minutes,) They claim to use a three-cheese blend, but I could only taste the gummy mozz. Also it was served on essentially pizza dough as a roll.

                                      I'll give them points for quantity, but then again they are not cheap. I do like their hoagies, though.

                                      Most pizza joints will server a "pizza steak" made with mozz and toasted in the oven. I personally think crisping the otherwise chewy roll ruins the textural "gestalt" of the steak experience.

                                      If you are near Bala Cynwyd, it is only a few miles to Dakota Pizza in Wynnewood :


                                      Their steak on a seeded roll is the closest to John's I have tasted, but you have to ask them to scoop the roll, which John's does by default. They will make a combo Whiz/ American which I really like. Like most good steaks, eat it on prem, as they don't travel well (especially if you use marinara sauce, which I ask for on the side.)

                                      1. re: phillyjazz

                                        Whew, so glad to hear one of you "Steak guy" mention marinara sauce! As basically an out-of-towner I always ate cheesesteaks with provolone and marinara and had considered that the formula for a cheesesteak before I was enlightened by the Philly guys who know. Not that I changed my ordering but I now understand my choices are not "the Philly Cheesesteak". Considering what I thought to be standard: I can't tell you how many times I was disappointed when I was delivered the real thing! Just a personal choice, I know, but good to hear that someone somewhere also likes marinara on their steaks. Whew!

                                        1. re: Bacchus101

                                          I'm not going to judge (publicly) how you eat your steak, but at some of the South Philly places what you really want is "gravy" or "red sauce," not marinara. If you order a side of marinara from Franco Luigi's, you get some cold, nasty crap in a little plastic cup, but if you get a side of red sauce, you get their delicious, warm, homemade sauce in a large styrofoam container.

                                          1. re: barryg

                                            I grew up eating steaks with sauce, no cheese. Still get that on occasion. i just asked for "sauce" - "gravy" is an odd, south-philly thing. i was born and raised in philly, and while i've long been aware of teh south philly meaning, if you ask me to describe gravy it's not tomato sauce.

                                            1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                              Exactly on point Bob. Gravy is a south-philly thing. http://www.gravywars.com/?q=node/63 Also noted here are how non-italian are many of the South Philly terms and how they are pronounced here as opposed to Italy. So I suppose this is the "When in Philly" thing. I could not say "when in Rome do as Romans do" because this book notes that Italians would not know the Italian American Philly terms. Quite normal when Americanization happens to any ethnic term or food!

                                              1. re: Bacchus101

                                                Is "gravy" not used by Italian-American communities in NYC and Boston? I always thought it was an old East Coast immigrant thing.

                                                It's funny how many Philadelphians, Italian-American and otherwise, think that the bastardized Sicilian (I think?) pronunciations common in South Philly are the correct way to speak Italian. Eg, "priscut" for prosciutto, "rigot" for ricotta, etc. I know on The Soprano's they would say "gabagool" for capicola, which is pretty much the pinnacle of this vernacular. They are supposed to represent the North Jersey Italian-Americans.

                                                1. re: barryg

                                                  I know that this is taking this discussion totally off subject, but I’d like to put my two cents in here

                                                  I had a set of grandparents from Southern Italy, in a little town called Casalduni, not far from Benevento where they make Strega. My Grandmothers family were servants, my grandfathers family, farm workers. Neither had any education in Italy, my grandmother leaned to read and write in English when she came to the US as a pre-teen, my grandfather didn’t get here till he was nearly 15, so he never bothered.

                                                  My grandparents used pronounce Capicolla as gababool, and eggplant was moulinyan, mozzarella was moosarel, cucuzza or zucchini was gagootz. basilico sounded more like muhsinuhgo, they had their own DIALECT, people in different parts of Italy as recent as the 1900’s all had a dialect, they all spoke their own version of Italian, to the point that had they gone to say Palermo, they’d be hard-pressed to be understood… or if someone from Bologna had come to Casalduni, they’d have a hard time understanding them in turn.

                                                  As the country has become more educated, there is more of a standardization to the language and manner of speaking. Provincial jargon disappears and dialects become less pronounced. Today, an educated Italian would scratch is or her head if my Grandmother were still alive and in her thick Casalduni accent asked for a half kilo of “gabbagool” because the people in Italy today are all educated, they don’t leave kids to work in the fields from the time they can lift a pitchfork.
                                                  (on the other hand, my other grandparent came to this country very very young and his family was considered "well to do" in Siracusa Sicily, his mother and father were both educated business owners so he spoke "proper" or what today would be textbook Italian with very little jargon, or dialect.

                                                  Oh and my grandmom moved to Norristown, (Blackhorse) and her and her sisters all called red sauce that had been cooked with meat in it “gravy”
                                                  Red sauce with no meat was Marinara

                                                  1. re: cgarner

                                                    "Red sauce with no meat was Marinara"

                                                    Don't you mean "Madinad"? ;)

                                                      1. re: cgarner

                                                        A little, but I speak fluent 'talian.

                                                    1. re: cgarner

                                                      Very interesting. I'd always wondered where those odd Italian-American word variants came from. Even stranger is during my teenage years when my solidly Jewish American father from NJ came home one day, spontaneously deciding to call it "mootzarell" and "rigott". Eventually he started saying it in public, to my great embarrassment. Sad to say that this was my introduction to the world of the Italian-American dialect (circa late 80s).

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                        To me, it's just like regional accents (Boston, New York, Southern accents, etc.). Just because we're all from the same country doesn't mean we all "tawk" the same way.

                                                        1. re: Philly Ray

                                                          Of course..... for another regional variant, go up to New Naven for Sally's Apizz with mutz or no mutz.

                                                          Mr Taster

                                                        2. re: Mr Taster

                                                          Mr Tasty, my Jewish American father (from Phila) did the same thing!

                                                        3. re: cgarner

                                                          Quite an interesting view into your family and how names evolved. Dialect and regionalism, is an issue here in the US as in other countries as is education level. Working in Germany I was surprised to hear of the extra effort required by some Germans from one region to fully understand those from another. Regional remoteness and level of social and commercial intercourse with other regions is also a factor which can either retard or enhance local language and move dialects toward a more generic norm. Very interesting stuff, thank you for you insights. Oh, and on the Marinara agreed here that it is meatless and that if I heard "gravy" or red sauce I would believe there were meat products included. But then there is not one Italian or Italian American in my family. Just a girlfriend years ago who's family Sunday dinners were fantastic!

                                                          1. re: Bacchus101

                                                            Bacchus, you're so very right about it being an issue here in the United States as well. Think about the Cajun accent or language if you will. To someone like me, it’s hard to understand and peppered with words that evolved from French English and probably African and Spanish and Native American too.

                                          2. If I was flying into PHL on Weds. afternoon at 4:30, and wanted to do a mini sandwich tour, this is exactly what I would do.

                                            From the airport, I would take Rt 95 north to Front and Oregon and hit http://www.tonylukes.com/. Definitely order the Roast Pork with Sharp Provolone. Personally, I skip the Broccoli Rabe. I think it is way too strong and bitter and overpowers the entire sandwich. Half way through the sandwich, you can't even taste the Pork anymore.I either get the spinach or skip the greens entirely.

                                            After finish up the Roast Pork, I'd make a left out of the parking lot onto Oregon Ave and head towards the Delaware River where Oregon Ave dead ends at Columbus Blvd. Make a left onto Columbus Blvd and head north up to http://shankspier40.com/. Stop and grab a Chicken Cutlet sandwich. It might just be the best sandwich in the city. And the sausage and Peppers is damn good too. Save some room though, because you still have one more stop to make.

                                            After Shanks, get back on Columbus Blvd North and go up another 1 or 2 lights. You'll see an on ramp to Rt 95 North. Take it and get on 95 north. You will pass the Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross Bridges before hitting the Bridge Street exit. Take the exit and follow the off ramp all the way to the bottom. Merge left onto Aramingo Ave. After 2 or 3 lights, you will see a Dunkin Donuts on your right. That's Torresdale Ave and you want to make a right onto it. After 7 or 8 lights you will see http://www.chinksteaks.com/ on the left hand side. Order a cheese steak with provolone and onions and a milkshake. You won't regret it.

                                            Even though you will be driving in the middle of rush hour on the day before a holiday, you shouldn't run into too much trouble. You are basically just jumping on and off Rt 95 for a couple of blocks at a time. Trying to squeeze a detour to the RTM and DiNic's at that time of day would be a major headache. You will enjoy yourself much more if you schedule a separate trip there for Friday or Saturday afternoon. And save your trip to Steve's for later on during your stay too. They are open late everyday and make a great late night snack. Enjoy your trip!

                                            21 Replies
                                            1. re: DDR4040

                                              Dang. I could really have used your guide last week.
                                              I'm printing it out and saving it for a next trip, but I really am sad because my Husband insisted on going to the touristy spots and then was dissapointed in the quality of the food.
                                              If only I could have given him your trip as an alternative.
                                              So, thank you for posting it and I hope others may learn by our mistakes.

                                              1. re: DDR4040

                                                Ah, the old Shank's & Evelyn's was quite a trip. Looks like the nature of the place has changed in their move, but good to know they are still capable of putting out good food.

                                                1. re: DDR4040

                                                  Thanks for the great recs. In philly now. Did the Chinks/Steve's thing on the way in. Very interesting comparison because I never realized the chopped vs slab philosophy of cheesesteakery. And somehow I never quite understood the garnishes of sour/sweet/hot peppers and pickles. Do you put them on the sandwich or eat as a garnish on the side? I have to say, both were tasty... we got prov with onions at both places so we could compare, but at chinks we got whiz fries so that we could get a sampling with a different flavor of cheese.

                                                  I was actually quite surprised that the sandwiches were not popping with flavor. Don't get me wrong-- they were tasty enough. But the bulk of the flavor came from the relish/peppers garnish and not from the meat/cheese/onions. I am now looking forward to trying the chicken cutlet and roast pork sandwiches since there appears to be a consenusus that these sandwiches are generally more flavorful. Will write more when I have time. Thanks again for all your recs... any more would be greatly appreciated (tips on your fav way to garnish, etc.)

                                                  Mr Taster

                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                    Lack of flavor due to the provolone. Sorry, but I'm not a fan. I go for american cheese on a cheese steak. You won't complain about the lack of flavor!

                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                      You know, I suspected that might be the case. I never would have thought that a sharp Italian cheese like provelone would suffer from lack of flavor, but it was the case in both of these top rated spots. Will definitely go with the American cheese next time.

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                        Well.. I do not think its just the provolone. If you compare what passes as provolone, and I can almost guarantee that whatever Steves and Chink's were using was a domestic provolone, its kind of like comparing an extra sharp cheddar to kraft slices. Compare the taste of the provolone you get on a roast pork with SHARP provolone and there you will find the biting flavor you associate with a good provolone.

                                                        But the sandwich itself is sliced or chopped beef that is WELL done, with much of the juices and flavor evaporating with the meat. The dominant flavors tend to be the fried onons, and hot peppers mushrooms, cheese and whatever else you have added to the sandwich. Which is why in general I am not a fan of a philly cheesesteak. Even the good ones.

                                                        1. re: cwdonald

                                                          This is mostly true. I have not had Chink's, but John's in South Philly is a major exception--the meat is seasoned and has a great taste. It's also not overcooked. I love Steve's, but I only do the liquid cheeses there--American and whiz. The steak there does retain the juices more than other places, though, because the meat is cooked to order and not chopped. Additionally, as I've said on other threads, I think Steve's is hard to appreciate if you haven't had a lot of cheesesteaks.

                                                          Provolone on a cheesesteak is almost always a bust, I never get it. Besides being bland, it's dry. A few places offer sharp prov (John's, Tony Luke's) but I don't think the sharp goes well with the steak like it does with the roast pork, and it's still too dry. BTW, a little ketchup can rescue a dry or bland steak.

                                                          There's a reason whiz is popular on steaks, especially lower quality shops--it adds flavor (salt) and moisture. Places like Pat's and Geno's let their steak steam and get dried out, and don't season it, so whiz is the best way to order there.

                                                        2. re: Mr Taster

                                                          Provolone on most cheesesteaks is not sharp. It's that tasteless, rubbery stuff.

                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                            I only just discovered that there is such a sharp difference (pun intended!) between the two provelones. Had I realized it was the bland, gummy stuff I never would have opted for it. Call it a rookie mistake.

                                                            Today I tried to correct that error. Unfortunately, didn't have an opportunity to get to Reading Terminal Market (damn that 6pm closing time!!) for DiNic's. Went instead to Pier 40 Shanks for dinner today and ordered the chicken italiano sandwich, and a roast pork (just to see what it was like, since we didn't have an opportunity to try it at more famous location). I was sure to specify for both sandwiches SHARP provelone (had no idea that there was an option... assumed it was all sharp before this trip to Philly) and raab.

                                                            First, the chicken cutlet sandwich.... great concept but unfortunately poor execution. The chicken cutlet was nice and crispy, but overcooked and DRY. The cheese and raab brought some much needed moisture to the sandwich, but the dry bread just worked against the whole thing. We came away disappointed... especially for an "award winning" sandwich. Had this sandwich been executed properly with moist chicken and crispy, not-dry bread, it would have been great. The raab was a great addition to the sandwich, really giving it a punch of contrasting flavor that it needed.

                                                            The roast pork was also a mixed bag. It was noticably juicier... I believe they dipped the cut side of the bread in an au jus. So even though the pork itself was a little overcooked and dry, the moisture from the au jus, sharp provelone and raab saved it. I'd have to give a slight edge to the roast pork sandwich.

                                                            Oh, also apparently there is a choice for seeded vs. non seeded bread at Shank's... didn't realize that (and wasn't offered it). Only realized it once I heard someone else order seeded bread. (I was given unseeded). I would have liked to try one sandwich on the seeded bread. Oh well.

                                                            So Philly, I gave it the best shot I could..... unfortunately I am leaving a little disappointed. There could have been so much potential for some great sandwiches but a combination of my lack of experience in ordering (in some cases) and poor execution of the restaurants (in others) led to a series of ok to poor experiences. I wanted these sandwiches to blow me away, but they just didn't.

                                                            I'll give it another go on my next visit, and would definitely appreciate any pointers. Man, how can they overcook the chicken an award winning sandwich? You'd think that's the one item on the menu that they'd want to nail every time.

                                                            Thanks again for your insights, Philly hounds.

                                                            Mr Taster

                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                              Sorry to hear about your disappointment. Sometimes it is just hard to live up to high expectations. One thing to keep in mind is that even though the locals tend to go a bit overboard in their praise of their favorite sandwiches, it is all just basically street food, not fine dining. Doing high volume and maintaining high standards is a tough act to balance. It sounds like you just got a bit unlucky this trip.

                                                              As far as your next trip goes, you may want to move away from the mass appeal stops and seek out the smaller more upscale "boutique" type sandwich shops. Having read your reviews of your stops on this trip, I definitely think you would have had a much better experience at someplace like Paesanos.


                                                              They are going to use higher end ingredients and focus a bit more on execution than the "get'em in and get'em out" places you hit on this trip.

                                                              1. re: DDR4040

                                                                Thanks very much for your feedback (and everyone's). I will make a point to try Paesano's and Nick's on my next visit. I will also take what I have learned here and apply it to next time.

                                                                It seems to me that the moist sandwiches (Chinks and Steve's cheesesteaks) didn't have enough flavor for my taste (correctable by ordering sharp prov if available, or American/whiz/combo and addition of spicy pepper garnishes.

                                                                The dryer sandwiches (Shank's chicken and roast pork) had flavor, but needed moisture to make them more palatable to my taste. This is correctable by ordering sandwiches wet, but to be honest I would have preferred that the meat not be overcooked in the first place.

                                                                Can anyone tell me, do the top roast pork spots like Johns and DiNics also suffer from the dry meat problem? Is this why some folks like delucacheesemonger insist on ordering their roast pork wet, wet, wet? (Delucacheesemonger, feel free to chime in...)

                                                                But in my defense I have to mention that I am not a fancy eater by any means. I rarely pay more than 20 dollars per meal. However I have eaten my way around the world and had some wonderful, delicious street food in places like Southeast Asia and China (and in my own home city of Los Angeles, there is some wonderful food to be found at the dicey, illegal taco tables and shopping cart hot dog grills). So, it is difficult for me to accept that simple street food cannot be done consistently well. Precooked chicken cutlets certainly would be a big no-no in my book. Not because I prefer fancy/artisinal/boutiquey type joints (I don't) but because I do appreciate a place that takes pride and care in making simple, humble food. It's the love you can taste.

                                                                I am still very much looking forward to my next visit to Philly. Thanks again for all the guidance and opinions from everyone. Even if we don't agree, I respect your opinions very much and am grateful for your help.

                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                  Had a pulled pork at DiNic's with sharp prov/spinach at 4 on Wed. Even with wet, wet, wet, not even close to wet enough, damn, bottom of roll was not even moist.. Have given up, to Nick's for me and sc**w the pork.

                                                                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                    So what about the juiciness of the pork? Was it dry, and was the wet needed to compensate? Or do you just like a wet sandwich even if the pork is bursting with juice?

                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                      Granted late in day, but definitely not bursting with juice, jus was to compensate for dryness.

                                                                    2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                      Haven't been to DiNic's in a while but could it be they're resting on laurels? *not a smart thing to do in Philly

                                                                    3. re: Mr Taster

                                                                      At Tony Luke's (another VERY famous place) or DiNic's you should not have a problem with the pork being too dry. I don't think anyone wants a dry sandwich. I *think* deluca is particularly fanatical about this!

                                                                      Nick's is definitely a place to experience and it is my favorite roast pork so far......

                                                                      Tony Luke's
                                                                      625 Highway 33, Trenton, NJ 08619

                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                        Yes l am fanatical about moistness, but this was the pulled pork, not the sliced pork which is served sopping everywhere.

                                                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                          I wouldn't say I'm fanatical about moistness any more than I would say I'm fanatical about breathing. I just sort of assume it will be there and when it's not, you bet I'm going to notice.

                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                      2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                        Hi all, I'm back in Philly this year for Thanksgiving again. Arrived late tonight (midnight) and so decided that Pat's/Geno's was in the stars.

                                                                        Here's my rundown of the experience:


                                                                        (summary-- Geno's premade wiz wit couldn't hold up to the better cooked, fresher, more generously wizzed Pat's)

                                                                        There's a chance we'll make it to RTM on Sunday, but no guarantees...

                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                          Op here. Just arrived back in Los Angeles, after concluding my second eating trip of Philly. Managed a stop at the Reading Terminal Market before leaving town, and got myself a roast pork from DiNic's, with sharp prov & broccoli raab. Got there by 1:30 and it did look like they were running a little low, so I was nervous-- but succeeded in getting one. Great sandwich! Compared with my fading memory of Shank's from last year, the raab was perfectly cooked, bright green and bursting over the top. The prov was sharp and flavorful. And yes, I ordered it wet! Good thing too, as once again the roast port was too dry. Really unfortunate. Not sands of Egypt dry, but noticeable. But yes, the extra flavorful gravy did compensate for the dryness of the pork. The saltiness of the cheese, the bitterness and crunch of the raab, the crispiness of the bread, the slight sweetness of the jus, all came together to make for a great sandwich.

                                                                          NOTE TO DINIC's NEWBIES.... if you order your sandwich WET, don't take it to go! I lucked out on this one... was waiting in the to-go line for 10 minutes when two seats opened up, and we ate there. The wet sandwich was dripping with juice, and had I taken it to go, in addition to messing up my rental car, the bread would have sogged out. The wet sandwich is meant to be eaten ASAP.

                                                                          Also, on the server's recommendation we ordered the sliced brisket sandwich (we asked "roast beef or brisket" and she said "brisket, definitely"). Added horseradish from the squeeze bottle & some of those addictive banana peppers. Delicious... tender and definitely more moist than the roast pork, but still not bursting with juice. But a very good sandwich.

                                                                          Sadly didn't get to try any cheesesteaks this time other than Geno's and Pat's (see link above). But there's always a next time.... maybe next time I'll actually be in town on a non-holiday weekday afternoon and get one of John's roast pork sandwiches ;)

                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                    4. re: Mr Taster

                                                                      I'm hardly an expert on Dinic's, but I'd be surprised if they had any roast pork left even if you could get there before 6pm. I've had them run out at 2:30pm.

                                                                      Shank's & Evelyn's was an interesting place to go before they moved, as much for the experience as the sandwiches. Used to be a tiny diner - and you could see all the pre-cooked chicken cutlets sitting on a shelf on top of the grill. I doubt you received a sandwich any different than they normally make.

                                                                      On the same day I went the S&E, I had the pleasure of going to Nick's in South Philly. Although they are 'known' for the roast beef, I preferred the roast pork with gravy. But the sandwiches are on small round rolls, so you could easily try a couple of different ones.

                                                          2. great discussion...not to get off topic but you are missing out on one of the best philly sandwiches EVER! try a banh mi at QT Vietnamese in Chinatown and tell me what you think!

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: ellemaree

                                                              Ah well, I am coming from Los Angeles, which is the Land of Banh Mi. Wanted to try something a little more uniquely "Philly".

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                oh ok! makes sense....try out govindas for a a soy chicken cheeseteak....when i moved here over ten years ago...it was the craziest thing I ever tasted without meat!

                                                            2. i am very pleased to see you have done your homework and found REAL sandwhich /steak places and did not ask about the dreaded tourist traps pats and genos. thank God finally an out of towner who knows what to look for! you are right johns roast pork has ridiclous hours which i cannot understand. i guess they only want a certain amount of success/profit margin. but you are right, chinks and steves steaks are some of the best in the city, probably the best.

                                                              13 Replies
                                                              1. re: stevemick1323

                                                                OK, I have to defend John's here; they are what I think of as a working man's place and when they are out of bread, they are out of bread. If you want to eat there, you will need to get there very very early. Like 11 a.m. Not being snotty, just telling the truth.

                                                                1. re: dberg1313

                                                                  I have heard that argument before and my answer is always, "Why not order more bread to begin with?"

                                                                  1. re: Philly Ray

                                                                    And they could get fresh bread on Saturdays if they wanted it.

                                                                    1. re: barryg

                                                                      and why isn't my favorite restaurant open for lunch, and why doesn't Vetri have brunch, and why aren't there more food carts open for dinner....they can get the food

                                                                      1. re: Bigley9

                                                                        That is not the same argument.

                                                                        The places you mention have established hours and we all know what they serve and what they do not serve. To say, "we'll be open as long as we have bread" is not an established schedule. If you know you will be busy, simply order order more bread. There is always a risk that you will get stuck with some leftover rolls, but isn't that a small price to pay for the ability to serve more customers? You can always say, "We close at 2 or we close at 3", but to consistently run out of supplies is just poor planning.

                                                                        1. re: Philly Ray

                                                                          well said. theres no way they could not increase their bread order. hell, they probably could make enough money staying open with real hours to have their own bread making factory right next door! i guess johns doesnt want to make any more money than they already make. suits them i guess

                                                                      2. re: barryg

                                                                        of course. i think they do what they do as a psychological tactic to keep people wanting what they cant have

                                                                    2. re: dberg1313

                                                                      well heres the problem with that. as far as being a "working mans place" goes....unless you work in the industrial center down there or in the shopping center(or numerous strip clubs) down there who has the time on their lunch break to drive all the way down to front and synder and wait in a long line for a long wait of food. its just not reasonable how they operate. although what they do seems to work for them and i guess thats all that matters-to them

                                                                      1. re: stevemick1323

                                                                        It is a working man's place for the dock workers in the area - not the CC crowd.

                                                                        1. re: Bigley9

                                                                          i wouldnt say working in CC qualifies you as a CC crowd. I lived in walking distance from johns for many years but worked downtown and could never get any sandwhiches due to the hours. how bad is it when you live two blocks away but its closed every time you come home? something tells me im not alone here......

                                                                          1. re: stevemick1323

                                                                            Now to me, that is also a different argument. I don't begrudge John's if they only want to open until 3 PM (the time listed on their website). If they only want to serve a breakfast and lunchtime crowd that is their choice and the rest of us need to plan accordingly. What I object to is running out of rolls by 1-2 o'clock on a consistent basis if you say you will be open until 3.

                                                                            1. re: Philly Ray

                                                                              well i cannot argue with the policy of like it or leave it. no one can force them to change. it just seems odd to me that theyre satisfied with whatever profit margin they can achieve with such limited hours. in a time where everybody seems to be struggling to make more money, they have no interest in building their empire. oh well, like you said thats their choice. and i guess its my choice to take my business elsewhere. its a shame though, theyre sandwhiches are delicious

                                                                              1. re: Philly Ray

                                                                                they are pleasant in there at least. unlike most other famous steaks/sandwhich places in the city where they feel superior because business is doing well