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good cheap eats and one good cheese steak

I've only got a few days in Philly. I need one real cheese steak. No cheese whiz or cheese sauce please. I also need some casual other non tourist food ideas. I am a retired chef but I'm on a tight budget.
Thanks

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  1. If you can make it over to John's Roast Pork (that's the name of the place, but they also make cheesesteaks) they don't even have Whiz in the building. American or provolone only.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Philly Ray

      I'd second this (for the roast pork) and DiNic's (also for the roast pork). I think the ingredients are better at John's, but the DiNic's has the edge on the bread.

      DiNic's is downtown, by Chinatown, and John's is...by loading dock and an Ikea.

    2. Are you going to have a car while you are here? What part of town are you staying in?

      As a better alternative to a cheesesteak, consider trying a roast pork sandwich fromTommy DiNic's in Readng Termnal Market. It comes wth broccoli rabe, and sharp provolone. Order it wet.

      There are lots of other good thing in RTM.. Dutch Eating Place for good breakfast and hearty portions of chicken and dumplings at lunch, Sang Kee Peking Duck, Wursthaus Schmitdz, Beilers doughnuts, Bassetts Ice Cream.

      If you are in center city, consider going to Steve's prince of steaks outpost on 16th street.

      Chinatown is a great place for cheap eats. Hand drawn noodles at either Nan Zhou or Yummy Lan Zhou are a great meal. Rangoon is a burmese restaurant which serves great flavorful food that feels as if it is a mix of chinese and indian flavors.

      If you have a car, or are willing to take public transportation, the Italian Market has Paesanos which has a great selection of sandwiches. There are several great Mexican Taquerias there as well.

      If you give us more information such as price range and where you are staying, you will get a lot of great suggestions from the group.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cwdonald

        I was going to recommend Steve's, but they use a melted American that's kind of like a sauce. I'm not sure if they offer regular American cheese or provolone.

        1. re: Philly Ray

          They offer both american and provolone Ray.. along with mozzarella if you really want it.

      2. Ok I'll be in German town and Drexel hill but I will have a car.

        Thanks for the great ideas but even more will be appreciated. I will be going to the convention center at one point. The Masonic temple and probably the Eastern State Penn. I think there is a law that all tourists have to go to independence hall. LOL
        Has anyone been to the zoo lately? I'm not big on zoos but I might have some kids with me for a bit who would love it if it's good?
        Thanks for all the info.

        3 Replies
        1. re: foodiegourmet1

          Love Philly. Was just there Friday, and Sunday. Highly recommend johns roast pork. It's incredible. Reading terminal market is a zoo in itself, but we love the Philly zoo. Had season passes for several years when the kids were younger.

          1. re: foodiegourmet1

            The Zoo is great. Not the biggest but it's fun and has good stuff.

            1. re: foodiegourmet1

              In Germantown Mount Airy (on Germantown Avenue) go to Earth Bread and brewery. Family friendly, great flatbread pizzas, and house brewed beers and other good craft brews.

            2. Reading Terminal can be hectic and touristy but locals also shop there - the fair food farmstead has some great products that are worth checking out.

              The Italian Market on S 9th street is great too - and you can check out Fantes, Claudio's and Di Bruno brothers among others. - near the Italian market you can also find Vietnamese and Mexican affordably - I recommend http://www.yelp.com/biz/ba-le-bakery-...
              A Banh Mi and a trip to the market is a great Saturday for me!

              If you are up Germantown direction perhaps a visit to the Weavers Way CoOp for some crunchy feel good hippy urbanism

                1. re: ahab

                  Jim's on South Street is the best I've had. But I've only ordered with whiz.

                  Also agree with previous posts recommending DiNics and Paesanos.

                  1. re: ahab

                    1 Read the ingredients.
                    2 Hydrogenated oil and trans fats are not cheese or food.
                    3 The ORIGINAL sandwich was created decades before WHIZ.
                    4 Maybe American "dheese" but provolone is better.
                    IMHO

                    1. re: foodiegourmet1

                      5 If the meat has good flavor why cover it up ? The flavor should be enhanced not changed with flavorings, chemivals and preservatives.
                      SEE wkipedia
                      "regular cheese that has been reprocessed along with additional ingredients such as emulsifiers and stabilizing agents, such as xanthan gum or carrageenan. These products derive their tanginess and flavor from additional ingredients such as citric acid and flavoring compounds. Annatto is used for coloring"
                      IMHO

                      1. re: foodiegourmet1

                        That's the point, Jim's, Pat's and Geno's serve their meat entirely unseasosed and steamed rather than grilled. Whiz really does enhance those sandwiches. A place like John's seasons and browns their meat nicely and I wouldnt get whiz there (and they dont offer it).

                        The American sauce at Steve's is homemade and IMO has a good texture without the oversalted and artificial taste of whiz. They also properly brown their meat.

                        1. re: foodiegourmet1

                          Fair enough if what you are looking for is good food made from good, healthy ingredients. Lots of that to be had in these parts.

                          Your original post, however asked for one "real" cheesesteak. To many locals, crappy meat mixed with onions and whiz IS the real cheesesteak. It is certainly the one Philly has become famous for. Not to say a sandwich with provolone isn't good, but most locals wouldn't call it "real." I am generally in the "avoid chemicals and processed foods at every opportunity" camp, but there is some crazy magic about a cheesesteak with whiz and onions that makes it delicious. I think everyone should have one once.

                          1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                            Huh. I've lived in Philly all my life and the only cheesesteaks I've ever had were either American or provolone (almost always Amercan though). As FoodieGourmet notes, Philly was famous for this sandwich long before Whiz was around.

                            I'd vote for Steve's for a cheesesteak as well.

                          2. re: foodiegourmet1

                            I'd prefer provolone on just about any other sandwich. But not on a cheesesteak. And it's not only a flavor thing, it's textural. The whiz mixed in with the steak and the onions pulls everything together. Provolone just hangs out on the side of the roll, reluctant to get involved.

                            As for the ingredients, it may not be cheese or food, but it is cheese food, and that's something.

                            1. re: ahab

                              Agree... I got provolone by mistake once at John's and it ruined the sandwich. Great on a hoagie or roast pork, but doesn't melt right and lacks the right "tang."