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Queen of steaks?
March 4, 2010 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Watch out, Pat’s, Geno’s, Steve’s and Jim’s. A new woman on the block wants to bust up the cheesesteak boys’ club. Espionage? Stakeouts? All is fair in love and chessesteaks.
posted by fixedgear (49 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd like to try these! And I can't say I have any particular loyalty to a specific cheesesteak joint, except that Geno's can go fuck itself, so I'm likely to hit up Pat's mostly out of spite.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:41 AM on March 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


Paginated version of article.
posted by fixedgear at 9:43 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Steakouts?
posted by thecjm at 9:45 AM on March 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


As soon as you get a single cheesesteak, suddenly you have an ownership situation. Prior to that, it's friendly. You're kind to each other. I'll tell you something ... as much as I love Geno's, I want a variety of different cheesesteak.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:46 AM on March 4, 2010


I don't think the politics of anybody working the counter at Pat's are too different than Joey Vento's, dude, it's all a bunch of white Sout' Philly boys.
posted by The Straightener at 9:54 AM on March 4, 2010


The above? All pikers. Carl's Steak Subs in Waltham, Massachusetts serves a right proper cheese steak meat coma.
posted by zippy at 9:58 AM on March 4, 2010


Pat's, obviously. Geno's is a neon monstrosity.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:00 AM on March 4, 2010


I used to live in Philadelphia, so I can tell you non-Philadelphians the truth about cheesesteaks with some authority.

They are a disgusting mess of the lowest quality meat legal to sell, soaked in grease, smothered in cheese product, shoved into crappy white bread rolls.

Anyone who claims that cheesesteaks from X LOCATION are any better than cheesesteaks from Y LOCATION is lying through their teeth.

There, I said it and I'm not taking it back.
posted by the bricabrac man at 10:01 AM on March 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


Am I missing something here? These places are charging six to eight dollars per sandwich, and they're proudly offering Cheez Whiz and American Cheese?
posted by explosion at 10:01 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone who claims that cheesesteaks from X LOCATION are any better than cheesesteaks from Y LOCATION is lying through their teeth.

I was raised around the corner from the original Jim's Steaks on 62nd Street (never mentioned in these types of articles I guess because it's a poor, black neighborhood now that white food writers never visit) and question your "some authority" on this issue because you are wrong.
posted by The Straightener at 10:04 AM on March 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


Carl's Steak Subs in Waltham, Massachusetts serves a right proper cheese steak meat coma.

I was going to ask. I've never been to Philly, never had a Philly cheese steak, but for people who have tried both, can these things really compare to the typical steak bomb that you can buy at every mom and pop sub shop in every single town in Massachusetts? I realize _____ House of Pizza doesn't use cheese from a can, and you don't get to wait in line for an hour, but I can't imagine anything better than a Theo's Steak and Cheese.

"Thank you, my friend."
posted by bondcliff at 10:07 AM on March 4, 2010


The proper rolls are not available anywhere outside of Philadelphia.
posted by fixedgear at 10:08 AM on March 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Am I missing something here?

Yes.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:09 AM on March 4, 2010


They are a disgusting mess of the lowest quality meat legal to sell, soaked in grease, smothered in cheese product, shoved into crappy white bread rolls.

Please go on, you're making me hungry!
posted by Pollomacho at 10:10 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


With the rolls you have to go with Amoroso's or similar. I've had amazing cheesesteaks on Sarcone's, but you wouldn't call those your classical steaks and you certainly wouldn't be throwing Whiz on them. The best steaks I've had from Philly are from Dalessandro's in Roxborough.
posted by drinkcoffee at 10:12 AM on March 4, 2010


ah, the delicious chessesteak. Hebrew cousin to the cheesesteak, made from Brisket on Challah bread, smothered in horse radish.
posted by shmegegge at 10:13 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The proper rolls are not available anywhere outside of Philadelphia.
posted by fixedgear at 1:08 PM on March 4


Amaroso's
posted by Pastabagel at 10:13 AM on March 4, 2010


cheese from a can.

Whiz is from a jar. Easy Cheese is from a can.

Dalessandro's for life.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:14 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oops, Amoroso's. Also good for hoagies.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:14 AM on March 4, 2010


I don't think the politics of anybody working the counter at Pat's are too different than Joey Vento's, dude, it's all a bunch of white Sout' Philly boys.

I could give a shit about the politics of the particular Italian serving me a sandwich; what bugs me is the active display of a sign commanding me to speak a certain language while I order.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:14 AM on March 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


You are missing a carefully balanced mixture of fat, salt, bread and meat; a symphony of textures that glissando down your throat in a glorious melody of almost overpoweringly essential flavours that hit every lizard reflex of "eat this for survival in the dark times to come." It can be a religious experience, especially after auto repair, when accompanied by beer.

In other words, it is almost as good as poutine.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:15 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you're in the SF Bay Area, The Cheese Steak Shop (locations throughout) does a pretty good job. They know what they're going for, unlike most places out here, and do it justice. And Amaroso's, of course.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:16 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here's the thing that I don't get about this Wit or Witout franchise concept: It's not as if Philly's been crying out for more places to buy a cheesesteak - they're something you can order in every bar, diner and pizza place in the city. Hell, if I left my Fishtown house right now in search of one, I'd have nine options within walking distance, all of them pretty good. So, really, is a franchise of cheesesteak places in Philadelphia necessary, or even advisable?

Also, some of these places are even run by...gasp...women, just like Wit or Witout, and most of them are pretty clean and friendly to boot. As such, this article just seems like an attempt to portray a conflict that doesn't exist, within the kind of neighborhood culture Philadelphia Magazine often pretends to understand and secretly abhors.
posted by Toby Dammit X at 10:22 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


“I know there are some sour people out there that probably hate me, but if they met me, I don’t believe they would hate me as a person,” she says, adding, in a half-joking way that means she’s not really joking, “They hate me because I’m their competition.”

I'm pretty sure I would hate this Tracy Flick wannabe as a person.

That said, if her steaks are even halfway decent, I hope she runs the other places into the ground. Nothing about making sandwiches requires a nasty (sometimes near-racist) attitude or a filthy storefront. I don't even live in Philly and I'm sick to death of these guys.
posted by Epenthesis at 10:26 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh yea, get some Hoagies, some Yuengling, some Tastey Kakes, and some Franks Soda
posted by wcfields at 10:31 AM on March 4, 2010


It's not as if Philly's been crying out for more places to buy a cheesesteak - they're something you can order in every bar, diner and pizza place in the city...So, really, is a franchise of cheesesteak places in Philadelphia necessary, or even advisable?

I would suspect that the long-term plan will be to take the shops regional, if not national (or, to be bought-out by someone looking to take it national.) You should think of the Philly shops as a trial to get the concept worked-out in the toughest possible environment.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:33 AM on March 4, 2010


Cheesesteak, to my surprise, has no traction in Minnesota; not the cheesesteak made from thin ribeye on an amaroso bun. The bay area version lets me have real cheese and sweet peppers and no onions; it was a heart attack waiting to happen but better to die with glory.

I try to go to conferences in Philadelphia to get cheesesteak. I usually follow where there is a long line and everyone seems cheerful. I figure that many locals can't be wrong and for some reason the neighborhoods I wander through always play, at some point, "ain't no sunshine" or "kung fu fighting"
posted by jadepearl at 10:40 AM on March 4, 2010


One of the happy chances of my dietary restrictions is that I will never eat a cheesesteak. It's one of those minor blessings that makes a curse more bearable.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:45 AM on March 4, 2010


Greg Nog: "I don't think the politics of anybody working the counter at Pat's are too different than Joey Vento's, dude, it's all a bunch of white Sout' Philly boys.

I could give a shit about the politics of the particular Italian serving me a sandwich; what bugs me is the active display of a sign commanding me to speak a certain language while I order.
"

And, besides English, the other issue I had with Geno's (you may disagree) is his adamant pro-authoritarian stance. He is quite vocal about Mumia and the pigs.

I was in Philly once (Mumia protest in 98) and never had a chance to have a cheesesteak, but had I gone, I would've prolly tried Pat (but I have heard that Jim's is where the best is).

I've also heard the Milwaukee has the best Cheesesteak outside Philly. I have no clue. But I'm tempted to drive there and find out.

And for the record. Wiz wit'out. (did i do that right? Cheese whiz. no fuckin onions)
posted by symbioid at 10:46 AM on March 4, 2010


Toby Dammit X: She wants to take it beyond Philadelphia.

I'm not sure about this whole thing. I mean, when I lived and worked in Philadelphia, I was two blocks from Tony Luke's, so two nights a week before work (overnight data entry for UPS) I'd have one. So that for me is the 'right' steak - it's very much an ownership thing.

But man, I cannot stand Rita's Water Ices. Most of them seem underflavored to me. If that's part of their working policy, I'm not sure I like it.
posted by mephron at 10:46 AM on March 4, 2010


I figure that many locals can't be wrong and for some reason the neighborhoods I wander through always play, at some point, "ain't no sunshine" or "kung fu fighting"

That's because once we're safe from the prying eyes of out-of-towners, we are always kung-fu fighting. However, with our steady diet of grilled meat and cheez wiz, we are not as fast as lightning.
posted by Toby Dammit X at 10:52 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


They are a disgusting mess of the lowest quality meat legal to sell, soaked in grease, smothered in cheese product, shoved into crappy white bread rolls.

This is true. Pat's and Geno's make their steaks for South Philadelphians and tourists who don't know no better.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:53 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Way OT, but when I saw "Pat’s, Geno’s, Steve’s and Jim’s", what came to mind was "Summitt, Auriemma, Alford and Calhoun."
posted by kurumi at 10:57 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


They are a disgusting mess of the lowest quality meat legal to sell, soaked in grease, smothered in cheese product, shoved into crappy white bread rolls.

Because there is no other cuisine on earth that has ever used cheap ingredients make great foods that are inexplicably more than the sum of their parts...

Also, Pats (my Aunt and her family like Genos, I am indifferent) American wit onions and sweet peppers.
posted by BobbyDigital at 11:14 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


He is quite vocal about Mumia and the pigs.

I saw the name "Mumia" and instantly reacted negatively, until I remembered that this is about Philadelphia, where people are a little more justified in having strong opinions about him. That, however, is the net impact of his supporters showing up at every possible unrelated protest, including anti-Iraq war protests, to shout about his cause and embarrass everyone else (they're not as bad as the hardcore pot legalization people at least, though). I got to the point where it was like "you know what, if this is his fan club then screw Mumia".
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:20 AM on March 4, 2010


With the rolls you have to go with Amoroso's or similar. I've had amazing cheesesteaks on Sarcone's, but you wouldn't call those your classical steaks and you certainly wouldn't be throwing Whiz on them.

Agreed. Sarcone's is truly food of the Gods, but for a cheesesteak it's gotta be Amoroso's. And even though I prefer Provolone it seems like sacrilege to put Whiz on Sarcone's.
posted by scalefree at 12:26 PM on March 4, 2010


Comments like Bobby Digital's and others in this thread show why conversations about cheesesteaks can get obnoxious.

Don't get so defensive. Cheesesteaks ARE a disgusting mess of the lowest quality meat legal to sell, soaked in grease, smothered in cheese product, shoved into crappy white bread rolls. There's no shame in that.

I'm from Philly too, but whenever these discussions get started, people soon start demanding proof of heritage going back three generations, lest you get the epithet of "tourist." First, though, everybody goes, "Oh it's not a REAL cheesesteak unless blah blah blah..."

Weirdly, I've never heard native Philadelphians who still live in Philly have this conversation with each other. It's always been natives who now live somewhere else, or with visitors from out of town as an audience.

I love to piss off people by ordering mine with mayo and lettuce, on the few occasions when I think I can stomach a cheesesteak. Really, I'm just happy if the place offers pierogies for a side.
posted by Toothless Willy at 12:30 PM on March 4, 2010


Weirdly, I've never heard native Philadelphians who still live in Philly have this conversation with each other. It's always been natives who now live somewhere else, or with visitors from out of town as an audience.

Sure but we also don't have to explain the joke in the name of this new place to each other. We know the ordering rules & traditions, where we stand on the lines of conflict. It's a special kind of boor who has to keep replaying that with everyone he meets or even worse people he already knows. But that kind of self-centered display of hometown authenticity is more acceptable in the company of outsiders, almost a form of defending the honor of the city & its culture. I don't think it's weird at all.
posted by scalefree at 12:54 PM on March 4, 2010


I live up Red Lion from the location quoted in the article. It was fucking nuts for the better part of a month around that place. It sits next to a Wendy's that does good business, but the WOW (a former Dogs to Go and some Smoothie shop before that, both died deserved deaths. Hot Dogs? c'mon...) is consistently packed.
Here in Northeast Philadelphia, next to one of the most dangerous intersections in America, in a neighborhood so Russian, that some businesses have signs exclusively in Cyrillic, This Wit or Witout is so hot, that the front lot is always full.

And the steak is not bad either. Very Clean and modern operation in comparison.
Thanks for dropping the science, fixedgear.
posted by djrock3k at 1:10 PM on March 4, 2010


This thread inspired me to get a cheesesteak at that place near 24th and Valencia (in the Mission, San Francisco). They import their rolls from Philly, use cheese whiz, etc. etc. It was good.
posted by jcruelty at 1:42 PM on March 4, 2010


Oh god man I am so hungry right now. You wouldn't even believe it. Crap.
posted by joelhunt at 1:42 PM on March 4, 2010


Pictures of Wit or Witout in a coincidence?
posted by fixedgear at 2:30 PM on March 4, 2010


jcruelty, I'm glad you were into Phat Philly. I always find their steaks way, way too greasy.
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:56 PM on March 4, 2010


I have to just throw this out there...

Best cheesesteak I ever had in Philly was at the sportsbar at the downtown Marriott.
posted by mikelieman at 3:51 PM on March 4, 2010


Having been born on Broad Street and raised in the area, I will immediately dismiss all those above who count out Joey Vento for his political leanings. Despite the dude's bad rep in the media, he is a philanthropist. So shut up. You're not buying his political leanings.

Personally, however, I must tip the hat to my old shop, D'Allesandro's. Aside from making one of the best hoagies in the area, their steaks rule. And I could care less about their politics. I go there for the grub.

In the 'burbs, Cisco's in Flourtown rocks a mean cheesesteak hoagie (wrap that one around your brain, outatowners), and still has the cheap drafts.

Biggest culinary crime in the city: The venerable Schmitter, from McNally's in Chestnut Hill, is now served at the Phillies' ballpark. At the risk of sounding snobbish, this was once a $3 sandwich at the local tavern, where you could always find a seat and get a cheap pint. Now? $7+ at the pub, and that or more at the ballpark -- without the character. Success breeds...inflation?
posted by VicNebulous at 6:18 PM on March 4, 2010


You're not buying his political leanings.

I ain't buyin' the jagoff's cheesesteaks, either!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:23 PM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


And don't bring that shitbag murderer Mumia into this. It squelches the appetite.
posted by VicNebulous at 6:23 PM on March 4, 2010


I hope her franchise is successful enough to bring a fresh sliced rib-eye steak right to my neighborhood in Jersey. All you can get here are those awful frozen monstrosities.

Oh, and Geno can go suck eggs, that prejudiced little bastard.
posted by caddis at 5:38 AM on March 5, 2010


caddis: If you're in South Jersey Big John's in Cherry Hill knows it's way around a cheesesteak. They also have a WORLD FAMOUS PICKLE BAR.
posted by edbles at 8:24 AM on March 5, 2010


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