On a Friday
At 41 S 16th Street, it's location really can't be beat. It was extremely easy to find as it is located near both Rittenhouse Square and City Hall. The hustle and bustle of the streets was mirrored inside the eatery as customers quickly spouted off their orders to an adept and efficient cashier. While she didn't seem a bit phased at the seemingly shorthand language used by the patrons, I was having a hard time following their lead.
I must admit, being new to the process was a stressful experience. I'd been warned beforehand to have my order ready, or risk the wrath of whoever was taking the order and anyone behind me in line.
I was ready though. I had practiced my order 15 times in my head before I even made it to the front of the line.
"One Whiz With"
She simply nodded and told me, "$10."
With that out of the way, all I had left to do was wait.
There's an immediate satisfaction before you even receive your order. The smell of the meat cooking on the grill and the onions simmering in their juices both assaults and welcomes you as soon as you walk through the door.
Glass windows lined the front of the kitchen where bustling cooks flipped pieces of raw steak onto an already sizzling grill. The onions formed 2 piles in the corner, one of cooked and one of uncooked. As the thinly-sliced strips of steak started to brown, the rolls were sliced and placed onto the hot cooktop; lightly pressed so that the inside could become nice and toasty.
It was fascinating to watch the process unfold. Something that seemed so simple, with so few ingredients, created a flurry of movement in almost dance-like synchronicity.
So that's a Cheesesteak.
I get it now. I really get it.
There's something about the combination of soft bread, tender steak, gooey cheese, and crunchy onions that, once combined, transform into something unlike anything I could've imagined. I'd describe the experience to be like eating the best grilled cheese of your life and getting a beer at your favorite bar, all rolled together in sandwich form.
I was not prepared for this.
Oh. My. God.
This. This thing right here. This is what dreams are made of.
Happy dreams. Dreams where you wake up and frantically hit the "snooze" button in the hope that you can continue your blissful slumbered state where everything is right with the world.
I could get used to this.
And just as soon as it began... it was all over
- Rating -
So how does it rate?
The categories are:
- Team Effort (how it all works together)
- Service (at the establishment)
- Overall Value
A maximum of 5 points can be assigned to each category.
- Roll - 3
- Clearly a fairly fresh roll, however, it was almost monotonous in texture. It would've greatly benefited from a more pronounced crust
- Meat - 4
- As you can see from the photo above, the meat was fresh. It was clearly cooked by experienced hands and was just done at the point it was added to the lackluster bread
- Cheese - 3
- Standard. Cheese Whiz. Points are lost for the uneven distribution across the roll
- Onions - 4
- Excellent crunch and a lovely, even size
- Team Effort - 4
- Solid. This is exactly what I would expect a standard Philly Cheesesteak to taste like
- Service - 4
- Cashier seemed annoyed that the guy in front of me couldn't order quickly, something I was warned about ahead of time so that I would be ready. Order was ready as fast as they could cook the meat
- Value - 4
- Quick service, solid product. at $10 even I'd say it's an easy pick
Other Elements of Note:
There's a self-service condiment bar of all different types of peppers, relish, and hot sauce. They're arranged on the front counter in containers that are reminiscent of penny-candy at the corner store.
Steve's also serves other food options such as burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and fries. There's a main window for ordering food and a separate line for french fries and drinks. Gotta love a place with its own ordering window and menu board for fries.
Keep in mind: There's also an ATM in lobby for those looking to grab some cash on the go. There's a sign on the menu board that indicates they move to selling steaks only (no other food orders) after 11:00 pm. I respect that.
More information can be found on their website, such as hours of operation, menus, and locations.
- Recap -
That is a cheesesteak. I would have no problem coming back here or giving people directions to this location if they were looking for an authentic Philly cheesesteak experience. The food is solid, the location is central, and I would agree that Steve's provided the exact experience I would hope for anyone's very first time.
I think this was the perfect place to start my foray into the seemingly endless world of cheesesteaks.