On a Wednesday
While Tony Luke's may be a little out of the way for the wandering Philadelphian to grab a bite, it was clearly not lacking customers the entire time I was there. The place was packed with construction workers, locals, and even a couple visiting chefs that I made friends with.
Their menu was displayed on 3 TV screens that included everything from cheesesteaks to omelettes to roast pork sandwiches (that looked incredible) and over a dozen different sides.
I got my standard "one whiz wit" but I couldn't resist adding BBQ fries to my order.
I regret nothing.
The cheesesteak itself was quite good. It was fresh from the grill, the meat was juicy, and it was a mess to eat...
Exactly what I want in my cheesesteak experience.
I am finding myself quite partial to the slices of steak instead of the minced version, but this meat could've used some color as it ended up looking quite pale on the bread and may have benefitted from the seasoning that comes with a good sear.
The cheese and the onions were, as you can see, quite prominent. The ratio was excellent, but the bread had a bit of a struggle to hold it together.
Tony Luke's provides a type of condiment bar for customers to add to their meals with pickles, peppers, ketchup, and other toppings.
I grabbed some peppers (partially just for the color and, in part, because I was curious about what they might add to the cheesesteak.)
I added them to the second half of my meal and I can tell you that it was a pretty fantastic experience.
*Side note: Because I'm new to a lot of this, I was unaware that they were hot peppers. I am now very aware that they are hot peppers.
- 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 - 4
- A good roll. It got a bit soggy, but I don't think I can really blame that on the bread itself
- Meat - 3
- So here was the problem with this cheesesteak; I love the slices of meat, but they really needed some colorization. The best word to describe the color of the meat would be anemic. It was fine, but it wasn't adding much to the meal itself. Some sort of char or really any type of caramelization would've greatly improved this experience
- Cheese - 4.5
- A perfect amount of cheese. It could've been a little more evenly distributed, but really that's just nit-picky....which I am
- Onions - 4
- Good number of onions, good texture of onions, just good onions
- Team Effort - 4
- Everything worked together quite well. Again, as I mentioned above the meat wasn't really adding much to the "steak" part of the cheesesteak, but the other ingredients were very solid
- Service - 3
- Service was good. No complaints there, but nothing to write home about. They took my name with my order and I was called up when it was ready. Standard
- Value - 4.5
- A nice-sized cheesesteak on the cheaper side (closer to $9 than $10). The cheesesteak itself is definitely meal sized, so there's no going away hungry. The rating becomes a little bit higher when the price is lower when I don't find myself paying an extra $3.00 ATM fee because I forgot to bring cash
Other Elements of Note:
This location is NOT cash only. Cards are accepted, which was greatly appreciated on my end considering I made a last minute decision to include an extra purchase with my cheesesteak.
This location was a bit of a hike. Right off 95, it is easily accessible by car, but not much else. No beer, but that makes sense considering basically everyone who comes here had to drive and I don't expect they get much foot traffic.
There are about a dozen tables in what is basically a screened in patio for patrons to sit and eat their meal. As I was eating/taking pictures there seemed to be a decent amount of turnover at the tables as people were there to eat and get back to work. Maybe their weekend scene is different, but I kind of liked the no-nonsense vibe. People were there to eat lunch, maybe catch up with a buddy, and leave.
More information about Tony Luke's can be found on their website, such as menu, hours, and contact information.
- Recap -
Tony Luke's is constantly rated one of the best places to get a cheesesteak. While I'll agree that it was very good, I really wanted it to be better.
I will say, however, that this is where I would send the person who wants to get a good Philly cheesesteak in an authentic location. There are no frills here, and really no tourists. So far, this is the quintessential Philly cheesesteak experience I was looking for.
I'll definitely be returning again to give them another chance.
And when I return, I'm definitely getting fries.