Cheesesteak #2 Campo's Deli

6:00 PM

On a Sunday

Philadelphia, PA

Onward to cheesesteaks!

Onward to cheesesteaks!

About a block south of Betsy Ross's house and a block west of the Delaware River, you'll find Campo's Deli nestled in a lovely brick building in Old City Philadelphia on the well-trodden Market Street.

 

At least twice as long as it is wide, Campo's interior is dotted with small, round tables and aluminum chairs arranged in sets of two. There are even two small sets along the wall across from the counter where orders are taken, though I'd assume no one over 100lbs would be able to fit there. 

While their menu has an extensive range of sandwich options, I was there for just one.

This time I was able to walk to the counter with confidence, make my order, and watch the magic happen.

It took about 10 minutes for my cheesesteak to be prepared but, honestly, I'm rarely ever going to complain about fresh meat being cooked to order.

I sat at a small, round table by the windows to watch the world go by as devoured my beautifully crafted masterpiece.

- Rating -

So how does it rate?

The categories are:

  • Roll
  • Meat
  • Cheese
  • Onions
  • 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 - 4.5
    • This roll was a thing of absolute beauty. In full disclosure, I love carbs more than anything in the world, and consider myself an expert, so when I say this is good bread....This. Is. Good. Bread. I had to take off half a point for it being cold. Like, so cold that it almost immediately chilled my meat
  • Meat - 3
    • Volume. This cheesesteak was filled to the brim with meat. It was fresh, but was a little chewy and could've benefited greatly from some extra seasoning. All in all, fine
  • Cheese - 3
    • No major praises or complaints. I'd say the roll could've used a little more all over, but really was just okay in that regard
  • Onions - 3
    • So, here's the thing: There was a pretty good onion flavor to be had, but honestly, that effect could've been completely synthesized through onion powder. The onions in the sandwich had almost no texture, which made it difficult to rate higher than average
  • Team Effort - 4
  • Service - 3
    • Perfectly adequate
  • Value - 4
    • Fairly quick service and a $9.72 charge isn't too bad. Hell, I'd almost pay that just for their bread

TOTAL: 24.5

Other Elements of Note:

THIS IS A CASH ONLY ESTABLISHMENT. I REPEAT, THIS IS A CASH ONLY ESTABLISHMENT. If you don't know that ahead of time I can only imagine that you will be supremely displeased by the time you get to the counter and order. All hope is not lost though, there is an ATM available near the entrance.

A surprise greeted me when I reached the cash register and saw the cooler behind the counter was filled with various gleaming bottles of beer. This could be a game changer. While a cheesesteak itself can be a wonderful meal, it's pretty universally agreed that a cold beer improves almost any dining experience.

Campo's cheesesteaks are also the official cheesesteak of the sports complexes that house the Philadelphia Flyers, Phillies, and 76ers. This comes at no surprise after I almost scarfed down the paper that my cheesesteak was wrapped in.

More information can be found on their website, such as menu, hours, and even shipping information. That's right, Campo's delicious cheesesteaks can actually be delivered to anywhere in the country.

- Recap -

Campo's Deli provides a great Philly cheesesteak experience. Again, I can't stress enough about how much I enjoyed their bread. The location is fairly central, and lends itself to a nighttime stroll along the river or late-night partying in Old City's many bars and clubs. I will definitely be back, or, maybe the next time will be at some sort of Philadelphia sporting event. We'll see.

Cheesesteak #1: Steve's Prince of Steaks

1:00 PM

On a Friday

Philadelphia, PA

The first stop on the list was Steve's Prince of Steaks. I didn't know much about this establishment before I got there except it was close to my apartment and was on the list of Top 10 Spots for Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks. And, honestly, that was more than good enough for me.

IMG_9402.JPG
 

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.

IMG_9393.JPG

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

IMG_7562.JPG

- Rating -

So how does it rate?

The categories are:

  • Roll
  • Meat
  • Cheese
  • Onions
  • 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

TOTAL: 26

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.