Cheesesteak #5 Dalessandro's

5:30 PM

On a Friday

Philadelphia, PA

 

The trip to Dalessandro's meant an Uber or cab ride to head a couple miles north of Center City, right outside Manayunk. I planned poorly, leaving home right at the beginning of rush hour. This meant that I was pretty hungry by the time I arrived.

Dalessandro's is a well-oiled machine. The employees orchistrated dozens of people in the time I was there and seemed to have an efficient system of ordering and payment that was pretty easy to pick up, even from an outsider like me.

The end result is spectacular. I mean, who can ask for anything more than this meal encompassing all the food groups you could want.

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I never thought I'd find myself looking forward to taking photos of onions, but here we are.

Also, I'm not even sorry.

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And that cheese is more evenly distributed than any I have seen before. I'm learning there's a fine line between too little and too much Whiz, though some may disagree that there could ever be too much Whiz.

While I would generally prefer slices of steak over the minced result seen here, I would say that this pile of delicious steak has something special to offer. The mincing gives the meat a particular melt-in-your-mouth sensation, which I very much enjoyed.

Even though I may describe the consistency as a tad greasy, I am well aware that I requested a cheesesteak, not a lettuce wrap.

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- 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
    • Solid. Not too soft, but no real crisp in the crust. Enough to hold up to the meat, but probably not the main reason I'll be returning
  • Meat - 3.5
    • The meat was good, if a tiny bit on the greasy side. Do not take this the wrong way, but the meat kind of reminded me of a sloppy Joe...a sloppy Joe where it's real meat and freshly prepared on a seasoned grill
  • Cheese - 4.5
    • FINALLY! The perfect amount of cheese. Not so much that it was running out of the cheesesteak, but not so little that I felt like I was eating a steak sandwich
  • Onions - 4
    • A good amount of onions. They had a lovely crunch and were a great addition to the composition of the sandwich
  • Team Effort - 4
    • Between the good meat, good bread, and good cheese I have every reason to rate this cheesesteak as GOOD
  • Service - 4
    • Service was pretty great for the size of the facility. The women behind the counter were great about keeping the orders together and making sure the right meal got to the right customer. They were also very eager to make sure every order had everything you need, even offering to add items after they were picked up
  • Value - 4
    • A good $10 cheesesteak. More than enough for a meal, no matter how hungry you might be when you arrive

TOTAL:  28

Other Elements of Note:

Another CASH ONLY establishment and another location where beer is readily available to accompany your steak.

Condiments were offered at every opportunity at Dalessandro's. There are at least 8 different toppings for burgers and steaks that are offered for FREE. That's right, free additional toppings in a world where you often find yourself paying $0.25 for a cup for water at almost every establishment.

There's limited indoor seating at Dalessandro's. Also, there's limited outdoor seating as well...basically, you shouldn't plan to sit down if you're heading to Dalessandro's, unless you're willing to wait or make some new friends to eat with. Many patrons seemed to be taking their orders to go, while I was happy to join a couple at one of their tables outside to enjoy the lovely spring evening.

More information about Dalessandro's can be found on their website, such as menu, hours, and contact information.

I had a very interesting conversation with my Uber driver as I was on my way home from Dalessandro's. He's originally from a little north of Philadelphia, but was surprisingly chatty as we discussed the best cheesesteaks in the area. While he gave me some pointers for avoiding tourist spots (Pat's and Geno's, I'm looking at you) he also came to the same conclusion I have found so far: 

Even a bad cheesesteak is still pretty good.

As long as the meat is fresh and the bread isn't soggy, it's really hard to have a bad cheesesteak. I hope that this holds true as I keep working my way through the city, but for now I'm glad to continue testing some tried and true locations looking for the very best.

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- Recap -

Dalessandro's is an experience. Away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Philadelphia, their location lends itself to a customer base that's made up of regulars, not tourists wandering the streets on their way back to their hotels after viewing the Liberty Bell.

The space is small, but they seem to have no problem filling the constant stream of orders as people pack the room from counter to door. Their cheesesteak was wonderfully balanced between the crunchy onions and the greasy meat that's not for the customer worried about their summer body... or really even for those whose waistbands aren't made of elastic.

And, while I wish it were closer to me so that I could return more frequently, it's probably for the best that I would need to make a special trip here in the future. 

Cheeseateak #4 Shank's Original

12:30 PM

On a Friday

Philadelphia, PA

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Shank's Original is described on Google Maps as "counter-service sandwich joint." I think that is a perfectly apt description. 

This stand-alone structure along the Delaware river is a pleasant find in an unexpected location. Outdoor seating is available, but limited. However, with three inches of snow on the ground, I was not fighting anyone for a spot. 

 

Without much else around it creating foot traffic, patrons of Shank's don't seem to just wander in for a quick bite. They're there because they know what they want.

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And I can see why.

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I always believe that food just tastes better when you eat it outdoors. 

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- 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 bread was incredible. I had read on their website that they pride themselves on it, so my bar had actually been very high for this location. In fact, I was 100% certain that I would be disappointed, especially considering my vast carb consumption experience. I was not disappointed. I was elated
  • Meat - 3.5
    • The meat would just be considered standard if not for 2 important distinctions: the quantity of meat provided would not illicit any complaints from any patron, and the seasoning had an excellent peppery note
  • Cheese - 2
    • I was a little disappointed here. The cheese was only lightly painted on the inside of the bread. It was the amount that you hope for when you ask for "light mayo" on a sandwich. I'm sure the cheese itself was fine, but I couldn't really get much on its own to tell
  • Onions - 3.5
    • The onions were small, but crunchy. They were fine, but really not much more could be said about them
  • Team Effort - 3.5
    • The bread was really holding the team together on this one. While the peppery beef helped make up for the lack of cheese, I think they did the best with what they had
  • Service - 4
    • Service was extremely quick. I think one of the employees had made a cheesesteak for themselves but once I ordered they gave it to me instead so I didn't have to wait
  • Value - 3.5
    • A perfectly fine $10 cheesesteak 

TOTAL:  24.5

Other Elements of Note:

Another CASH ONLY joint.

There's an odd looking ATM available outside if you were not prepared.

More information about Shank's Original can be found on their website, such as menu, hours, and catering information.

The ambiance might've been my favorite part. Sitting by the water makes every meal feel a little bit more special... maybe next time I'll go when there's not snow under the tables.

**Full Disclosure: This is the first time I have been yelled at while taking pictures of my cheesesteak. A (seemingly) regular customer of Shank's pulled up in his truck, parked diagonally outside the door to the building, sauntered past me before taking time out of his busy day to comment on the personal choice of the enjoyment of my lunch. He scoffed, "you should eat your cheesesteak, not take pictures of it!"

Why not both, good sir? Why not both?

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- Recap -

Shank's Original is an interesting find. Their location might not be terribly convenient, but being nestled by the river certainly has its own draw. The cheesesteak is solid, and customers seem to be regulars, not just there because they want to take a picture of themselves eating at a cheesesteak place in Philly.

I may go back someday soon and just ask to buy a couple loaves of their fantastic bread.