Magdy’s Philly Cheese Steak Cart

Park Ave. is quickly becoming the cart/truck capitol of Midtown.  Between Jiannetto’s, Pranzo, The Steak Truck, three Indian Carts, and a number of chicken and rice carts with long lines, you pretty much have everything you could ever want (if only the 2nd Daisy May’s cart would return). Yesterday, on a recommendation from a Midtown Lunch’er, I headed to Park Ave. to partake in a steak & cheese from a cart.

Now, here is the big disclaimer.  If you have ever been to Philadelphia, and had a philly cheesesteak, then you are aware of what a “real” cheesesteak is.  If you have ever lived in New England, you have disputed the Philadelphia claim to having the best steak & cheese (after all, provolone is far superior cheez whiz, right?).  Maybe you have even been to the Tony Luke’s (now Shorty’s) on 9th Ave., and feel like you have had a decent cheesesteak  here in New York City.  Steak & Cheese from a cart in Midtown is not going to live up to any of those standards.  It costs $4.  It’s from a cart.  That being said, the steak & cheese I had yesterday from Magdy’s on Park & 46th was pretty damn tasty.

Continue reading after the jump…The sign on the Magdy’s cart reads “The Original Philly Cheese Steak” in big letters, “and A Variety of Hero Sandwiches” in smaller.  But the grill tells a different story, where 75% is taken up by chicken, another popular item at the cart.  The menu has a few choices, and a few different prices, but the lady who took my order, and collected my money admitted to me that it changes every day- and even she wasn’t sure exactly what is supposed to be charged.  If you want chicken or a cheesesteak sub, it’s going to be $4, maybe $4.50.  Make it a double, or mixed between the two, it’s going to be $5 or $6.

Quite a few people were ordering the chicken ahead of me, so I was forced to pull a late audible.  I went with the mixed, so I could try both- but instead of letting them mix the chicken and steak together, I asked that he separate the meat on either half of the sub roll.  The guy seemed a little confused at first, but he ended up doing it- and I have to say, it was pretty strong move.  And only $5.

The chicken half was just ok.  Chunks of good white meat chicken, covered in lettuce, tomato and an average white sauce (extra might have been helpful), and not a trace of a Middle Eastern spice (which may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you like).  I should have trusted the sign, because the real star was clearly the steak and cheese.  Thinly sliced and covered in grilled onions and slices of American cheese, it was really tasty, making me wish I had just gone with a double steak & cheese.

Is this a heaping pile of quality steak?  For $4, of course it isn’t.  But there is something delicious that happens when you take thinly sliced deli meat style steak, top it with grilled onions and processed american cheese and put it in a roll.  Charge only $4-6 for it, and you’ve got a winner.

THE + (What somebody who likes this cart would say)

  • It’s pretty damn cheap
  • It’s tastiness cannot be denied
  • I love fake cheese on top of fake meat!!!
  • I’m a fat man, who loves to eat meat off of carts.

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this cart would say)

  • The meat is really low grade
  • Philly Cheese Steaks don’t have slices of kraft, they have cheeze whiz- and it’s the only way to eat them
  • I prefer my cheese steaks with real cheese (like some nice provolone!)

Magdy’s Philly Cheese Steak Cart, NE Corner of 46th & Park


  • Satisfying none of Zach’s disclaimer parameters, I’m invoking Philly’s own Veggie cheese steak with seitan…. now where’s *that* cart? Mmmmmm. Yes people. This hippie’s back from South America. Miss me much?

  • Glad you finally wrote this up… was always afraid to try since I thought I’d be disappointed and wish I had just waited until my next Philly trip. So thank you. You saved me $4.

  • Is this cart open late?
    In fact if any one can offer suggestions for a night time cart by 42nd st & 2nd ave tonight that would be great. I’m staying in a hotel there tonight for work. Cheap eat are needed :-)
    Thanks guys!

  • Ah, the great cheesesteak debate. I love it if only to hear Philadelphia-ofiles try to defend their inferior product. Now, the cheesesteak as we know it today may have originated in Philadelphia and that’s great. But it has been improved upon immensely. Toast the bun. Add lettuce and tomato, hot peppers, mayo. Cheezwhiz? For chrissakes.

    The fanaticism that surrounds the argument of purity and authenticity is so laughable too. It’s like saying, “The hundred dollar bill is the best. I only want one hundred dollar bill.” And someone’s like, “Well, do you want some twenty’s on top of that?” And you’d say, “No, it’s only authentic as a hundred!”

    Meet me at the cart tomorrow at 1:00, non-believers, we’ll wrestle!

  • Haha… to add my teensy 2c to the pile. Born & raised in NYC(Queens to be exact) and was always wary of eating Philly cheesesteaks in NYC. Cuz it’s not Philly. I watched ppl order, eat and enjoy them at diners and wondered what the appeal was.
    Went to Philly and had them from a place a local recommended (NOT Geno’s, NOT Pat’s, but Jim’s, which is on the big street with all the college kids wandering around- Google it, you’ll find it) and they were FANTASTIC. I had it “regular” to really get a feel for it, cheez wiz and nothing else. Phenomenal. I go back every once in a while and always bring one home, too, cuz I’m a pig like that, I scarf one down there and by the time I get home I’m usually ready for my 2nd one. And now I get them with mushrooms occasionally and with or without onions sometimes too, whatever, it’s delicious.
    Having said that, a year ago I tried, at someone else’s strong recommendation, Carl’s Cheesteaks (in downtown Manhattan though I know they have another location in midtown somewhere- possibly by Penn Station) and they were a pretty good facsimile of the original. Not expensive either.

    Anyway, I think the above person misses the point, it’s about liking Cheez Wiz and thinly sliced low-grade steak on a soft sandwich bun-roll-whatever you call that thing. Provolone can’t be substituted for Cheez Wiz, you can’t even compare the two damn things because they’re quite frankly completely different. You want provolone on it, it’s no longer a Philly cheesesteak but rather a sandwich with similar properties. It’s like making a BLT with pastrami instead of bacon. Yum, sure, but it’s not a friggin’ BLT.

  • Oh and before someone tries to argue that the Cheez Wiz isn’t the focus of the sandwich like bacon is for a BLT, then fine, you can’t switch out the lettuce for cucumber and still call it a BLT. Whatever.

  • cheez whiz looks like something that oozed from a lepers toe.

  • um, “the big street with all the college kids walking around”?? you mean SOUTH STREET, maybe? south & 4th?

    seriously, if you’re going to posit yourself as the empress of philly cheesesteaks, please get your INCREDIBLY BASIC PHILLY GEOGRAPHY down, okay?

    and let’s be real: jim’s is hardly the place that you ONLY find out about from locals.

    i’ll take my lectures about what a real philly cheesesteak is from someone who is actually from philly, thankyouverymuch. sheesh

  • Yeah, not knowing south street was blatantly ignorant, but Jim’s is the best cheesesteak in philly. I feel like cheesesteaks should be separated into authentic (wiz wit) and non-authentic, whatever else. I also agree that carl’s is the best in nyc, as far as authentic cheesesteaks go. I really have no opinion on the non-authentic cheesesteaks, as they are vastly inferior.

  • Many years ago (say, more than two decades), yours truly was an undergrad at UPenn…did the Jim’s, did the Geno’s, did the Pat’s…along with a few others…but the best cheesesteak by far in Philadelphia, for my tastes, was found at a simple lunch trunk that was there every day of the week on Sansom Street, in University City…not too far from the Penn law school…absolutely delicious.
    Any more recent Penn grads out there that can tell us if the truck is still there, or a reasonable fascimile?

  • This cart is better known for it’s chicken and rice platter. Throw in some onions, lettuce, and white sauce. WOW. The line here is usally very long and you’ll wait close to 15 – 20 minutes. However, the line has gotten better ever since the Steak Truck on 47th and Park opened up.

  • I lived in Philly for four years and in the greater Philadelphia area for most of my life and half the review and comments on here are plain retarded.

    #1 There is no such thing as a cheese steak sub. If anything it would be called steak HOAGIE. Some places serve them, retards buy them.

    #2 Cheez Wiz is the preferred cheese. Why? Because it melts perfectly when added to hot meat and onions. That said, Wiz certainly didn’t exist in 1930 so provolone, and American to a lesser degree, are the only other acceptable options.

    #3 Adding a lot of shit on your cheese steak, like Scott suggests above, is also retarded. No one does it and it pretty much ruins the sandwich. Can you get a pizza steak in Philly? Sure, but only children, tourists, and Scott order that crap. The only add on most locals dabble in is peppers.

    #4 Zach, with all due respect because I love this site, chicken cheese steaks are…..retarded, no one buys them and good places don’t sell them. Mixing chicken and steak? I’m going to have to look up what’s dumber than retarded and get back to you. Who doesn’t love to mix their lamb and chicken over rice? I certainly do and it’s most likely that I’m retarded to the cart guys serving me, but chicken and steak on a cheese steak? New York can warp one’s mind I guess.

    #5 Lastly, Jim’s is mostly crap which is bought by tourists, Jerseys, and drunks (I’ve qualified on this one may times at Jim’s). The steak is cooked in huge batches hours in advance of the time you may actually eat it and very, very dry. Further, chopping up your meat into a million tiny pieces, which admittedly a lot of Philly places do, is also retarded. Geno’s and Tony Luke’s excel because the cook whole slices of rib eye and don’t chop it up, which allows every drop of juice to evaporate on the grill.

  • Wow – no reviews of the cart just who’smorePhilly discussion? Unfortunately, I can’t make it to PA during my lunch hour. I checked it out, having walked down the south side of 46th a few times wondering what the wonderful smell hanging arounf the corner of Park was.

    Eating my Magdy’s ‘Philly Steak’ now – think of it as a name and not a description and maybe you can enjoy the sandwich for what it is. It will never make you forget the best that Philadelphia (or the White House in Atlantic City) have to offer, but it is very tasty.

    The beef is nice. Fresh looking and frozen so it can be sliced properly. The water content is a little high. Looking at #5 above, i’m wondering if the mistake was the cook hacking the meat a bit as it cooked. When combined with the onions that are soaked in a sauce and bread that is a sub optimal softness the whole sandwich a tad soggy. Lettuce, tomato and whitesauceredsauce are all options i declined (though i might try bit of sauce next time).

    The cheese is American. Not my first or second choice, but perfectly doable. The onions are soaking in a red sauce that seemed to carry a bit of heat and a bit of sweet. Again, not my first choice but solid. The bread seemed very good at first, but became soggy by the end of my double meat experience.

    Yes, its fun to make fun of tourists and outsiders for their difference. Isn’t it more fun to eat a tasty sandwich, even if it isn’t the definitive version of that sandwich from among the tens of thousands of sandwich shops making the sandwich?? Do you only listen to one band or watch only one movie? I’m from upstate NY and can get quite uppity about buffalo wings (there are about 6 places between Buffalo and Utica that do them right). Does that mean i can’t enjoy some tasty wings or hate on crap wings regardless of their authenticity? Hellz no. Just don’t get me started about Chicken Riggies. . .

    And my personal preference for absolute best ‘philly’ style steak sandwich? Hands down the White House in AC. With provolone. And a side of Italian Combo with hot peppers. Worth the drive from NYC.

  • Dino’s subs just outside AC (Margate) are better n’ the White House’s.

  • I ate at both Jim’s in Philthadelphia with the whiz and that cart with the slabs of cheese, and I thought that cart tasted better. But what do I know I’m from new england.

  • over the last few months I’ve noticed a dissapointing trend – teh cheesesteaks here have included less and less cheese and steak – now its like eating bun with a hint of cheessteak. I guess instead of raising prices they just decided to force you to order the double….

  • Wow I think Ben broke the record for uses of the word “retard”. While reading most of his comments I was picturing Bush calling people dumb.

    Look, cheez whiz is for tourists. For your first cheesesteak it’s fine, but after that nobody that lives in philly gets cheez whiz. Provolone is the way to go, american a close second. If you want a good review of philly cheesesteak places see Jim’s is the driest garbage on the planet. D’Allesandro’s is my favorite but I barely make it home to the bathroom after I eat one.

    Sorry, I know it’s supposed to be about the cart and I’m sure I’ll try it soon but talking about cheesesteaks is like talking about yo momma, just can’t let it slide.

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