Carl’s Cheesesteak is a Greasy Mess (And I Mean That in the Best Possible Way)
The other day, I was standing in the tiny sandwich shop that is Carl’s Steaks, when I happened to look up at their wall of accolades and spotted the words “grease bomb” in one of the posted articles. With oil gushing out of every bite of the cheesesteak (with whiz) that I was devouring at the time, it was hard to disagree. But unlike health conscious (or squemish) doves, who may find negativity in any kind of “bomb”, when it comes to food, I’m more of a hawk. To me you add the word bomb to any kind of food, and it’s going to be good. Add it to the word “grease” and you’ve got a nuclear weapon of deliciousness.
There has been much talk of “Philly” Cheesesteaks on this site, and Carl’s on 3rd Ave. btw. 34+35th always comes up when the topic is raised. Feisty Foodie mentioned it in March of 2007, when I posted about the steak and cheese at City 75 (51st btw. 5+6th) and two commenters brought it up when I wrote about Magdy’s Philly Cheese Steak Cart 8 months later (Park & 46th). Even one commenter listed it as his 2nd favorite meat in Midtown, on the Shameless Carnivore’s profile. This is no hidden jem (apparently it was named “2007′s Best Sandwich in NYC by AOL City Guide, and is also available at Yankee Stadium), and yet I still hadn’t made the journey to this cheesesteak mecca (probably due to the fact that it was about as far away from my office on 48th & 6th that you could possibly get, and still be in Midtown Lunch’ing boundaries.) That finally changed this past week.
“Grease bomb” porn, in all its glory, after the jump…
While the two places mentioned above only have regular sliced cheese, Carl’s immediately gets cred points for having “cheez whiz”, the only true cheese topping of what is traditionally referred to as a Philly Cheesesteak. It gets poured underneath the mixture of well chopped steak and onions that have been sweated down on Carl’s large flat top griddle (“sweated” being the code word for “cooked in a way that allows it to become soaked in grease”). I was worried at first, but if you eat it fresh, the roll holds up pretty well to the oil assault, and made it to the very end of the sandwich. I can’t speak to whether or not it will survive delivery or the walk back to the office.
For those who have not been converted to the glories of whiz, Carl’s also offers provolone cheese, american cheese and the “pizza steak”, which mixes provolone with marinara sauce. All the sandwiches are $6 to $6.75 leaving you plenty of room under the Midtown Lunch price cap for that order of fries ($2.25).
Of course anything that can be referred to as a “grease bomb” is going to have its negatives, and there are a few at Carl’s. It is super greasy (obviously), and despite claiming that the sandwiches are “made to order”, that really only refers to the assembly. In order to account for heavy volume, large quantities of the steak and onion mixture are cooked in advance, and if you are unlucky enough to be there when they “refill” the griddle from their big plastic bucket o’ cooked steak, it’s not the prettiest sight in the world. There’s also not a lot of seats, and you may have to stand at the counter, or take your food to go if the place is busy.
All that aside, I haven’t found a better cheesesteak within the boundaries of Midtown Lunch’ing- so if the sound of a “grease bomb” appeals to the hawk in you, Carl’s is your new favorite place.
- It’s super greasy
- A real Philly Cheesesteak (or at least, as close as you’re going to get in New York City)
- Cheese Whiz! (But they also have provolone for the haters)
- At $6.50 it’s pretty cheap for Midtown
- (I don’t believe in Delivery, but if you do…) they offer delivery as far West as 7th Av
- It’s super greasy
- There aren’t enough places to sit
- The bread may not hold up well on the walk back to the office
- During peak lunch hours, they don’t cook the steak up fresh (even though the sandwich is “assembled” to order)
- Did I mention it’s greasy?
Carl’s Steaks, 507 3rd Ave. (btw. 34+35th), 212-696-5336