Phil’s Steaks Still Satisfies the Cheesesteak Itch
Excited to announce that our old friend Yvo (aka The Feisty Foodie) has just started working in Midtown, and will be posting her lunchtime adventures here on the site. Please give her a warm welcome in the comments…
I consider myself a cheesesteak expert, after spending a day in Philly eating 6 different cheesesteaks at 6 different places (bonus picture in that post of my awesome Food Baby after all that meat&cheese). So when multiple people told me that Phil’s Steaks, a food truck newish to the scene, has the best cheesesteak in NYC – the ‘closest they’ve ever had to Philly’ – I had to get my butt over there to check it out.
If you’re not familiar with the Philly cheesesteak, the best way to describe it is the perfect marriage of thinly sliced steak, a gooey “cheese” sauce on very soft bread along with grilled onions for a little zip and texture. There’s some debate over the type of cheese (provolone vs. Cheez Whiz) and some people get it without onions. My side firmly states: there’s only one true, classic cheesesteak, and that is Whiz wit’ (the proper way to order in Philly; this translates to Cheez Whiz, with onions).
After it rained all morning, the line was very short and moved pretty fast. I ordered my 6″ Whiz wit’ for $7.50, and amused myself first by noticing all the men waiting for cheesesteaks, literally not one other woman besides myself… and then watching a couple of men in $1,000 suits order cheesesteaks and ask lots of questions. Would have loved to be a fly on their office walls to watch them attempt to eat this notoriously messy sandwich!
I tried to get some sense of scale in the photo but didn’t want my MetroCard to get greasy, and decided finally you all should already know what 6″ actually is. The meat was chopped up fine and there was a good scattering of onions in there, but what alarmed me was the cheese. You can barely see it peeking out in this pic; all of it was smeared along the seam of the bread. Some previous reviews said that it wasn’t enough cheese; I didn’t experience a lack of cheese, simply an imbalance of the product. This meant some bites were all meat, onion and bread, while others were bread and way more Cheez Whiz than a person should ever ingest in a single go. This has been reported in reviews since the truck began making its rounds, so it doesn’t seem like a problem that’s likely to go away; however, the sandwich was very close to what a real cheesesteak should taste like and this problem is fairly easily fixed if you’re at all fastidious and want to open a messy sandwich before eating it, so that you can take a plastic knife and fix something that shouldn’t even be a problem in the first place.
But I doubt I’ll ask the guy taking my order next time to please ask the guy making my sandwich to spread my cheese evenly across the bread. I feel like that’s asking him to spit in my food.
And because why not, I ordered Whiz fries as well ($5). For some reason, I thought these were going to be ‘cheesesteak fries’ – ie, topped with whiz and maybe some onions – so I was a little confused when they came as above. A really hefty portion of fries that were nice and crisp, and held up well to me walking two avenues, I thoroughly enjoyed the fries. The Whiz in the little cup, however, hadn’t been heated and was just a congealed blobby mess, reminding me that I shouldn’t be eating whiz in the first place because that’s what it does to your arteries. No one wants to reminded of that! I’ll skip the Whiz next time and just get fries for $4.
*I know what Cheez Whiz is, and there are few occasions I will openly encourage people to eat liquid cheese over real cheese (though I do it in secret shame at home). But when it comes to cheesesteaks, it’s really the only type of cheese that really works… it’s just so spreadable. And yes, I am fully aware that the original cheesesteak sandwich as invented likely contained provolone, as liquid cheese product had not yet been invented.
THE + (what people who like this will say)
- It’s so close to what I get in Philly
- Cheese. Meats. Bread.
- The music playing from the truck is pretty killer
THE – (what people who don’t like this place will say)
- $7.50 for a 6″ sandwich? Fuhgeddaboutit
- It’s not Philly
- You will never convince me that “liquid cheese” could possibly taste good
It satisfied that particular itch I get for a cheesesteak every now and again that usually results in a quick day trip to Philly for a Mets game and a cheesesteak. This is much faster and cheaper overall with the same end result – maybe a little less disappointment from watching the Mets lose again. All that to say – I’ll be back for another cheesesteak.
Follow Phil’s Steaks on Twitter to find out where they’re parked – they seem to move around a lot, so be sure to check it before you head out!