Gary’s Steaks Offers Another Cheesesteak Option in Midtown
Ever since I wrote about Phil’s Steaks, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for Gary’s Steaks – for comparison purposes, because I love cheesesteaks, and because a few readers recommended it to me. When I randomly saw them on 52nd/6th one day, there weren’t that many people waiting, so I quickly placed my order – pictures of the menu, what I got and more after the jump.
Gary’s doesn’t offer half cheesesteaks for the smaller-appetite or, cough, dieting among us, but they do have – in addition to whiz and provolone – “white American”. They also have pizza steaks (a cheesesteak with marinara sauce) and vegetarian (falafel) hoagies for when your vegetarian coworker asks you to pick up lunch for her and you don’t feel like waiting in two different lines. On top of all this, they also have specialty sauces for your fries: spicy sesame sriracha, dill lemon aioli, and pesto aioli.
I decided to get the combo special, which saves me $2 from buying a soda, fries and cheesesteak separately – because I got a standard cheesesteak. If you want to go big, though, you can get the everything cheesesteak (grilled onions, hot & sweet peppers, mushrooms, choice of cheese) in the combo – and it still costs you $12, though the sandwich itself is $1.50 more than the standard cheesesteak. For the sake of comparison, though, I stuck with the standard. As you can see in the picture, you get way less fries than you do at Phil’s – but the sandwich is extremely long… and narrow. More on that in a minute…
The guy working the truck gave me two little containers of sauce; I’m not sure if that’s standard or if it was because I asked him a couple of questions about the sauce, initially declining to order any, then changing my mind. He said this was his favorite sauce, and I can see why: the sriracha gives it a nice garlicky kick, nothing I would call spicy as I didn’t break a sweat but still tasty, and the sesame – the real surprise, for me – makes its presence known, imparting a great nuttiness to it. Sesame can overwhelm quickly; in my experience places tend to err on the side of caution and hold back so you might not even notice the sesame. Not so here, and it played well with the sriracha. The fries themselves were expertly fried, retaining a good crisp exterior and a rather fluffy interior that was all potato. Good stuff.
My sandwich was huge, which alarmed me a bit. I would say about 3 MetroCards long…
… but barely as wide as one MetroCard. I guess that sort of evens out.
But how did it taste? Well, the narrowness of the sandwich allowed me to, um, stuff an entire end into my mouth (I have a rather physically small mouth)- the bread was extremely soft, as it should be. This meant that in a bite, if I chose to stuff the whole in my mouth like so, I could taste an entire, complete bite of bread, cheese, meat, and onion. The onions were a little less grilled than I expected; while definitely cooked, they retained a good portion of their texture and as such, were a little crunchy counterpoint in the bites that had them. I don’t think there were enough onions, though, and the whiz was a little lacking as I found I tasted mostly bread, meat/meat juices, onion/onion texture, then whiz, in that order. I think a little more balance of all the flavors would be nice. Does this beat Phil’s? No. But is Phil’s necessarily better? … no. Each sandwich has nitpicky flaws that bring them to about the same level, in my opinion.
I guess the real question then is – if they were parked side by side and I wanted a cheesesteak, which would be my choice? Phil’s gets the edge here, but solely because I can get a half cheesesteak, and I am constantly dieting/watching my food intake. I actually did finish all of the above (minus the soda, I didn’t even open it), and slogged through the afternoon for it. I vastly prefer eating smaller portions – or, at the least, having the option. Of course, everyone has different priorities for what they look for in lunch.
By the way — though the menu explicitly states that all cheesesteaks come with onions unless you ask for it otherwise, the guy made sure to ask me if I wanted onions… even though I ordered “a whiz wit’ please” (Philly-speak for “cheesesteak, cheez whiz, wit’onions). I don’t know if he didn’t hear me or if he didn’t know that’s the proper way to order, but he asked me to repeat myself and then clarified everything. Maybe they’re not from Philly?
THE + (what people who like this will say)
- A full length cheeesteak that’s under $10, yes please
- Awesome fries with awesome sauces
- Authenticity is overrated
- The sandwiches aren’t gut bombs from being greasy, but from being big
THE – (what people who don’t like this place will say)
- Not from Philly? No thanks!
- Where is the bread from??
- I like my cheesesteaks thick and juicy
- I’d like to order a half size so I can stay awake after lunch
- Cheesesteaks are meant to be greasy and oily, and this was not particularly either
Gary’s Steaks, I’d tell you to check their Twitter for location information, but it does not appear that they ever update it – so you’ve just got to wander around and try your luck I guess… They have Facebook and a website, but it looks like they have never posted a single thing on FB either. They were parked on the southwest corner of 52nd/6th the day I checked them out, a Tuesday – but no guarantee that’s their schedule as I haunt that corner fairly regularly and this is the first time I saw them.