Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Eating around: Cheese steak

If you're looking for a food debate and you're bored with the usuals -- New York-style pizza, Buffalo wings and Eastern vs. Western N.C. barbecue - toss out the issue of the Philly cheese steak.

Philadelphia is one of the few food-centric towns where I haven't spent much time. So I fully admit I'm not qualified to weigh in on arguments about authenticity. I know enough to know you've got your provolone camp and your Chez Whiz camp, your anti-mayo contingency and your frought debates over whether peppers, onions or mushrooms are legal accoutrements.

Me? Pile thinly sliced steak and cheese on a roll impermeated with a little griddle grease and I'm happy to sit still long enough to listen to the arguments. More than cheeseteak, I'm a fan of small Charlotte places, the ones that have stuck around for years.

My Philly Cheese Steak needs usually are happily met by Steak & Hoagie on Sharon Amity, the place with that kicky-'60s neon sign. They've got really good, freshing-smelling bread, and they offer enough variations to keep the purists occupied.

I stopped by a new place this week, though. Actually, not new at all: The Philadelphia Deli on King Drive at Morehead has been in the same little building next to The Map Shop since 1969. Alice, the owner behind the counter, has a Greek accent to match the Parthenon pictures on the wall. If you've been around Charlotte long enough, you know to feel at home whenever you see those pictures of Greece.

I ordered the Philly cheese steak all the way. So it came with lots of cooked onions, peppers and mushrooms, it had plenty of properly shaved steak, and it was drippy with yellow cheese that fit into the Cheez Whiz school. The bread wasn't as crusty-fresh as Steak & Hoagie's, but with enough steak and cheese drippings, that's not a deal-breaker. And the fries were the way I like them -- deep brown, crisp outside and a little hollow inside.

I can't believe I've lived in Charlotte for 25 years and I've driven through that intersection on the way home for almost a dozen of those, but I had never noticed the place until recently. I'll go in again, if only to have a chance to peruse that jukebox.

Thanks, Alice.


Debbie Moose said...

Your new movie: My Big Fat Greek Cheesesteak.

Anonymous said...

I was Philly in August and had to have an authentic. I had heard & seen all the Pat's and Geno's stuff but ended up at Jim's Steaks in the South St bar district. Unbelievably good cheesesteak - Whiz Wit. The best part though was my buddy screwing up his order and saying repeatedly "um, I'll have the same..." The counter guy never looked up and just pointed his spatula at my friend countering "I GOT you, I GOT you... NEXT!"