History of the Philly Cheesesteak
According to online resources, the Philly cheesesteak originated when two brothers who owned a hot dog stand in 1932 decided to try something different by grilling up some steak and putting it on a bun. A few years later, in 1949, a customer tried adding cheese to the sandwich, and thus, the cheesesteak was born.
Stories actually differ slightly, with some sources saying that originally, the sandwich consisted of steak and onions. However, the part about the hot dog stand owners who tried making a steak sandwich for lunch and attracted the attention of hungry customers still holds true.
When Cheese Whiz was invented in 1952, it became the standard topping. So yes, believe it or not, Cheese Whiz is associated with the sandwich by default, although the standards are still American, provolone, and Swiss.
What follows are some reviews of the cheesesteak places I've come across!
Full O' Bull
Charley's Philly Steaks
Price: $8 to $10
It's a pretty good basic cheesesteak sandwich. You can probably ask for your choice of cheese and get all the veggies on top that you want. The basic sandwich comes with grilled onions, peppers, and mushrooms.
You get a nice selection of beef that is usually flavorful and freshly cooked. The cheese melts perfectly, and the bread tastes nice and fresh. A good sandwich as far as I'm concerned. Not exactly gourmet but what you would expect from a quick place.
Most Charley's I've come across are located in or near shopping malls. If you have an opinion about this place, let me know.
Price: $10 to $12
Actually, make that half a star.
This is probably one of the poorest examples of a Philly cheesesteak—or of any sandwich, for that matter. The "prime rib" was cut into chunks—with a lot of fat too. I am used to thinly sliced beef.
The sandwich is mostly vegetables. They should call it a grilled veggie sandwich instead. I think I might have had three or four nice-sized chunks of beef in my entire roll. And it was pretty tough beef too. I could go on, but I'd rather not.
I would definitely pass on this sample. If you are a fan of cheesesteak sandwiches, you should go somewhere else. If you know nothing about cheesesteaks, then this place might do it for you.
Price: $6 to $10
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐(and a half)
This place is local to Fresno, but it may have expanded to other locations. Either way, it is one of the best places to get a steak sandwich. You can just get the plain sandwich, and it is still delicious. Thin slices of flavorful steak that literally melt in your mouth.
When I first tried it, I noticed a heavy garlic-y, onion-y, smoky flavor, which I grew accustomed to. Bread, fine steak, and cheese. You can get it with peppers, onions, and other veggies too. Maybe everything isn't grilled—I think the meat is prepared in a cooker—but it sure tastes fine enough. I have never been to a place like it.
Just be wary of the hours. The last time I was in Fresno (on a Sunday), they were closed.
Price: About $10
Well, this is a pretty good steak. They grill it up there in front of you, and you can have onions, peppers, and mushrooms tucked in if you wish. It's topped with American cheese.
It has an authentic flavor that I would think the original cheesesteak had. The meat is seasoned nicely and is a nice cut of steak. No fat or sliced deli meat. Cheese is rich and flavorful.
Put into a bun it is delicious. The breads here are pretty fresh and you have options to choose from. One of the better ones I've had in a while. A definite winner in my book.
Sequoia Sandwich Company
Wow, for a restaurant that is clean and modern like this place, the sandwiches sure lack quality.
The beef tasted like it was bought from the frozen section at a Walmart special. It sure wasn't freshly made in-house the way I presumed it would be. The taste was bland at best, and the texture was kind of rubbery. I saw one review on Yelp that called them a "glorified Subway." That's putting it lightly.
The bread was all right; a pleasant roll with a taste typical of most sub shops. Definitely not freshly baked in-house.
Staff: Not very friendly.
It's possible that each location is independently owned, so my experience may have been different elsewhere, but I expected better from a $10 sandwich.
Rating: ⭐ (and a half)
Not really what I would call a cheesesteak. I'm not sure how some of these chains get away with this sort of careless naming. It really amazes me.
The beef is bland, and there isn't much of it; mostly vegetables (mushrooms, peppers, and onions). And it was all slopped on.
I would definitely pass on this one. Way overpriced as well. I think if you really want a truly good cheesesteak, you have to go to an independent shop.
Price: $6 to $8
For a chain restaurant, their steak sandwiches are pretty good. You get a nice amount of meat with your choice of cheese and bread. Of course, you have a whole selection of any veggies you want, including the standards.
This sandwich is hard to complain about. The meat is tender and flavorful. The bread is usually pretty fresh and tasty. The sandwich is often toasted in their instant ovens, which adds a nice crispiness to the buns.
If you are craving something good and filling, I would recommend this place.
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