Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008
I got back late last night from an intensive weekend of devouring some of the best cheesesteaks in Philly.
Before I begin my trip report, I just want to let everyone know that
and I definitely didn't
Saturday April 5
My trip began with a really bum start..
I flew US air from Providence to Philly, about 10 minutes into the flight, the captain announced that they needed to return to Providence due to some computer error message they were receiving, and although "there was nothing to be alarmed about" they felt that was the best thing to do instead of flying directly to Philly. Well, 5 minutes later they announced that they could not land in Providence due to weather and they would need to divert to Hartford. Anywho, the technical issue they had was resolved and I arrived in Philly at 3pm- two hours late.Cheesewit
was a fantastic host Saturday afternoon, he picked me up at the Airport and we were going to do a cheesesteak tour around Delaware county. I wanted to hit Chink's but unfortunately, they close at 4 pm and we would not have enough time to hit the place.
Our first stop was Leo's
in suburban Folcroft
Leo's apparently has been around for over 40 years, and the gentleman who took my order behind the cash register was Leo's son.
These cheesesteaks are huge! and you can order an even larger version. I ordered mine with fried onions and american cheese. Unfortunately bigger isn't always better and the meat which is basically hacked to death was somewhat bland, however this was definetely the largest cheesesteak of the trip- I had half of my sandwich and threw the rest out so I can enjoy my next stop.
Our next stop was La Forno
, a pizza joint in suburban Media known for their brick oven pizza.
I ordered another steak with fried onions and american cheese. The sandwich at Laforno faired much better, the meat was much more flavorful (could it be the oil?) and also seemed a bit more tender. Although it was smaller, it was much better than leo's. I had just over half a sandwich and called it quits to save room for our last stop of the day.
Our last stop was The Thunderbird Inn
in Broomall PA
I ordered a steak with whiz and fried onions. The meat here is sliced and personally I thought the portions were a little skimpy and my sandwich appeared to be a little too inundated with fried onions. Although tastier than Leo's, overall I wasn't impressed.
Cheesewit dropped me off at my hotel in University City at around 6pm- I was staying at the Sheraton on Chestnut at 35th. A great deal for $90 on priceline. This was the first hotel I ever stayed at that actually had a computer in the room!
I spent a couple of hours digesting the cheesesteaks. I then decided to take a walk into Center City Philly at around 8pm. My first stop was the Nodding Head Brewpub. I had a Scottish Ale that was actually not quite as hoppy as most here on the East Coast and finished off with a mellow malty British Ale with hints of chocolate. I then continued to stroll towards south Philly. I had discussed some of my planned stops for Sunday with Cheesewit, one of which was Lorenzo's Pizza. Cheesewit warned me of their irregular hours. I wanted to see if they had their hours posted (I knew they were closed) unfortunately the metal grates enclosing the exterior of the building concealed the posted hours. I then meandered over to South Street- walked up 2nd Street towards headhouse Square, walked up to Walnut Street and then was back at my hotel by 11:30am. I figured I walked about 6 or 7 miles that evening.
Sunday April 6
It was drizzling this morning, however this didn't stop me from strolling to one of 4 coffee houses I would be visiting today. My first stop was the Walnut Bridge Coffee House on the outskirts of the Rittenhouse Square Neighborhood. They only offered a medium roast which I found a tad bland, however I did enjoy their pumpkin nut muffin. I then headed to Brew Ha Ha, a local chain out of Delaware in the Washington Square Neighborhood (locally referred to as "the gayborhood"), their medium roast had a little more flavor. Since I had already walked 2 miles and it was not even 11am yet, I took the subway back to my hotel and checked out at noon- By this time it had stopped drizzling although it remained overcast the rest of the day.
I took the subway back to 11th street and walked towards the Italian Market. My first stop was Lorenzo's Pizza
, and yes they were open!
I ordered a steak with fried Onions and extra american. Although the steak is initially frozen when cooked, this sandwich held its own and then some. The onions were "fried to death" just the way I like them and the onions/beef/cheese ratio was perfect. I thorougly enjoyed and ate the entire sandwich
After my 1st sandwich of the day, I strolled the lively Italian Market peering in and out of the various stores and stalls.
Here is a sign for the oldest Italian Restaurant in Philly
and here is the famous Sarcone's Bakery
I stopped at Anthony's Italian Coffeehouse and had my first dark roast of the day. I then walked up towards Pats and Geno's and laughing to myself at the tourists who were lined up. I then walked back down to South Street, but stopped at my last coffee house of the day, the Chapterhouse Cafe and Gallery. Not only was this place packed, but the dark roast I ordered was definetely the best that I ordered that day. After strolling up and down South Street towards Penn landing, I headed back towards the Italian Market. It was time for round 2, Cosmi's Deli
According to the Eating Team- this is supposed to be the Cheesesteak Shrine. I ordered mine on a Seeded Sarcone Roll, fried onions and american. This sandwich was the 2nd largest on the trip and this was by far the best roll, however I thought the rest of the sandwich was slightly lacking, either that or I was expecting too much or was still coming down from my high at Lorenzo's. I was chatting with the owner and he told me to say hello to Signman
After Cosmi's, I was heading up towards the Reading Terminal but they had just closed since it was after 4pm. I went to a sports bar near the market which used to be a brew pub which I previously visited with Alesrus and Aleswench 3 years earlier and I had a Yuengling (by this time my feet were killing me) I then took a stroll around Chinatown.
Here's the Chinatown gate
After perusing the Chinatown Shops, I meandered towards the Historical District. Here is independence Hall.
I finally made it to my last stop in the Olde City section of Philly, Campo's Market
I ordered a steak with fried onions and whiz. This sandwich was probaby the cheesiest sandwich of the trip. Dripping with wiz, it still did not detract from the flavor of the meat, this too was a favorite of mine.
My last stop of the day was The Franklin Fountain
. An old fashioned ice cream shop a few doors down from Campo's Market. I orderd a small cup of the Butter Pecan. Not only was it rich and creamy, it was also chock full of pecans. A nice way to clean the palate. (Sorry no photos) after a final stroll around olde city, I walked back to the Market East Station and took the train back to the Airport. Thankfully my flight was ontime and I was home by 12:30am.
So to summarize- are there still good cheesesteaks to be found in Philly? The answer is a resounding YES!
Although I didn't have a "bad" cheesesteak on the trip- here is my order #1 being the best
1- Lorenzo's Pizza
2- Tie- Campo's Market and La Forno
3- Cosmi's Deli
4- Thunderbird Inn